New hymnals, a.k.a. “Worship Books,” are forthcoming from numerous church bodies, including two Lutheran groups (among them my own ELCA). Having studied none of these books, I write with vincible ignorance about the details. Having studied church history, however, I write with invincible knowledge of how all of them will be greeted in some sectors of each church group. Those old enough to have savaged the books being replaced will now mourn their loss, just as they will—if they live long enough—grieve over the shelving of the ones they are now trashing.
When I first went to church, when I was about 15, I found myself in a hymn-singing tradition. When I began to write hymns in the 1960s it was natural for me to follow that tradition. I think that a congregational song, or a hymn—which is a lyric that develops a theme or tells a story which unfolds over more than two or three stanzas—can be in any kind of musical style.