Some tech-savvy Presbyterians have questioned the need for another bound hymnal. Other worship leaders lament the inclusion of electronic editions. Each congregation and institution must make a decision based on their own needs. The next blog posts will be devoted to this discussion. Worship leaders, committees, and Sessions may find these helpful in their discernment.
Reasons to own a hardcopy:
- A book allows serendipitous discoveries and revelations. Readers can peruse whenever they have time or desire, pausing or skipping to where God's voice is heard most clearly. Stanzas can be reread at the individual's pace instead of a projector's.
- A book is relational. Its wear and tear commemorate specific services and occasions. The reader is invited into a sensory experience -- touching, holding, seeing, smelling -- for that particular moment.
- A common worship book is an antidote to the potential abuse of clerical power and the myth of magic words. All readers will have access to all liturgical material and musical contents. Worship leaders are thus prevented from choosing only their favorite songs, omitting troublesome stanzas, or picking worship elements out of context. A book enables the congregation to participate more fully in the liturgy ("the work of the people").
- A book is a sign of commitment. A book suggests permanence and significance, like reading Scripture from the Bible as opposed to scratch paper that is immediately discarded. A book is a visible sign of the larger church in which we worship, reminding readers of both our cherished traditions and areas of reformation. Within a book, readers will see both songs that they love and sing regularly, as well as other hymns that they do not sing, prompting a rememberance of the church's diversity.
- A book travels easily. No electricity is needed. No special staff or equipment is needed. Readers can use in small groups, classes, at home, on retreat -- any place at any time without special permission or guidance from worship leaders.
- A book is easier to read for people with certain vision problems.
- Finally, and practically, not all of the book's contents will be given permission from copyrights holders for release in the electronic editions. Access to the entire contents of Glory to God will be available only in the pew edition, scheduled for publication in September 2013.
Stay tuned next week... Reasons why electronic editions can be helpful...