Why a “Hard-Copy” Hymnal?
Two thousand year Canon of Worship
A hymnal contains a trustworthy collection of hymns from across the Wesleyan tradition, and back through 2,000 years of Christian worship. It is a canon of worship that proclaims the theological and doctrinal content of our faith in song, and brings together the voices of Christians past and present. Through these collected hymns, we join our voices in worship with the communion of the saints.
“Seeing” the journey
A hymnal enables the worshiper to see the entire content of a hymn at one time. With a glance at the written page, the eye can take in the full scope of the hymn’s structure and progression, providing continuity between verses both theologically and sequentially. Thus, a hymn that is formed around a trinitarian structure, or which progresses through a passage of Scripture, can be grasped as a whole instead of broken into phrases where the framework can easily be lost.
Placement in history (Authorship and meter)
A hymnal provides the historical context of authorship and important musical information. Knowing when the hymn was written, and by whom, gives a sense of connection across history; and knowing the meter of a hymn enables one to mix and match the text with alternative tunes if desired. This is an important functional resource for church musicians planning services of worship.
A hymnal provides the musical notation for singing, which aids in confident singing. Even for those who do not read music, the basic layout of the lines, the duration of the hymn, the general shape of the melody, and the provision of harmonic parts for blending of voices is of great value for robust and vibrant worship.
A hymnal provides a wealth of resources for the full scope of worship, including creeds, liturgies for the sacraments, responsive readings of Scripture, prayers and benedictions. These components of Christian worship are all gathered together in one volume, with music for every season of the church year.
Private and family devotion
A hymnal is a devotional treasure that can be utilized in corporate worship, family worship, and private devotion. The hymns can be meditated upon in the hours and days following corporate worship; they can be accessed at home and reflected upon without the need for internet access or technology. It is a worship resource that can be carried alongside a Bible for travel, for personal devotion and prayer. Furthermore, children become grounded in the “faith inherited from the saints” through singing alongside their parents and grandparents, doctrine-filled hymns which are embedded in their memory.
Hymnals are usually arranged by themes such as the trinity, the means of grace, the church year, prayer, salvation, sanctification, mission, sacraments, etc. When the worshipper goes to a known hymn in a particular section, they are rewarded by discovering other previously unknown hymns which have the same theme. This is a valuable benefit for expanding awareness of worship.
Singing our theology
In addition to these important factors, which are true for all hymnals, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise in particular is organized around the Apostles’ Creed, which collects all of the hymns around a structure that presents the basic content of our faith clearly and passionately in song. Each article of the creed is conveyed through a rich collection of hymns that will enlarge understanding of the full scope of the Christian faith as summarized in the Apostles’ Creed.