Press Release of the Meeting of the Joint Songbook Committee April 24, 2008

Our meeting was opened by Rev. Rand Lankheet, reading Psalm 115, making some remarks, and leading us in prayer.  We were made aware of the fact that Dr. Nick Gootjes has asked to be temporarily relieved of his duties on the committee, in view of health concerns. We spent quite some time discussing the actions taken by our respective synods with respect to our work as individual and joint committees.  We were thankful to note that the Joint Committee’s recommendations were adopted, unanimously, at Synod Smithers.  At Synod Schererville, all but one of our recommendations were adopted. Synod decided to “postpone indefinitely” consideration of our recommendation that synod state its commitment that the songbook would be the official songbook of the united federation. The decision of Synod Schererville to adopt Overture 17, which asked for clarification of the URCNA Songbook Committee’s mandate, will have an impact on our work together as a joint committee.  In view of the URCNA committee’s goal of presenting a collection of hymns to their churches by June 2009, we decided that the URCNA committee would review the hymns on the gross list, plus some additional hymns.  They will forward their remarks and conclusions to the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise, for their consideration.  We will compare notes at our next joint meeting. We decided it would be helpful to speak together about “the concept of a common, official songbook”, including some discussion of the use of official songbooks in the history of the Reformed churches, and, the purposes served by adopting such a songbook.  We hope to take this up also on the agenda of our next joint meeting.

Following some discussion, and some revision, we approved the provisional Table of Contents for the Hymn Section.  We decided that in principle, paraphrases of psalms are permissible, but, that they ought to be placed in the hymn section. We discussed the advice we had received from Dr. John Smith, regarding the use of “I” in the psalms, and how we might appropriately apply Guideline 7, which warns against allowing individualism in the church’s songs.  We are awaiting further expert advice on this subject.

We decided to ask some scholars to help us to possibly prepare new translations of several Latin hymns. In view of the advice we have received from Dr. C. VanDam, and Rev. M. VanderHart, and, in light of the usage in most of the Bible translations currently in use among our churches, we decided in principle that we will not use “Jehovah” as a translation of the covenant Name, “YHWH”.We agreed to meet, D.V., November 5–7, 2008, in Wyoming.

Thanks were expressed by the chairman, Rev. Knott, for what we could accomplish together, and the joy we find in our cooperation; we were led in closing prayer by Rev. VanderMeulen.

for the committee,

Rev. Dick Wynia, secretary