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Christine Jose Rigby

Interesting choice of Hymn Books

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Our Choir was invited to sing at a recent Wedding at a very old timber framed church in Cheshire. It came as no surprise that the congregation has to use the 'facilities' of the Public House next to this Church.

It is always interesting to observe which hymn books are favoured by other churches. This old church had not only one, but two books, Common Praise and New English Hymnal. They both looked comparatively new.

Our own Church alternates between Hymns for Today's Church and Ancient and Modern Revised. We have considered other Hymn Books and we are still undecided as to our next one.

It would be interesting to know what Hymn Books are in use at the Churches of members of this board.

Tempo Primo.

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1) Ancient and Modern New Standard

2) New Hymns and Worship Songs (texts not too bad as these things go; musical arrangements mostly as bad as they come)

 

plus an ever-increasing assortment of photocopied odds and ends of whatever happens to have taken His Grace's fancy.

 

I'd throw all of these out if I had my way!

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Hymns Old & New - One Church, One Faith, One Lord. I don't like it at all - poorly bound, thin paper, words edited beyond belief, tunes set down, many of the arrangements of modern songs poor. It replaced Celebration Hymnal, which wasn't much better. We still use AMR for Evensong, but sadly being 60 years old there's now a considerable amount of stuff which isn't in there which probably ought to be.

 

Assuming your church favours traditional music, the two you mention (NEH and CP) are the best two choices out there from what I can fathom, and I guess nearly all our Cathedrals now use one or the other (mostly the former). NEH is well put together, with an extensive range of hymns for saints days, office hymns etc. CP is a little more up-to-date, so has Coe Fen, Corvedale, Guiting Power etc included as well as some 'worship songs' (e.g. Be still, Shine Jesus Shine). Both retain good musical integrity and haven't done too much meddling with the words (I don't mind them being edited, as long as it is done sensibly).

 

If your church likes a fair amount of modern songs thrown in amongst the traditional hymns, neither of these will really satisfy all your demands. HON (in its various editions) is unfortunately the only hymnal I know of which has the wide coverage to do this - but then you have all the caveats I gave above. Otherwise, you'd have to work with two hymn books or end up, as Vox says, printing out loads of sheets.

 

In the end, when I choose our hymns, I often revert to AMR (when it isn't un-PC to do so) as the editing in HON is so insensitive. I am now resigned to the fact that we shall probably never sing 'He who would valiant be' as I refuse to offend Bunyan by singing a version which alters 'he' to 'all' through the entire hymn.

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If your church likes a fair amount of modern songs thrown in amongst the traditional hymns, neither of these will really satisfy all your demands. HON (in its various editions) is unfortunately the only hymnal I know of which has the wide coverage to do this

There's also 'Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise' for this - aka 'Church Hymnary 4' with a less Scottish name! Musically much better than HON though I suspect you'd still find yourself turning to an Ancient & Modern for a couple of the arrangements.

 

'Sing Praise' is a new worship song/modern hymn supplement to 'Common Praise'. I wasn't bowled over when briefly flicking through it in Blackwells the other week but that might not be a fair hearing.

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There's also 'Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise' for this - aka 'Church Hymnary 4' with a less Scottish name! Musically much better than HON though I suspect you'd still find yourself turning to an Ancient & Modern for a couple of the arrangements.

 

One of the basses in our choir was advocating this book and I've looked at it. I wasn't at all impressed I'm afraid - I didn't like the layout and printing, and far too many of the items were very obscure.

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A & M NS. We also use our own home-produced book of about 50 worship songs/modern hymns etc. That allows us to to get a decent collection of the better stuff while avoiding the dross and - if you have a CCLI licence - can work out cheaper than buying a set of new books.

 

I have to say I'm rather taken with 'Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise'. Plenty of new and unusual stuff but that's no bad thing and many of the word settings are very good.

Steve

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When I arrived at Kendal in 2008, there were two books in use: Hymns Old & New (for 10am Parish Communion) and AMR - the old red book (for 11.30am Matins and 6.30pm Evensong).

