The twelve-member Hymnal Commission, which was chartered at the June 2023 Meeting of the College of Bishops, met at St. Mark’s Church in Arlington, Texas, from November 13-15. Our task was to develop a process that would produce a Hymnal for the Anglican Church in North America. We considered the rich musical gifts of our Church, as well as the many diverse contexts and needs of the congregations our work must serve. We desired to produce a Hymnal that would bless and unify our young Province.
Deliberations on how to proceed were thoughtful, prayerful, and eventually inspired.
What emerged was a path forward that surprised us all.
The purpose of a Hymnal is to support congregational worship through song. But a Hymnal alone is not enough. While our Province has several churches of varying sizes with well-established music programs and resources, it also has many small congregations and pioneering missions. Our task is to serve everyone, from the established church with organ and choir to the start-up church plant meeting in a living room. Many church leaders have limited time and resources. They need something that can help them prepare for weekly worship, finding music that is not only appropriate for that particular week’s biblical readings and themes, but also theologically sound, spiritually powerful, and musically excellent.
This realization led to a true paradigm shift.
Rather than beginning with the final product (a finished Hymnal), we discerned a need for a more immediately accessible resource, available in both electronic and print form, following the three-year lectionary of the Church Year (Book of Common Prayer, 2019) and providing a wide range of suitable hymns and songs for each Sunday’s or occasion’s Lectionary readings.
These resources will allow congregations to explore our rich Anglican musical heritage and to discover the best of new and ecumenical music. As churches use the books and online repository, they can provide feedback, as well as suggestions for additional songs. Songwriters and composers can offer their work for consideration. Brothers and sisters who have come to the ACNA from other parts of the Anglican world can share their own musical traditions. And we can revise the collection based on the way the Church actually uses it.
The result of our meeting was to propose re-forming the commission as a Music Resources Task Force, which can undertake this project, with a goal of presenting a final version for approval at the quinquennial Provincial Assembly in 2029.
These materials, in turn, can serve as the foundation for an official Provincial Hymnal.
We propose this approach to creating a Hymnal for two reasons. First, it acknowledges the current realities and needs of our Province, and it allows the whole Province to participate in the process as fully as possible. Second, this approach is deeply Anglican, rooted in our encounter with Holy Scripture in the liturgy. It moves from common prayer to shared song.
As we begin our work, we entreat your prayers. We also invite your suggestions and contributions! If possible, please indicate which specific Sunday lectionary reading(s) or themes the song relates to. Suggestions and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.
To God be the glory!
The Most Rev. Robert Duncan, D.D., Archbishop Emeritus, Meeting Chair
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Williams, Bishop in New England, Music Resources Task Force, Chair
The Rt. Rev. Chip Edgar, Bishop of South Carolina, Liturgy Task Force, Chair
The Rev. Jonathan Kanary, Ph.D,, Christ Church and Brazos Fellows, Waco, TX, Music Resources Task Force, Vice-Chair
The Ven. Darrell Critch, M.Mus., D.Min., Archdeacon of Eastern Canada
The Rev, Rick Milliorn, Principal Musician, St. Clement’s , El Paso, TX
Mr. Simon Dixon, M.A., Director of Music and Worship, The Falls Church Anglican, Falls Church, VA
Mrs. Dixie Hall, M.Mus., Principal Musician, St. David’s Church, Post Falls, ID
Dr. Terry Fullerton, Principal Musician (Retired), St. John’s Vancouver, Vancouver, BC
Mrs. Kathy Fox Powell, Choirmaster, St. Mark’s Church, Arlington, TX
Mr. Mark Snow, Canon for Cathedral Music, Christ Church Pro-Cathedral, Plano, TX
Mr. Chris Walchesky, Director of Music and Choirmaster, St. Philip’s Church, Charleston, SC