WELS Hymnal Project

Frequently Asked Questions on Cut Hymns

In July we began publishing segments of our current body of published hymnody, indicating which hymns are currently designated to be kept for our next hymnal and which are currently designated to be cut. These list segments are accompanied by monthly articles in Forward in Christ (also published on our website’s blog) that discuss the importance of hymns and their use in our worship.

In addition to the nearly 2,000 responses we have received through the feedback forms, we have also received a number of questions and comments. Below you’ll find several of the most common questions we’ve received, along with responses.

How can we vote on what’s being cut if we don’t know what’s replacing it?

Some have expressed uneasiness about evaluating the hymns designated to be cut without knowing which hymns will replace them. As Pastor Michael Schultz discussed in the first Forward in Christ article, the process for creating a new hymnal starts with making room for new hymns. Then the search for those hymns begins.

Why remove current hymns before finding their replacements? And why ask people to evaluate those hymns without knowing which hymns will take their place? As Pastor Schultz mentioned, “Letting go of approximately 25 to 30 percent of CW/CWS hymns gives us the opportunity to see what new treasures the Lord will provide.”

If every new hymn for the hymnal had to first unseat a current hymn, very few would be up to the task. In a “head-to-head” match up between the familiar and the unfamiliar, the familiar would almost always win. However, in the process, the treasures the Lord continues to provide for his church wouldn’t be given the chance to prove their worth.

In other words, the decision to keep or cut a particular hymn is made not so much in comparison to the hymn that will potentially take its place. Rather, it’s made in comparison to the other hymns in our currently published body of hymnody.

Can we vote to have certain hymns cut?

Some have asked if they can vote to have certain hymns cut. It is understandable that people have strong feelings not only about which hymns ought to be kept but also about which hymns ought to be cut.

However, receiving that type of feedback isn’t the primary purpose of this effort. If a hymn is included in spite of the fact that a good number of people don’t want it to be, it’s not as if those people must make use of it (see also the third article in the Forward in Christ series). On the other hand, if a hymn isn’t included in spite the fact that a good number of people want it to be, it makes it very difficult for people who want to sing it to do continue to do so. That’s why the purpose of this exercise is primarily to give people an opportunity to voice their opinion on which hymns they want to continue to be able to sing.

Can we offer comments along with our vote?

Initially the opportunity to comment along with one’s vote was not built into the feedback form. We assumed that, in most cases, any comment would more or less repeat the message communicated by the vote itself: “I want this hymn included in our hymnal.”

However, since a number of people have expressed the desire to include some comments with their vote, a single comment form has been included on the main Cut Hymns List page. The form can be used to comment on any hymn.

How long will the feedback forms stay open?

The nine segments of the hymns list will stay open through the duration of the process. All forms will be closed on May 1, 2018, two months after the final segment of the list is published.

About Jonathan Bauer

Rev. Jonathan Bauer is the Communications Committee Chairman for the WELS Hymnal Project. From 2008-2014, Jonathan Bauer served as an associate pastor at Emmanuel in Tempe, AZ where his areas of focus were worship and outreach. He is a member of the Institute for Worship and Outreach and currently serves as pastor of Good News Lutheran Church in Mount Horeb, WI.

Responses

Other Recent Articles

Catch up on the latest writing from the WELS Hymnal Project.

Get the blog delivered straight to your inbox.
Join our mailing list and you'll receive timely updates, interesting insights, and invitations to participate in the research and development of the new hymnal.