A new Presbyterian hymnal will be available later this year through the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC), an extension of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
“Glory to God” is set to be released in September, and more than 600 churches nationwide already have placed pre-publication orders for the new hymnal, scheduled to be sent to the printer this summer.
“It’s very exciting to see the way our denomination continues to add offerings,” said the Rev. Meg Flannagan, hymnal advocacy relations coordinator for the PPC. “It’s a wonderful legacy. There’s been a lot of enthusiasm (for the hymnal project), and we can’t wait for the actual book to be out this fall.”
Flannagan indicated that there has been a diverse cross-section of congregations placing orders for the new hymnal, noting that the average number of copies being ordered stands at 200-300 based on pre-publication sales thus far.
According to PPC President and Publisher Marc Lewis, the organization has invested a little more than $1.5 million in the hymnal project since its inception in 2004, and he noted there will be additional production, printing and introductory expenses to come.
The project is being fully funded by the PPC, although other entities of the church have provided consulting partnerships that have been invaluable in the development. Lewis indicated the PPC foresees the recovery of development costs and a positive surplus on the project that could be used to produce future publishing projects and resource efforts.
The hymnal project was started in 2004 by the 216th General Assembly, which gave authorization for research into formation of a new hymnal for the Presbyterian denomination.
The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS) formed four years later and began to analyze and select hymns for the hymnal before presenting its final recommendation to the 220th General Assembly last summer.
The new book of congregational songs will include more than 800 hymns, psalms and spiritual hymns. An estimated 50 percent of hymns included will be from the 1990 Presbyterian hymnal, with remaining pieces from former Presbyterian hymnals, other denominational songbooks, and individual authors and composers.
Flannagan described the new hymnal as a blending of traditional favorites like “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” and “Softly and Tenderly” as well as some new hymns.
Music from six continents will be featured, covering all major historical and contemporary sacred genres, including approximately 35 African-American gospel hymns.
Worship aids and printed liturgies for Sunday services, including baptism and the Lord’s Supper, will be part of the hymnal as well as services for daily prayer. Full orders of service will offer congregational responses, prayers and creeds.
The pew edition of “Glory to God” will be available in red and purple in Presbyterian and ecumenical editions. The Presbyterian version is “Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal,” and will be stamped with the PCUSA seal. The ecumenical version is called “Glory to God: Hymns, Songs, and Spiritual Songs.” It will not have the seal. Contents of both editions of the hymnal are identical.
Pew editions will cost $15 each through June but increase to $20 after publication.
Accompaniment and web editions (for large and small churches) also are available. The accompaniment edition will cost $75 through June, but churches ordering 40 pew copies will get one accompaniment book free, and those ordering at least 100 hymnals will get two accompaniment books. The cost increases to $85 after publication.
The web-based electronic version will cost $400 for churches with 201 or more members, or $300 if 200 or more copies of the pew edition are purchased by Dec. 31, 2014. The cost for the electronic version for churches with 200 members or less will be $300, or $225 if 100 or more pew copies are purchased by Dec. 31, 2014.
The PCOCS worked throughout 2012 to get copyright permissions, format pages and record sound bytes to further the project. The result was approximately 850 hymns and songs approved for inclusion, and 32 pages of liturgical material.
The PPC began taking orders for the new hymnal in summer 2012, and more than 600 congregations had placed their pre-publication requests by the end of the year along with camps, conferences, colleges and ecumenical partners.
“We expect that we’ll have 10 percent of the denomination (10,577 churches across the United States) make pre-orders,” Flannagan said. “(The number of pre-orders) has been such a vote of confidence and a show of faith in the committee’s work. It has been such an affirmation.”
The orders received thus far indicate an excitement about “Glory to God,” but it’s not certain at this point if they will outpace the blue Presbyterian Hymnal released in 1990 at a cost of $12.95.
In an email sent to The Layman, Lewis noted that there have been inflationary cost issues and changes in denominational membership during the last 23 years.
“While we are pleased with the response from our first pre-publication ordering, we are uncertain how this compares to the 1990 edition,” he wrote. “Even while we expect ‘Glory to God’ to be well-received and popular, it is fair to expect orders to be ultimately lower than the previous hymnal as the membership in the denomination is less than it was in 1990. However, as we’ve already seen and heard, we are confident that ‘Glory to God’ will prove to be a hymnal that is beloved by folk across the PCUSA.”
The PPC plans to host six national continuing education events celebrating the publication of the new hymnal later this year and early in 2014. Workshops devoted to the exploration of the hymnal’s contents will be led by members of the PCOCS, the Hymnal Project staff and other nationally-recognized music and worship leaders.
Those events will take place at Wayne Presbyterian Church in Wayne, Pa. (Oct. 18-19, 2013); First Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, N.M. (Nov. 1-2, 2013); First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah (Nov. 4-15, 2013); First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas (Jan. 9-10, 2014); Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga. (Feb. 21-22, 2014); and Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Ky. (March 14-15, 2014).