Archive for the ‘David P. Polk’ Tag

Joint Baptist-Disciples of Christ Hymnals   5 comments

Christian Worship

Above:  My Copies of Christian Worship:  A Hymnal (1941) and Hymnbook of Christian Worship (1970)

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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My knowledge of denominational hymnals beyond my own turf has expanded greatly over the years.  One day on which it expanded came during the Summer of 1992, during my time as a student at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia.  My mother was nearing the end of her time as a student at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia.  I visited her one week that Summer, when she lived at the Presbyterian Student Center just off campus.  We spent part of days that week volunteering at an ecumenical Vacation Bible School hosted by First Christian Church.  The two Lutheran congregations (one Missouri Synod, the other Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), the three Episcopal churches, and the Disciples of Christ congregation cooperated on this effort.  There I found in an open room–yet not in any pew–a copy of Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970).  (I recall that the hymnal in the pews was the Gaither Hymns for the Family of God, 1976).  I was intrigued with the hymnbook not in the pews.  Eventually I found my own copy in a thrift store.

From the 1930s to the early 1950s the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Northern Baptist Convention (from 1950 to 1972 the American Baptist Convention) pondered merging.  They had much in common, given the Disciples’ position between the Baptist and Presbyterian positions and the Disciples’ practice of baptizing by immersion.  The Christian Century, in its July 22, 1936, issue, editorialized regarding a possible organic union.  The editorial, which discussed baptismal theology, concluded:

What really keeps Baptists and Disciples apart and, in the main, keeps all Protestant denominations apart, is not actual present differences but hangover attitudes developed in the day when there were differences.  Though difficult to define, these are very real obstacles to union.  There are also institutional obstacles of a more substantial nature.  Organizations and agencies have been built up at a great cost of effort and money.  These vested interests are the objects of a kind of family or tribal pride on the part of each denomination.  This pride is fostered by the large and influential secretariat  which has charge of the sacred vessels of the Lord.  Unless there is a conscience on Christian unity, some vivid sense of the sin of being Baptists or Disciples, or anything else than Christians, there is no hope of overcoming the inertia of the status quo.

Union between Baptists and Disciples is both desirable and possible.  No one wishes to rush it, and it will doubtless be years before the natural processes that make for unification can work out their full effect.  Perhaps the most that can be done now is to realize that these processes are natural and that the end is both desirable and possible.

But if the ultimate merging of Baptists and Disciples were to be considered as creating an immersionist bloc, as giving renewed emphasis to a single ordinance, and as producing a deeper cleavage between immersionist and non-immersionist bodies, its injuries would far outweigh its benefits.  To make this one practice which the two denominational bodies have in common the bond of unity between them would be to make it afresh a divisive issue in the Christian world.  The attainment of a larger fellowship does not lie in that direction.  When Baptists and Disciples unite, they should do so upon the realization that they are both free peoples giving liberty within their ranks for a wide variety of individual opinion and local congregational practice.  Most of their congregations practice immersion, but not all of them insist upon it.  The fact that the practice is general among them and that it has been prominent in their history gives them a feeling of kinship, but it is not the true ground for union between them, as it is not the ground of their present denominational unity.

To unite immersionists against the world would be a calamity to the Christian cause.  To unite Baptists and Disciples on the ground of their common faith, purpose and liberty would be a step toward still wider union on the same basis.  For the essential things that Baptists and Disciples have in common are not their exclusive possession.

The two groups did not merge, obviously, but they did produce two joint hymnals.  The first was Christian Worship:  A Hymnal (1941).

Christian Worship A Hymnal

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

It was, like many hymnals of its generation, classy–emphasizing the quality of hymn texts and a degree of formality of worship.  As the Preface said in part:

It [the hymnal] will be adaptable to the more dignified and formal worship of the stately church and to the simple service of the less pretentious.

My experience with the book has been positive, for I have located some wonderful hymns here, having not found them in any other hymnal in my collection.  This has proven quite helpful to the pursuit of one of my hobbies.

Hymnbook for Christian Worship

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Less successful, my Internet research has indicated, was the 1970 follow-up, Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970), which was more formal than many of its contemporaries in mainline Protestantism.  Whereas the 1941 hymnal had limited worship resources (just responsive readings, some invocations, a few Scriptural selections for baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and a page of benedictions), the 1970 volume offered Scriptural readings for Adoration and Praise, a collection of litanies, pages of Affirmations of Faith, Prayers of Worship, some Psalms, and Biblical excerpts arranged topically:  Offering, The Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and Benedictions.  Archaic language remained, for God was often “Thee.”  Hymnbook for Christian Worship was a volume which reflected a previous age in a time of rapid change.  Sometimes its stylistic conservatism was justified, especially given certain excesses of innovative worship in the 1960s and 1970s.  Yet it, like its Presbyterian contemporary, The Worshipbook, showed its age rapidly–yet in a different way.  The former was nouveau; the latter was ancien.

