A New Song Collection and Hymnal is Coming!

Mennonites sing to express their faith. That’s what we said in our first hymnal planning session last week in the Twin Cities.

Representatives of Mennonite Church USA, Mennonite Church Canada and MennoMedia spent a day in some intensive, but very good meetings, planning a new hymnal for our churches. This was a follow-up on some decisions reached last fall, where the two denominations asked MennoMedia to take the lead in planning and producing a new song collection.

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While this first meeting had just four of us—Amy Gingerich and myself from MennoMedia and Dave Bergen and Terry Shue from Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, we agreed that our next meeting will include one more each from our denominations, in particular persons with expertise in music and worship. This group will not actually produce a song collection or hymnal; rather we are just a “steering committee” who will hire and select the team that will produce the final product. Besides one full time project director and some other, part-time staff, there will be a committee of 10-12 persons from across the church, hopefully representing the broad diversity of our denominations and especially gifted in music, poetry and worship.

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This sign in the children’s Sunday School classroom at Faith Mennonite seemed very appropriate for us as we go forward!

One important bit of work for us was the statement of some values that we hope this process and final product will express:

  • Collaboration and cooperation.
  • Openness and transparency.
  • Leanness and responsiveness—meeting perhaps more intensively, over a shorter time period.
  • Lots of communication, since people want to know what’s happening. Good marketing will be included in this.
  • An excellent product that will help form faith for a new generation.

Lots of questions remain unanswered:

  • Who will be on the committee?
  • How many new songs versus old ones?
  • What kinds of supplementary products will be included (such as audio and visuals)?
  • Will “Praise God From Whom” be #606 again?

We look forward to the next five years as we see this product take shape and hope and pray for a resource that helps preserve and treasure a faith tradition in music.

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~Russ Eanes
Executive Director, MennoMedia

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Read the complete news release on the project sent out this week.

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WANT TO STAY IN THE KNOW? Sign up for quarterly (approximately) email news releases/updates on the song collection project by sending your email to this address: HymnalInfo@MennoMedia.org.

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Check out existing and vintage hymnals and songbooks we still sell!

How do Words Enhance or Hinder Worship?

By Mary Ann Weber

I’m a word person. I’m fascinated by how words are put together to make phrases and sentences. What do they mean? What do the words convey? Take this phrase: “Did you eat today?” Say it out loud four times, each time emphasizing a different word. Notice how the meaning changes, even though the same words are spoken. Fascinating!

All of this tells me that words are to be considered carefully and I thought about this as I was working with worship resources this week. MennoMedia offers a bulletin series subscription for congregations to receive bulletin covers for each Sunday. They are offered with or without worship resources printed on the back. You can read more about them see samples here and below.

The congregation where I spent my formative years did not use preplanned worship resources. I noticed that each Sunday, the prayers and words were similar to ones said the previous Sunday. It was predictable and did not tap into my love of words.

When I moved to another area I got involved with a different congregation. The worship leaders and pastors gave great thought as to what was spoken during the service, and I came alive! The poetic phrases, the images that came to mind, the careful nuancing of words, all enhanced my worship. A whole world opened up to me.

I keep these congregational stories in mind as I work with worship resources. How will words enhance, or hinder, worship? How will words lead someone into the presence of God? How will words encourage community and discipleship?

Some people are gifted in writing worship resources. Some people prefer to use resources written by others. Hymnal: A Worship Book, Sing the Journey, and Sing the Story, are all designed to lead congregational worship.

Along with quality song selections, each book includes good worship resources to be used during worship services and throughout the church calendar year.

Words for Worship and Words for Worship 2 pay careful attention to words and how they fit together. Take a look at these books the next time you plan a worship service.

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How do you use words during worship? How do they invite people into God’s presence?

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Visit the Congregational Resources Section of the MennoMedia store to find many of these items.

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Mary Ann Weber
MennoMedia Managing editor