Do We Really Need Another Songbook?

According to an article in UM News, the United Methodist Publishing House is planning a new songbook called “Worship & Song” to be published in February 2011. In part, the article says:

The song collection will include up to 180 hymns and songs in a wide variety of styles. The worship resources collection will include service music, prayers, liturgies and spoken acts of worship. Neither collection will duplicate material contained in The United Methodist Hymnal (1989), The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992) or “The Faith We Sing” (2000).

While I appreciate the sentiment, I really wonder if this is the wisest move. Clearly, this is an attempt to make up for the new hymnal that was put on hiatus back in May 2009 due to the lagging economy. And, I would hope, the intent is simply to provide good worship materials for UM pastors and churches.

However, I have to wonder: Do we really need another songbook? What are they going to provide that the average pastor or church can’t get right now on CCLI? So are we simply looking to compete with the dominant provider of online music copyright? Or are we still in complete denial that the days of the published hymnal or songbook are over?

In all honesty, I serve an older congregation right now, and they would love a new hymnal. But, I keep telling them: The days of the published hymnal are over. It’s too inefficient and cost prohibitive. Pick your favorite 200 songs – any song – and we’ll go to Kinkos and get them printed and bound. And that will be our new hymnal.

We could do that ever year for five years and never add up to the cost of buying a new hymnal. So why buy one? Let’s make our own. And that’s if you’re not a church using projection screens to display your hymns and songs.

I wonder at times if the UM Publishing House is paying attention to the times. I’m sure they are. So why do this?

The only thing I can think of is this: To appeal to our aging UM membership. We’re not getting any younger, after all.

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3 responses to “Do We Really Need Another Songbook?

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