GS 2004 art 115

GS 2004 Article 115 – Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise

Committee 4 again presented its proposal on the report of the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise (SCBP).  After several rounds of discussion, the following was adopted:

1.    Material

  • 1.1.   The report of the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise (SCBP) dated June 2003
  • 1.2.   Letter from the church at Langley
  • 1.3.   Letter from the church at Aldergrove
  • 1.4.   Letter from the church at Grand Rapids
  • 1.5.   Letter from the church at Guelph
  • 1.6.   Letter from the church at Orangeville
  • 1.7.   Letter from the church at Willoughby Heights
  • 1.8.   Letter from the church at London
  • 1.9.   Letter from the church at Carman West
  • 1.10. Letter from the church at Abbotsford
  • 1.11. Letter from the church at Fergus
  • 1.12. Letter from the church at Chatham
  • 1.13. Letter from the church at Winnipeg (Redeemer)
  • 1.14. Letter from the church at Grand Valley
  • 1.15. Overture from Regional Synod East November 12, 2003

2.    Admissibility

The materials received are declared admissible.

3.    General Matters

  • 3.1.   Observations
    • 3.1.1. Synod thankfully receives this report, its appendices and the letters from the churches.
    • 3.1.2. Synod notes that the committee resubmits the report not dealt with at Synod Neerlandia 2001 because of its late arrival. This material is now included for us to deal with.
    • 3.1.3. No new printing of the Book of Praise was authorized.
    • 3.1.4. At the present time the committee operates under a contractual relationship with Premier Printing Ltd, Winnipeg, MB. This contract is due for review in the year 2006.
    • 3.1.5. The committee has maintained its corporate status.
    • 3.1.6. The committee notes that international interest has been expressed in the Book of Praise.
    • 3.1.7. The committee notes that copyright continues to rest with the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise.
    • 3.1.8. The committee desires to keep its membership at six members.
    • 3.1.9. The committee notes that Rev. C. Bosch has requested to be released from his appointment and that sr. C. Van Halen-Faber is due to retire in 2004. The committee requests an additional member and submits the name of br. John Smith of Hamilton, ON.
    • 3.1.10.   The committee seeks direction from Synod regarding input from the Australian sister churches.
    • 3.1.11.   The committee urges Synod to consider the potential implications as it articulates the next mandate for the SCBP with a view to our contact with the URCNA.
    • 3.1.12.   The church at Carman (West) requests General Synod to consider the implications for the Book of Praise with a view to our contact with the URCNA.
    • 3.1.13.   The church at Carman (West) requests Synod to give the committee the mandate to request input from the deputies of our Australian sister churches.
  • 3.2.   Considerations
    • 3.2.1. The contract for the publication of the Book of Praise needs to be renewed in 2006.
    • 3.2.2. Synod notes with thankfulness that international interest has been expressed in the Book of Praise.
    • 3.2.3. Synod agrees that the committee membership should be maintained at six members.
    • 3.2.4. Synod agrees with the request that Rev. C. Bosch be released from his appointment, that sr. C. Van Halen-Faber be re-nominated for another three year term and that br. John Smith serve as an additional member.
    • 3.2.5. Synod encourages input from the Australian sister churches since the Book of Praise is in common use in those churches.
    • 3.2.6. Synod notes that the corporate status of the committee ought to be maintained.
    • 3.2.7. Synod notes that there are implications for the mandate of the SCBP flowing from the current discussions between the CanRC and the URCNA.
  • 3.3. Recommendations
  • Synod decide:
    • 3.3.1. To authorize the committee to renew the contract for the printing of the Book of Praise in 2006.
    • 3.3.2. To authorize the committee to continue to foster an increased awareness of the existence of the Book of Praise and to promote its availability.
    • 3.3.3. To express gratitude for the work done by Rev. C. Bosch.
    • 3.3.4. To reappoint sr. C. Van Halen-Faber for another three year term and to appoint br. John Smith as an additional member to fill the vacancy.
    • 3.3.5. To encourage the committee to welcome input from the Australian sister churches.
    • 3.3.6. To maintain the corporate status of the committee.
    • 3.3.7. To continue to have the committee as the address to which any correspondence regarding the Book of Praise can be directed.

