Ugly black books showed up in the pews at my church, First Church in Pembroke. Formerly Congregational, currently United Church of Christ.
The Pilgrim Hymnal (1958) has been in the pews on the book rack as long as I can remember. Now, I’m one of the worst singers in the world. But I’ve been honking along with the rest of the congregation for most of my life. Whenever we were called on to sing “Nearer my God to Thee” I’d think about the movie, “Titanic” (The old one, not Leo’s). In the black book, its now “Nearer my God to You”. Why not “Yo!”? Of course, God is lucky to still be there, in the new Hymnal, God is reduced and Lord has almost evaporated.
From a critical review in 1996…“reveals a commitment to reconceive God in terms of a democratic egalitarian ideology that rejects hierarchy and patriarchy.”
From users reviews at Amazon…
Amazon:”It isn’t inclusive when it rejects the traditional and those who prefer it”….
Amazon:”For those charged with representing the descendants of Yankee Pilgrims and Puritans, the compilers of the NEW CENTURY HYMNAL did a pretty good job of spitting on the one area which ought to be their custody–the Plymouth experience. That magnificent internal rhyme “may Thy congregation escape tribulation” got thrown out (was it the “Thy”?) in favor of some Cool-Whip banality written by staff.”…
Amazon:”I found the textual changes insulting to the original authors of these sacred texts. No regard is given to the biblical language or traditions. Ideology drove the creation of this hymnal, not a desire to glorify God. This is what happens when humans become the center of their faith instead of allowing God’s Spirit to speak and reveal God’s self to us. For shame.”…
Amazon: “However, my biggest complaint with New Century is taking the inclusive language too far, and my church uses this hymnal. Singing “I want Jesus to Go with Me” instead of “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” sounds awkward. First of all, the walk is a spiritual walk and does not exclude those of God’s disabled children. Second, the changed title sounds like Jesus is going to the bathroom with you”….
In my own experience, after being out for several weeks, I encountered this new hymnal in the pew without knowing anything about it. Never heard of it. Started to thumb through it to find the hymn the congregation was singing and my eye caught the changed wording of one of my favorite hymns, “Nearer my God to thee”. Except it wasn’t called that anymore. I went back after services and leafed through the book and found very little I liked.
Speaking to several people at my church, members and deacons, I heard the same explanation. That explanation was that our Minister told them that the old hymnals, which were wearing out, had to be replaced with The New Century Hymnal because the Pilgrim Hymnal was out of print and could not be obtained. I decided to do a little investigation, first the obvious point is that the Pilgrim Press is now owned by the UCC (United Church of Christ) and they own the copyright and control any decision to publish or withdraw from print the Pilgrim Hymnal. Further reading on the history of the decision to create a new hymnal showed me that my old enemies, the same progressives who took control of the UCC, were trying to control our thoughts and voices, again. They disapprove of the military, the patriarchal idea or tense, the rich and full language of the traditional hymns and they decided to exclude them from being voiced by the UCC congregations.They even re-wrote, America the Beautiful.
I continued on that premise until I discovered that my initial information was in error. I logged onto the UCC storefront and discovered that I could, in fact, order a brand-new copy of the red hymnal, “The Pilgrim Hymnal”. I have not been able to find out if the hymnal is actually out of print and what is being sold is just inventory or still on the active book list. As far as what is happening at my old church its a moot point. Parishioners are being lied to and the black books are replacing the old hymnals in the pews. For me its sadly the end of my membership at First Church.
Why does inclusive mean excluding the traditional?
Some of the links I’ve explored to develop my understanding of this matter;