Top Ten Reasons Why I Think That the New Revised Book of Praise (1997) Deserves a Place Among Your Resources for Worship

J.H. (Hans) Kouwenberg, pastor at Calvin Presbyterian Church, Abbotsford, British Columbia, and the editor of Channels, served as a member of the Task Force for the Revision of the Book of Praise from 1993 until 1997. He was especially recruited to represent a western and "evangelical" view.

10. The bulk of the most frequently sung selections of the former Book of Praise (1972) has been widely surveyed across our Church by the Task Force on the Revision of the Book of Praise and has been carried over into the new book. Those solidly theological and personally significant psalms and hymns that may still be missed can still be found and continued to be used in the former Book of Praise.

9. This new book is the latest "read" on a burgeoning renewal in Christian musical praise, including selections, not only from North America and Europe, but also from Africa and Latin America. This is the twentieth century Christian Church singing not only ancient, eighteenth and nineteenth century, but also twentieth century praise!

8. A good number of traditional hymns and psalms are left in their traditional language. Some glaringly archaic, potentially misunderstandable language has been changed so that people need not ask "What does this or that mean?" Occasionally, the former address of "Thee's" and "Thou's" to God, as well as "He," when speaking of God, have been changed into the more familiar "You." This may well contribute to an increase of our expression of intimacy with God in praise.

7. There are a number of prayers, poems, creeds and words of hymns without music interspersed throughout the book, giving a cue that hymnbooks can be used as tools for prayerful meditation. Some "service music" — including some familiar "choruses" and songs — will, no doubt, enhance our worship and praise. There are many more hymns and songs available for the joyful celebration of baptism and communion. Some congregational responses, such as the "Great Prayer of Thanksgiving," #564; an updated, ecumenical version of the Lord's Prayer, #535; and, an ecumenical, updated "Apostles' Creed," #539, are in the book. Please note that there is an unfortunate typo in the latter, seeming to drop Christ's resurrection; corrected stickers are being sent out!

6. This book uses inclusive language in a biblical, moderate, yet sensitive way, much like the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (1989). God is spoken of as Father and, occasionally of being like a mother. God is still frequently addressed by the familiar personal name of "Lord." Among other titles of address, Jesus Christ is still referred to as "King." People of both sexes will no longer wince at the increasingly unhelpful reference to "man" or "men." Several selections that may be objectionable or possibly unbiblical, such as "She flies on" (or "She comes sailing on the wind"), #403, "Mothering God, you gave me birth," #312, and, "Bring many names," #310, need not be sung.

5. Young people and children may find more in this book that will express their own authentic praise. Certainly the beat in songs like "Shine, Jesus shine" (or, "Lord, the light of your love is shining") #376, and "We are marching in the light of God," (or, "Siyahamba") #639, is captivating. Older people will often find that these selections may get their toes tapping and hands clapping too! (Check the index for "Children and Youth" on pages 1056-1057). Thankfully, the often patronizing and sentimental "children's hymns" of the Victorian age are gone. Cue notes may enhance the use of the guitar, as well as organ and piano and other instruments of praise.

4. Some older, favourite gospel selections that will gladden the heart of many an evangelical, as well as many other people's hearts — such as "How great Thou art" (or "O Lord my God!"), #332; or "Precious Lord, take my hand," #675; and, "Shall we gather at the river?" #747 — are included in this book. Refrains are added to gospel songs where they were formerly left out, such as in "Great is Thy faithfulness," #324, and "To God be the glory," #350. The Renewal Fellowship Within The Presbyterian Church in Canada submitted a list of favourite hymns and songs; this was consulted and considered in the selections in this book. Top selections of the CCLII Licensing group were consulted and considered. Some IVCF-type hymns, such as "I know not why such wondrous grace," #683, are also included. Evangelical, Canadian Presbyterian authors, such as Margaret Clarkson and William Fitch have some hymns in this book.

3. This book is blessed with an extensive scriptural index, as well as the usual topical indices. References and allusions to biblical passages are given both by book and by title, in alphabetical order in the Book of Praise. As usual, in the Table of Contents "Metrical Psalm" selections begin the book. Selections of hymns and songs for the "Church Year" are followed by selections under various headings taken from our popular contemporary statement of belief, Living Faith (adopted in 1984). Selections for various "Times and Occasions of Worship" conclude the book.

2. This book offers a greater variety and much larger selection of psalms — ranging from some well known, traditional Scottish Psalter metrical psalms such as "As pants the hart," #26, to more recent paraphrases from the North American, European — e.g., from the Iona and evangelical Anglican Jubilate communities; to contemporary "chorus" selections from more familiar North American sources, such as "As the deer," #27. Check the scriptural index for additional psalm selections and Scripture paraphrases found elsewhere in the book. There are three pages — pp. 1115-1117 — of psalm references alone!

1. This book canonizes hymns and psalms and spiritual songs that some folk used to think weren't Presbyterian. Of course, no hymnbook can ever be exhaustive; much less can there be a "closed musical canon" any more — if ever there was one! — one musical resource cannot suffice. But this hymnbook offers a large and spacious selection of the territory that must be considered and explored!