4.    Forms

  • 4.1.   Baptismal forms
    • 4.1.1.Observations
      • 4.1.1.1. Regional Synod East November 12, 2003 endorses the proposal from Classis Ontario-West September 10, 2003 and Cornerstone Canadian Reformed Church Hamilton, to insert into the baptismal forms after the prayer for baptism on page 586 and 590 in the Book of Praise, the words: “Let us now profess our Catholic undoubted Christian faith (The Apostles’ Creed may be recited by the minister, said in unison or sung by the congregation).”
      • 4.1.1.2. Regional Synod East 2003 recommends that General Synod 2004 instruct the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise to take a careful look at how the insertion of the Apostles’ Creed would fit into the flow of thought of the baptismal forms, so that it would be clear to the congregation why we are professing our faith at this point.
      • 4.1.1.3. The reasons given for this proposal are fourfold. This insertion would be:
        • A renewal of the catholic connection of baptism and the Apostles’ Creed.
        • A return to the original Form of Baptism as found in the Church Order of Heidelberg 1563.
        • A restoration of parallelism with the Form for the Lord’s Supper.
        • The use of the Apostles’ Creed at baptism in the early Christian Church and in the Middle Ages is well known and generally documented.
    • 4.1.2. Considerations
      • 4.1.2.1. Synod concludes that the grounds provided by the Cornerstone Canadian Reformed Church, as supported by Classis Ontario-West September 10, 2003, and Regional Synod East 2003 are valid.
      • 4.1.2.2. Synod agrees that the SCBP ought to consider the most suitable place in the forms for this insertion, keeping in mind that the structure of the Form for the Baptism of Adults is different from the Form for the Baptism of Infants.
    • 4.1.3. Recommendation
      • Synod decide to mandate the SCBP to present a proposal with the inclusion of the Apostles’ Creed in the baptismal forms to the next General Synod.
  • 4.2.   Subscription Forms
    • 4.2.1. Observations
      • 4.2.1.1. The SCBP has submitted three Forms of Subscription, one for elders and deacons, one for ministers in the local congregations, and one for ministers at classis.
      • 4.2.1.2. The churches at Aldergrove, Willoughby Heights, Abbotsford, Chatham and Winnipeg (Redeemer) suggest that there should be one form for elders, deacons and ministers in the local congregations. They give various grounds stating that there is no need to differentiate between the offices of minister, elder and deacon in the Form of Subscription.
      • 4.2.1.3. The churches at Aldergrove, Orangeville, Willoughby Heights, Abbotsford, Chatham and Winnipeg (Redeemer) interact with the formulation of the suggested Form of Subscription.
      • 4.2.1.4. The church at Winnipeg (Redeemer) also asks whether it is the intent of these new forms to be compulsory for every congregation, or whether this will be left in the freedom of the local congregations.
    • 4.2.2. Considerations
      • 4.2.2.1. Although the SCBP gives an explanation for suggesting a separate form for elders and deacons, Synod agrees with the churches which suggest that there should be one form for use in the local congregations and one form for classis.
      • 4.2.2.2. The suggestion of the churches should be forwarded to the SCBP for consideration so that the SCBP can come to the next General Synod with a final proposal.               
      • 4.2.2.3. When Synod adopts a Form of Subscription it is to be considered binding upon the churches.
    • 4.2.3. Recommendation
    • Synod decide to mandate the SCBP to submit a final proposal for a Form of Subscription, one for the local congregations and one for Classis, to the next General Synod.

