Thoughts on the SCLM – Hymnal Revision

As I’ve been preparing for General Convention, I’ve been slowly – and sometimes painfully – making my way through the Blue Book.  The Blue Book (which is salmon thing time around) is the report to the General Convention.  It includes the reports of the Committees, Commissions, Agencies, and Boards of The General Convention of the Episcopal Church.  The longest report is the report of the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music – affectionately know as the SCLM. This seems to be one of the most talked about reports to the Convention.

Hymnal Revision Study

Throughout the past triennium, the SCLM has conducted a study to see if folks want a new hymnal.  Here’s the breakdown of how Congregation Members, Clergy, Music Directors, Bishops, and Seminarians feel about Hymnal revision.

The thing to note here is that the folks in the pews don’t want this.  Another assumption that folks seems to be making is that young adults want this.  WRONG!!  Robert Hendrickson has a great post over on his blog The Curate’s Desk.  I love the quote he picked out as a reference point:

“I think there is a huge assumption made that the younger generation wants guitar- and piano-based praise and worship music. …What we want to hear in a Sunday Eucharist are the classic hymns played on organ. And occasionally we want to chant. Church is the one place where our musical taste is not based upon fad, but instead links us with a much more important, more elegant tradition. If I wanted to listen to acoustic guitar and piano, I’d pick up Dave Matthews or Ben Folds. If I wanted rap, I’d listen to Lil Wayne. …For worship, I want music that connects to me a world outside of the in and out of my daily life.”

To that I say, “AMEN!”

The Resolution that accompanies this part of the SCLM report is resolution A048 Form Congregational Song Task Force.  They want to start yet another task force to establish resources, energize and empower leadership, etc.  I think this is all well and good, but I have some reservations.  Does the SCLM need another project to work on?  They already have so much going on that I think things are starting to suffer.  They are doing too much and I think it’s time to rein them in.  I have deep respect for those on the SCLM and consider several of them colleagues and friends.  But, when you take on too much things don’t get accomplished at the level we need them to be.

Sometimes I think we get too caught up in what we are doing and forget why we are doing things.  I’m all for revision and innovation, but not for the sake of revision and innovation.  Give me a solid reason, to make these changes.  At this point, I see no solid reason for hymnal revision.

You can read the entire Hymnal Revision Feasibility Study here.


Filed under General Convention

3 responses to “Thoughts on the SCLM – Hymnal Revision

  1. Paige Blair

    Thanks for posting this… What I’m wrestling with– in just about every corner of our life and mission–is balancing the opinions of those who are already here, and those who are not here… the person already here wants organ and “traditional” church music…that’s what they found when they came, liked it and stayed…but what about the person not here yet… or who came once and didn’t connect because what they experienced in worship felt too foreign? Same for liturgical texts… and I’m one who loves that we get to have Rite 1 and EoW and everything in between… I don’t have THE answer, but maybe there isn’t one… maybe the answer is options… Just thoughts… As for whether SCLM has a plate too full already…. sure feels like it…

    • Kit

      I think the good news is that we DO have a diversity of music at our fingertips–while the Hymnal is pretty straightup “traditional church music”–albeit a range of traditions and timeframs, WLP, LEVAS I & II, and Voices Found spread even more options. And I don’t think we have to put out everything/reinvent the wheel all the time, no? I think figuring out GOOD music resources for congregations w/o professional musicians ought to be a priority, as those w/professional musicians and accompanying budgets have access to resources that are harder to come by for folks w/o. (Hi, Paige!)

  2. Pingback: If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It – SCLM and the Daily Office « desiringthekingdom

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