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I've just returned from a meeting with the vicar of one of my churches. He is hoping to purchase a set of new hymnbooks this month to replace our AMR and Mission Praise. His favourite is the latest version (I think) of Hymns Old & New about which I have some reservations. Mine is Common Praise, about which he has some reservations. I told him I'd ask the members of this excellent board for their recommendations and observations on the hymnbooks they use. Perhaps there are some suitable hymnbooks we haven't considered.

 

The church is a middle-of-the-road Anglican church, middle class, middle age (and above), but with families from time to time. I think our idea is to keep in the tradition of Ancient & Modern, but to include a number of the better hymns and worship songs written since then. The vicar would also like a book that has something "suitable" for children when we have the occasional service geared towards them.

 

We have a thriving and successful four-part choir, and a congregation who are generally very supportive towards the music, and discerning in their taste. We're after having just one hymnbook, and intend to put our existing books into retirement.

 

Suggestions, recommendations and observations would be gratefully received! Thanks.

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I've just returned from a meeting with the vicar of one of my churches. He is hoping to purchase a set of new hymnbooks this month to replace our AMR and Mission Praise. His favourite is the latest version (I think) of Hymns Old & New about which I have some reservations. Mine is Common Praise, about which he has some reservations. I told him I'd ask the members of this excellent board for their recommendations and observations on the hymnbooks they use. Perhaps there are some suitable hymnbooks we haven't considered.

 

The church is a middle-of-the-road Anglican church, middle class, middle age (and above), but with families from time to time. I think our idea is to keep in the tradition of Ancient & Modern, but to include a number of the better hymns and worship songs written since then. The vicar would also like a book that has something "suitable" for children when we have the occasional service geared towards them.

 

We have a thriving and successful four-part choir, and a congregation who are generally very supportive towards the music, and discerning in their taste. We're after having just one hymnbook, and intend to put our existing books into retirement.

 

Suggestions, recommendations and observations would be gratefully received! Thanks.

 

 

Laudate is very good - and cheap if you bulk purchase!

 

Peter

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My parish changed from a mixture of AMR, Mission Praise I & II, 100 hymns for Today and More 100 Hymns for today.

 

We went with COMMON PRAISE. However, our service sheet is printed each week with all the hymn words, which are available on a companion disk, so there are no compatability problems. The choir have harmony editions of CP, the congregation don't need them. If we want a hymn that's not in CP it's no problem.

 

There are some surprises, as I've just discovered. For example 'The Advent of Our King' is not set to Franconia. A number of tunes have been transposed down and don't always lie so comfortably under the fingers for those of us set in our (AMR) ways !

 

But on the whole, we have found it does nearly all we want and there is a good spread of the better modern hymns/songs/tunes

 

I the Lord of Sea and Sky

Lord for the years

Be still

Broken for me

Corvedale (There's a wideness in God's mercy)

Coe Fen (How shall I sing)

etc.

 

 

For church musicians, at least the harmonisations have good integrity - very different from the poor quality offerings I've seen in Celebration Hymnal and the like.

 

Good luck with your search.

 

H

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Guest Barry Williams

There appear to be numerous problems of the Hymns Old & New series, including Celebration Hymnal, etc. The words are altered rather badly, the music is re-harmonised for unison singing and set in very low keys. Equally irritating is the way in which the binding of the books falls apart seemingly after relatively little use. Another problem is the tendancy of the editions to go out of print after a few years.

 

It may be advisable to go with a publisher with a track record, such as Hymns Ancient and Modern, whose range of hymnals is rather wide and well edited. At one time they published an excellent volume of 'choruses and songs' in a spiral bound edition that surpasssed anything else on the market.

 

If your vicar requires further details please send me a private email. I have much information about this sort of thing.

 

Barry Williams

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The Church of Ireland's 'Church Hymnal' (fifth edition, published by OUP) is very well worth a look. Plenty of good quality content, good musical editing (imho) and even where worship songs are included, they are often in a version suitable for organ and four part choir. There is no words only edition, either full music or words & melody.

 

Contents here: http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/ich2000.html

 

Available here: http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-147834-2 or cheaper at:

http://www.allegro.co.uk/church-hymnal-fif...n-p-129086.html

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Common Praise, without a doubt. Best of all is a combination of this and Common Ground (St Andrew Press), a John Bell-edited book "for all the [scottish] churches" which provides a contemporary slant without ever becoming trite. We recently purchased Common Ground for our choir as a supplement to our existing books (AMNS and, dare I say it, Songs of Fellowship) and it has been received especially well.

