A New Update on the New Hymnbook

Last week, the Church released some new updates about the new hymnbook and children’s songbook.  The short and sweet version is that we’re still several years away from the books being published and that the process and the books themselves are evolving (both due, at least in part, to the sheer volume of material that is being evaluated for inclusion and current world circumstances).  We’ll look into the specifics in a minute (and I’d love to have some discussion about what you think about the projects from what we know), but first I’ll take a moment to link this to previous discussions I’ve posted about the new hymnbook (which, in turn, link to the previous news releases on the Church’s site):

  1. The New LDS Hymnbook: Changes and Possibilities (discussion about original announcement June 2018)
  2. Updates on the New Hymnbook (discussion from the last time we received new information about the hymnbook and children’s songbook May 2019)
  3. “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Throughout the Restoration (discussion about the history and likelihood of the titular hymn being included in the new hymnal)
  4. Spanish Hymns and the Future Hymnbook (discussion about which hymns original to the Spanish hymnals of the Church may be included in the new hymnal)

The sheer amount of material that is being evaluated is overwhelming.  According to the new article on the Church’s site, over 16,000 original hymns, songs, and texts were submitted for consideration.  About 55% of these submissions were for the hymnbook (so roughly 8,800) and the other 45% being submissions for the children’s songbook (roughly 7,200).  This is an increase over the 1985 hymnbook, which had around 6,000 hymns that were submitted for consideration and which was not created at the same time as the current Children’s Songbook.[1]  A General Authority advisor to the new hymnbook committee stated that while they are grateful for these contributions, “in the end, we will be able to publish only a small portion of them.”[2]  If early informal reports that I heard are accurate, the initial target size of the new hymnbook was intended to be around 200-250 hymns, meaning that if it were entirely composed of new hymns, less than 3% of the 8,800 would make it (and that’s not accounting for any hymns carried over from the current hymnbook and other sources outside of the submissions).

To whittle the results down, the submissions were sent out to over 100 musicians and text experts around the world, who evaluated them based on the official criteria Church music.  From previous news releases, we know that those criteria are that “sacred music of the Church should: 1) Increase faith in and worship of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. 2) Teach the core doctrine of the gospel with power and clarity. 3) Invite joyful singing at home and at church.  4) Comfort the weary and inspire members to endure in faith.  5) Unify members throughout the Church”.[3]  Based on the evaluations of this larger group, “the top 2 to 3 percent of the submissions then move on to the Hymnbook and Children’s Songbook committees.”  The official committees (composed of 9 and 7 members for the hymnbook and children’s songbook, respectively) will then review them and work towards a consensus on which hymns and songs they will submit for final review by Church leaders (first to advisors to the committees and members of each general presidency, then ultimately the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve).

In addition to the 16,000 original hymns and songs submitted, the committees are reviewing many other potential candidates for the music collections.  These include the 550 hymns included in the Church’s current hymnbooks and the 354 songs in the children’s songbooks, along with hundreds of other hymns and songs, including “music published in the Church magazines over several decades, as well as sacred music currently used in other Christian faith traditions,” according to Steve Schank, Church music manager and chairman of both committees.  The Church Newsroom article went on state that this last category includes “beloved hymns and songs from several cultures, countries and languages … as well as songs from different faiths that coincide with the teachings of the Church.”  The examination of these hymn and songs is being informed by the results of the general survey through which Church members submitted suggestions and feedback (apparently resulting in nearly 50,000 suggestions drawn from members in 66 countries) and feedback from senior leaders of the Church, who are “very interested and involved in this project and, in many instances, have given detailed and meaningful counsel regarding both the content and process of the revision,” according to Schank.  In addition, testing and research are being used to better understand the needs of Church members.[4]  If this process is similar to the previous hymnbook, this testing probably includes field testing hymns with congregations and fireside groups, then asking for them to evaluate (though that approach has likely been hampered by the pandemic).[5]  While progress has been made in making selections from this massive amount of resources and feedback, there is still a ways to go.

