Hymnal supplement working group seeks your input

Faith, Worship, and Ministry’s hymnal supplement working group is seeking your input as it works to compile a collection of “new and new-er” hymns, praise choruses, songs, and other varieties of service music to help meet the needs of churches across Canada. The supplement would also be a way of testing out new material that could be included in a future hymnal, but would be mainly intended to provide newer material in interim between hymnal editions.


“When you’re producing a hymn book, you’re trying to produce a whole repertoire of music that covers the church year and provides material that connects to the lectionary and so on. But in a supplement you don’t have that ‘burden,'” says Dr. Kenneth Hull, chair of the working group and head of the church music program at the University of Waterloo.

“You’re a little bit freer to provide things in areas where there’s been an expressed need. Say we don’t have enough hymns for Lent, or we need more music for the sung responses in the Eucharist—it’s a way of filling some of those gaps.”

“We’re looking for things that are going to be accessible and singable, and to try out some newer kind of material.”

The Rev. Martha Tatarnic of St. David’s Anglican-Lutheran Church in Orillia, Ont., also a member of the working group, is enthusiastic and hopeful about the process. “I think it’s fair to say that all of us see in our work the transformational power of music and the ways in which music can connect with people, and can communicate who we are and what we’re about-maybe in a more powerful way than we sometimes notice or are willing to admit.”

Part of the working group’s mandate is to consult with every diocese in the country about the materials they are currently using, their needs, and the sorts of things they would they like to see in the supplement. “That’s been a very difficult process to complete,” says Hull. “There’s been lots of good will, but it’s not an easy thing to do.”

Members of the working group have held consultations in about 6 dioceses, and have tried to identify people in other dioceses who might be willing to run consultations in their areas.

Hull wants to expand the consultation even further. “We really want to have a consultative process—of finding out what’s going on in the church, what people truly need,” says Hull. “We’ve been having some success with consultations, so another way is to let people at large know this is going on and invite them to communicate their interest or their concerns.”

“The people who have participated in these consultations have been very excited about doing so,” says Tatarnic. “We’ve had some submissions of original work that is unpublished at this point.”

In the meantime, the working group continues their work, with a passion.

“It’s really exciting,” says Tatarnic. “It’s kind of amazing how you find some sources to look through, to see what we might like to include, and that snowballs into other sources… there’s just such a breadth of resources out there for us to look through. We come from a variety of different church backgrounds, so we can say what has worked in our communities, we can try them out in our communities, we can see what other denominations are doing and the resources that they’re putting forward.”

Contact the Hymnal Supplement Working Group for more information, or to share your experience with church music.

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