Caroling the Cross at Christmas

You won’t be hearing this new/old version of “What Child Is This,” over the mall’s speakers. The scandal of the incarnation meeting the scandal of the cross does not sell.

Helpful or Hurtful? On “Aspirational Hymns” such as “For Everyone Born”

I received an interesting message from an old friend asking about the hymn, “For Everyone Born” (text by Shirley Erena Murray; tune by Brian Mann). He wondered whether the hymn struck me as controversial. After all, how do we sing about abuser and abused having a place at the table?

The Wrath of God, the PCUSA & a New Hymnal

Why is an evangelical Divinity School Dean and Glenn Beck’s website “The Blaze” writing about God’s wrath and the Presbyterian Church? Answer: copyright law and a decision by our hymnal committee. I guess I’m not surprised that in a news environment itching for the latest click bait, the absence of one hymn in the new Presbyterian Hymnal is being cited as evidence for people’s previously-held theories of the denomination.

Buy a Hymnal. Save Your Church.

I promise you that no hymnal – not even a cool new one with a website, e-book edition, and app – is going to “fix” your church’s young people problem. If you think that, I’m so sorry.

No Christmas Trees in Church

[This is a repost, though slightly altered, of a post of similar name from a year ago. Since I don't seem to have won the argument, I figured I'd try again.]  It’s a wonderful tradition in my house: putting on Christmas music, lugging the tote full of Christmas decorations up from the basement, making hot […]

New Media Project: “The old rugged hymnal: New songs and old media”

It’s an honor to write a few posts for the New Media Project. If you don’t know their research and case studies on church life and new media, check it out today. Today’s post is entitled, “The old rugged hymnal: New songs and old media.” I’ve posted an excerpt below: The old rugged hymnal: New songs and […]

On Apple Stores & Congregational Welcome

Apple is not God, but the company pretty darn good at creation (design), evangelism (marketing), and worship (sales). Author Carmine Gallo who devoted a year to researching the Apple store experience writes that, by design, all laptop screens in the stores are tilted to 70 degrees. Why? So customers have to adjust them. The angle […]

Through the Church the Song Goes On: Thank you, John Ferguson

I still remember the first time I heard about St. Olaf College. I was in Montreat, North Carolina at a music and worship conference at which John Ferguson was serving on the faculty. At a dinner, John (who I now know fondly as “Ferg”) suggested I attend St. Olaf College, a small liberal arts college […]

What language shall we borrow? Hymnal contents now available online

The Presbyterian Publishing Corporation made an exciting announcement yesterday. The content list for the 2013 Presbyterian Hymnal “Glory to God” is now available online!

As a member of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song I can say that list represents years of prayer-filled discernment (and hundreds of anguished votes). Surely, the contents will now be met with thanks, praise, and criticism. That’s how this process works. That’s how, I suppose, God works through the process as well.

As the countdown to announcement neared, I wondered what language would accompany it. What’s the right verb?

Would the list be “released?” Would the list be “prayed into the world?” Would the list be “offered,” “revealed,” or “shared?” The question of language — obviously, not a new one for the committee — is a tricky one.