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Home > Interpreter Magazine > Archives > 2011 Archives > January-February 2011 > New Worship Book

Sing to the Lord new (and some great old) songs!

By Tom Gillem

Janet and Scott Chaney record music to be placed on the Worship & Song website.
Janet and Scott Chaney record music to be placed on the Worship & Song website.

Old-time gospel favorites and the world's most popular contemporary praise songs are included in the music chosen for the first song collection and worship guide published by The United Methodist Church in more than a decade.

Worship & Song contains 190 hymns and worship songs—most of them newly composed—and new worship planning resources in a collection designed to supplement The United Methodist Hymnal and other songbooks.

"There is always good, new congregational music being written," said Gary Alan Smith, senior music editor at Abingdon Press and project director for Worship & Song. "In The United Methodist Church, it's been 10 years since we came out with The Faith We Sing, and in that 10 years, there has been a lot of really good music" produced.

The United Methodist Hymnal was published in 1989, and the 2008 General Conference authorized development of a new hymnal and worship book for the church. Financial constraints forced cancellation of the new publication.

As part of their normal duties to update the church's music and worship resources, the United Methodist Publishing House and the General Board of Discipleship had started work in 2008 on a new collection as a follow-up to The Faith We Sing. That project, which was less costly than a General Conference-sanctioned hymnal, continued. Worship & Song is the result.

Worship & Song [Cokesbury,, (800) 672-1789] is actually two publications in one—a songbook and a collection of prayers, litanies, liturgies and short items that can be used by worship planners, pastors, leaders and musicians in the worship service. The collection will be introduced formally during a March 1-3 event in Nashville, Tenn.

"Worship & Song reflects the multiple styles and multiple church practices that are going on in the denomination today, and it's going to find wide use," said Dean B. McIntyre, Discipleship's director of music resources, who led the worship portion of the project.

"Everything in the music editions and the worship edition will be available in print and digital form on our website ( Everything will be available in its entirety or a la carte, where somebody can purchase and download something they like and use it in their service."

The collection is available in various forms, including the pew edition for congregations, singer's edition for choirs and praise teams, accompaniment edition for keyboard players, guitar edition for band members and the worship-planner edition for pastors and worship leaders.

The songs in Worship & Song cover the breadth of the current worship music experience. They range from old Wesleyan hymns set to new tunes to the top 25 contemporary worship songs that are being licensed by churches through Christian Copyright Licensing International, which serves more than 200,000 churches worldwide.

"It is, I think, a very inclusive volume of a lot of different types of worship songs," said the Rev. Anne Burnette Hook, minister of music and worship at Christ United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tenn. The former director of music resources at the Board of Discipleship led development of the music portion.

"For congregations who mostly sing hymns, it gives them an opportunity to try some things that maybe they've never tried before."

Several contemporary hymns by popular composers Keith and Kristyn Getty are among the songs chosen from the thousands submitted for consideration.

"They're not necessarily praise songs, but they are hymns written in a more contemporary style that bridges the gap between the two," Hook said. "And they are beautifully crafted."

Among the old gospel favorites are "Have a Little Talk with Jesus," "Love Lifted Me" and "Down to the River to Pray." Other familiar songs, like "Danny Boy" and "Oh Shenandoah," are in the collection with new text, along with global songs and chants from the Taizé Community in France and the Iona Community in Scotland.

Only two songs from the 1989 hymnal and The Faith We Sing are duplicated in Worship & Song. The hymnal contains a refrain from Richard E. Blanchard's "Fill My Cup, Lord," but the entire song is in the new collection.

Mark Andrew Miller, composer and worship leader who serves on the faculty at both Drew Theological School and the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University, composed a choral setting of "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing." The favorite among United Methodist choirs and congregations retains its traditional place as the collection's first song. It is the only piece commissioned for Worship & Song.

Tom Gillem is a freelance writer and photographer in Brentwood, Tenn.

Meet and sing Worship & Song

Learn more about the March 1-3 event introducing Worship & Song at or by calling Dean McIntyre, event coordinator, (877) 899-2780, ext. 7073, or e-mailing

Related audio clips
Excerpts from the songs

Related articles
New worship and song collections planned for 2011
Hymnal revision stopped due to lack of funds
Proposed new hymnal will go to 2012 assembly

Related resources
Rethinking Worship and Song
Worship & Song


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