Long Live the Hymnal!

John Parker
A native of Louisiana, John Parker holds the BM in Vocal Performance from Louisiana College and the MM in Choral Conducting from Northwestern State University. Composing primarily for church and school choirs, John’s 600+ choral works are published by numerous state-side companies. Active as a choral clinician and lecturer, Mr. Parker is author of How to Start a Fine Arts Academy in Your Church and numerous drama collections. John and his family make their home in Austin, TX where John has served as Associate Pastor of Worship & Music at Austin Baptist Church since 2014.

For centuries congregants have given money toward the purchase of new hymnals for their congregations. Perhaps you are wondering why congregations need new hymnals? Or, for that matter, why anyone anywhere uses hymnals in worship?

Hymns and hymnals go back thousands of years. That’s right folks, I said thousands of years. The earliest hymnal used by the church was…THE BOOK OF PSALMS! The largest book in your Bible (150 chapters, 2461 verses) was the worship songbook of the earliest Hebrew followers of YAHWEH. Admittedly, worshippers probably didn’t find the book of Psalms “in the pew rack in front of them” in Solomon’s temple, nor is it likely they projected the texts onto screens in the front of the temple. The fact is, we don’t know exactly how these Psalms (songs) were taught, but we do know they were taught and used extensively in corporate worship.

Today’s modern hymnal contains a wealth of worship resources which aid us in corporate worship every Sunday including Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs (Col 3:16), unison Scripture readings, responsive readings, and so much more. In addition, the modern hymnal contains a myriad of music-related tools used by worshippers and worship leaders such as what pitches to play/sing, composer information, information about hymn tunes, meter, key signature, modulation, thematic material, and much more.

So many worshippers through the years have found the hymnal to be a cherished treasure of worship heritage representing the songs of faith for believers from centuries past all the way to today. It is an epic historical “diary” of Christian experience from many eras, many lands, and many expressions of faith.

The hymnal is a tremendous teaching aid for parents and grandparents, as faith is handed down to young worshippers. It is a physical tool to be handled, read, studied and shared.

Your hymnal – compiled by hundreds of editors…written by thousands of authors/composers…utilized in worship by millions of worshippers across the continents and across the ages.

Treasure your hymnal. Study your hymnal. Use your hymnal. Long live the hymnal!

John Parker

Editors Note: Below we have provided links to some of our most successful publications based on hymn texts or hymn tunes.  Click to “Look and Listen” to your choices using our ScorePlay feature!

1. This is My Father’s World

2 Blessed Be the Name (Drennan)

3 A New Year Dawns with Grace and Hope

4. We’re Marching to Zion (Harlan/Fred Bock)

5. The Joyful Sound

6. Fanfare and Concertato on “Praise to the Lord”

7. All Creatures Sing Praise

8. Praise My Soul the King of Heaven

9. Softly and Tenderly

10. Lift High the Cross (Nichols/Fred Bock)

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