GS 2013 art 171

GS 2013 Article 171 – Book of Praise – Revision of Hymn Texts

After Synod was re-convened, Committee 4 presented its proposal. With a small change, this was the result:

1.         Material:

  • 1.1.      Report from the SCBP, Section 1.4 (8.2.4)
  • 1.2.      Letters from the churches at Coaldale (, Grand Valley (, Cloverdale (, Grand Rapids (, Burlington-Rehoboth (, Spring Creek (, St. Albert ( and Winnipeg-Grace (

2.         Observations:

  • 2.1.      Synod Burlington 2010 passed on to the SCBP for its consideration the letters that were received from the churches. The SCBP notes that it has implemented the changes to APV Hymns 35, 61 and 78 as decided by Synod Burlington 2010 (Article 122). The SCBP requests that the proposed text of the Hymns serve as the final version for the 2013 edition of the Book of Praise.
  • 2.2.      Winnipeg-Grace recommends that the phrase “heaven and earth” in Hymn 1 of the APV 2010 be changed to “heav’n and earth” (as in the 1984 version), because the former is more awkward to sing.
  • 2.3.      St. Albert suggests that in Hymn 1 “from thence He shall come” be changed to “from there He shall come”, because “thence” is archaic and because “there” is more consistent with the text of the Apostles’ Creed (as found also in the Heidelberg Catechism, LD 7).
  • 2.4.      The SCBP proposes to maintain the text of Hymn 3 as it is presently printed in the APV.
  • 2.5.      The SCBP proposes to make the singing of the “Amen” in Hymn 8 standard (i.e., to remove the brackets, the asterisk and the phrase “May be sung with Amen-cadence”). Coaldale prefers to omit the “Amen” altogether from Hymn 8.
  • 2.6.      Spring Creek and Burlington-Rehoboth suggest a change to the first line of Hymn 17 (Song of Mary), so that it reads, “My soul does magnify,” instead of “My soul will magnify.” They want to preserve the present tense of the song, as found in most English translations of this text. The SCBP points out that according to rules of English usage, the verb “will” does not have to refer to the future; Spring Creek and Burlington-Rehoboth do not find this convincing as it is not the common understanding of the word. Spring Creek provides a rendering of Hymn 17:1 with “will” replaced by “does/do.”
  • 2.7.      Cloverdale disagrees with the proposed change to the last line of Hymn 18:1, where the SCBP wanted to include the word “covenant.” Cloverdale points out that no grounds are provided for this change and that the SCBP has not demonstrated that the alteration from “has kept the oath he swore to Abraham” to “has kept the covenant he made with Abraham” is an improvement. Cloverdale submits that although the proposed alteration faithfully reflects the biblical text, so does the present version and that “God’s oath-keeping is a particular manifestation of his covenant faithfulness.”
  • 2.8.      Grand Valley suggests to be rid of Hymn 30 because of many imprecise statements.
  • 2.9.      A few churches objected that Hymn 45 refers to our Lord and Saviour simply with “Jesus.” However, the committee notes that we have long had hymns that refer to our Lord only by his personal name, Jesus (e.g., Hymns 23, 28, 41, 43, 47, 55, 61, 68, 71, 82 and 84). Other objections to this song were addressed by Synod Burlington 2010, Article 163.
  • 2.10.    Grand Rapids disputes the inclusion of Hymn 46 (“Christ Shall Have Dominion”), a paraphrase of Psalm 72, because we already have Psalm 72.
  • 2.11.    The SCBP proposes to change “straight” to “strait” in the last line of Hymn 56:3, because the notion of a “strait gate” comes from the KJV of Matthew 7:13-14. The committee explains, “This might be perceived as the introduction of an archaism, but it fits with the tenor of the hymn (cf. “suffer not” of the preceding line).”
  • 2.12.    Coaldale and Grand Rapids request the deletion of Hymn 58 (“Our Children, Lord, in Faith and Prayer”) because of its sentimentality and baptistic theology. The SCBP notes that Synod Burlington 2010 addressed the question of a possible Arminian or Baptist tone in the idea of parents presenting their children to the Lord (Article135). Nevertheless, the Committee believes it is good to alter the text in order to prevent future misunderstandings and to strengthen the hymn’s overall content. They propose:
    • 1. Our children, LORD, as covenant heirs,
    • are baptized in your name,
    • for they your steadfast promise share,
    • which you to us proclaim.
    • 2. Such children Jesus did embrace
    • while dwelling here below;
    • to us and ours, O God of grace,
    • the same compassion show
    • 3. As they grow up, keep them secure
    • from worldly snares, we pray;
    • O let them to the end endure
    • in every righteous way.
  • 2.13.    Grand Rapids states that Hymn 66 is “less than robustly Trinitarian.”
  • 2.14.    The SCBP proposes to update the language of Hymn 77, in order to make it more consistent with other revised hymns in the Book of Praise. They propose:
    • 1. We praise you, O God, our Redeemer, Creator;
    • in grateful devotion our tribute we bring.
    • We lay it before you, we kneel and adore you;
    • we bless your holy name, glad praises we sing.
    • 2. We worship you, God of our fathers, we bless you;
    • through life’s storm and tempest our Guide you have been.
    • When perils o’ertake us, you will not forsake us,
    • and with your help, O Lord, our battles we win.
    • 3. With voices united our praises we offer;
    • our songs of thanksgiving to you we now raise.
    • Your strong arm will guide us, our God is beside us;
    • to you, our great Redeemer, fore’er be praise.
  • 2.15.    The SCBP proposes to alter the punctuation in Hymn 78:2 to remove an awkward phrase; they suggest lines 3-4 to read:
  • Have you not seen? All that is needful has been
  • sent by his gracious ordaining.

