27 Oct GS 2007 art 148
GS 2007 Article 148 – SCBP – Revision of the Psalms and Other Recommendations
The advisory committee presented its proposal:
- 1.1 SCBP Report 14-17 and Appendices A, B
- 1.2-15 Letters from the following fourteen churches:
- Hamilton, Carman West, Flamborough, Burlington Ebenezer, Cloverdale, Chilliwack, Grand Valley, Lynden, Willoughby Heights, Orangeville, Fergus North, Ottawa, Burlington Fellowship, London
- 2.1 The committee report section 15 and 16 serves as an observation.
- 2.2 The committee recommends that synod mandate the committee:
- 2.2.1 To initiate a thorough review of all 150 Psalms in the 1984 text of the Book of Praise.
- 2.2.2 To prepare an updated psalm section for the Book of Praise or the Common Song Book.
- 2.2.3 To engage Dr. W. Helder to work with the committee to update the psalm section.
- 2.2.4 To provide for a fair remuneration for the work involved.
- 2.2.5 To solicit input from the churches at all stages of the process.
- 2.2.6 To publish revised/updated psalm versions as they become available on a website linked to the official website of the Canadian Reformed Churches (www.canrc.org).
- 2.2.7 To report to general synod on the progress of the work.
- 2.3 The committee further recommends that the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise be continued, that the size of the committee be kept to five members and that the committee may make use of technical advisors as necessary in order to carry out its regular mandate.
- 2.4 Carman West notes that reference is made to a website in Vol.2. p. 200, where revised/updated psalm version could be published, but the link is not given. It requests that an appropriate link be mentioned in the Acts. Also it requests that if there are indeed melodies that are genuinely hard to learn, they are of the opinion that the SCBP should be given the freedom to propose alternative melodies based on the musical modes in the Anglo-Genevan tradition and present their findings to the churches for evaluation.
- 2.5 Hamilton, Flamborough, and Cloverdale support the conclusion and the recommendation of the SCBP with regard to the review of the Anglo-Genevan Psalter.
- 2.6 Burlington Ebenezer urges the committee to continue working on improving the wording of the psalms. This should also include paying particular attention to the way in which the words fit the melody (e.g., Psalm 52 and 141)
- 2.7 Chilliwack agrees that some of the wording is old and could use some updating, but recommends the synod to proceed with caution. It expresses the concern that the wording needs to be changed each time a new Bible translation is adopted.
- 2.8 Grand Valley does not see the need for changes to the language if it is not for doctrinal reasons. They note the decisions of Synod Fergus 1998 (Art. 140 iv.c.1,2) and Chatham 2004 (Art. 115, 5.2.2, p. 119)
- 2.9 Lynden recommends that errors and poor translations ought to be changed so that the words we sing accurately reflect the meaning of God’s Word. However unless there are errors or poor translations it would not be beneficial to change these words purely for reasons of style, personal preference or updating.
- 2.10 Willoughby Heights is not convinced of the validity of the grounds adduced by the committee for updating the metrical psalms in the Book of Praise. The language of the 150 psalms as found in the Book of Praise/Anglo-Genevan Psalter needs not be an impediment to unity with the URC or an obstacle to promoting love for psalm singing among the young people of the church. The poetic language is not outdated and in fact is still very much in use today, even among our young people. Willoughby Heights requests that except for correction of flaws and inaccuracies in the psalms, Synod Smithers not accede to the request of the SCBP for a mandate for “revising the metrical rhymings of the Psalms to reflect the language of the bible translation presently in use by our churches.”
- 2.11 Orangeville is not in favour of the committee’s recommendation to initiate an update of the metrical psalms. The grounds adduced by the committee are in many instances not to be considered new grounds, but more correctly reiteration of personal preferences which have been presented previously. Considering the ever evolving nature of language, the committee fails to prove that updating to a current text would serve future generations any better than our present text.
- 2.12 Fergus North lauds the intention of promoting psalm singing among the young people of the church and sees updating the out-of-date wording as one step that will aid this promotion. Fergus North also wants to see more appropriate tunes to replace tunes that are deemed difficult or unattractive to sing.
- 2.13 Ottawa supports the recommendation to update our psalms and provide remuneration to those given this task (17.14). This follows from the Reformed principle that we should primarily be a psalm singing church. The new versions composed by Dr. Helder are wonderfully clear and would be a great blessing, especially to the younger generation.
- 2.14 Burlington Fellowship endorses the committee recommendation of making the revised psalms available on the internet for testing in the churches.
- 2.15 London requests that where possible the lyrics should preserve the existing text for the sake of the large number of members in our churches who are familiar with those lyrics, and have memorized them since childhood.
- 3.1 The SCBP mentions as first reason that it is of utmost importance that we present the best possible metrical version of the psalms for inclusion in a common songbook. Careful improvements to our existing Book of Praise will allow us to do so. Synod agrees with this ground and is of the opinion that it is now the time to mandate the SCBP to work on these improvements. The committee should therefore also seek means and ways to consult with the Psalter-Hymnal committee of the URCNA.
- 3.2 The committee should also take into consideration the concerns expressed by the churches, as mentioned under the observations. However, we should keep in mind, as the SCBP explains in consideration 15.2.10, that this undertaking will not be such a major undertaking as was assumed by Synod Chatham 2004.
- 3.3 It is important to make a distinction between archaic language on the one hand and poetic language or biblical language on the other. Therefore the committee should be careful in changing language that is perceived to be archaic.
- 3.4 The suggestion as brought forward by Fergus North and Carman West to find better tunes for some of the psalms is being dealt with by the joint songbook committee (see decision regarding Common Songbook Committee, in these Acts, Art. 104, Cons. 3.5).
- 3.5 To involve the churches in all stages of this process and to solicit input from the churches, the committee will do well to publish revised or updated psalm versions as they become available, on a website linked to the official website of the Canadian Reformed Churches (www.canrc.org.).
- 4.1 To mandate the Standing Committee for the Book of Praise:
- 4.1.1 To initiate a thorough review of all 150 Psalms in the 1984 text of Anglo-Genevan Psalter in the Book of Praise.
- 4.1.2 To prepare and present an updated psalm section in the anticipation of being included in the common songbook.
- 4.1.3 To engage Dr. W. Helder to work with the committee to update the psalm section and provide for a fair remuneration for the work involved.
- 4.1.4 To solicit input from the churches at all stages of the process.
- 4.1.5 To publish revised and updated psalm versions as they become available on a website linked to the official website of the Canadian Reformed Churches (www.canrc.org).
- 4.1.6 To report to General Synod 2010 on the progress of the work.
- 4.2 That the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise be continued.
- 4.3 That the size of the committee be kept to five members and that the committee can make use of technical advisors as necessary in order to carry out its regular mandate.
- 4.4 To further mandate the committee:
- 4.4.1 To function according to the arrangements for publishing and distribution accepted by General Synod Cloverdale 1983 (Acts Cloverdale 1983, pp. 297-9), under the original terms of the contract with Premier Printing Ltd., to be reviewed in 2011.
- 4.4.2 To maintain its corporate status in order to be able to protect the interests of the Canadian Reformed Churches in all matters concerning the Book of Praise.
- 4.4.3 To foster an increased awareness of the existence of the Book of Praise among others and to promote the availability of a book of harmonization facilitating the use of the Book of Praise in the English speaking world.
- 4.4.4 To serve as the address to which any correspondence regarding the Book of Praise can be directed. To evaluate and to scrutinize the contents of this correspondence, and to report to the next general synod as to the validity of the suggestions made.