 

Agreed with Barry about Hymns Old & New in all its many guises - too much gratuitous mucking around with both arrangements and words, and the production values (binding, typography etc.) are disappointing. It may seem appealing if judged simply on its range, but fares less well on close scrutiny. Laudate (a Catholic hymnal) does indeed have a great deal of merit... but again, at 1000+ hymns, it is rather large!

 

I'm slowly building up a repertoire of decent rearrangements of ubiquitous worship songs. New English Praise has an excellent reworking of 'Be still', Common Praise has a decent 'Make me a channel of your peace'. One day someone will combine these in a volume entitled 'If you really have to...'.

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I agree - Common Praise - is the best combination. Hymns Old and New is horrible - nasty leatherette, unexpected keys, and (in my opinion) a poor layout which AMR users won't be accustomed to. The other alternative is to do your own and use an excellent company called Gresham Books - this is what many independent schools do and within the covers of the books they produce you'll find some absolute treasures in terms of tunes and arrangements. Admittedly, this is an expensive solution.

Martin.

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Common Praise - again, without question.

 

Unfortunately, for various reasons, at the Minster we are stuck with Hymns Old and New (Anglican Edition). I have no hesitation in stating that it is an utterly dreadful book - with no redeeming features. Many texts have been butchered. In addition, the book is laid out in alphabetical order - not according to the liturgical calendar - despite also having an alphabetical index at the back. This is, quite simply, utterly dumb - and extremely annoying.

 

It was chosen for our use (despite my strong protestations) in order that the committee who organise the regular Family Services could use it as a resource. In practice, they rarely touch it. There are, in this collection, one hundred and eighty-three 'songs' which, as far as I am concerned, should never have seen the light of day; this equates roughly to a third of the total.

 

In my view, all copies of this book should be burned.

 

Common Praise is far better produced. (My organ copy of HoN has already lost its cover*; in addition, the pages are sometimes hard to turn.) As far as I can remember, CP contains about eighteen 'songs' to which I objected. This is clearly a considerably smaller proportion of dross.

 

The only thing which I missed in CP, was the hymn Father most holy (set to the tune Iste Confessor, which is No. 188 (ii) in EH).

 

I realise that these observations are quite frank; however, they are a result of having to work with the wretched book (HoN) for the last six or so years.

 

 

 

* This may be directly linked to the number of times this book is mis-treated (or thrown over the back of the organ console in utter frustration - not, incidentally, ever during a service).

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Common Praise again! You know the tradition/set up at our place, it won't have changed since you were there :unsure: and it fits in perfectly.

They'd recently purchased it when I arrived four years ago - the then vicar encouraged me to explore it, introducing previously unknown hymns. We got away with this until Shine Jesus Shine popped up... One of the bases declared "I charge extra if I have to polish the Almighty!" :lol: It was only ever used once... :blink:

They're well-made too, no covers have fallen off, etc. yet.

P.

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Please, please, please don't buy Hymns Old and New, it is terrible! It had just been purchased at my last post before I arrived, and I can't think of anyone who liked it. Here's the grumble list:

 

-anything remotely politically incorrect has been massacred, 'Angel Voices ever singing' is a travesty to name but one, in fact the choir were mostly on auto-pilot and would sing the A and M anyway. (However, I don't object to Onward Christian Pilgrims, as that is really a new hymn using the same first two words, rather than trying to 'update' the original.)

-too many hymns put into guitar friendly keys (it comes with guitar chords), Angel Voices again (in C), Ewing (in C, not Dflat, in fact any hymn that ought to be in D flat is in C)

-none of our modern worship group liked the 'modern' ones in it (all very dated ones), apart from a couple of the better Kendrick, and almost without fail they are exceptioanlly dreary and uninspiring arrangements. More modern hymns we would reproduce in the service sheet anyway.

-the rather couldn't care less attitude to putting it all in alphabetical order, rather than by subject, which even the Baptist and Methodist hymn books do

-poorly built music copies. I suspect the congregational copies fare quite well as they are thinner, but the music ones were on their last legs, repearted use three times a week over 6 years, not long enough in my book.

 

I did an extensive survey of alternatives, and although my personal preference might have been for EH plus the patchy in places supplement, I did really like CP and would have been happy with it.

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What a good question. At my place where I have recently taken over as DoM I raised the question of a new hymn book with the Team Rector. Unbeknown to me this had been raised a few times in the past but no decision had ever been made by the PCC-too many options and seemingly no one book that totally satisfies!

