Somewhere in my queue of non-time-sensitive articles to write—yes, it’s been there a while—is one on the history and practice of making theologically significant changes to traditional American songs. Not just line-level edits like neutering/diversifying gendered language or using “love” in place of “wrath.” I mean re-imagining songs in a thoroughgoing way, while also preserving much of the existing imagery and language patterns. (I posted some time ago about one historical example.) I write songs and play traditional music, but I haven’t actually tried this approach myself.
Many churchgoers greet the announcement of a new hymnal with a single puzzled, even outraged question: Why?
In preparing the new PCUSA hymnal, our committee may have made some wrong decisions. But they weren't careless or cavalier ones.