In 2018, the Session appointed and ad hoc Hymnal Committee to study the possibility of a new hymnal and to bring a recommendation to the Session. In response to this work, on July 22, 2020, the Session approved the purchase of a new hymnal for the Church. We are so excited to tell you about this new hymnal and how you can be a part of its arrival at TPC.
Why do we need a new hymnal?
The Current hymnal, The Trinity Hymnal, was produced in 1990 (30 years ago) and has been used by TPC since 2000. It is the product of Great Commission Publications, a joint publishing arm of the PCA and the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church). While admirable in many ways, it has a number of weaknesses including: the absence of many hymns (old and new) that TPC would like to sing in worship, the inclusion of many hymns that are not used by TPC, obscure tunes, and heavily or awkwardly modified texts.
So, we are buying a new hymnal?
There are several newer hymnals on the market, but none of the ones currently offered are suitable options since they have many of the same weaknesses that the Trinity Hymnal has. The PCA is not planning to produce a new hymnal in the near future, so we decided that the best course of action is to work with Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis who was producing their own hymnal.
How did this hymnal come into being?
Second Presbyterian Church produced a hymnal for use in its worship and offered to let TPC use this hymnal for worship. The work to create this hymnal began six years ago and is marked by the following:
- It is made up of conservative Presbyterian hymns, making room for new hymns that have been written since the Trinity Hymnal was published and removing hymns that have largely fallen out of use. Prominent sources used include Keith Getty, the RUF Songbook, as well as Baptist, Episcopal, and Lutheran hymnals, and many more.
- The aim was to create a hymnal representative of a wide array of styles, including historic hymns and older gospel hymns, as well as the best contemporary hymnody and choruses.
- Another key aim was developing a hymnal comprised of melodies accessible to the large majority of congregants. To do so, the key was lowered one half to one full step for many of the hymns, accommodating the modern vocal range. Additionally, the number of stanzas for some hymns was reduced from those included in the Trinity Hymnal to those most commonly included in other hymnals.
- The aim was to choose hymns that were theologically substantive (being consistent with a reformed biblical worldview), pedagogical in nature (contributing to the discipleship of all worshippers), and participatory (easily learned and sung by the large majority of congregants).
- Many individuals were pivotal to the work of creating this hymnal, including Samuel Metzger, Sanders Willson, and Todd Alexander.
So, this hymnal is perfect?
No hymnal is perfect. Because music in the church is dynamic and living, it will in some ways be dated the moment it is finished. And, while this hymnal will include many newer hymns (e.g., In Christ Alone, The Power of the Cross), some favorites of ours will NOT be in this new hymnal (e.g., Now I belong to Jesus, Up From the Grave He Arose, 10,000 Reasons, He Lives, etc.). Nevertheless, its strengths are many and its weaknesses few, and we believe that this new hymnal is the best hymnal we have at our disposal today. We will still print some hymns and songs in the bulletin because not everything suitable and desirable for singing will be in this hymnal.
Is the Confession of Faith and Catechism in the new Hymnal?
Yes, the new hymnal will have the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Shorter Catechism just like the current Trinity Hymnal.
What about the Psalter?
The new hymnal has 39 full Psalms set to music. However, the new hymnal will not have the Psalter arranged for responsive readings. Responsive readings will be either printed in the bulletin or in some other way provided for the congregation to read together. The new hymnal is considerably larger than the current Trinity Hymnal making it necessary to remove the “blue metrical Psalter” from the pew racks.
How will we purchase the hymnals?
The hymnals cost $25 each. We are asking members to purchase the hymnals in honor or in memory of others, similar to the Easter Lilies. Names of donors and those being honored or memorialized will be printed in the bulletin when the hymnals are dedicated and also permanently recorded in the Church’s Book of remembrance located in the Narthex. You can purchase as many copies as you would like in honor or in memory of others by going here or by calling the church office at 334-262-3892.
When will the hymnals arrive?
The order for the hymnals has already been placed. We expect them to arrive in 2-3 months.
What will we do with the “old” Trinity Hymnals?
We plan to keep a certain number for use within the church. The remaining stock will be offered for sale to the congregation for $3 per hymnal through the Bookstore for a few months. Any remaining stock will be donated to another church that does not have the resources to buy their own hymnal.