“Early in the process of preparing Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal, it became evident that if the resources contained in the hymnal were to be fully utilized, a manual of some kind was necessary. Members of the Joint Hymnal Committee time and again commented that a given suggestion belonged ‘in the manual.’” (Christian Worship: Manual, p. xv) These are words with which the introduction of Christian Worship: Manual begins.
With the hymnal project 2024, the Commission on Worship didn’t wait for the process to begin before appointing a chairman to oversee the production of those additional books that will stand alongside the new hymnal. More than produce a stand-alone hymnal, the hymnal project intends to publish materials that can assist worshipers, musicians, worship assistants (altar guild, elders, acolytes, audio/visual teams, etc.), and pastors in the worship life of the congregation. God willing, these resources will appear at the same time the new hymnal reaches production.
In our electronic age, we recognize that some of the materials we used to find in a book are more suited as digital resources. For instance, what is presently published as the book Christian Worship: Handbook (a well researched and thorough volume) could be made more user friendly in terms of research and “cut and paste” if it were in a digital format. In collaboration with the other committees within the hymnal project, the Literature Committee hopes to produce digital resources that would benefit all the various individuals and groups who participate in worship.
Still, there is something to be said about the publication of a printed and bound volume. Books, as such, tend to carry a weight of authority and the promise of a more thorough and reliable editing process. In addition to the electronic resources, the Literature Committee will oversee the production of a book or books of a more “professional” nature which can serve as a reference volume for those involved in worship.
The very presence of a “Literature Committee” assumes that the 2024 hymnal project intends to produce more than just a hymnal. As the series of books associated with Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal has served us well over the past twenty years, so we hope that the hymnal 2024 and all its associated volumes will be a blessing to the church.