GS 2010 art 87

GS 2010 Article 87 – Common Songbook

1.         Material

  • 1.1       Report from the Committee for a Common Songbook (8.2.C).
  • 1.2        Letters from Hamilton-Providence (8.3.C.1), Burlington-Fellowship (8.3.C.2), Edmonton-Immanuel (8.3.C.3), Flamborough (8.3.C.4), Neerlandia (8.3.C.5), Carman West (8.3.C.6), Ancaster (8.3.C.7), and Lincoln(8.3.C.8).

2.         Observations

  • 2.1       The Committee for a Common Songbook received a mandate from General Synod Smithers which includes the following (Acts of Synod Smithers, Article 104, Recommendation 4):
    • [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
        • []           synod’s strong preference for a complete Anglo-Genevan Psalter with the common songbook, while acknowledging that this may not be a defining obstacle to federative unity.
        • []           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 eventually common songbook before federative unity is achieved and requests the committee to obtain the same commitment from 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.
  • 2.2       In regard to the common songbook, the committee notes the following:
    • 2.2.1    Its disappointment in the post-Schererville developments, and the subsequent lack of progress in attaining the mandate set by General Synod Smithers.
    • 2.2.2    Its request to General Synod Burlington-Ebenezer 2010 to provide a clear sense of direction when it determines a mandate for the Committee for a Common Songbook.
  • 2.3       During the past three years, the activities of the Committee for a Common Songbook were deeply affected by a change in direction and mandate given by the URCNA General Synod Schererville (July 2007). This Synod’s decision to affirm “that in addition to reaffirming our original abiding purpose to publish a new URCNA Psalter Hymnal (Synod 1999) we remain committed to the supplemental decision of Synod 2001 to continue to dialogue with the Canadian Reformed Churches as parallel track.” In effect this decision changed the direction away from working together towards a common songbook. By direct implication, this decision rendered the mandate given to the Committee by General Synod Smithers impossible to attain.
  • 2.4       There was one meeting of the joint Committees for a Common Songbook in Wyoming, ON. The Committees expressed disappointment at the diverse decisions reached by the General Synods. They noted the change of the mandate for the URCNA Committee but also Synod Schererville’s expression of continued commitment to the “supplemental decision of Synod 2001 to continue to dialogue with the Canadian Reformed churches as a parallel track.” Yet, the reality is that this work has now been put on a backburner.
  • 2.5       The Committee decided to continue to work independently for the time being, devoting their energies to Book of Praise related matters. In the meantime, requests for feedback and input were shared between the two Committees for a Common Songbook. Our Committee requested clarification on the function of these Principles and Guidelines in the current work done by their committee. The question was asked if they are aware they are bound exclusively by these Principles and Guidelines as they develop a new URCNA songbook. In the Committee’s view, “close adherence to these guidelines remains foundational for our work together.”
  • 2.6       The following Churches share the disappointment and frustration at the lack of progress: Hamilton-Providence, Edmonton-Immanuel, Lincoln, Ancaster, and Carman West. Flamborough supports the committee’s request of Synod that they provide a clear sense of direction before continuing.
  • 2.7       Both Burlington-Fellowship and Ancaster note Synod Schererville’s decision to publish a new Psalter Hymnal. Burlington-Fellowship concludes that without meaningful dialogue and input from the URCNA Committee, our Committee can no longer function. They urge suspension of the work of the CanRC Committee. Ancaster suggests that Synod Burlington-Ebenezer address Synod London, seeking clarification and requesting either priority be given to the compilation of a common song book or at least an equivalent amount of time and attention be devoted to this important work by the URCNA’s committee for a Common Song Book. Neerlandia recommends that further work towards a common songbook cease until it is clear that there is desire on the part of the URCNA for further unity. Lincoln recommends that General Synod London be encouraged to revisit this decision.
  • 2.8       Carman West notes that both Committees have gone ahead with revisions of their respective song books. The result could be that the CanRC would have their own revised Book of Praise and the URCNA their own revised Psalter Hymnal. They regret the decision to work independently for the time being, since it potentially means the loss of a suitable opportunity to work on a product that is satisfactory to both parties. Carman West suggests that if Synod Burlington-Ebenezer decides to work towards a common songbook in the near future, this would call into question the wisdom of asking the churches to invest in a new edition of the Book of Praise at this time. Such an edition would be dated the moment a common songbook would be adopted. If Synod Burlington-Ebenezer decides to adopt a revised Book of Praise, Carman West is of the opinion that at this stage the mandate of CanRC Committee for a Common Songbook should not go beyond keeping each other informed by presenting the final products to each other. Perhaps a few decades from now, if the desire for unity is stronger than it is now, it may be worth the effort to revisit the discussion and work more seriously towards a common songbook. They recommend that if Synod gives a further mandate, there should be clarity as to what the objective is and how the time and effort required to produce a common songbook would still be of significant benefit to the churches.

3.         Considerations

  • 3.1         The decision by the URCNA Synod with regard to the songbook resulted in a changed mandate which has made progress impossible to date. Nevertheless, it would be beneficial to continue this Committee to work on further improvements as needed to the Book of Praise, positioning it in whole or in part for possible future integration into a common songbook.
  • 3.2       It would be advantageous to find ways to remain in contact with the URCNA Committee as well as to explore possible avenues of cooperation.
  • 3.3       Seeing the decision to develop a common songbook has not been revised or rescinded, this should remain a stated objective within the context of a new federation. At the same time it needs to be realized that such an endeavour requires a considerable amount of time, manpower, and resources and thus will not be quickly completed either before or after merger is realized.
  • 3.4       Seeing that previous Synods appointed the members of the SCBP as the Committee for a Common Songbook, Synod BurlingtonEbenezer should make a similar decision.

4.         Recommendation

That Synod decide:

  • 4.1       To state that the Canadian Reformed Churches remain committed to having a common songbook in a united federation.
  • 4.2       To thank the Committee for a Common Songbook for the work done to date, and to reappoint it at this time, with the mandate to work out Considerations 3.1. and 3.2.