ABILENE, Tex. — "Bringing in the Sheaves" is out because it's too rural, but "Victory in Jesus" is in as the Churches of Christ adopts its first completely revised hymnal in nearly half a century.
"The younger people under 40 wanted music and words that fit them," said Jack Boyd, a musicology professor at Abilene Christian University who served as music editor for the project. "We are now more of an urban society; far too many of the hymns have rural imagery."
The first copy of the "Great Songs of the Church, Revised," which Boyd and a colleague spent five years editing, was presented this week to Abilene Christian President William Teague during the university's annual Bible Lectureship.
(The American-born denomination, founded in the 19th Century, embraces more than 13,000 autonomous congregations. Because it has no central organization and no decision-making national conventions, the annual Bible Lectureship programs serve as major gathering times for Churches of Christ members. Pepperdine University will have its 43rd annual program April 22-25.)
More than 1 million copies of "Great Songs of the Church" have sold during the last 65 years, and it is one of the most widely used hymnals in the Churches of Christ. The new book, edited by Abilene English professor Forrest McCann, is the first complete overhaul since 1937.
About 65 people across the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia served on an advisory committee for the hymnal revision. About a third of the 670 songs were deleted.