Press Release of the Meeting of the URCNA Songbook Committee April 23 and 24, 2008

Our meeting was opened by our chairman, Rev. Knott, reading and making remarks on Psalm 150, and leading us in prayer.  We were advised that Mr. Henry Nuiver, an original member of our committee, had passed away in February of this year.  We note with appreciation the work that Mr. Nuiver did on behalf of the churches, as a member of our committee, and express our sympathy to his wife, Trudy, and their family.

After approving the agenda, and the minutes of our last meeting, we decided that we would anticipate meeting face to  face for two days, three times per year, as URCNA committee, reserving one day per year for meeting as a joint songbook committee with the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise.  This decision was made in light of the decisions made by Synod Schererville with respect to our mandate, namely, Acts of Synod Schererville Article 63, point 6, and, Article 78, point 10.

We agreed to review a list of hymns, drawn mainly from the 1987 Psalter Hymnal of the CRC, and Cantus Christi, for possible inclusion in the collection of hymns that we will propose to our churches.

We discussed a paper prepared by Rev. Lankheet on the “vivid historical present”, in order to help us address the legitimacy of speaking in the present tense about events that have taken place in the past,particularly as we find that in many hymns about the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The paper will be distributed to the members of the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise, for discussion at a future meeting of the joint committee.

We discussed the advisability of adding further members to the committee.  We are inclined to seek out volunteers who will serve as resource people to help us with specific aspects of our work, e.g. the production of the songbook itself.

We discussed a proposal from Rev. Vander Meulen for the structure of the hymn section of the songbook.  We also received from Rev. VanderMeulen some suggestions as to how we could educate the churches of the URCNA about our work.  From Mrs. Daphne Jasperse, we received updated indices of the hymns we have placed on the “gross list” of hymns for possible inclusion in the songbook. We reviewed a number of recently published hymns, mainly produced by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, as well as selections from several songbooks, proposed for our consideration by Rev. Lankheet.

We received and discussed a letter received from Dr. John Smith, a minister of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia, in answer to a question we had asked him, and several other scholars, regarding the use of the first person singularpronoun, “I”, in the psalms.  Since the psalms provide us with Scriptural examples of songs acceptable to God, we believe that understanding how the first person singular is used in the psalms will help us to apply Guideline 7 of the “Guidelines for Selecting Songs” (see Report of the Songbook Committee to Synod 2004), which instructs us to avoid “individualism” in the music of the church.  We found Dr. Smith’s remarks very helpful.

We scheduled an on line meeting, to discuss the hymns from Cantus Christi, for May 20, 2008, and, our next face to face meeting, for July 9 and 10, 2008, in Jenison, Michigan.  Thanks were expressed by the chairman for the good spirit in which the meeting was conducted, and Mrs. Jasperse led us in closing prayer.

for the committee,

Rev. Dick Wynia, secretary