Glory to God, the Presbyterian Hymnal sampler with the same name as the forthcoming hymnal, is being given out to everyone at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) which begins today in Pittsburgh. A copy will be mailed to each PCUSA congregation after the assembly. I got a copy this week at Yale, where I was on the faculty for the Congregations Project at the Insttitute of Sacred Music.
The Presbyterian Hymnal Project has been ably led by David Eicher, and Glory to God will appear next year.
60% of the 1990 Presbyterian hymnal will brought into the 2013 hymnal. This will comprise 40% of the new hymnal – sturdier and thinner paper makes possible a larger book which still isn't unwieldy. (Although Catholics are physiologically weaker than Protestants, and physically less able to hold a hardbound hymnal, but that's a topic for another day.)
The Service for the Lord's Day is at the front of the book, then Baptism and Reaffirmation of Baptism, then Daily Prayer. Then the Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs. It's always interesting to see how the hymns are laid out – Glory to God begins with "The Triune God" under the heading "God's Mighty Acts."
Many will remember, for it was not so long ago, that Presbyterians celebrated Communion four times a year, and more recently perhaps once a month. Mainline Protestants have come a long way as a result of the ecumenical liturgical movement of the 20th century. Glory to God, following the Presbyterian 1993 Book of Common Worship, will say "The Service for the Lord's Day" is a service of Word and Sacrament. Together they form a unified liturgy; one is incomplete without the other." Within the Service for the Lord's Day there is this rubric: The norm of Christian worship is to celebrate the Lord's Supper on each Lord's Day. If the Lord's Supper is omitted, the service may include a prayer of thanksgiving… concluding with the Lord's Prayer.
The elements of the Service for the Lord's Day are: Gathering, Word, Eucharist, Sending. Catholics conscious of how the Mass of Paul VI has inspired Protestant liturgical reform will be struck by several things. (It should be noted that the instructions in the Presbyterian hymnal explicitly allow for local freedom and do not make the 'official' service mandatory.)
No Sign of the Cross, but at the Confession and Pardon, water is poured into the baptismal font. No sprinkling option as in the new ELCA/ELCC hymnal Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Kyrie, Trisagion, or Agnus Dei may be sung, then Gloria in Excelsis or Gloria Patri. (Latin titles are used, btw, followed by translations in parentheses.)
The Scripture readings are concluded with The Word of the Lord./Thanks be to God, or Holy wisdom, holy word./Thanks be to God.
The order states The Nicene Creed is particularly appropriate for the celebration of the Lord's Supper. When the Sacrament of Baptism is to be celebrated, however, the Apostles' Creed is used within the baptismal liturgy.
After the Prayers of the People, the Peace of Christ is shared if this has not happened earlier.
The Offering has a Berakah-like prayer, "Blessed are you, O God, maker of all things. Through your goodness you have blessed us with these gifts…" The Great Thanksgiving begins with the dialogue used by English-speaking Catholics until last Advent, with the exception of the change "It is right to give our thanks and change." Then follows what we call a preface, then the Sanctus. There is a full eucharistic prayer with supper narrative, Memorial Acclamation (the first is Christ has died, Christ is resen, Christ will come again"), epiclesis, "Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ," and three-fold Amen. Lord's Prayer, Breaking of Bread, Communion of the People.
Pretty much the Mass of Paul VI, broadly speaking.
The hymns have information on text and tune, of course, below each hymn. But first there are a few lines of explanation and background about each hymn. I think this is a good idea. There is a danger of didacticism, for we gather to worship God, not to learn about the history and musicology of our worship. But I think these brief comments will help worshipers enter into worship with understanding, and prevent misunderstandings that sometimes cause irritation.
"Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty" / LOBE DEN HERREN has this: "This very strong 17th-century German hymn employs many phrases from the psalms, especially Psalms 150 and 103:1-6. It did not receive an effect English translation until the mid-19th century, but has remained popular ever since, thanks in part to its stirring tune.
"I Will Come to You" by David Haas has this: "Presuming to speak in the voice of God, as this song does, can only be done with integrity if the singers understand their words as an expression of what they believe about God's nature and God's intentions. It is an occasion for affirming faith, not for wishful thinking."
"They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love" has this: "A parish priest of St. Brendan's on the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s was very involved in the local Civil Rights movement and needed something for his youth choir to sing at ecumenical, interracial events. Finding nothing, he wrote this song in a single day."
"Be Thou My Vision" / SLANE has this: "These stanzas are selected from a 20thcentury English poetic version of an Irish monastic prayer dating to the 10th century or before. They are set to an Irish folk melody that has proved popular and easily sung despite its lack of repetition and its wide range.
There is a Lamb of God by Yusuf Khil with text in English and Arabic and this explanation: "This 1956 setting of the Agnus Dei by an Arab composer was created for the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Whether sung in Arabic or in English, it helps us to join our sung prayers with Arab Christians and all others seeking God's mercy and peace." – We'll be using this setting at the abbey, I guarantee.
Well. There is so much here and I could keep quoting at length, but I'll stop. Pre-order your copy here.