Note: In early February, a comprehensive report on the work of the WELS Hymnal project was posted to our website and distributed through several synod-wide communication channels. We are also featuring each section of the report here on our website's blog. As each section is featured we invite your feedback using the contact form on the bottom of the page.
Pastor Paul Prange, Chairman
One of most significant contributions Christian Worship made to worship life in our synod was the introduction of singing psalms as part of every service. An entire generation of worshipers has now grown up expecting to find an appointed psalm inserted between the first and second lessons in the service. Believers of every generation benefit from hearing and learning these divinely-inspired hymns, which sing both of the fallen human condition and its only cure, Jesus Christ.
A generation later, it was assumed that psalms would continue to play an important role in the worship life of our church body. The hymnal project’s Psalmody Committee (PC) has been entrusted with that component of our next hymnal. We hope to continue and even expand the opportunities congregations have to make use of psalms in worship. Our job is to provide musical settings for the psalms appointed for the various Sundays and festivals of the Church Year.
Where We Are Headed
As is the case with Christian Worship, you can expect to find a selection of psalms printed in the main “pew edition” of the next hymnal. A congregation will have the option of turning to that section and singing those psalms directly from the book.
With the psalms printed in the pew edition, you can expect to find a little more variety of musical style than is currently in Christian Worship. However, for all the psalms printed in the pew edition, it is our intent that most congregations will be able to sing each psalm in its entirety.
The PC also plans to make available a resource that our current line of worship products does not include, namely, a standalone psalter. We envision a softcover book that would be a bit smaller than a regular hymnal. Congregations that have both hymnals and supplements in their pew racks now would find it easy to transition to having a hymnal and a psalter there if they desired to make use of this additional volume.
A standalone psalter will enable us to provide the text and musical settings for all 150 of the Bible’s psalms. In the psalter, the full text of each psalm will be printed. This text will also be pointed so that it can be sung with any psalm tone or simply read aloud. Following this printed text will be the musical setting found in the pew edition, if there is one. Finally, additional musical settings of many of the psalms will also be printed.
Printing a standalone psalter will enable us to offer an even wider variety of musical settings for the psalms. Unlike the pew edition, not every single setting in the psalter will be able to be sung entirely by the congregation but will instead sometimes require the assistance of a choir or cantor.
In addition to its use in public worship, we envision this psalter being a blessing for personal worship. Individuals who want to pray through the psalms for their personal devotions might enjoy using the psalter, since it will contain all 150 psalms and have suggestions for personal devotional use.
In addition to these two printed resources, congregations that print the full order of service each week will be able to obtain necessary digital files (text and music graphics) apart from the pew edition and psalter.