Beyond the process of selecting hymns, there is also further work with considering revisions to the hymns and songs and deciding how to best present them.  According to Schank, the goal of any revisions is to better align the hymns with the criteria, generally resulting in “modest improvements, such as changing a single word or phrase to make language more culturally sensitive or doctrinally correct, or lowering the key of the music to accommodate easier singing.”[6]  This is pretty common in the Church’s history—for example, only 18 hymns in the 1985 hymnbook made it through from the previous hymnbook without any changes.  Once in a while, it does result in more drastic changes, such as when the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” was included in the 1948 hymnbook—they kept the EIN FESTE BURG tune and half of the first verse, but jettisoned the remaining three and a half verses in favor of a half verse of brief theological summaries of Jesus’s work,[7] but cases like that are rare.  As far as presentation, apparently “a new font for lyrics has also been created” as part of aligning with the “Church’s visual identity efforts” (I will say that I’m intrigued to see what a font looks like that is specifically designed to match the Church’s branding). [8]  And, of course, there are the legal difficulties of making sure that they have copyright contracts worked out so they can publish the hymns worldwide that will affect timelines and decisions about which hymns are included in the future.

Finally, the Church Newsroom article mentions that the project continues to evolve and change in response to worldwide events and the ongoing changes within the Church in recent years.  Adrián Ochoa (another General Authority advisor) noted that “the two-hour block and the home-centered, Church supported model for worship and learning” were not initially anticipated when the project started and that these changes “as well as adaptations to our work necessitated by the coronavirus situation, will affect both the outcome and timing of the new collection.”[9]  The indications are that these situations are causing a prioritization towards making the new music collections more easy to use in the home.

The bottom line is that it will be a while yet before we will be seeing the new hymnbook and children’s songbook and that the projects continues to develop and evolve with the Church and with events in the world.  As a musician in the Church, I highly anticipate the new music collections and have high hopes for what the committees and quorums involved decide to do with it, but I understand that they want to do the job well, and that takes time.  The other take-away I get from this is that the hymns I submitted will most likely not make the cut (given the amount of competition they are up against and the desire to make the hymnbook more international in nature).

All of that being said, what do you think about the news with the hymnbook and songbook?  What are your thoughts, concerns, and hopes for the process and its outcome at this point?

 

Footnotes:

[1] See “6,000 Hymns Were Submitted for 1985 Hymnbook,”  The Tabernacle Choir Blog, 2 April 2015, https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/articles/6000-hymns-were-submitted-for-1985-hymnbook.html#:~:text=Each%20Sunday%2C%20members%20of%20the,from%20the%20book’s%20beloved%20pages. Accessed 11 November 2020.

[2] “Committees Thank Members for ‘Overwhelming’ Response to Hymnbook Revision Efforts,” Newsroom, 10 November 2020, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/committees-express-gratitude-for-overwhelming-member-response-to-hymnbook-revision-efforts, accessed 11 November 2020.

[3] Eleanor Cain Adams, “Committees and Strategic Goals Announced for Hymnbook and Children’s Songbook Revisions,” Church News, 9 May 2019, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/committees-and-strategic-goals-announced-for-hymnbook-and-childrens-songbook-revisions?lang=eng, accessed 11 November 2020.

[4] “Committees Thank Members for ‘Overwhelming’ Response to Hymnbook Revision Efforts,” Newsroom, 10 November 2020, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/committees-express-gratitude-for-overwhelming-member-response-to-hymnbook-revision-efforts, accessed 11 November 2020.

[5] See Michael Hicks, Mormonism and Music: A History (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 144

[6] Quoted in Eleanor Cain Adams, “Committees and Strategic Goals Announced for Hymnbook and Children’s Songbook Revisions,” Church News, 9 May 2019, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/committees-and-strategic-goals-announced-for-hymnbook-and-childrens-songbook-revisions?lang=eng, accessed 11 November 2020.

[7] Compare the traditional translation listed on Wikipedia with the Church’s website.

[8] “Committees Thank Members for ‘Overwhelming’ Response to Hymnbook Revision Efforts,” Newsroom, 10 November 2020, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/committees-express-gratitude-for-overwhelming-member-response-to-hymnbook-revision-efforts, accessed 11 November 2020.

[9] “Committees Thank Members for ‘Overwhelming’ Response to Hymnbook Revision Efforts,” Newsroom, 10 November 2020, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/committees-express-gratitude-for-overwhelming-member-response-to-hymnbook-revision-efforts, accessed 11 November 2020.

18 comments for “A New Update on the New Hymnbook

  1. I would hope they try to make use of as much of the good material as possible, like keeping around music that doesn’t make the cut for the hymn book for a large collection of possible choir or instrumental music, for example.

