Worship and Song Committee begins selection process

Worship and Song Committee met in Elkhart, Indiana in early February. Two previous directors of hymnal projects are seated in center front, Mary Oyer and Rebecca Slough.

News Release: February 9, 2017

Worship and Song Committee begins selection process

Subcommittees tasked with evaluating and tagging hymnal content

ELKHART, INDIANA— Practically speaking, how does a group of 13 people review thousands of pieces of music and worship resources in the next three years? This was the focus of conversation February 2–5, 2017, when the 13-member Mennonite Worship and Song Committee met in Elkhart, Indiana, at the offices of Mennonite Church USA.

To accomplish the giant task before them, the committee has divided into subcommittees organized into two tiers: content and delivery; and contemporary and intercultural worship. The subcommittees began evaluating and tagging content that fits the vision of the project.

“This meeting helped address questions about where we see the collection moving,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director and general editor. “A clear structure helps us choose the content for this new hymnal.”

The committee includes Kauffman and Karen Gonzol, editorial assistant, as staff, plus 12 volunteers: Adam Tice, text editor; Benjamin Bergey, music editor; Sarah Kathleen Johnson, worship resources editor. The remainder of the committee includes Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Paul Dueck, Mike Erb, Katie Graber, Emily Grimes, Tom Harder, SaeJin Lee, Anneli Loepp Thiessen, and Cynthia Neufeld Smith.

“This is a highly committed group of volunteers,” said Amy Gingerich, editorial director at MennoMedia who serves ex-officio on the committee. “The subcommittees really jelled around their shared purpose.”

Bradley Kauffman, project director, flanked by Rebecca Slough, left and Mary Oyer, right, key personnel for 1992 and 1969 hymnal collections, respectively.

Meeting highlights were an afternoon tea with Rebecca Slough and Mary Oyer, key figures in previous collections, including Hymnal: A Worship Book (1992) and Mennonite Hymnal (1969), and a session with David Eicher, who served as general editor for Presbyterian Publishing on its recent hymnal, Glory to God (2013). The group has plans to engage other leaders who have shaped Mennonite hymnody in future meetings.

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee is working toward a 2020 release of a new hymnal to be published by MennoMedia in cooperation with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. To submit content for consideration, visit http://mennoniteworshipandsongcollection.org/.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908-3941 or email LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

 

 

 

Project 606 has a new website

We at MennoMedia recently launched a website to share information and allow individuals to contribute to the creation of a new song collection which we are developing for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada. The site is http://hymnalproject606.com/

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Project 606 is the name of the fundraising aspect of the development phase of the song collection. It was so named in recognition of the significance of the anthem version of the traditional “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” prayer, affectionately known as “606” from its designation in the red 1969 Mennonite Hymnal.

Mennonite Hymnal

The 13-person hymnal committee, whose work the funds being raised is underwriting, is comprised of five Canadians and eight U.S. citizens and will met for the first time on September 22-25 in Harrisonburg, Va.

About hymn “606,” Russ Eanes, MennoMedia’s Executive Director notes he has been asked more than once, “When you do a new hymnal, can you put ‘606’ back it its place?” The goal for Project 606 is to raise $606,000 to pay for the Project Director’s salary, the travel, lodging and meal expenses for the 13 person hymnal committee over three years, administrative and other staff support to develop a new hymnal for the next generation of Mennonites. We need to raise these funds because MennoMedia is a small publisher without the financial reserves needed to undertake such a big project ahead of sales.

Some have asked “Do we really need another hymnal?” to which I reply, it has been 24 years since Hymnal: A Worship Book (HWB) was released, a longer gap than the 23 years between the red Mennonite Hymnal (1969) and HWB (1992).

Hymnal A Worship Book

Churches have been asking whether they should replace their worn hymnals or wait for the next one. MC USA and Mennonite Church Canada have asked MennoMedia to produce a new hymnal. While at Mennonite World Conference in August, 2015 I noticed 60% of the music in the songbook was not in HWB, Sing the Story or Sing the Journey. These new songs greatly enhanced the corporate worship at MWC. The church is asking for a new song collection. We owe it to our faith communities to give them the best music resources available.

The “606” song, in a cappella form, continues to inspire, with stories abounding. On May 2, 2015, Garrison Keillor hosted his Prairie Home Companion radio program live from Goshen College. The show, which is broadcast nationally to an audience of four million, opened with the thousand-member, mostly-Mennonite, audience’s a cappella rendition of “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” When the singing ended, Keillor said, “Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. You’re stunning me.”

In March of 2016, Eastern Mennonite High School in Harrisonburg, Va sponsored a concert of the British a cappella music group Voces8. Their mix of sacred and pop music entertains audiences all over the world. Toward the end, as is customary, the again mostly-Mennonite audience sang a cappella for Voces 8. This year the EMHS crowd sang “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” As Eanes related, Voces 8 listened on stage in quiet appreciation. When the echoes of the final “Amen” receded, Voces 8 gave the crowd a loud ovation.

Eastern_Mennonite_School_Logo

One member of the group, Ollie, was in tears. He later explained, “Sorry I was blubbering. Last year I was in a serious car accident, totaling my car. Amazingly, I wasn’t injured, but I blacked out. While I was unconscious, I had a strange sense of being taken care of in a special way. I felt held and looked after. It had a profound impact on me.” The audience’s singing of “606” again moved him, reminding him of God’s care.

Mennonites sometimes take beautiful singing for granted. “But we should never forget what a gift it is and that this gift is so readily obvious to outsiders,” reminds Eanes.

To date more than $235,000 has been given or promised representing nearly 40 percent of the goal. The www.HymnalProject606.com website accepts credit cards; those who give as little as $500 over the next 3 years can be named, or honor a loved one, with a line in the back of the hymnal. In addition to donations, people can recommend favorite songs for inclusion in the new hymnal. The committee has promised to consider each submission.

My wife and her five siblings have given a gift to honor their parents with a line in the back of the hymnal saying: Honoring our parents Russell & Gladys Alderfer, “Oh for a 1,000 tongues to sing.”

I encourage to honor your loved ones with a line in the new hymnal. Those in the U.S. can fill out the paperwork online, and both U.S. and Canadians can give using a credit card. Click here to visit the website HymnalProject606.com

I will personally contact those Canadians who give through Mennonite Church Canada’s website – click here – to record their dedications for the back of the hymnal.

MC Canada DoveWM

Thank you for your gifts and support. It is much needed and greatly appreciated.

Blessings in your work, worship and witness,

Steve Carpenter

Steve Carpenter Director of Development and Church Relations

Director of Development and Church Relations