We sing in church for many reasons, but here are four good ones: 1) the Bible repeatedly tells us to do so (e.g., Colossians 3:16); 2) it’s a vivid way to remember important expressions of our faith journeys (Amazing Grace is more easily remembered when sung than when spoken); 3) it stirs our emotions in ways that simple speech cannot; and 4) it’s a foretaste of the eternal praise we shall offer to God in Heaven. Since each generation needs to create or discover its own hymns even as it treasures and preserves the hymns of the past, the United Methodist Church has chosen to bring out a new hymnal called Worship & Song.
Worship & Song’s 190 hymns complement without duplicating our United Methodist Hymnal (1989) and our Faith We Sing (2001). It includes familiar hymns set to new melodies, new texts set to well-known melodies like Danny Boy, Frère Jacques, House of the Rising Sun and Shenandoah, exciting gospel favorites like Down to the River to Pray, popular contemporary Christian praise songs, and meditative songs from the international Christian communities of Iona and Taizé.
Worship & Song reflects the multiple styles in use in today’s United Methodist churches, reaching out to our youth while enabling those who like to sing classic hymns to try new songs of praise. It includes important contemporary composers like Paul Baloche, Keith & Kristin Getty, David Haas, Tim Hughes, Graham Kendrick, Twila Paris, Matt Redman, Penny Rodriguez, Chris Tomlin and Stuart Townend. Recently our Children’s Choir enthusiastically shared Love the Lord (W&S #3116) with the congregation, signing the key words from Christ’s commandment (Mark 12:30) as they sang; the new hymn helped them express their faith.
Worship & Song includes 11 of the top 25 Christian songs listed on the February 2014 poll of United Methodist churches in the USA by CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International): How Great Is Our God (#2), Mighty to Save (#4), Blessed Be Your Name (#6), Amazing Grace [My Chains Are Gone] (#8), In Christ Alone My Hope Is Found (#10), Everlasting God (#11), Here I Am to Worship (#12), Your Grace Is Enough (#14), Open the Eyes of My Heart (#18), Forever (#21), and Holy Is the Lord (#22). That’s a pretty impressive 44%, considering that the hymnal was published in 2011!
Worship & Song assists churchgoers who want to try new texts by setting them to tunes from favorites such as: All Creatures of Our God and King; Be Thou My Vision; Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus; For All the Saints; God, That Madest Earth and Heaven; Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee; Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence; Morning Has Broken; O Sacred Head, Now Wounded; Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven; Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; The Gift of Love; and What Child Is This.
In conclusion: if you’d like to experience these new expressions of our faith that will speak powerfully to our youth and touch our hearts as well, please sponsor a copy of Worship & Song. And if you need another reason to do so, here’s a great one: you can dedicate it in honor or in memory of someone who helped you in your own faith journey.