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I doubt there is a more ecumenical or inclusive book in general use in modern Adventism than the 1985 Seventh-day Adventist Church Hymnal. Its tunes are both ancient and modern, and its authors and composers hail from denominations across the spectrum. (For example, there are conservative Adventist websites on which can be found laments about the alleged Catholic influences in our hymnal, demonstrating my point about its ecumenism.) I also question whether the worship fragmentation in our denomination in the past 35 years would ever again allow for the widespread dissemination or adoption of a single official hymnal. The 1985 hymnal was probably our last. Still, I raise the question: is it time for a new hymnal?
I was in law school when the 1985 Seventh-day Adventist Church Hymnal was published and part of a circle of 20-something friends attending the North Austin Seventh‑day Adventist Church. Some of us were in graduate school at University of Texas, some were in college, and some were just embarking on careers. On Friday evenings, we would often come together at the church and laugh, visit, pray and sing through some of the hymns in that book, especially those that were newer to us. There were enough amateur musicians in our group that we could enjoy the challenges of new tunes, and the 1985 hymnal has many beautiful tunes and texts that were not in the 1941 Church Hymnal, with which we had grown up.
Hymnal - Breeze - Blowing - Worship - First
The 1985 hymnal was a fresh breeze blowing across congregational worship. First, it included many new contributions by living Seventh-day Adventist hymnwriters such as Allen Foster, Eurydice Osterman, John Read, James Bingham, Wayne Hooper, Mel West, and Ottilie Stafford. Their contributions joined those from earlier Adventist hymnwriters — Uriah Smith, Annie Smith, Fannie Bolton, F.E. Belden, Henry de Flutier, Roswell Cottrell...
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