07 Sep GS 2007 art 104
GS 2007 Article 104 – The United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA)
The advisory committee presented Part 4 of its proposal.
— COMMON SONGBOOK COMMITTEE —
After a round of discussion it was moved and seconded to delete from Consideration 5 the words: “it agrees that this may not be a defining obstacle to federative unity.” This amendment was defeated.
It was moved and seconded to add to Consideration 5:
Synod agrees with the comments of the church at Grand Rapids (see Obs. 8). This amendment was defeated.
It was moved and seconded to add to Considerations 5 the following:
Synod also expresses appreciation for a suggestion by some of the churches including Grand Rapids (see Obs. 2.8), namely the possibility that “for every one of the 150 Psalms in the Book of Praise, one selection be made from the most loved and well-known psalms in the URC repertoire.” Other possibilities which include the 150 Psalms in the Book of Praise can also be considered. This amendment was adopted.
The amended proposal was adopted as follows:
- 1.1 See Art. 98
- 2.1 Synod Chatham gave the Common Songbook Committee the following mandate:
- 2.1.1 To continue working closely with the committee re songbook appointed by the URCNA synods.
- 2.1.2 To continue to produce a songbook that contains the complete Anglo-Genevan Psalter and other suitable metrical versions of the Psalms, including hymns that also meet the standard of faithfulness to the Scriptures and the Reformed Confessions.
- 2.1.3 To keep the CPEU updated on the progress.
- 2.1.4 To provide the CPEU with a report in sufficient time for them to produce the comprehensive report for Synod in a timely fashion.
- 2.2 The committee includes in its report the URCNA committee’s mandate. (Reference: Minutes Synod Escondido).
- – That the present ‘Psalter Hymnal Committee’ work together with the Canadian Reformed ‘Book of Praise Committee’ to consider for inclusion in this song book the 150 Psalms in metrical settings (one note for each syllable) from an English translation of the Genevan Psalter, as well as other non-Genevan settings for the Psalms, and also hymns that meet the standard of faithfulness to the Scriptures and to the Reformed Confessions. The two song books primarily in use need not be included in their totality. (Minutes, Article XLV, B, 2, c).
- – To report annually to the Committee for Ecumenical Relations and Church Unity, which, in turn will make full annual reports to the churches concerning this work. (Minutes, Article XLV, B, 4).
- 2.3 The Common Songbook Committee reports the following regarding its mandate:
- 2.3.1 The Joint Committee met five times since the last synod, while the individual committees also met regularly. Efforts are being made to publicize awareness of the work done, particularly on the Principles and Guidelines, with a series of articles in Christian Renewal and Clarion.
- 2.3.2 As a result of the input from Synod Calgary of the URCNA, two Guidelines were changed slightly, adopted by the Joint Committee, and now read as follows:
- – Guideline 7 now reads:“In content and form, the songs of the Church must be free from artificiality, sentimentality, and individualism.” (italics constitutes the change)
- – Guideline 9 originally read as follows: “The music of the Church should be expressive of the Reformed tradition. Where possible, use is to be made of music developed in the tradition of this rich heritage (e.g., the Genevan psalm tunes and the Scottish Psalter).” Synod Calgary changed the wording to: “The music of the Church should be expressive of the Reformed tradition. Use is to be made of the music developed in the tradition of this rich heritage.”
- 2.3.3 The URCNA Synod of Calgary has appointed a separate committee to deal with the revised prose section for a new URCNA hymnal, with the additional mandate to consult with the CanRC. The Joint Committee will approach Synod Smithers to appoint a committee to this task.
- 2.3.4 The Joint Committee reports as follows on activity regarding the songbook:
- 188.8.131.52 The Joint Committee has reviewed hymns from various sources in accordance with the adopted Principles and Guidelines in order to produce a gross list from which final selections for the Common Songbook will be chosen.
- 184.108.40.206 It has been agreed upon that the structure of the hymnary will follow the division of the Apostolic Creed.
- 220.127.116.11 The Joint Committee has reached agreement on the following:
- – The Joint Committee has agreed that at least one of each Psalm rendition must be a complete Psalm. Additional selections of the same Psalm may be partial.
- – Whether complete or partial, the renditions ought to be accurate translations or paraphrases of the Hebrew text of the Psalms.
- – The Joint Committee has agreed that all 150 Psalms are to be represented in the Psalter section.
- – The tunes should support the words.
- – The Psalter should be expressive of the Reformed tradition.