3.         Considerations:

  • 3.1.      In section 1.4.3 of its report the SCBP provides examples of changes that were suggested by the churches but not implemented by the committee.
  • 3.2.      The change to “heav’n and earth” in Hymn 1 is an improvement.
  • 3.3.      It would be advisable for Hymn 1 to correspond more closely with the Apostles’ Creed (also as found in the Heidelberg Catechism).
  • 3.4.      The committee has provided a clear explanation of its revision of Hymn 3 (SCBP Report to Synod, p. 14).
  • 3.5.      The singing of the “Amen” after the Doxology (Hymn 8) is consistent with a long liturgical tradition.
  • 3.6.      While both the APV rendition and the proposal by Spring Creek are acceptable, it is preferable to revert to the 1984 version of Hymn 17:1 because it clearly speaks in the present tense.
  • 3.7.      Cloverdale is correct to point out that “oath” in Hymn 18:1 faithfully reflects the Biblical text. Further, to sing the proposed SCBP change requires a contraction of “covenant” or of “Abraham.”
  • 3.8.      The concerns about the language in Hymn 30 have been addressed by the SCBP in its report to Synod Burlington 2010 (p. 35-36).
  • 3.9.      The committee is correct to point out the use of the personal name of the Saviour in not only Hymn 45, but numerous other hymns in the Book of Praise.
  • 3.10.    The SCBP explained the inclusion of Hymn 46 (“Christ Shall Have Dominion”) by noting in its report to Synod Burlington 2010, “While Psalm 72 is a prayer of David for blessing on his son Solomon, [“Christ Shall Have Dominion”] shows the messianic fulfilment by applying the text directly to the risen Christ” (p. 40).
  • 3.11.    “Straight” in Hymn 56 is an inaccurate way to describe the road that leads to eternal life. “Strait” describes how the road that leads to eternal life is restricted to certain boundaries.
  • 3.12.    The proposed new wording for Hymn 58 is an improvement as it strengthens the covenantal aspect of the hymn.
  • 3.13.    It is unclear why Hymn 66 is singled out as being “less than robustly Trinitarian,” as other hymns in the Book of Praise focus on different aspects of the work of each person of the Trinity.
  • 3.14.    It is advisable to have consistent language as much as possible in the Book of Praise and the changes to Hymn 77 serve to that end.
  • 3.15.    The suggested punctuation change in Hymn 78 is an improvement.

4.         Recommendations:

That Synod decide:

  • 4.1.      That the SCBP fulfilled its mandate in considering suggestions from the churches;
  • 4.2.      To revert to the 1984 version of line 2 in Hymn 1, “heav’n and earth”;
  • 4.3.      To instruct the SCBP to change “thence” to “there” in Hymn 1;
  • 4.4.      To retain the APV 2010 version of Hymn 3;
  • 4.5.      To approve the SCBP’s proposed change to Hymn 8;
  • 4.6.      To revert to the 1984 rendition of Hymn 17:1;
  • 4.7.      To maintain the APV 2010’s rendition of the last line of Hymn 18:1;
  • 4.8.      To retain Hymn 30 in the 2013 edition of the Book of Praise;
  • 4.9.      To maintain the text of Hymn 45 as it is presently in the 2010 APV;
  • 4.10.    To retain Hymn 46 in the 2013 edition of the Book of Praise;
  • 4.11.    To approve the SCBP’s proposed change to Hymn 56:3;
  • 4.12.    To approve the SCBP’s proposed changes to Hymn 58;
  • 4.13.    To retain Hymn 66 in the 2013 edition of the Book of Praise;
  • 4.14.    To approve the SCBP’s proposed changes to Hymn 77;
  • 4.15.    To approve the SCBP’s proposed change to Hymn 78;
  • 4.16.    To mandate the SCBP to implement the relevant recommendations under point 4 regarding the revision of the text of the hymns;
  • 4.17.    To adopt the text of hymns as presented in the APV 2010, along with any incorporated changes under point 4, as the definitive text of the Anglo-Genevan Psalter in the 2013 edition of the Book of Praise;
  • 4.18.    To decide that any further changes to the text of the Hymns be made in accordance with the Acts of Synod Carman 2013, Article 125, Recommendation 4.5.