WELS Hymnal Project

What's Been Happening with the WELS Hymnal Project (and What's Next)

The WELS Hymnal Project’s Executive Committee recently met at the synod’s Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha on February 11 and 12. Each of the project’s seven subcommittees (Hymnody, Rites, Scripture, Psalmody, Literature, Technology, Communications) presented what their committee has been developing over the last few months for the executive committee’s review and approval. At this point that material still consists mainly of plans, philosophy statements, and guiding principles more so than specific hymns, psalms, or orders of service.

During the next few months, some of the key issues that the subcommittees have been wrestling with and that were discussed at this recent meeting will be topics for articles here on our website. We look forward to giving you the opportunity to review what’s been discussed so far and react to it.

What Else Is Next…

In addition to updates here on our website, here’s what else you can look forward to from the WELS Hymnal project during the coming months.

  • A two-part article will appear in Forward in Christ summarizing what we have learned so far as a result of our various research efforts, including the four surveys we conducted in 2014. Among these four surveys, nearly 7,200 responses were received. We want to thank all those who took the time to fill out one or more of these surveys. The content of that summary article will also be shared in segments on our website and will be included in the Book of Reports and Memorials presented at this summer’s synod convention.

  • This spring, the Communications Committee will facilitate an opportunity for anyone interested to let us know what their most dearly-loved hymns are. This opportunity will be open to anyone, and a special effort will be made to reach the students in our synod’s schools and Sunday Schools. The survey will ask about hymns in Christian Worship and Christian Worship Supplement. It will also give people an opportunity to select hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal that they would like to see included as well as a place to suggest songs from outside of these resources for the committee’s consideration.

  • Starting in 2016, you will start to hear about an effort to update people on where we are headed and give them the opportunity to sample and react to specific materials that are being considered for inclusion. Every congregation and school in the synod will have the opportunity to participate.

Thank you for your continued interest in this project and prayers for God’s blessing on it.

Pastor Jonathan Bauer
Communications Committee

About Jonathan Bauer

Rev. Jonathan Bauer is a member of the Executive Committee and has served on the Communications Committee for the WELS Hymnal Project. He serves as pastor of Good News Lutheran Church in Mount Horeb, WI. He is a member of the Institute for Worship and Outreach and has been a presenter for Schools of Worship Enrichment and at the WELS National Worship Conference.



Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. Your caution is very much in order and adds to what we are already thinking regarding this survey. We felt it important to give people some sort of channel for letting us know which hymns they treasure most. This is additionally true (maybe even more true) with giving them the opportunity to do so with TLH hymns that didn't make CW.

One thing we will try to make abundantly clear is that the intent of the survey (and the results we will be most interested in) are the positive ones rather than the negative ones. In other words, we'll pay more attention to the hymns that get selected frequently as opposed to those that don't. I can envision us being (pleasantly) surprised about a hymn that we thought never gained much traction in WELS. I can envision the frequent selection of a hymn that might have initially been at risk of getting dropped being reconsidered on the basis of those results. I can't really envision the opposite, i.e. a hymn that is a valuable part of our Lutheran heritage not getting selected very often and then causing us to say, "Well, no one likes that one, I guess we should drop it."

In the instructions for the survey we'll try to assure people of that and encourage them to simply vote for hymns they treasure dearly rather than thinking "I have to vote for this one to save it from getting cut."

Thank you again for your comments. They will be beneficial as we form the survey and communicate to the synod about it.


Pastor Jonathan Bauer
WELS Hymnal Project
Communications Committee

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