 

The church was, for many years, usig The English Hymnal and then moved onto AMNS(!). This book in my humble opinion is just dreadful: low set tunes, 100HfT, MoreHfT and a smattering of AMR. The church is Anglo-Catholic, has a good choir with large repertoire, solemn mass and choral evensong (with benediction) weekly and observes Saints' days etc etc. There just aren't enough of the right hymn available to us. Copying the odd one onto a service sheet is not a totally satisfactory solution.

 

I am thinking about The New English Hymnal: It has a good selection of hymns (including office hymns), a useful liturgical section, print is good, comfortable to handle and tunes not set too low. Any views?

 

F-W

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From what you tell us about your church, I think EH and the new supplement would be a good bet. CP is a better choice for the, lets say, less catholic among us (or at least our churches which are less catholic!).

 

What I didn't mention above, was it is worth looking at CH4, the Church of Scotland Hymn Book which came out last year. I know it has been taken up by a number of churches in England. There's a bit too much John Bell in it, but I quite most of the rest of it. It is worth getting a copy to browse.

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From what you tell us about your church, I think EH and the new supplement would be a good bet.

I think, 'guilmant', you mean The New English Hymnal (NEH) and its supplement New English Praise.

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Guest Barry Williams

I have yet to hear of any organist/choirmaster praising Hymns Old and New/Celebration Hymnal, etc. So far all the comments (not just on this Board) have been negative, though objectively and factually expressed.

 

What is the reason for the popularity for these books? They contain virtually no quality contemporary material. The difficulties of using them with choirs have been well rehearsed here and elsewhere. Many churches dispose of them in a short period of time and I know that organists applying for posts find these hymn books more of a 'turn off' than synthetic organs.

 

Am I missing something or is it clever marketing?

 

Barry Williams

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Yes, sorry, I did.

 

The supplement has Corvedale and East Acklam, the two major highlights.

 

What of Christ Triumphant?

 

I've always thought that with NEH:

 

1) You get more or less everything you could ever wish for

 

2) It's well bound, clearly printed and thoughtfully laid out

 

3) It contains lots of 'bonus items' such as plainsong, mass settings, responsorial psalms and a good amount of less well-known stuff in each liturgical section

 

4) The half-dozen things you probably do want in there can be typed up seperately; this is more convenient than having to live without a dozen things missing in other books.

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I have yet to hear of any organist/choirmaster praising Hymns Old and New/Celebration Hymnal, etc. So far all the comments (not just on this Board) have been negative, though objectively and factually expressed.

 

What is the reason for the popularity for these books? They contain virtually no quality contemporary material. The difficulties of using them with choirs have been well rehearsed here and elsewhere. Many churches dispose of them in a short period of time and I know that organists applying for posts find these hymn books more of a 'turn off' than synthetic organs.

 

Am I missing something or is it clever marketing?

 

Barry Williams

 

 

In the RC church, Barry, it is more often than not the clergy who "grew up" with these things as they started to trip off the presses in the years following the second Vatican Council. And of course they, and teachers of a certain age, all assert that the children "like this music" whereas the reality is that the only people who like it are the clergy, the teachers and men with wispy beards who wear shoes that look like cornish pasties, as the Catholic Herald once remarked. I've started to each "proper" reponsorial psalms (ie not questionable paraphases with awkward word order because of the attempt at metrification) to Jane's Brownies and they are very receptive. I'm teaching them O Come O Come Emmanuel next week so they can process in to it at Church Parade.

 

Peter

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I have yet to hear of any organist/choirmaster praising Hymns Old and New/Celebration Hymnal, etc. So far all the comments (not just on this Board) have been negative, though objectively and factually expressed.

 

What is the reason for the popularity for these books? They contain virtually no quality contemporary material. The difficulties of using them with choirs have been well rehearsed here and elsewhere. Many churches dispose of them in a short period of time and I know that organists applying for posts find these hymn books more of a 'turn off' than synthetic organs.

 

Am I missing something or is it clever marketing?

 

Barry Williams

I bought the RC version, Hymns Old & New - Liturgical (which I think was the original incarnation), and have found it a useful one-stop resource for much standard middle-of-the-road stuff that other books don't have. The arrangements are, indeed, more piano-based, but frequently I prefer them to those in more Evangelical books. I wouldn't recommend HON for the use of choral establishments, but for somewhere where there isn't a choir I wouldn't have a fundamental objection.

