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A Hack to Help You Master the Hymnal

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  • A Hack to Help You Master the Hymnal

    A few weeks ago I was speaking to a member of the choir at my church about the state of our music choices during liturgies. I am only a guy in the pew with my young family, but I thought there were certain times when the music choices reflected poorly in some liturgical seasons. Songs during the season of Lent, for example, should reflect a tone of repentance and personal lament, and not merely be the same songs we sing throughout the year.

    She countered with her own lament, how the music was limited because, well, “the songs in the hymnal are too limited.” In other words, we have a hymnal that lacks certain songs that our choir would prefer to use, but cannot.

    “Not Enough Songs”

    I do not want to make light of this dilemma, as I recognize that many choirmasters and worship leaders feel the same sense of limitation, when they are handed a bound book and are expected to abide by its contents. Even if one has a missallette subscription, there is always a chance that a favorite song of the congregation would be unceremoniously dropped after a year’s use.

    But at the same time, looking at the contents of a hymnal or a missallette is extremely intimidating. How often can one do so without the feeling of being overwhelmed? There are times where one forgets a certain song is in its contents, and you can just as easily bypass that for an inferior song for a liturgy.

    “Too Many Songs”

    After our conversation, I took a deeper look at our hymnal, and made some discoveries. If I were to excise the Mass parts, the Psalms, and the readings, what remains is about 300 songs. Of these songs, 100 are focused on specific seasons or special days (including a few patriotic songs).

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    Nick Alexander
    Host, The Prayer Meeting Podcast
    Worship that is Contemporary, Traditional, Charismatic, Contemplative, Spontaneous, based on the Church calendar, play it whenever you want.
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