- – The Psalms will have the principal place in the singing of the congregation, and therefore, in the churches’ Song Book.
- – In principle there is agreement to publish in 4-part harmony.
- 18.104.22.168 The Joint Committee reports disagreement regarding the inclusion of the complete Anglo-Genevan Psalter in the Common Songbook. Discussion papers revealed that it was not that far-fetched that this issue could become an obstacle to real unity. The committee expresses the sentiment that “if everyone keeps the unity of the federation-to-be fully in view, considerations for a compromise that is God pleasing must be made possible.”
- 22.214.171.124 The Joint Committee notes that currently the Songbook appears to be a condition for federative unity (see Art. 73, 4.7 Neerlandia) and suggests that this may need to be changed in order to move forward.
- 2.3.5 The Joint Committee makes the following recommendations to Synod Smithers:
- 126.96.36.199 Synod decide to continue the mandate as given by Synod Chatham, Art. 77, par. 5 except modified as listed under 188.8.131.52 (see below).
- 184.108.40.206 Synod appoint a (new) sub-committee to the SCBP to work together with URCNA “Liturgical forms and confessions committee (URCNA)” to come to a unified text for creeds, confessions and liturgical forms and prayers.
- 220.127.116.11 Synod maintain the goal for production and use of a Common Songbook but establish that the Common Songbook is not a condition for federative unity.
- 18.104.22.168 Synod reconsider the decision recorded in Art. 77, par. 5.2.2. of Synod Chatham: “To continue to produce a song book that contains the complete Anglo-Genevan Psalter” and allow the SCBP to delete some Genevan Psalms provided suitable complete replacements can be found.
- 22.214.171.124 Synod approve the changes to Guidelines 7 and 9.
- 126.96.36.199 Synod state its commitment that the Common Songbook shall be the exclusively used Songbook of the united federation.
- 2.4 Surrey does not see sufficient grounds in the report of the committee to replace Genevan melodies in the Common Songbook. They wish to maintain the original plan of 150 Genevan Psalms and suggest the possibility of additional versions of the psalms.
- 2.5 Smithers concurs with the recommendation of the CSB (9.6) to have a Common Songbook that shall be exclusively used in the worship services of a united federation. And the Common Songbook should not be a condition for federative unity. Smithers also suggests that as a norm, the Common Songbook should include songs that are approved by general synod, with the recognition that exceptions can be made in the case of cultural or language barriers. Finally, Smithers suggests to change the mandate of the SCBP so that they are no longer bound to include the complete Anglo-Genevan Psalter.
- 2.6 London supports that the committee’s mandate be changed to produce a songbook that contains the Anglo-Genevan Psalter while allowing the SCBP to delete some Genevan Psalms provided suitable complete replacements can be found. London includes a proviso that a majority of the Genevan tunes be retained. London does not feel that the Common Songbook needs to be a condition for federative unity, but does recommend that the draft texts of the Creeds, Confessions, Liturgical Forms, and Prayers should be agreed upon prior to federative unity.
- 2.7 Carman West does not agree with the idea of postponing discussion of the Common Songbook until after federative unity has been achieved, nor do they agree with the idea of deleting some Anglo-Genevan Psalms, but are of the opinion that the SCBP should be given the freedom to look for alternative melodies from the Anglo-Genevan tradition and present their findings to the churches for evaluation. Carman West agrees that the work of the SCBP be divided so that there can be a committee for the song section and another for the prose section.
- 2.8 Grand Rapids does not agree with the recommendation of the committee that synod “establish that the Common Song Book is not a condition for federative unity.” In this regard Grand Rapids also notes that there is no need to operate within a time frame. Grand Rapids suggests the possibility that “for every one of the 150 Psalms in the Book of Praise, one selection be made from the most loved and well-known psalms in the URC repertoire—provided, of course, that the words are true to the actual biblical text.”
- 2.9 Spring Creek overtures synod that the Common Songbook not be considered a condition for federative unity and that all of the 150 Psalms shall be included in the Common Songbook, but that synod does not insist that all of the 150 Psalms are to be set to the music of the Genevan tunes, provided suitable replacements can be found.
- 2.10 Lincoln is deeply concerned with recommendations 9.3 and 9.4 of the committee’s report, and therefore urges synod to uphold the mandate to the committee (SCBP) given at Synod Chatham 2004.
