Skip to content

The Second Book

July 10, 2019

[NOTE: If you’re not clear why I’m writing today about The Second Book, it’s easy to catch up from yesterday on here. You’ll be glad you did.]

The second book that has shaped “those people called United Methodist Christians” is our hymnal. But there’s more to that than it seems at first.

First, we’re talking about

The United Methodist Hymnal. 

Yes, that really is the title. Nothing flashy, nothing confusing; the title simply says what it is. Plainly. As in, no kidding. It’s The United Methodist Hymnal.

Our current one was published in 1989. Does it need an update? Of course. Still, I’m very partial to it.

It was an honor, and a fun one, to be trained by the editors themselves in Nashville as part of our Conference’s Hymnal Interpretation Team when it was published. I was there because I was chairperson of our Conference’s Board of Discipleship’s  Division of Local Church Education. We offered workshops and other options for exploring and using it throughout our Conference.

I’d previously worked with one of the editors in several settings around the country, and she came and lead one of our events. Insightful beyond description!

Okay, a confession. I have been accused of being in love with our hymnal.

In my defense, I point to things like the numerous prayers from diverse times and places scattered throughout its pages. They help us worship with fresh expressions of faith.

Also in my defense, I point to the Preface of the book. Yeah, really. Next time you’re settling into your seat in the sanctuary, check around for a copy of The United Methodist Hymnal. Treat yourself to pages V and VI in the front of the book. The third-from-the-last paragraph alone is worth the effort!

This book is uniquely ours. And that is a very good thing.

Second, consider not just what it is

but also what it does.

It shapes our faith.

Our hymnody is a way we learn theology. And our hymnody helps us express our beliefs.

HOMEWORK: Actually make a list, either onscreen or on paper, of your top five hymns/church songs/choruses. I’ll wait while you do that.

How’s your list coming?

Please do not proceed here until you’ve finished it. I’m serious.


Now examine your list for what it says about our Lord and our responsibilities as followers of Christ Jesus. What do you discover?

BACKSTORY: I did this with more than one church I served. Everyone was invited to turn in a list of their top five. Then over a period of time, we eventually sang everyone’s favorites…we’d sing the songs on this person’s list in the course of worship on this Sunday, then later someone else’s top five on another week, and on and on.

Were there duplicates? Of course.

Were there surprises? Constantly!

And there was an unexpected benefit. It surfaced when family members were picking songs for a loved one’s funeral or memorial service. Our front office had the deceased’s list of top five songs as expressions of faith.

If you *cough, cough* didn’t take time yet to write out your own top five a moment ago, please do so later today.

You might even be so bold as to share it with someone.

Feel free to start with me; contact me in any of our usual ways.

See you back here tomorrow with The Third Book, and I promise not to write such a long blog as this one.

As always, thank you for readling and participating!



From → Uncategorized

One Comment
  1. madfp1 permalink

    I For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
    Angels We Have Heard on High
    Christ the Lord is Risen Today
    Holy! Holy! Holy!
    Amazing Grace! (All the verses)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: