Major Hymnals of the Churches of Christ in the United States
1865 Christian Hymnbook (Alexander Campbell)
1882 The Christian Hymnal* (American Christian Missionary Society)
1882 New Christian Hymn and Tune (Fillmore Brothers)
1905 Gloria in Excelsis (William E.M. Hackleman)
1921 Great Songs of the Church I (E. L. Jorgenson)
1923 Choice Gospel Hymns (Charles Mitchell Pullias, Gospel Advocate Co.)
1935 Christian Hymns I (L.O. Sanderson, Gospel Advocate Co.)
1937 Great Songs of the Church II (E. L. Jorgenson)
1940 Complete Christian Hymnal (Marion Davis)
1948 Christian Hymns II (L.O. Sanderson, Gospel Advocate Co.)
1956 Sacred Selections (Ellis J. Crum, Sacred Songs Press)
1959 Majestic Hymnal II (Reuel Lemmons)
1963 Abiding Hymns (Robert C. Welch)
1963 Christian Hymnal (J. Nelson Slater)
1966 Christian Hymns III (L.O. Sanderson, Gospel Advocate Co.)
1971 Songs of the Church (Alton Howard)
1975 Great Songs of the Church II, with supplement (Abilene Christian Univ.)
1978 Hymns of Praise (Reuel Lemmons, Firm Foundation)
1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns† (V.E. Howard)
1986 Great Songs of the Church, Revised (Jack Boyd)
1987 Hymns for Worship (R.J. Stevens)
1990 Songs of the Church, 21st Century Edition (Alton Howard)
1992 Praise for the Lord (John P. Wiegand)
1993 Songs of Faith and Praise (Alton Howard)
1995 Hymns for Worship, Revised (R.J. Stevens)
1997 Praise for the Lord, Revised (John P. Wiegand)
2007 Sacred Songs of the Church (W.D. Jeffcoat)
2010 Songs for Worship and Praise (R.J. Taylor)
* Published in 1882 as a revised and notated version of Cambell’s Christian Hymnbook
† Published as a revision of Gospel Songs and Hymns (1978)
37 thoughts on “Hymnal Collection”
Sumphonia’s hymnal is coming out this year as well!
I purchased The Majestic Hymnal Vol 2 (1959) from a used-books store and one of the pages is torn/missing. Could you please help me in locating the lyrics for pg. 109 “On the Sun Bright Road”? I cannot find it anywhere online.
On the Sun-Bright Road of Calvary was written by Austin Taylor (1881-1973), a Texas songwriter associated with churches of Christ. Taylor’s songs met with some success in his life time, but his songs are rapidly fading from use as time marches on. I’ll make it the feature song of my next article. Thanks for stopping by HymnalCollector.com!
It took me a little bit, but I’ve got The Sun-Bright Road uploaded to HymnalCollector.com. Keep reading, commenting, and asking questions. What in particular drew you to look for that song?
I haven’t studied them too closely, but is the Howard/Taylor “Favorite Songs of the Church” hymnal anything more than a reprint of the SOTC 1990 hymnal?
Looks like it has 20 additional songs, including “How Great Thou Art”, “Eternal Father Strong to Save”, “Great is They Faithfulness”, “Because He Lives” and some others. And it is typeset in a much cleaner format.
No, I hadn’t heard that Hymns for Worship was adding another supplement. At what point – I wonder – does it become more practical to publish a new hymnal rather than “patch” an older one? Great Songs of the Church II was cutting-edge in its day and its supplement breathed life into it for another generation, but in this fast-paced day in which we live, I’m not sure that supplements will always be as beneficial as the publishers hope. Are you close to the publishers? What’s your inside track for information?
In my opinion, Hymns for Worship (original) was the weakest hymnal of its generation. To its credit: it was the first major shape-note hymnal published in 16 years (since 1971’s Songs of the Church), but on the other hand, I don’t know what it really added to the discussion. Church Gospel Songs and Hymns catered to the gospel/southern gospel crowd, but wasn’t as fresh as Songs of the Church. “Nobody” liked Great Songs of the Church, Revised (ACU Press, Jack Boyd and Forrest McCann), but it brought about a higher class of musicianship (too high, maybe) and took itself very seriously as a hymnal (again, too seriously, maybe). The best contribution Great Songs of the Church, Revised brought to the table was a clarity of artwork on the page. And thus, no hymnal since 1986 has reused plates from previous publications as was the convention in so many previous hymnals. Great Songs of the Church, Revised seems to be the first hymnal “engraved” in the digital era. I’m not sure of this, but maybe it helped encourage Alton Howard to get back into the game and develop Songs of the Church, 21st Century Edition. Especially after its first revision, that book was the first of the “modern” hymnals, incorporating entirely new generas of songs.
Hymns for Worship appealed to a smaller market that didn’t perceive a need for much innovation. I wonder what kind of book Hymns for Worship, Revised would have been in 1995 if the book had been marketed to more than just non-institutional churches of Christ? From what I’m told, before Hymns for Worship, many non-institutional churches used Abiding Hymns (1963) or even Sacred Selections (1956). Along these same lines, will Sumphonia’s hymnal – which now has a title! – Songs, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs also have limited appeal or marketing? Personally, I’m excited to see it come.
Please don’t read this as an attack on Bro. Stevens or his book. To compile, edit, and publish any sized hymnal is a respectable accomplishment and I also appreciate his efforts to teach singing schools and encourage good congregational singing schools. We need more men like him and his son in the church.
Allow me a moment of (lame) humor: By the way, I wonder what they’ll call this new version of Hymns for Worship? Hymns for Worship, Doubly Revised? Hymns for Worship, Squared? Hymns for Worship, The Next Generation? Not Your Granddaddy’s Hymns for Worship?
I know the publishers from the Oklahoma singing School and keep in touch with them through Facebook and area singings/meetings. All good people and very down to earth! (they’re not in it to get rich)
The niche RJ Stevens and Dane Shepard were and are trying to fill, from what I understand, is to make the current church reportoir more singable with changes to arrangements (some of them very significant including harmony and time signature); introduce many new songs written by the brethren (dozens of them). Until and since HFW, no other major hymnal included the work of writers like Glenda Schales, Couchman, and others. They are some of the very best of our song writers today. Sumphonia’s SHSS will be the first large hymnal to contain a larger percentage of these writers’ work.
They also have done a great job with the clean, consistent type-setting and large fonts compared to many of the prominent books of its day. Considering it replaced (and is still replacing) 20-30+ year old hymnals at many congregations, it was a huge improvement. And that’s probably another reason it was and is very successful.
With the onslaught of contemporary music in the Church, Dane Shepard and the Stevens are changing many of these songs to make them more scriptural and singable for all levels of singers. Many of these were not written originally in SATB also. Excessive moving parts and syncopation are a couple of the biggest challenges older singers in the church struggle with in contemporary music. So this is something that really sets their work apart from some of the other major books.
I grew up in the NI church and the books we saw a lot were the Howard SOTC, Scared (erm, I mean Sacred) Selections, HFW/Revised, Songs of Faith and Praise, and Praise for the Lord (the latter two were definitely scarce).
Before my time, Great Songs of the Church and Christian Hymnal II were big in the NI church, and then Sacred Selections just dominated the market when it came out. This is probably mostly the case in the South, especially with Sacred Selection’s inclusion of many catchy rhythms in the Southern Gospel era. That book was just way ahead of its time, so no wonder it did so well.
I think Sumphonia will be marketed primarily to NI churches, given its publisher is Truth Magazine (like HFW), but it will be well-accepted and will go outside the NI church as well. I believe HFW is advertised in some institutional publications, a recent change.
I recently was on a Primitive Baptist church’s web site here in Dallas/Fort Worth that had congregational a’capella recordings of songs found only in the Hymns for Worship and Sumphonia supplements. With the trend toward supplements in churches and churches remodeling their worship, coupled with the digital era, churches are discovering new music probably a lot quicker than they used to.
And I have had some of the same thoughts on the next Hymns for Worship book! I’m going with The Revised Hymns for Worship, Revised. lol.
In all seriosity, I haven’t heard if/when they’re going to release a third full hymnal. They are very against 1000 title+ books because they are so heavy and large (and the smaller books like the 2010 Taylor book have extremely thin/fragile pages with a lot of bleed through). So in order to stick to their size/weight limit, they will need to delete songs. That always ticks people off (though it happens with every hymnal).
Since the title, “Hymns for Worship” is pretty original, they could pretty much just throw a “Sacred” or “Great” on the front of it, and call it good.
An updated full hymnal pretty much the next logical step for them after Volume II of their supplement comes out, probably around the first of the year, I think, if not before.
I recently picked up WD Jeffcoat’s Sacred Songs of the Church. I don’t know him, but I was a little shocked that such a new and very large book had absolutely NO contemporary songs. Not that that’s a bad thing necessarily, but that book will have an extremely limited market because of that. I still have only seen it in one congregation in the area, and I enjoyed using it and learning a few [new to me] songs, along with the rest of the congregation. haha. They had only just gotten the book late last year.
In my opinion, for what little it’s worth, the next-generation hymnals will all have 1000-1200 titles with maybe half or more of contemporary songs of various genres, but will be rarely used. The trend toward projectors is WONDERFUL and has really changed the worship for the better when used correctly. I think it will continue and become mainstream. Books will always be needed because technology will always be faulty, but as more and more pews are being designed and modified for hymnals and supplements, there will be more room for single larger books instead. And a larger book, in my view, isn’t so bad if it’s only used on occasion or by a small percentage of the congregation.
In probably 20 years, many groups will be using hymnals on tablet computers. The technology is already there, and it’s getting cheaper by the day…
No, hymnal producers in churches of Christ don’t go into business to make money (at least if they know anything about business they don’t!). One of the reasons Howard Publishing sold to Simon and Schuester after Bro. Howard’s death was that hymnals don’t make any money. The reason they don’t is because we don’t spend money on such things. Someone may consider it comparing apples and oranges, but if you go down to your local Baptist or Methodist church, you’ll find that they actually budget and spend money annually on church music. I realize some of that goes to instruments and other things we don’t have any need for, but some of it also goes to new music and new resources (CDs, sheet music, hymnals, singing groups, musician training, etc.) to help introduce their congregations to new music (or at least the older music sung with quality).
Alton Howard made his money in business and then used his own resources to begin publishing for the sake of the church. It’s wonderful when men will use their blessings from God to bless the church-at-large.
I’m very interested in songwriters from the churches of Christ (I’ve even written to the new owners of Howard Publishing at Simon and Schuester to ask permission to recreate Our Garden of Song on this site). I’m sure the institutional/non-institutional divide doesn’t help, but neither the names Schales nor Couchman was familiar to me before your comments. In doing some internet searching, it looks like they’re pretty plugged in, just not in the same circles I am. Of course, being in a small, isolated community like Floydada, I don’t hear about the latest and greatest as soon as most.
I hope that they provide recordings of all the new songs, even though I can sight-read through them, hearing a recording is the fastest way to evaluate which songs are a right fit for one’s own congregation. One song we hope to introduce here locally is “My God and King” by one of our Russian brothers-in-Christ, Konstantin Zhigulin (http://psalom.org/audio/demo/4mygodandking.mp3).
What do you know about http://www.gmst.org ? Friends of yours?
“My God and King” is beautiful. Beautiful! I have Shipp’s psalter, but haven’t had a chance to even look at it. Looks like there is some great stuff in there!!
RJ Stevens has had a tremendous impact on songwriting in the “NI” churches of Christ. If it wasn’t for the RJ and his Wilburton Singing School, many of these new writers may never have written a song. Glenda Schales and a couple of others would have, but perhaps not at the level they have written. RJ has inspired so many people in so many ways, and I don’t say this to idolize him by any means. His vision and labors inspired many or most of the writers and editors behind the Sumphonia project.
Matt Bassford, Craig Roberts, Don Alexander, Charli Couchman, and many many others have written some really really incredible stuff. Craig is the president of Sumphonia and teaches the hymn writer’s class.
Have you ever seen the Sing to the Lord supplemental books that came out in 2000 and 2002? I have only glanced at STTL2000, but I own a copy of STTL2002, and it is a collection of nearly 300 new songs, some of which are in Hymns for Worship and its supplements, many in Sumphonia’s “PHSS”, and many unique to the book.
I don’t fully know what all is still going on with GMST, but that is Richard Morrison’s brainchild, which led to the STTL books. The Stevenses, Dane Shepard, and Richard were the editors of those books. Richard is a mentor to me and many other writers, though he hasn’t had a lot of time for projects lately. He is part of the Vocal Majority group, and I’m sure has had some projects with Sumphonia. Richard has a background in programming, and developed the Finale template and fonts for Hymns for Worship, and I believe was instrumental in developing their electronic hymnal program. Side note- the HFW Electronic has an actual program that lets you select what parts of a song you want to use without Powerpoint surgery- skip verses, sing a chorus only once, etc. Tackett should look at using their program for his music- it is a time saver!
The I/NI divide is largely responsible for the “invisible barrier”. Have you ever seen that album, “The Cross”, that Taylor Publications sells? It has a mixture of songs from both camps. The mix of voices isn’t my favorite, but it is sufficient for learning and evaluating the songs.
As far as recordings, there are many. Have you heard any of Florida College’s Chorus recordings? They sing many new and favorite songs, and the recordings are high quality. The Chorus alumni also record albums every year, but, up until a few years ago, weren’t as high quality. Now they are superb and crisp. Sumphonia published two incredible albums to support their supplement that came out a few years ago. They were recorded at FC. They are long out of print, and no store that I could find still has both albums, but you can see them here:
Here are a few samples of the work on Youtube:
Charli Couchman – How Long Til the Morning?
Craig Roberts – I Am the Way (recording of a recording, but a GREAT song!!)
Charli Couchman – Be Holy, for I Am Holy
Matt Bassford and Richard Morrison – Everlasting God
Bassford/Couchman – Let Us Know Jehovah
Bassford/Schales – The Rock of My Heart
I must say, while there is a lot of great new music out there, the Church has got some of the most talented writers! The future is bright for hymnody, and these are exciting times.
Also, did you hear there will be a second Hymns for Worship supplement?? It will contain some old favorites that didn’t make it to HFW revised, but also I think it will have a number of the new songs that will be in the Sumphonia hymnal as well. I’m told they’ll probably have one larger book containing all the supplement songs as well as individual volumes for those that already have the first one.
Well I’m gonna have to eat my words, cause I just looked in Taylor’s Songs for Worship and Praise and he did include one Glenda Schales song and one Charli Couchman song. Albeit some of their least-known work.
Kleinwood Church of Christ has an annual singing which is recorded. Some of the new songs are recorded here: http://kleinwood.com/annual-singing
1000 Voices is another, but you would need to order a CD from them.
Kleinwood is a pretty awesome singing. LONG and awesome. Last year, they lost count at 1225, and it seems like it was around 3 hours of singing. Sounds crazy, but it really flew by. I love that they obtained the rights to record and distribute them. Gives me a chance to go back and relisten to songs I don’t already have a recording of.
1937 Great Songs of the Church II (E. L. Jorgenson)
1975 Great Songs of the Church II, with supplement (Abilene Christian Univ.)
What is the difference between these? And how do you definitively tell the difference between versions?
The supplemented editions have more songs towards the end, but – most noticeably – have “with supplement” written across the bottom of the front cover.
Do you have any idea where I might purchase a copy of Abiding Hymns by Robert Welch? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Though Robert Welch is deceased, you might have luck re: Abiding Hymns by contacting Faith and Facts run by his son John Welch. faith-facts.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Where can I buy a copy of “Abiding Hymns” by Robert C. Welch (1963)?
As a young boy, I attended the Texas Normal Singing School in Sabinal, TX in 1960. At the end of the 2 week session, all the singers, along with song leaders Austin Taylor, Dallas Boring Sr, and a few others I can’t remember, recorded several songs placed on reel to reel tape; one of them titled “Lost Christians”. It began with the words; ( started by the bass section) “precious the soul, wandered away, out in the cold”. That’s all I remember. Can anyone help me find the words to this song, along with the writer. If I could find the music also, I would be so blessed and eternally grateful. In Christ- Glen Fox
I have a book that includes that song (Gems For His Crown, 1977, by Holland L. Boring, Sr.). I’ll include the lyrics below, and can scan a copy of the music to send you if you’ll provide an email address. By the way, I also attended the Texas Normal Singing School in the mid-1980s, while they were still in Sabinal.
Lost Christians, by Holland L. Boring, Sr.
(1) Precious the soul, wander’d away out in the cold;
Blackness of night, shadows of death enfold;
Lonely and sad struggling beneath your faltering load;
For you are lost and need to find the road.
(2) Lost in despair, saddest of plights written or told;
Dreadful the thought, standing outside the fold,
Soon the day dawns, time will then cease ever to be;
Then you must rise to hell and misery.
(3) Echoes of faith, glimpses of Light quicken the heart;
Falter no more; on the right road now start;
Give Christ your life; love will then lead and all will be well;
Striving in Christ, happy with him you’ll dwell.
Chorus: Brother you’re lost in deep despair and your burdens you cannot bear.
Won’t you turn, confess, and pray, and cease to roam.
For you we plead, exhort , and pray; Lovingly yearning to show the way
For you’re lost and need to find your way back home.