 

There is at least one shocking misprint in Common Praise. There aren't really enough hymns in this book for it to be comprehensive. Like NEH, many of the keys are too high for congregational use, particularly at an early service.

 

The more I use other hymn books, including NEH, the more I realise how brilliant the original EH was. The full stop after the verse number of the final verse is useful, and other typographic aspects (including the rather obscure original first lines in eg Syriac) betray an attention to detail that modern editors can only dream of attaining.

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Guest Barry Williams
In the RC church, Barry, it is more often than not the clergy who "grew up" with these things as they started to trip off the presses in the years following the second Vatican Council. And of course they, and teachers of a certain age, all assert that the children "like this music" whereas the reality is that the only people who like it are the clergy, the teachers and men with wispy beards who wear shoes that look like cornish pasties, as the Catholic Herald once remarked. I've started to each "proper" reponsorial psalms (ie not questionable paraphases with awkward word order because of the attempt at metrification) to Jane's Brownies and they are very receptive. I'm teaching them O Come O Come Emmanuel next week so they can process in to it at Church Parade.

 

Peter

 

This happened with Beaumont's music and the less good Twentieth Century Light Church Music Group. The older folk wanted this music in church 'for the young'. The young thought it was outdated. (I was approaching teens then and thought it all a joke, though Beaumont did have the decency to leave the words alone.)

 

Now, worshippers are offered Songs of Fellowship (Spinners and Seekers etc, watered down and re-dressed in ecclesiastical garb) for 'the young', who think it out dated.

 

Why Oh why do the older generations offer their own outdated 'pop' music to the young?

 

Barry Williams

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This happened with Beaumont's music and the less good Twentieth Century Light Church Music Group. The older folk wanted this music in church 'for the young'. The young thought it was outdated. (I was approaching teens then and thought it all a joke, though Beaumont did have the decency to leave the words alone.)

 

Now, worshippers are offered Songs of Fellowship (Spinners and Seekers etc, watered down and re-dressed in ecclesiastical garb) for 'the young', who think it out dated.

 

Why O why do the older generations offer their own outdated 'pop' music to the young?

I'm sure your analysis is right, Barry. As to why, as a parent (though never a fan of pop music) I'd suggest the same motivation as that which makes me want my children to love the books I read as a child.

 

When will the Sex Pistols/Ramones/Clash generation start inflicting punk Christian songs on the young?

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Why O why do the older generations offer their own outdated 'pop' music to the young?

They don't except in church. How can one accept that people so out of touch with their present world can realistically be in touch with any other?

 

Paul

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Common Praise - or - Laudate.

 

Laudate is my personal choice and is suitable for churches with a Catholic "flavour".

 

Having used Hymns Old and New at Keynsham Parish Church for 5 years, I would not suggest it to anyone. The arrangements are dire and many words have been altered.

 

Neil S

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you everybody for your replies to this thread which have been most informative and very helpful.

 

The Vicar has studied all the comments in this thread and, along with my strongly urging him that Hymns Old & New is likely to be unsuitable, the various comments posted herein seem to have decided him to agree that it isn't the right hymn book for us. Having suffered Hymns Old & New at a carol service for which I played at a pupil's church, I'm rather relieved. I think it would have turned out to have been a bad choice.

 

We had a long talk about hymn books after church this morning. His feelings about the hymn books recommended in this thread are as follows:-

 

Common Praise (my favourite as I think it ideal for our set up) - too traditional (although we are a very traditional church)

Laudate - too Roman Catholic

New English Hymnal - too "high"

Church of Ireland's Hymnal - can't remember what he didn't like about this one, but there was something!

Church of Scotland's Hymnal - of more use as a supplementary book, not a main hymn book

 

We both agree that we don't want to have to use more than one hymn book if possible, but there doesn't seem to be a suitable book which provides all of the traditional hymnody and some of the better modern worship songs, responsorial psalms, etc, that the Vicar would like, unless there's another book out there which we haven't noticed.

 

We both think that it might now be a good idea to obtain the necessary license and to do a weekly hymn sheet for the congregation. At least this will give us the flexibility required, albeit at the expense of a forest!

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Thank you everybody for your replies to this thread which have been most informative and very helpful.

 

 

We both think that it might now be a good idea to obtain the necessary license and to do a weekly hymn sheet for the congregation. At least this will give us the flexibility required, albeit at the expense of a forest!

 

Hi

 

That's why we use a data projector & computer!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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