John Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, recently wrote an excellent article titled, “Ten Reasons Why Hymnals Have a Future.” Here are his reasons, in no particular order:
- Hymnals are especially well suited to good group singing of many kinds of songs (though not all).
- Hymnals are portable.
- Hymnals are splendid for home piano or keyboard devotional playing.
- Hymnals are an efficient one-stop worship planning resource.
- Hymnals make it relatively easy to stumble on and fall in love with good music you never thought you would like.
- Well-designed hymnals offer a vision of a balanced thematic diet.
- Hymnals help connect songs with elements of worship.
- Hymnals give people access to a “cultural memory bank” that many desperately want.
- Hymnals can be appealing to seekers.
- A hymnal can be a surprisingly effective catechism for both brand-new and lifelong Christians.
You can read the full article here.
On a related note, I’m quite enthusiastic about the particular hymnal Witvliet mentions, i.e. Lift Up Your Hearts (hereafter LUYH). Before the article was published, I purchased over 20 copies (for small group use, devotional reading, family members, etc.). It’s not a perfect hymnal, but it gets many critical things Witvliet mentions in the article right.
I’ve been quite familiar with the Trinity Hymnal for years, and almost pulled the trigger on buying multiple copies. But when I received word that LUYH was under production some time ago, and upon reviewing a preview copy, I’m glad I went with it instead of the Trinity Hymnal (as much as I appreciate the latter).
If you don’t own a hymnal, or need to acquire a quality hymnal, LUYH is an excellent choice. (Even if the word “hymnal” sounds irrelevant, archaic, and makes you twitch.)