- 2.11 In addition to some comments about proposed hymns in a new Common Songbook, Grand Valley requests that synod decide that the adoption of a Common Songbook must remain a condition for federative unity. Grand Valley also requests that synod maintain the decision not to allow the SCBP to delete some Genevan Psalms.
- 2.12 Edmonton Immanuel requests that synod not accede to Recommendation 9.3 (establishing that the Common Songbook is not a condition for federative unity); they ask synod to approve a draft Common Songbook before proceeding with merger.
- 2.13 Neerlandia agrees with the committee that the Common Songbook ought not to be a condition for federative unity, and would like to see the committee continue to promote the inclusion of the entire Anglo-Genevan Psalter.
- 2.14 Orangeville disagrees with the committee when it recommends that a Common Songbook not be a condition for federative unity. Orangeville opposes the removal of the part of the committee’s mandate which requires that the complete Anglo-Genevan Psalter be included in the Common Songbook. Finally, Orangeville expresses that it is desirable that within one federation there may be the unity of local congregations singing from one Songbook.
- 2.15 Fergus North disagrees with the committee’s recommendation to not make the Songbook a condition of unity.
- 2.16 Carman East requests synod to instruct the committee to continue the present course and make completion of the Common Songbook a condition for merger.
- 3.1 Synod appreciates the frequency with which the Joint Committee has met, and the publication of the Principles and Guidelines they used, as well as a series of articles in Christian Renewal and Clarion.
- 3.2 Synod takes note of the revised Guidelines 7 and 9 adopted by Synod Calgary of the URCNA and finds them acceptable.
- 3.3 Synod agrees with the committee to appoint a sub-committee to deal with the revised prose section for the Common Songbook.
- 3.4 Synod supports the committee’s agreement that the structure of the hymnary will follow the division of the Apostolic Creed. Further, synod confirms agreement with all of the items listed in Observation 188.8.131.52.
- 3.5 Although synod continues to express a strong preference for a complete Anglo-Genevan Psalter in the Common Songbook, it agrees that this may not be a defining obstacle to federative unity. Synod also expresses appreciation for a suggestion by some of the churches including Grand Rapids (see Obs. 2.8), namely the possibility that “for every one of the 150 Psalms in the Book of Praise, one selection be made from the most loved and well-known psalms in the URC repertoire.” Other possibilities which include the 150 Psalms in the Book of Praise can also be considered.
- 3.6 Synod agrees that the Common Songbook should be the exclusively used songbook of the united federation. Synod acknowledges, however, that such a rule does not exclude exceptions, which would be regulated by a proposed church order.
- 3.7 Although a completed Common Songbook before federative unity is most desirable, a clear commitment to an eventual Common Songbook by both federations is sufficient to enter into federative unity. It should be remembered that at present churches in both federations are worshipping with accepted collections of psalms and hymns, and it is feasible to continue in this way in a united federation until a Common Songbook is attained.
- 3.8 With the foregoing considerations, synod sufficiently deals with the letters from the churches.
- 4.1 To thank the Common Songbook Committee / Joint Committee for its report and the work done with regard to the mandate given by Synod Chatham and acknowledges receipt of the URCNA committee’s mandate.
- 4.2 To approve of the agreements of the Joint Committee (Obs. 184.108.40.206).
- 4.3 To approve the revised Guidelines 7 and 9 adopted by Synod Calgary of the URCNA.
- 4.4 To appoint a Liturgical Forms and Confessions Committee to meet with their counterparts in the URCNA to come with a unified text for creeds, confessions, and liturgical forms and prayers, for the proposed prose section for the Common Songbook.
- 4.5 To reappoint the Committee for a Common Songbook with the mandate to prepare the Psalms and Hymns section for the Common Songbook, in accordance with
- 4.5.1 the agreements of the Joint Committee.
- 4.5.2 the mandate received from Synod Chatham, taking into account
- 220.127.116.11 synod’s strong preference for a complete Anglo-Genevan Psalter within the Common Songbook, while acknowledging that this may not be a defining obstacle to federative unity.
- 18.104.22.168 to work as much as possible towards a completed Common Songbook before federative unity is achieved.
- 4.6 To make a clear commitment for an eventual Common Songbook before federative unity is achieved, and requests the committee to obtain the same commitment from the URCNA.
- 4.7 To make the commitment that the Common Songbook shall be the exclusively used songbook in the worship services of the united federation, recognizing the possibility of exceptions as noted in Consideration 3.6.
It was noted that all the decisions regarding the URCNA were unanimous.