  2. Thanks for the update, Chad. I had been wondering what was happening with this project. It’s a positive sign, I think, that so many people have written and submitted music; the criteria for selection make sense; and it seems wise for the Church to take some time and consider carefully what the new books should include. I hope and trust that in addition to soliciting the advice of “musicians and text experts,” the Church will also get a lot of input from ordinary folks who love to sing hymns but are not experts. In my experience, ordinary people and professional musicians can differ in what they find uplifting or enjoyable in music. And for the most part it will be non-professionals who will be using these books to express their reverence and praise.

  3. Great to hear the update. I’m scandalized by the idea that we could take on this ambitious project while at the same time scaling back the number of hymns. Why do that? Other traditions are comfortable with hymnbooks containing hundreds more hymns than ours, and these books still fit fine in the pews. Of course some hymns will be tossed—but I think we’ve easily got a solid 200+ hymns now. If we’re really going to update from the last 40 years of global hymn production, plus consider hymns from other traditions, how in the world will they keep it to 250?

    And Chad, is there any way for us to listen to your own submissions?

  4. Thanks for the update.

    I anticipate many being disappointed with the new hymnal when it arrives. I’m not thinking of the contributors of new hymns whose work is not included. Instead, I’m thinking of:
    1. those who find even our current hymnals impoverished by exclusion of many of the great hymns (and Christmas carols and Easter hymns) of broader Christian traditions — at least those many whose texts are consistent with LDS “doctrine” or can easily be adapted to be so, text adaption being common in most English language hymnals and common to LDS hymnals since Emma Smith’s;
    2. those whose favorite hymns from the existing hymnals will not be included;
    3. those whose desire to preserve/continue use of certain historic LDS hymns will be disappointed;
    4. those who want hymns of the great Anglican and German Lutheran musical styles other than the 19th century Victorian style that continued in new LDS hymnody at least well into the 20th century;
    5. those who want a more current popular music style;
    6. those who will be offended if national anthems are excluded;
    etc.

    The idea of shrinking rather than expanding the number of hymns pretty much guarantees those disappointments. They could be ameliorated with hymnal supplements as is often done in other denominations in years between overhauls of the primary hymnal. There was some talk of such supplements for various language groups, but I’m not anticipating that that will actually happen within the next decade. The problem is related to both physical facility and budget issues. Some of our buildings already don’t have places to put enough hymnals for the length of the pews they serve. Where would they put such supplements if they even obtained them? Many ward budgets are too constricted to fund purchase of new hymnals or supplements. (Maybe such purchases are dealt with through Facilities Maintenance budgets originating in SLC, but given the historically common non-responsiveness of the Facilities Maintenance group, that’s not a particularly encouraging idea.)

    We have a history of official hymnals that is not encouraging. I’ve been told, but cannot verify, that the average life of an American denominational hymnal is between 20-25 years. We waited nearly 40 after the frustrations of the 1948/50 hymnal before producing the 1985. Now it seems it will be nearly another 40 before the next one appears. There are stories told of some uniquely silly GA insistence on various matters in the 1948 hymnal (retaining prior hymn nos. rather than organizing the hymnal in any sensible way) and of some GA demands for inclusion in the 1985 hymnal (for good or ill). Still 1985 struck a reasonable balance among inclusion of (a) new hymns (b) additional great Christian hymns not in the previous hymnal, and (c) favorites of people with a wide variety of tastes and nostalgic connections. I do not see how that can be done while shrinking rather than expanding the hymnal.

    If there is any hope of returning to “normal” church services, I do not see what home-centered church has to do with the new hymnal project. What might be useful in many homes is vastly more restricted and simplified than what would be useful for inspiring community worship in our congregations. In the 60s-70s there was a lot of talk among serious LDS church musicians about “lifting” the taste of our congregations. I gradually came to see that as misguided — thinking instead that the goal should be to expand the tastes of members of our congregations and encourage charity and acceptance of the tastes, responsiveness to the spirit, and inspiration of other members of whose tastes differ from one’s own. In a church where we do not choose our wards according to how much we like the bishop or the music, it is inevitable that there will be a wide variety of tastes and responsiveness to different musical styles within our congregations. (I was only half-joking when I started “preaching” that the goals of our music in sacrament meetings should be to inspire everyone sometime and not offend the same people all the time.)

    In some historical cases it would have been well if certain presiding authorities could have learned such charity and that their personal taste may not be precisely co-extensive with that of God and the Spirit. But as Vaughan Featherstone is reported to have said to a regional gathering of priesthood leaders (paraphrased), the wide variety of music he had heard in their services was appropriate, but when certain other authorities came, the music should be done their way as not doing it their way was not worth the cost.

