Overture Overview: #9 on Publishing Songbook

After a series of overtures spanning multiple pages, it’s a relief to see that Overture #9 occupies only one page.  Nevertheless, this overture is no less weighty than its companions.

Summary: Classis Western Canada overtures Synod 2012 to instruct the Psalter Hymnal Committee (1) “to proceed towards the publication of a songbook…without further delay,” (2) “to develop a songbook that has as its basis the 1976 edition of the CRC blue Psalter Hymnal” with a “limited number of new and generally accepted” psalms and hymns, (3) “to include all synodically-approved liturgical forms in the songbook,” (4) “to minimize changes as much as possible in the new songbook,” and (5) to imitate “the transition process undertaken by the CRC when the blue Psalter Hymnal was produced.”

Grounds: This overture doesn’t include any comments or examples besides the above requests.  The grounds provided by Classis Western Canada are brief enough that I’ll include them here in their entirety.

  1. “This is in keeping with the expressed desires of previous synods that a URCNA songbook be created.
  2. “This alleviates unrest in the churches concerning various proposals, publications and comments concerning the present, partially proposed songbook which has created controversy in the churches.
  3. “This clarifies an underlying understanding that the blue Psalter Hymnal is not being jettisoned.
  4. “This allows for possible further contact with the OPC should synod so request and approve of such, without the URCNA having to wait for an updated songbook.
  5. “This allows the Psalter Hymnal Committee to continue to work with the OPC, should synod so request and approve of such, taking all the time necessary to further refine and meet the needs of the churches.”

My comments: The first two grounds seem reasonable enough.  I’m unsure of the meaning of the third; whose underlying understanding is it that the blue Psalter Hymnal is not being jettisoned?  Perhaps some affirmation to this extent was given at Synod 2010, of which I’m simply not aware.  Grounds 4 and 5 don’t seem relevant to the overture, and the fifth ground (“taking all the time necessary”) doesn’t seem to mesh well with the first request (“proceed towards the publication…without further delay”).  But my reaction might simply be a result of the fact that I don’t understand Overture #9 as well as I would like to.

Questions for discussion: What necessitates a quicker push towards publication of a new songbook?  Would the debates over the URC’s psalms and hymns be better resolved if we began using the URC Psalter Hymnal sooner, or held off on publication for several more years?  What if the compilation of the OPC is already vastly different than the blue Psalter Hymnal—should the URC proceed to work with them, or insist on a blue-based songbook?  Your responses are most welcome.

See p. 91 of the Provisional Agenda for the entirety of this overture.

–MRK

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