5.    Bible translation in the Book of Praise

  • 5.1.   Observations
    • 5.1.1. The SCBP seeks direction from Synod as to the implications of the recommendation to use the NIV for the rhyming of the Psalms.
    • 5.1.2. The church at Aldergrove urges Synod to consider instructing the SCBP to make preparations to review and revise the rhyming of the Psalms and the hymns to reflect the language of the NIV.
    • 5.1.3. The church at Aldergrove also requests Synod to instruct the SCBP to use the NIV translation in the prose section of the Book of Praise.
    • 5.1.4. The church at Grand Rapids would not like to see the rhyming of the Psalms change, for two reasons:
      • There are five translations being used in the federation;
      • The personal pronouns “Thee,” “Thou” and “Thine” used in poetry are neither archaic nor strange.
    • 5.1.5. The church at London recommends that the SCBP not be advised to revise the rhyming of the Psalms for the following reasons:
      • There are five translations being used in the federation;
      • The considerable expense of a new “Book of Praise”;
      • The impact this may have on other churches that use the “Book of Praise”; It is premature in light of the unity talks with the URCNA.
    • 5.1.6. The church at Fergus proposes that Synod instructs the SCBP that no substantial changes, which would drastically alter either the structure and/or the content, should be permitted. Such changes would be detrimental to all those who have memorized the Psalms.
    • 5.1.7. The church at Guelph requests that Synod does not proceed with changes to the metrical rhyming of the Psalms and the hymns at this time. It states that the NIV is not the only Bible translation used in the federation and in the Australian churches, that we have had the NIV for only for a few years, and that the Psalms have been memorized by many.
    • 5.1.8. The church at Grand Valley resists the reviewing and revising of the metrical rhyming of the Psalms. It gave as grounds that no need has been demonstrated that this request for such a change is felt among the churches; poetic language resists change; archaic forms are acceptable in poetry; the language is not yet outdated; it would be poor stewardship to devote great energy to such a revision.
    • 5.1.9. The church at Chatham requests Synod to decide that all pronouns referring to God in all of the Book of Praise remain capitalized.  “Council believes that honouring God with the use of capital letters takes precedence over a striving for consistency.”
  • 5.2.   Considerations
    • 5.2.1. Synod notes that Synod Fergus 1998 mandated the committee to “prepare the prose section of the Book of Praise with the NIV Bible references and to present this revision to the next General Synod.” Synod concurs that the adaptation of the prose section is more urgent than the rhyming of the Psalm and hymn sections, the latter being poetry.  
    • 5.2.2. Synod Fergus also mandated “the committee not to proceed with the changes to the Psalms and Hymns” (Art. 140 IV.C.1,2 p. 176).  Synod concurs with this recommendation of Synod Fergus. 
    • 5.2.3. Synod notes that it would be a major undertaking to review and revise the Psalms and the hymns to reflect the language of the NIV.
    • 5.2.4. Synod considers it unwise to proceed with such an undertaking with a view to the unity talks with the URCNA.
    • 5.2.5. Synod is not convinced that the use of various Bible translations is an inhibiting factor, since most of the translations in use have already converted the archaic pronouns to those in common use today.
    • 5.2.6. Synod realizes that a new rhyming would mean a loss with a view to the memorization of the present rhyming, but does not consider it a determining factor.
    • 5.2.7. Synod acknowledges that the church at Chatham may have a valid point; however, Synod is of the opinion that it should send this request to the SCBP.          
  • 5.3. Recommendations
  • Synod decide:
    • 5.3.1. To continue the mandate of Synod Fergus to prepare the prose section of the Book of Praise with the NIV Bible references.
    • 5.3.2. Not to proceed with the requested changes to the Psalm and hymn sections at this time.