    I surely don’t envy those charged with putting together this new hymnal! Good luck to the committee!

  5. One very general thought: this is reflective of a persistent problem we have in the information age, of effectively searching against vast amounts of information of widely varying quality. It’s a problem we are far from solving, but hopefully we are at least recognizing it as an issue.

    The approach the Church is (largely) pursuing is what I would call search by expert committee, and I think this is likely to result in consistently high quality candidates being selected. At the same time, it may be an overly “safe” approach, less likely to select candidates that are unusual but which have potential.

    I do hope the Church pursues having choirs audition pieces – effectively a “crowdsourcing” approach, which has proven to be very effective in a lot of different disciplines (much to the surprise of the experts.) And it’s a relatively safe approach, since a hymn that is well loved by choirs is likely to be appreciated by the general population of the Church.

    With respect to the hymnbook, I suspect that once the current favorites are kept in place and some favorites from other languages are added, there won’t be much room left. My guess is that hymns of praise and seasonal music (e.g., Christmas) will be well covered by current selections, and any new additions are likely to be established Christian hymns. Sacrament hymns could see a few additions, and could also see some new musical settings for hymns where the text is well loved but the setting is not. I think hymns of the Restoration will be left as they are, and if anything, may see some new additions. (“We need to sing more hymns of the Restoration” is a recurring theme among senior General Authorities, so even if the music committee isn’t excited about adding more of them, that may be what they end up doing.) But overall, I don’t see where there’s space for a lot of new hymns.

    The children’s songbook, on the other hand, has plenty of room for change, and I think that’s where we’ll see the most additions. It’s a big songbook, and to be blunt, there’s a lot of filler. The set of beloved songs is not particularly large, so there’s room for a lot of change. I think it’s also where we’ll see some of the most creative music, which wouldn’t be suitable for a Sacrament Meeting setting.

    At any rate, I trust that inspiration will play a role in all of this, and hopefully we’ll see fewer of the less-beloved hymns that somehow made it through the last process. (One general observation: many of the less beloved hymns are actually *newer* hymns, many of them mid-20th century compositions that were a little too innovative for congregations and never caught on. That should be a cautionary tale for the current music committee.)

    And spare a thought for the people back at Church HQ that have to send out all the rejection notices.

  6. Zerubbabel’s “crowd sourcing” idea is a great one.

    I’d be fairly inclined toward Zerubbabel’s comments on the hymnal if I thought there was any general agreement on what “the current favorites” are. I find that varies widely within my ward, for example, and judging by use, from ward to ward.

    Judging by general use, for example, I’d count “How Great Thou Art” and “I Believe in Christ” among “favorites” but they are strongly despised by a healthy number of individuals of varying degrees of musical background. They, like some others, are sometimes despised because of overuse. The former is disliked by some because of its extreme rhythmic and harmonic repetitiveness. The latter is disliked by many because it is sung much too slowly most of the time — as many of our volunteer “organists” cannot play it any faster or are in a habit of thinking it’s supposed to be slow. Some dislike it because, despite its elevated ideas, the poetry is quite poor (likely to have been included in 1985 solely because of the identity of its author) and the way it was aligned with the music created for it sometimes places strong emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble (thinking of “he IS” instead of “He is”). And then there are those “sunshine songs” which are some people’s favorites while being significantly irritating to others. And then there are the militaristic hymns which offend some who are not thinking sufficiently symbolically about soldiers, battles and armor. Etc. If the committee were to think of retaining “favorites” I suppose they’d first have to decide on a criterion for identifying “favorites”. Then I’d expect some powerful people to overrule the effect of any such criterion because it didn’t result in including those powerful people’s “favorites.”

    Then there’s the “hymns of the restoration” definitional problem. Some seem to think the phrase means “hymns about the restoration”; some think it means “hymns written by members of the Church”; some think it means whatever hymns are included in official hymnal(s) of the restored Church regardless of subject matter or origin. Some just repeat the phrase apparently without any clear concept of what they’re talking about.

    I’ll just take the wait-and-see and then-live-with-whatever-it-is approach.

