A Letter of Introduction from Project Director Michael Schultz
Our church body has taken steps to initiate the production of our next hymnal, a successor to the well-received Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal. With the recognition that a hymnal and a supplement are ultimately intended to be combined, and that the members of our synod have expressed a continuing and rising interest in acquiring and using quality worship materials, groundwork on the next set of hymnal resources has now begun.
It should be noted that the previous sentence speaks of a set of resources. Different than the hymnal release in 1993, the next release of materials is planned to be a simultaneous release of a wider array of resources than the pew edition itself. WELS congregations can look forward to ancillary volumes such as handbook materials and concordance and worship planning resources (some in hard copy and some in digital versions and some in both) and digital music resources and the like becoming available at the same time as the new pew edition. This release is roughly targeted for 2023/2024.
There’s a change in the air when a church body begins a new hymnal project. Hypothetical discussions about future resources and worship issues all of a sudden become much more real as current materials actually come up for review and as real openings are made for new materials to be added.
It is our hope that many will be interested in the project, but it is at the same time our intention to make the process as transparent as possible by inviting people to come along for the ride. To a degree, the work of the seven committees (psalmody, hymnody, rites, communications, literature, scripture, technology) will be observable on this site. Visitors will be able to submit materials and offer opinions and feedback. In these ways and more, scriptural worship education will be receiving a shot in the arm.
The project is predominantly about continuing to make more excellent worship resources available to the congregations of our synod. With the expectation in our day and age that these resources will be digital and downloadable and device-ready, the technology aspect of the project will certainly be receiving our attention. We do recognize, however, that before worrying about the method of media delivery, we have a higher concern about the integrity of the materials – that they are faithful to God’s Word and that they proclaim Christ as Savior and King.
As we bear in mind that we want all the materials of the new hymnal to be very accessible to both worship leaders (for corporate worship) and to individuals (for private devotional use), we very much want to open ourselves up to all who have an interest in these resources. To that end, won’t you please register to receive notifications and updates on our progress? We’d be most pleased if you would. We are here not only to produce materials but also and more importantly to be of personal service to you. God bless our efforts to that end and to his glory!
Pastor Michael Schultz, director
WELS Hymnal Project