Young People and The New United Methodist Hymnal | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
July 2016

Young People and The New United Methodist Hymnal

By Carl Gladstone (NCJ & NEJ)

A New Hymnal Approved

Delegates to General Conference 2016 approved the creation of a new United Methodist Hymnal. This new hymnal and it’s development process will allow for:

  • Maintaining a core of Wesleyan hymns and worship resources for the whole church
  • Flexibility for churches wishing to include modern worship songs in their local collections and
  • Building a rich online database of music (1000-1500 songs) from artists around the world.

So, how will youth and young adults connect with this new resource? And how might they have a voice in its development?

Building the Hymnal

The new hymnal process will begin with the gathering of two action teams. One 15-member Hymnal Revision Committee will make decisions about this specific new worship resource. Then, a new 9-member Hymnal Advisory Committee will recommend future updates to the hymnal.

Each committee will include young representatives. Or they will engage persons speaking to young people's needs and insights.

These teams will design a submission process for choosing new songs and prayers. Young people around the world will have an opportunity to submit pieces they’ve written. The team will consider all pieces for inclusion. This is how we'll build our church’s new official database of worship resources.

Young People’s Ministries encourages youth and young adults as creators of worship arts. So, please stay tuned to new projects in this area!

Tech for the Hymnal

Another important connection point for young people and this new hymnal is technology. We consume much of our media through digital means and on mobile devices. So, how will we share the new hymnal other than as a big hardcover book sitting in a pew rack?

The authors of the hymnal legislation welcome the promise of technology for this effort. This will be “a worship resource that is no longer bound by the front and back covers of a printed volume.” Instead, the cloud-based collection of worship songs will be available in many formats. A local worshiping community may choose whichever delivery method is most helpful to them. E-books, online viewing, print-on-demand collections and more are all possibilities.

The enabling legislation creates a tech-infused resource. It helps the United Methodist Church thrive as a curator of rich worship arts globally. And, it uses emerging communications platforms to encourage new generations in this work.

Continuing Like Charles Wesley

The opportunity to redevelop our United Methodist Hymnal keeps the Wesleyan tradition alive. Charles, the great hymn-writer, averaged writing 1.5 hymns per week counting from his birth! John was a great curator of hymn collections for their fledgling Methodist societies.

They provided theologically astute hymns to everyday Christians through the technology of their day. Pocket-sized hymnals helped keep the Methodists learning about their faith through singing. Metered texts and tunes allowed congregations to create the original “mashups” of their day. They mixed and matched the tunes and texts that worked for them.

Today, young people with powerful computers at their fingertips can keep this tradition alive. Imagine electronica remixes of the top 10 hymns used by United Methodist churches! Think of scattered young people developing new worship songs together through platforms like Soundcloud.

Opening Up The Heritage

The new United Methodist Hymnal connects our tradition of hymns with new technological tools. This will refresh and re-energize our worship life. Young people will take part in the decision making process around this new resource. And, they will offer their own artistic work for inclusion.

But the official hymnal is just one way our church helps encourage a rich worship life. We hope that young people will see this new hymnal as a reminder that United Methodists are artists for God. Our songwriters, poets, and painters create pieces that help reflect on our faith. They reveal the goodness, truth and beauty of the Christian narrative. This creative work can teach people to follow Jesus in deep ways. And, young people will lead the United Methodist Church in continuing this hymn heritage. They'll take new tools and platforms and take us to new heights of worship artistry.

For more information on the developing story of our new hymnal, click here.

Photo by Charles Clegg