 

At Easter 2009, both books were replaced with Common Praise, to be used at all services.

 

In March 2011, Matins bit the dust (except on 5th Sundays) in favour of the new Vicar's All-Age Informal Service, now called "The Gathering," which uses a mixture of hymns from Common Praise with more modern stuff, for which single copies of the four volumes of "Songs of Fellowship" were duly procured, and from time to time we also have to mine the old copies of Hymns Old & New and other more "contemporary" publications - since the words are flashed at the Congregation via Power-Point projection, there is fortunately no need for more than one music copy of any of those.

 

So, having gone from two books to one for ease of planning under the old regime, we're now on to 7+ books:

 

Common Praise (for 9.30am Parish Communion, 11.00am Informal and 6.30pm Evensong) and Songs of Fellowship / Hymns Old & New / Come and Praise / etc (for 11.00am Informal).

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We have the ghastly orange confection: HON Compleat Anglican. All will, I'm sure, be familiar with its shortcomings - so no need to rehearse them again. We also use a home-grown colelction of 60 or so, many of which are rather good (words and music). With HON I find I often use the tune versions from NEH - and often play from that or EH or AMNS anyway since the printing is easier on the eye.

 

Though the orange montrosity words & music books are rapidly disintegrating we cannot yet debate a change, since the congregation have not yet worn out their words-only editions!

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I recall, many years ago, attending a meeting of the Salisbury Organists Association which consisted, that particular afternoon, of a question and answer session. The perennial subject of which hymn book to use was proposed and discussed at considerable length; the ennui being brought to a close by a suggestion from Christopher Dearnley, then the titulaire at the cathedral. His solution was to print the hymns, one sided, on rice paper and then you could eat the ones you didn’t want to use.

 

David Harrison

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Don't automatically discount the possibility of a video projector and laptop - screens can be made to fold away very unobtrusively and in the right hands the setup can be very versatile. You can choose exactly which verses and versions you use every time and the investment needed might not be that much different to equipping the church with a new set of books.

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Screens are not so very useful. Being very tall, I can generally see the screen myself, but I get poked in the back by short people wanting me to move so that they can see. I prefer a book or a service sheet.

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You say: It would be interesting to know what Hymn Books are in use at the Churches of members of this board.

Tempo Primo.

 

Part answer to your query is "Far too many churches bought Hymns Old and New and are stuck with them" Replacement is not cheap, but without question Common Praise should be your aim. Get melody versions so that every member of the congregation has one even though they think they do not read music.

 

This whole subject has already been dealt with but to sum it up may I quote from one of the respondents who gave a priceless answer. He wrote:

 

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 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. My organ copy of HoN has already lost its cover*; in addition, the pages are sometimes hard to turn.)

 

Another respondent wrote: "Perhaps that's because you've thrown it at the choir so often". A final thought: Each church member could buy an iPad then they could download 2,900 hymns from the Cyberhymnal.

 

David Rogers

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I recall, many years ago, attending a meeting of the Salisbury Organists Association which consisted, that particular afternoon, of a question and answer session. The perennial subject of which hymn book to use was proposed and discussed at considerable length; the ennui being brought to a close by a suggestion from Christopher Dearnley, then the titulaire at the cathedral. His solution was to print the hymns, one sided, on rice paper and then you could eat the ones you didn’t want to use.

 

David Harrison

 

No, but seriously, folks :

 

David Rogers is quite right about his recommendations. Common Praise is, I think, the best hymn book for the Anglican Church, though the Anglo Catholics would probably prefer the New English Hymnal or whatever the latest version is called.

 

Poor old Hymns Old and New! It really should have been strangled at birth; some might mutter ‘along with those who chose it’. I do find the alphabetical system is not unuseful at times; after all, if one using a particular section, say, Christmas or Eucharist, the act of moving from one hymn to another simply involves the turning of pages which is, is it not, exactly the same as for any other book. I found the Horrid HON in use at my present church when I arrived; however, it was dispatched very quickly soon after in favour of CP. I haven’t tried eating the pages of the HON Nursery Rhymes but as it is still in use in other churches in our benefice it might well come to that at some point.

