(A VISION FOR CHRISTIAN SONG, by Ken Bible; p.69)
The Value of the Hymnal
I have no interest in revisiting the whole debate about hymnals versus projection. But whichever
one you are presently using, it is constructive to remember the continuing value of the hymnal.
For those of us who choose and lead hymns, we need to keep at hand a large and varied
collection of hymns. Not only is it a useful source, but it challenges us and holds us
accountable. When we were compiling the Sing to the Lord hymnal, we sent out a usage survey
for its predecessor, the Worship in Song hymnal. We asked worship leaders to tell us how often
they had used each hymn in Worship in Song in the past 12 months. Respondents told us over
and over again that, having been forced to go through the entire hymnal, they were shocked
and disappointed at how few of its riches they had been enjoying.
Without a hymnal to stretch us, we are more likely to take the path of least resistance. We draw
from our limited memories and reuse the same familiar hymns again and again. A hymnal
disciplines us and draws us deeper into the wealth of wonderful hymns that are always at our
The hymnal is also a priceless devotional book. We’ve hinted at that above (Treasure the Past,
p. 46), and more will be said later.
As you look to the future, are you hoping for improvement of projection technology, or are you
planning for a hymnal purchase? In either case, it’s helpful to remember the advantages unique
to a hymnal. Here’s at least a partial list: