Reviewing Hymns for a Pilgrim People, part 1

  • It’s red. Any successor to the Pilgrim Hymnal ought to be. (Though my copy — which, for some reason I left at work!? — is blue.)
  • It’s big. 37.6 ounces and — well — American-hymnal sized. These days, when I see something that large, I want to know what the battery life is. Apart from moving cases of hymnals, I never gave the issue much thought until a British Unitarian minister wondered “how can your elderly members hold them?” Since, I’ve grown to love the smaller formats of British hymnals, and I’m only 40 and arthritis-free.
  • It’s got tons of hymns, psalms and prayers. More about that later.
  • It’s inexpensive. Jaws dropped in the hymnal world when, in 1993, the Unitarian Universalist Hymns of the Living Tradition came in (and still is) at $28. This hymnal is $18, which is closer to what seems the norm.
  • It’s — uh — satisfactorily typeset. Just.  Which is a shame, because the cover if substantial and attractive (if not my style; I think it will age badly.) Hymnals should be attractively typeset, to encourage esteem in the work and to match the beauty we (try to) bring to the playing and singing; saving money here seems a false economy when you consider the life of a hymnal. This and another GIA-published hymnal I own suffer from a plainness of typography that says to me “department report.” Perhaps it can be justified from a legibility standpoint. It is still better than the other Pilgrim Hymnal replacement, Hymns of Truth and Light which has a good selection of hymns and tunes, barely-adequate typesetting in the body of the book and eye-stabbingly-bad type in the indices. (I wonder if someone didn’t check a proof, or if something failed in press pre-flight.)
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.

1 comment

  1. I have the alternate UCC hymnal, HYMNS OF TRUTH AND LIGHT (HoT&L) – which I like much better than the overly ecclectic NEW CENTURY HYMNAL. I actually think that HoT&L would work quite well in some UU congregations. However, I found that the paper HoT&L was printed on felt somewhat cheap compared to other hymnals, and I’ve wondered about its durability. What would you say is the quality of the paper for PILGRIM PEOPLE?

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