  7. I should say that there are probably a few good reasons why they may have been thinking of a smaller hymnal that are more logistical in nature. First, I know that in the past, the size of the hymnbook holders on the pews was an issue that constrained the size of planned hymnals. For the 1985 English hymnbook, that meant it could only be as wide as the previous hymnal. Since then, the Church has grown and most of the Church outside of the English-speaking countries have been using hymnbooks in the 200-250 size range as the standard policy, so it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of our church buildings around the world have hymnbook holders designed for that size. Second, and along the lines of cost efficiency, the less hymns printed in the hymnbook, the less money they cost–both for materials and for copyright payments. So, there’s a consideration there towards making it affordable to print hymnbooks for congregations around the world. A couple other considerations, though–it’s possible that the size was just a rumor, and even if it’s not, it’s also possible for the project to evolve and for the committee/GAs to decide to go for a larger hymnal to include more of the hymns they feel should be included.

    As far as input from folks in the Church who are non-experts, I think that they are doing some good work there from the limited visibility we have. The survey was a big deal for that input, and it sounds like they are doing some sort of research or testing as well. My guess is that it might actually be something like the “crowdsourcing” Zerubbabel mentioned. I think they learned their lesson from the 1970s attempt at revising the hymnbook about listening to more than experts in creating a lovable hymnbook (even though I suspect everyone will find something to be disappointed in, as JR suggests).

    As far as my own hymns, James, there is a chance I could arrange that. I’ll have to think about how to best present them.

  8. With respect to the length of the hymnbook, the Church may have targeted a shorter hymnbook since they have committed to translating it into “every language” and wanted to make the task less of a burden for translators. I wonder, though, if the targeted size of the hymnbook may get expanded once they realize the difficulty of finding space for new hymns while keeping current favorites. And “let’s make things easier for translators by producing less stuff” is not the approach the Church typically takes, so that may be another consideration arguing for a larger hymnbook than the 200 to 250 count that’s been rumored.

    The comment on “home-centered” is an interesting one. I read that as a factor that may encourage the music committee to favor hymns that are shorter and simpler. Big sophisticated two-page epics like “For All the Saints” are not likely to be used in home centered worship, so may be less likely to be included (but do keep “For All the Saints”, because it’s wonderful.) And even with electronic playback readily available, many families may still have a piano they want to use for singing at home, so that would also favor hymns that are simple and easy to play.

    With respect to “I Believe in Christ”, I’m afraid that it is quite the favorite and unlikely to be cut from the hymnbook, even if the typical organist can’t be convinced to play it anywhere near tempo. The biggest problem I have with it is not the hymn or the music, but the polite fiction that it is four verses when it really is eight, and as a result, makes for one of the longest hymns in the hymnbook. My recommendation would be to renumber the verses to eight, cut the music in half, put the four verses in the staff and the remaining four down below, and let congregations that want to get on with their services sing four verses and be done.

  9. Every ward I’ve lived in has only sung a small subset of the hymnal. There are many hymns in that book that I’ve never heard sung and have never sung myself. That mainly stems from amateur organists, amateur choristers and amateur congregations. We now have no time to practice hymns as a group. if there are many new hymns in the new hymnal who is going to have the courage, the patience and the musical ability to try them out on their congregations? I see the subset of comfortable hymns only growing smaller while the rest of our hymnal remains sealed.

  10. A couple of thoughts… when I was ward music chair picking sacrament hymns a decade or so ago, I tried very hard to match theme (either Sacrament or Sunday School or both), avoid too often repeating same songs, end the meeting with a short song, and increase variety. For my efforts I got groused at by a particular bishopric member for using “unfamiliar” hymns. I asked for examples of what he meant, and the songs he (raised in Montana) identified as unfamiliar were ones that were commonly sung in the ward where I grew up (Indiana). I listened diligently, but pretty much ignored his complaint going forward because I had no way of knowing what a “familiar” hymn would be!

    Second, I’ve got a song (just one) in the running myself, and yes, the quantity of possibles is daunting, but I retain some hope since mine is in the Children’s category and on a topic currently under-addressed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a request for a lyric change…

    And Zerubbabel, you are quite thoughtful in wishing well on those poor souls who have to send out the rejection slips!

  11. Great post and comments. Thank you.

    Several years ago, I participated in an unusually candid question and answer session called by a member of the Seventy at a conference for senior missionaries, whose name I will not give, because of possible blowback against him. The questions were unscripted and covered a variety of topics, and the Seventy’s answers had not been prepared in advance.

