An Update from the Executive Committee
The Executive Committee of the WELS Hymnal Project comes into 2019 with four regular face-to-face meetings remaining before most of the content of the core products of the new hymnal is due to turn over to Northwestern Publishing House for the publishing process. The various subcommittees of the project are meeting monthly, and in some cases weekly, to complete the content so it can be reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee by the end of this year. Here’s a snapshot of where we stand with the project.
- The Hymnody Committee continues to evaluate new hymns and bring them to the Executive Committee for approval. For the past few years, the Executive Committee has been reviewing the texts and musical settings of anywhere between 30-60 new and old hymns at each quarterly meeting that have been previously vetted by the Hymnody Committee.
- The pew edition of the new hymnal is intended to be a “singer’s book”. The harmonizations included in its pages are intended for part-singing as well as keyboard accompaniment. Some of the hymns that are not intended to be sung in 4-part harmony may appear in a melody-only format, but this will be the case in as few instances as possible. The accompaniment for all hymns will be found in the Accompaniment Edition.
- A two-volume Accompaniment Edition, which will be in a spiral bound 8.5”x11” format, will hold the accompaniment for everything in the Pew Edition. This set will also hold alternate settings of many of the hymns, along with performance guidelines like tempo markings.
- Three settings of the main service will be in the Pew Edition of the hymnal. Additionally, for those looking for further variety, as many as six other settings of the main service will be available in electronic format for production in service folders.
- The Musicians Resource Group has been hunting down music for instruments and singers to support our project’s body of hymns. The group met recently to discuss their findings and to map out the team’s work going forward. The next 5-6 months will be spent looking for more existing resources. Eventually, newly composed music is likely also to be included. The end goal is to provide excellent, practical, curated music resources for every hymn in the new hymnal.
- A set of Gospel Acclamations with proper verses of the day, similar in concept to the GIA Cantor’s Book of Gospel Acclamations, is in the works.
- The Scripture Committee is wrapping up work on the lectionary and moving on to Commentary on the Propers.
- The committee working on the pastor’s Agenda Book has been working on rites such as Installation of a Teacher, Farewell to a Ministerial Candidate, Dedication of a Church Building, and Commissioning of a Missionary, among others.
- Background information on each hymn that would be found in a handbook will now be accessible in an online database rather than a printed volume.
- We are now under contract with an artist who will produce a logo and various icons for use across the hymnal resources.
- The Technology Committee is continuing to work with a technology vendor to produce a digital worship planning tool which will streamline service folder production.
- A 64-page preview edition of the new hymnal will highlight various features of a new liturgical rite, as well as several new hymns and psalm settings. The preview will be produced and made available at the 2020 District Conventions, the 2021 Leadership Conference and Worship Conference, and the 2021 Synod Convention. Each congregation in the Synod will receive copies for perusal as well.
- Release of the new hymnal is scheduled for Advent 2021.
The Executive Committee continues to oversee and facilitate the work of over 75 volunteers who are putting these important worship resources together for our Synod. Please pray for the people working on this project, as well as their families and the congregations and schools that they serve. Please pray for the success of this project so that these resources confess the name of Jesus Christ and provide tools to enable believers to use the means of grace in public worship and other devotional settings.