 

David is right also with his comment about the melody line being included. On the rare occasions when I have provided a melody line for a typeset hymn it did seem to pay dividends. Used on a regular basis some of the congregation might well find it progressively easier to sing an unfamiliar tune properly; if it isn’t there they won’t.

 

All statements made in posts as undersigned are not statements of fact but merely the opinions of the originator.

 

David Harrison

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I have no hesitation in stating that it is an utterly dreadful book - with no redeeming features.

Sadly, although I agree completely with the first half of this sentence, HON does have a huge selection of hymns and songs - hence its popularity among the clergy.

 

Common Praise is good, but doesn't have the same range.

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Stephen is right - and in the current times ordering two sets of books to ensure a proper coverage (e.g. Common Praise and Sing Praise, which was mentioned above) would prove too expensive at a time when our church is struggling to find the money to even handle the basic upkeep of the building. We currently have our hymns printed out on sheets and only the choir have music copies of HON (which means I can choose alternative versions from time to time), and buying music and words editions of a whole new raft of books would be very costly. I know they offer grants for bulk purchasing, but even still these are substantial sums of money we are talking about. Perhaps the RSCM could start a grant scheme for 'church which use HON but really wish they didn't'!

 

I would like the congregation to have hymn books, ideally Common Praise, but we've been there and it isn't going to happen. Let's hope I win the EuroMillions on Friday night, so I can offer a donation with strict instructions...

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Stephen is right - and in the current times ordering two sets of books to ensure a proper coverage (e.g. Common Praise and Sing Praise, which was mentioned above) would prove too expensive at a time when our church is struggling to find the money to even handle the basic upkeep of the building. We currently have our hymns printed out on sheets and only the choir have music copies of HON (which means I can choose alternative versions from time to time), and buying music and words editions of a whole new raft of books would be very costly. I know they offer grants for bulk purchasing, but even still these are substantial sums of money we are talking about. Perhaps the RSCM could start a grant scheme for 'church which use HON but really wish they didn't'!

 

I would like the congregation to have hymn books, ideally Common Praise, but we've been there and it isn't going to happen. Let's hope I win the EuroMillions on Friday night, so I can offer a donation with strict instructions...

 

Thank you to every one of you for your replies to my enquiry about the hymn books in use at your church.

I have had experience of most of these books and agree with your comments. I was 'brought up' with English Hymnal and Merbecke, but that is a long time ago. Some 25 years ago I joined another church choir and was asked to deputise for their organist. I have never regretted it. Even with a small choir, their standard of music is good. We don't relish singing too much in unison and by and large, we are 'traditional'.

Our Full Music and words only AMRs are well past their best, but we still find they contain some of the best loved hymns. I have not yet been successful in my request for them to sing Coe Fen, but there's still time.

What I do find difficult to fathom is why a hymn such as 'O Jesus, I have promised' has had it's words altered in HFTC, and has even had a verse left out.

Probably the best way of funding a new hymn book would be for each adult church member to buy their own copy, but that wouldn't account for all the copies we would need.

The Vicar would prefer NEH and has said no to Common Praise. I have quite a little collection of different hymn books but am still unsure about the choice we should make.

I still welcome your input on this topic. Tempo Primo.

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We don't relish singing too much in unison and by and large, we are 'traditional'.

[...]

The Vicar would prefer NEH and has said no to Common Praise. I have quite a little collection of different hymn books but am still unsure about the choice we should make.

I still welcome your input on this topic. Tempo Primo.

 

I would not argue against getting NEH. A couple of years ago they put together a supplement of about 100 hymns/tunes called 'New English Praise' (see http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-English-Praise.../dp/1853117242), which contains some more modern offerings (e.g. Coe Fen, Guiting Power, Corvedale, East Acklam) but is still mostly traditional (I think 'Be still' found its way in there). To have that as a companion might be the solution - even if you only get choir copies for the music and print the words for the congregation when you use an item from there. They even do a spiral bound copy which sits wonderfully well on the music stand.

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