    One question he fielded was: when will the Church put out a new hymnbook? During his answer, he noted that the most difficult problem encountered in giving birth to the 1985 version of the hymnbook was unsolicited input from many members of the Q12, who wanted their favorite hymns included, and wanted certain hymns left out, and the requests/demands from different Q12 members sometimes conflicted with each other. These were people other than then-Elder Thomas Monson, who had been assigned to preside over the revision of the hymnal. There were space limitations: only a certain number of hymns could be included, and it was difficult for the Committee preparing the hymnal to say “no” to members of the Q12.

    I imagine the same thing will happen, this time around. Those who like sausage and hymbooks should not watch either being made.

    Gotta love it. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing the new hymnbook, no matter how long it takes.

  12. I suspect that is why they made it official this time around that the committees are just advising the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency, who are the ones making the final decisions on the content of the hymnbook and children’s songbook.

  13. There is simply no excuse in a church over-staffed with efficiency experts and linguists for revision of a hymn book(!) to take several years. It’s a hymn book.

  14. I had understood when I participated in the original request for suggestions, of which I had a great many, that the 200-250 hymns were to be the core hymnal available in print in all languages, and that there would then be additional hymns for each nation available online.

    Not sure how those online are going to get much of a work out if it then requires printing them off for your congregation, unless of course you’re in a unit that provides weekly printed sacrament programmes, and many do not. Additionally, does this mean the different English speaking nations will get their own lists? Or will it be assumed that hey a common language means common culture and taste, specifically Utah-based as so often seems to happen.

    But this idea that there’ll be different offerings online doesn’t seem to be getting much of a mention more recently.

  15. I have wondered at the massive response to the request for submissions and suggestions — and what that response might mean. I suspect individual reasons for responding vary widely. At the very least, the massive response would seem to indicate a significant interest in the direction to be taken with our church music. I had suspected from decades of work in and observation of church music of LDS wards, stakes and regions, that interest in worship through music was suffering from a terminal illness. I’m glad to see evidence, however inconclusive, that my suspicion may be wrong.

  16. I was the music chair in my ward for the two years preceding the pandemic shutdown and have since moved away from that ward, so I am no longer the music chair. The bishopric and the music chair prior to me had been keeping a Google spreadsheet to communicate the weekly music selections and the music chair handed that off to me when I took over.

    Being well versed in using spreadsheets from my profession in IT, I took all of that wonderful data and created a log to figure out which songs had been oversung and undersung the past few years, I then used that and the weekly Sacrament meeting topics to drive my music selections each week. It was wonderful how many undersung songs I was able to get us to sing. Thankfully I also had an organist who also enjoyed my expansion of the ward’s repertoire and skilled enough to play them at proper tempo. I got a lot of grateful comments from ward members as well! Some were excited to sing songs they had never had the chance to sing before or sing favorites of theirs that weren’t common favorites. The closest I ever got to a negative comment was when I was asked to pick “familiar” songs for ward conference because of direction from the Stake President.

    I certainly share some of KLC’s fear that some wards’ set of “comfortable” hymns may only shrink with whatever hymnal is eventually produced. But my experience as a music chair and the overwhelming response as noted in the OP also gives me hope that we may underestimate the interest in the general membership to experiment with the new hymnal.

  17. It appears that both women and men are involved in a substantial amount of the selection work (various committees and members of “each general presidency” are involved, not to mention staff-level employees at the COB).

    So, why does it make any sense that the final cut will be made by men only?

    In the case of music generally–as in the case of most everything–input from both men and women makes for a better result. Why depart from that here? Makes no sense.

  18. Hedgehog, that was my understanding as well, though I had the impression that it was going to be a relatively small selection for regions. I have no idea where that idea is at, at this point, but that is a keen observation that we haven’t heard about it as much lately. My best guess is that they are still primarily focused on the hymnbook itself, so that’s what they’re mostly talking about at this point. I find it likely that something of the sort will still be created, but that’s just speculation on my part.

    Hunter, I suspect that the choice of having the Q12 and First Presidency have the ultimate say is primarily a reaction to previous power struggles over the hymnbooks of the Church and a way to assert that they are involved in the final product. My feeling is that, for the most part, it will be the hymnbook committee that will do the work of shaping the hymnbook, with the apostles signing off on their decisions. Granted, though, my own view is limited, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Along the lines of “frequently sung” hymns, SingPraises.net did a pretty good survey a few years ago that’s worth looking at to see some larger trends (https://singpraises.net/statistics).

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