Desert island selection #1

Getting back to which five books I would take to a desert island.

Since I get to choose, I’m assuming there is some purpose in me being on a desert island. Perhaps personal growth. I’ll work with that.

Also, I’m only going to choose from books I actually own. If it is that needful, shouldn’t I have gotten it by now? And if I don’t have it, how would I know?

OK, down to business.

1. The Church Hymnary, Third Edition

If I only had five books to bring, I’d probably pass on a book of liturgy, since I have enough of a handle on that to shape my worship from the Bible I’m bringing (but not counting in my five).

Hymnals, on the other hand, have long been a repository for personal meditation. Study a hymnal and you’ll learn what the compliers believe. Study a good hymnal, and you might find yourself believing something worth believing.

Naturally, I’d want something compact and rich: the hymnal version of a fruitcake. Full of well-chosen standards and rich with singable psalms. The Church Hymnary, Third Edition (1973, hereafter CH3) fits the bill. It was the defacto hymnal of non-US Presbyterianism. In time, the various national Presbyterian churches “withdrew” and created their own hymnals, leaving CH3 with its native Church of Scotland. CH4 is due out any time now, but since it is strictly a domestic product, I’m a little wary of whether I’d like it or not. On the other hand, Rejoice and Sing and Voices United are the current hymnals of two Union churches — the United Reformed Church (mostly in England) and the United Church of Canada — that have Presbyterian (and earlier editions of Church Hymnary) legacies and both are fabulous. R&S may well be my favorite hymnal in print; alas, it cannot be sold in the United States. (I got mine on our honeymoon in London. True love is being allowed to shop for hymnals on one’s honeymoon.)

So first I would take my collection of 695 hymns and psalms, which in the melody edition, is little larger than a pack of 4×6 index cards.

Categorized as Hymns

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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