The United Methodist Hymnal

The United Methodist Hymnal was first published in 1989 as the first hymnal for The United Methodist Church following the 1968 merger of The Methodist Church with The Evangelical United Brethren Church. The 962-page hymnal is noted for many changes that were made in the lyrics of certain hymns, so as to modernize the hymnal. The United Methodist Hymnal was developed by a revision committee composed of twenty-five members led by editor Carlton R. Young (who also edited The Methodist Hymnal), and chaired by Bishop Rueben P. Job. In selecting and arranging hymns, many that contained masculine pronouns were altered so as to include gender-neutral pronouns instead. Male references to God, such as “Master”, “Father” and “King”, were retained, and a hymn entitled “Strong Mother God” was rejected.

The editors had also considered eliminating militaristic references, and in 1986 the hymnal revision was the subject of controversy as the editors had considered eliminating “Onward Christian Soldiers” and some verses of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” but retained both hymns after receiving more than 11,000 protest letters. The line “white as snow” was changed to “bright as snow” in “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”, so as to eliminate the imagery of black and white respectively being images of sin and redemption. Several international hymns were also selected, including Spanish, Asian and American Indian hymns, as well as Black spirituals. Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” was also included. In compositions made by John Wesley, many of the lyrical changes made by his brother Charles were reverted, and most uses of “thee” were replaced with “you”.

The hymnal also contains four forms of the Holy Communion ritual, known as the Service of Word and Table, and also of the Baptismal Covenant, along with several musical settings for both of those services. It also contains the marriage and funeral rites, forms for morning and evening Praise and Prayer, and a Psalter based on the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible but with a few revisions.There are two other equally official hymnals of The United Methodist Church: Mil Voces Para Celebrar: Himnario Metodista(published in 1996) and Come, Let Us Worship: The Korean-English United Methodist Hymnal (published in 2000). 

—Excerpted from Wikipedia

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