Kevin- I had just about given up on getting a response to my request. I hear the melody in my head just as I did 50 years ago. You are very kind and thoughtful for taking the time and effort to write these lyrics down for me. I just happen to be visiting my mom who also made that trip to Sabinal in 1960- she thought she might have a copy of that hymnal, but couldn’t find one. Anyway, we enjoyed getting to see the full lyrics to “Lost Christians”. She said she still has the original reel to reel recording of the final Friday night. My email address is :email@example.com. I would enjoy having a copy of the music ( guessing they Anne in shaped notes ). I’m not sure now if it was before or after I had written my request via email, but I got a surprise phone call from Joe Furr, Edgar’s son. He is still actively involved in the singing school held each summer at Abilene Christian. While I was more concerned about finding another copy of that Friday night recording, he was more interested in recruiting me to attend this years seminar, but I really enjoyed our visit. He lives in the Sherman-Denison area I think. Thanks again for your response and your act of Christian love. Let me know if I owe you anything for your time, postage, etc. God bless you brother! Glen Fox, ( 1203 Orchard Dr. Shawnee, OK. 74804)
Sent from my iPad
Please, can I get to download any of our hymn books, esp Songs of the Church and Praise for the Lord? Preferred for offline use in worship services. I have surfed for them but got nothing.
There are many sites where one can purchase digital sheet music (paperlesshymnal.com, taylorpublications.com, fearless4you.com) and there are some sites with free music (pdhymns.com), but you won’t be able to find a .pdf copy of a particular hymnal. They’re still protected as compilations and the songs are protected as individual works by copyright.
Digital distribution is still a tricky area and we’re not likely to see digital hymnals presented as “ebooks” from the churches of Christ any time soon. Though, there have been other groups who’ve tried and continue to do so.
Give it another 10 years.
Thanks alot for your response. It helps alot. Regards.
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Do you know where I can purchase a leather-bound song leader edition VE Howard and BE Smith’s “Church Gospel Songs & Hymns”?
Ole Miss Grad,
(Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns has been out of print for a long time, as far as I know, there are no more primary sources of these books any longer. Your best bet would be to find a hardback in really good condition and have a leather cover put on it. I did this in 2005 with a Songs of Faith and Praise and it’s held up marvelously as my go-to bound volume. I’ve had good luck with the McSpadden Bindery in Oklahoma (http://www.mcspaddenbookbindery.com/).
Thank you for the reply. I have several of the hardbacks at home. I found a couple of the hardback for sale on Amazon. Oh well.
Hello, I am a young christian with a small ( but growing) hymnal collection, and I love singing praises to God. This might be a long shot, but I was wondering if you knew where I might be able to find “Christian Hymnbook” by Alexander Campbell. Thank you!
I’m always excited to point people in a helpful direction for hymnals. You’ve chosen to locate a difficult-to-obtain book, due in part to its age.
Obviously, these are collectors’ items – you’ll have to watch websites (eBay, Amazon, etc.) carefully and regularly to see if someone has one up for sale. Remember, the rule of buying hymnals: buy low, sell NEVER! 🙂
Early on I would add any old book to my collection, but after several years (and many hundreds of hymnals), I discovered that it’s better to be more selective. Now I primarily look for books that are from the Restoration Movement; unless a book from another background is particularly unique, I have learned to give it a pass.
Good luck! I’d love to hear more about your collection and why you collect!
Thanks for your advice! Also, I love your rule to buying hymnals! I’m different from other 21 year olds, I love history and I love singing! I’m a song leader at my church and I always get enthusiastic during that part of our worship service. So I started out my collection with songbooks that mean something to me, that I have memories of using (Sacred selections, Songs of the Church, and Hymns for Worship). Now I’ve been researching the history of the Churches of Christ and have been trying to expand my collection to the older hymnals, I enjoy reading and learning the old songs that we don’t sing any more. currently my oldest hymnal is “Greater Christian Hymns” edited by C. M. Pullias and Gospel Advocate Company, published in 1931. I have numerous collections (old coins, pokemon cards, etc…) But my Hymnal collection means the most to me!
Do you have a list of the hymnals in your collection you could email to me?
You’d think I would, but actually I don’t have that in one place.
Alexander, are you on Facebook? There are some good groups dedicated to hymnody.
Also, I teach a course on hymnals and history at the Texas Normal Singing School. Have you ever heard of this school?
I am on Facebook, and I haven’t heard of that school. I checked out the website and it looks pretty interesting!
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i was looking through an old Songs of the church copyright 1977 and noticed they had a Deluxe leather edition in addition to the maroon, green, gold, and blue options. would you happen to know where to find, or have a picture of it?
I have the gold, the red, and the blue deluxe leather editions. I will post something about them tomorrow or early next week – just for you. 👍