6.    Hymn Section 

  • 6.1.   Observations  
    • 6.1.1. The SCBP intends to deal with submissions re: the hymn section in a manner that seeks to:
      • Maintain the current structure of our hymn section.
      • Identify and correct deficiencies and/or weaknesses in the existing hymn section and come with a proposal for change, addition or improvement.      
      • Select suitable hymns using the Guidelines and Principles agreed upon by the committee together with the Psalter Hymnal Committee of the URCNA. 
      • Set the limit at 100 hymns since Psalms have a predominant place in the liturgy of the Reformed churches.
      • Publish a revised hymn section proposed for testing by the churches.     
    • 6.1.2. The church at Aldergrove wants to adopt the five points mentioned above including the Guidelines and Principles as agreed upon by the SCBP and the Psalter Committee of the URCNA.
    • 6.1.3. The church at Langley requests that serious consideration be given to the creation of a Book of Praise supplement, and to authorize the committee to publish a revised hymn section (supplement) during the year following Synod Chatham 2004 in order to facilitate testing by the churches and possible approval by Synod 2007.
    • 6.1.4. The church at Winnipeg (Redeemer) encourages Synod to limit the number of hymns to 100.
    • 6.1.5. The church at Abbotsford objects to the fact that the committee rejected its submission of 62 hymns because no scriptural grounds were provided for this selection. It is of the opinion that the committee exceeded its mandate.
  • 6.2.   Considerations
    • 6.2.1. Synod agrees with the manner in which the SCBP intends to deal with submissions re: the hymn section as outlined in Observation 6.1.1.
    • 6.2.2. Synod notes that the time frame proposed by the church at Langley is unrealistic for the amount of work involved.
    • 6.2.3. Synod considers that it would be better if the proposal for a revised hymn section is first presented to the next General Synod before being given to the churches for testing.
    • 6.2.4. Synod considers that in view of the ongoing discussions with the URCNA, the committee should take care that unnecessary duplication of work and efforts be avoided.
    • 6.2.5. Synod considers that the committee went beyond its mandate in requiring scriptural grounds for the hymns submitted by the church at Abbotsford. Synod Neerlandia instructed the SCBP “to receive submissions and proposals for additional Hymns from the churches with the reasons for their suitability, evaluate them in accordance with the requirements set out by General Synod Edmonton 1965….” This should be taken to mean that the individual churches should provide reasons for their suitability, but the committee should evaluate them according to the requirements.
  • 6.3.   Recommendation
    • Synod decide to mandate the SCBP to deal with the submissions re: the hymn section as outlined in Observation 6.1.1 and to present a proposal to the next General Synod.

7.    Musical Notation and Harmony

  • 7.1.   Observations
    • 7.1.1. The SCBP points to the various harmonizations and organ editions of the Psalms and hymns which are available.
    • 7.1.2. The SCBP has instructed Premier Printing Ltd. to prepare the overleaf notation for all the Psalms and hymns. A sampling is provided and it observes that such a notation would add about 100 pages to the Book of Praise;  the cost would increase from approximately $19 to $28 per copy.
    • 7.1.3. The church at Langley requests the SCBP to prepare and publish a four part setting, including guitar chords, of the Book of Praise “to foster and stimulate the coming generation to joyfully ‘strum the chords’ and ‘play the keyboard’ as we lift our voices in praise.”
    • 7.1.4. The church at Aldergrove asks Synod to consider instructing the SCBP to pursue a typesetting of music similar to that in the Psalter Hymnal. This would encourage usage of the Anglo-Genevan Psalter beyond the worship services.
  • 7.2.   Considerations
    • 7.2.sci-fo you
    • 1. Synod notes that Synod Fergus mandated the SCBP to prepare the Book of Praise with an Overleaf Musical Notation and to present this revision to the next General Synod.
    • 7.2.2. Synod notes that this task has not been completed and is of the opinion that the committee should proceed with the printing of the Overleaf Notation edition.
    • 7.2.3. Synod notes that although the harmonizations would be helpful, this would not be the appropriate time to do so, seeing the above-mentioned considerations as well as our ongoing discussion with the URCNA.
  • 7.3. Recommendations
  • Synod decide:
    • 7.3.1. To recommend that the SCBP proceed with the Overleaf Musical Notation Edition.
    • 7.3.2. Not to accede to the requests of the churches at Langley and Aldergrove.

8.    Mandate

Synod decide to instruct the SCBP to implement the recommendations found in sections 3-7 above.