Unbounded praise

The Rev. Anna Moon, TroyHope Ministry, finds ways to make harmony on the Hymnal Committee.

Michigan Conference Communications

A few years ago at Annual Conference, Opening Worship included one of the old standard hymns. The assembled voices gave it a monumental, if ponderous, gravitas. But by the end of the third stanza, the music team moved into the chorus with a modern praise song, while the music leader and the congregation continued with the old stand-by. The contrapuntal effect was stunning, soul stirring. It showed what a little imagination can do to enliven worship.

Blending old and new while enlivening worship is exactly what the Hymnal Revision Committee of the United Methodist Church wants to do. The 15-member committee held its initial meeting from March 19 to 21 in Nashville, Tennessee, at the United Methodist Publishing House. The Reverend Anna Moon from Troy, Michigan, was there. Reverend Moon, who is in charge of the TroyHope (English) Ministry at Troy Korean United Methodist Church, feels “blessed to be a part” of the committee, which has been continuing its work online and via the web.

“We all have different backgrounds and different talents,” reports Reverend Moon. “There are teachers, professors, composers—all from different states.” The diverse committee began its work by experiencing various ways of praising God, and Reverend Moon was impressed with the members’ ability to plan together with respect as they explored the “richness of worship.”

She notes especially one setting, where the method used to ring hand bells produced a hum rather than the expected clang. Another technique involved chanting, whereby participants were “given a tone” to create a certain musical ambience.

“It was cool to see and hear different languages, new ways of making harmony, different meters and instruments,” says Moon. “It showed me there were new ways of making melodies to God. It expanded my comfort zone.”

Beyond innovative musical styles and techniques, there is also much new technology, and the committee is reviewing that, too. The members are identifying songs and worship rituals that can be used with multiple media, including digital downloads and streaming.  “There was a lot of conversation about the possibilities,” Reverend Moon remembers, “even beyond what we are thinking now. We’re looking at the future!”

Finally, the committee is giving serious thought to the theology behind the songs and rituals. The primary goal is to create a resource that can be used for worship that is transformative, life-changing, and that expresses our unity in great diversity. To this end Reverend Moon and the other members of the committee are encouraging submissions.

Those who would like to take part in this mighty mission can send their songs, lyrics, arrangements, prayers, and rituals to the following web address: http://www.umph.org/umhymnal2020/Submissions.

The committee is expected to present their report to General Conference 2020; wouldn’t it be fun to be a part of history?



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