Grace Immanuel Bible Church has published our own hymnal, which we’ve called “Sing the Wonders.” The hymnal includes 342 old and new songs by authors such as Isaac Watts, Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, John Newton, Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Stuart Townend, and Bob Kauflin.
Although we originally produced the first edition for our own congregation, more than a dozen other churches have purchased it for use in their corporate worship, as well as many individuals, families, and small group settings. After the third printing sold out, we expanded it to a larger second edition, arriving fall 2018.
The phrase “sing the wonders” is an excerpt of a poem in “The Gospel Standard,” 1853, ascribed to “T.W.” Here’s the whole stanza of the poem (which runs for some 8 or 9 pages):
Pause, my soul, adore and sing the wonders of Immanuel;
Of Christ, the Sacrifice for sin; surpassing mortal tongues to tell
The heights and depths of love and blood,
That ransomed all the sons of God.
The second edition is now available.
More About Hymns & Hymnals
Our church has sung from projection for more than a decade. The benefits of projection are obvious: people’s heads are up, the words are clear and readable, the medium is flexible, and the message of the lyrics is emphasized. It’s for all these reasons that we’re going to continue to use projection as a valuable tool in the corporate praise of the church.
But what projection lacks is any sense of permanence. Of course it’s true that every generation produces music that won’t last. That’s not something we should lament, nor avoid at all costs. Songs that come and go are a reminder that, while culture and creative expressions are perpetually changing, Christ’s plans for His church will never fade away. And yet the church should seek out, as much as possible, those musical expressions of adoration and doctrine that are enduring. When we mingle new songs with ancient ones, we’re recognizing that our local church is just a small notch in the history of God’s people. We acknowledge that every saint of old who penned these lofty texts was someone “with a nature like ours” (James 5:17), prone to weakness and needing to be strengthened in their faith. There’s no substitute for hymn lyrics that have worn well, like these from a paraphrase of Psalm 23:
Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed, but yet in love he sought me; and on his shoulder gently laid, and home, rejoicing, brought me! -Henry Baker
Although projection is a helpful vehicle for prompting song lyrics in real-time, it’s fleeting. The words flash on the screen, and then they’re gone. Projection alone can’t aid in the process of settling these texts deep into our hearts, letting them take root until they become a familiar language of daily worship. The spread of recorded music has helped immensely, of course, and its expansion into the digital age has made it easier than ever for us to commit songs to heart through repeated listening.
But print media is also a valuable tool. When e-books first enjoyed their meteoric ascent, the internet prophets predicted that printed books would diminish to a niche market. And yet, five years later, e-book sales have come to a grinding halt… while print sales are once again on the rise. It’s a reminder that, while technology is constantly changing and passing on, some things are built to last. And it’s precisely this feeling of permanence that a hymnal captures so well. It allows you to hold in your hand a collection of several hundred songs, spanning centuries, that give voice to our deepest beliefs and feelings: who God is, what He has done through Christ, and how we respond to Him in faith and obedience. As a devotional supplement, a solid hymnal is second to none.
A hymnal is a massive undertaking. Even though a local church can avoid the encumbrances of committees and marketing groups in such a project, the investment of time and resources is real. But that’s precisely what this is: an investment. The expected return is that these songs our church sings and loves will be more deeply written on the hearts of our people – and passed down to the next generation. For those young children growing up in our church, “In Christ Alone” will be to them what “The Old Rugged Cross” was to their grandparents. But this can only happen if our churches make it happen. We’re surrounded by a culture in which everything is meant to be consumed and disposed of. It’s profoundly counter-cultural to cherish things that are meant to be preserved and handed down.
It’s our desire in this hymnal project that the church of Christ would be built up, sound doctrine would be proclaimed through hymns, and God would be glorified!
Principles for Hymnal Engraving
This handbook is useful for other churches who are considering a similar project.
How many songs does it include?
What is the quality of the printing and binding?
We’ve been using the first edition for several years, and the hymnals are holding up well—even the ones used by our children’s ministry!
How are the songs organized?
Songs are arranged into 19 topics:
Call to Worship
Adoration and Praise
Confession and Lament
Comfort in Trials
Confidence and Hope
Christ’s Second Coming
Life in Christ
The Holy Spirit