Subsequent denominational developments in worship have revealed that Hymnbook for Christian Worship was a dead end.  The American Baptists have not authorized a hymnal since 1970.  Their congregations use a range of hymnbooks.  The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) published Chalice Hymnal (1995) and Chalice Worship (1997).  The former, unfortunately, has been out of print for a few years.  Yesterday morning, while not even looking for it, I found a copy of Chalice Praise (2003) at a thrift store.  Editor David P. Polk, in A Word to Worshipers, wrote:

You hold in your hands not just another supplement to a recent hymnal.  This set of musical resources for the church’s worship is a different type of collection.  It specifically offers a gathering together of the best and often the freshest of songs that characterize contemporary Christian music.

–page vi

That last sentence is oxymoronic.

Christian Worship:  A Hymnal (1941) and Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970) are volumes I am glad to have in my hymnal collection, for I consult them while conducting research into hymnody.  I am, with regard to hymnody, much like the archaeologist of a certain joke; the older his wife became, the more interesting he found her.  Chalice Praise (2003), however, reminds me of what Thomas Day, in the subtitle to his book, Why Catholics Can’t Sing (1990), called

the triumph of bad taste

Why is bad taste so ubiquitous?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 29, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

THE FEAST OF ANDREI RUBLEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ICONOGRAPHER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GENESIUS I OF CLERMONT AND PRAEJECTUS OF CLERMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINT AMARIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT GILDAS THE WISE, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Chalice Worship (1997)   7 comments

Above:  Logo of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Chalice Worship is one of my favorite volumes, one which functions for me as one of a set of prayer books.  It takes its place along side The Book of Common Prayer (1979), A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), and a volume of novenas.  I, with my Episcopal Church-honed liturgical tastes, enjoy the fresh, reverent, and poetic language of Chalice Worship.  The resources in this book differ from those I have found elsewhere, so the volume is unique, adding welcome spice to a variety of well-written liturgical life.

Chalice Worship, a resource of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is a companion to Chalice Hymnal, the denomination’s 1995 successor to Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970), a joint project with the American Baptist Churches U.S.A., then called the American Baptist Convention.  CW (1997) is, in a way, a successor to that book, which contains worship resources (although mainly in older-style English) in the back.  CW (1997) is primarily the successor to Christian Worship:  A Service Book (1953),

The first and last complete book of worship resources…..It set a benchmark for any would come after him [editor G. Edwin Osborn] in similar labors.

Chalice Worship, page xii

CW (1997) complements Thankful Praise (1987), edited by Keith Watkins, and Chalice Hymnal (1995), not replicating material from them.

The scope of Chalice Worship is comprehensive.  There are the usual services, such as Holy Communion, baptism, confirmation, marriage, healing, and funerals, for example.  But one can also find a service to celebrate a wedding anniversary and another to bless a friendship.  And the funeral service comes with options for various occasions, such as a suicide, a sudden tragedy, and a stillbirth.  There are also daily morning and evening prayer services, which are beautiful.

There is also a section of three ecumenical services:  the Lord’s Supper, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, and Thanksgiving.  These appeal to me because of my bad experiences with community worship services; they tend to be flavorless bastard stepchildren of liturgy, appealing to few or none while attempting to encompass all or as many as possible.  But these ecumenical rites have two parents who are glad to claim them as their own.

These parents are Colbert “Bert” S. Cartwright (http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/feast-of-colbert-s-cartwright-august-5/) and O. I. Cricket Harrison.  They served on the committee which produced Chalice Hymnal (1995).  Cartwright, who died in 1996, was a Disciples of Christ minister and a witness for civil rights in the U.S. South when that was unpopular with many other white people.  Harrison composed hymn tunes and descants, translated a hymn from Spanish, and wrote a hymn one can find in that hymnal.  And she, with the help of Ann Cartwright, Colbert’s widow, and David P. Polk, editor of Chalice Press (as she wrote,

the unnamed third editor of this work

Chalice Worship, page xiii)

brought the volume to completion.  I thank God for all that they did toward that goal.

Back to my summary….

Chalice Worship also  provides services for the Christian Year and special Sundays.  So, for example, Advent, Christmas, Lenten, Holy Week, Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday resources are present.  The Feast of Christ the King (as I know and celebrate it each year) has become “The Festival of Christ the Cosmic Ruler.”  That is fine, for “king” is just a metaphor; I will not become upset about it.  And one can find rites for special Sundays ranging from Father’s Day to Mother’s Day to All Saints’ Day to Labor Day to AIDS Sunday.  There are also resources for the Week of Compassion (the third to fourth Sundays in February), when the Disciples of Christ collect funds to alleviate global suffering.  Compassion is a good thing.

One can also find resources for occasional events, such as installing church offices, honoring graduates, saying farewell to a retiring minister, opening a meeting or conference, blessing a home, or blessing a mother and a child after a difficult birth.  If a congregation has divided, it might avail itself of a prayer for that occasion.  Given recent headlines in ecclesiastical and collegiate settings, the Prayer for One Who Has Been Molested seems timely.

My favorite part of the book however, is its comprehensive selection of short prayers and litanies for various occasions.  I have found them quite helpful.  Once, a few years ago, when I needed the prayer “For the Brokenhearted” (page 364), I posted it online, giving credit to the source, of course.  Shortly later I received a comment from a complete stranger.  That person wrote,

Thank you.

My advice, O reader of this post, is to use this book at least for individual prayer, and corporate worship if possible.  Share it with others.  Such a wonderful resource, Colbert S. Cartwright’s final work, deserves no less.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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