Lindsay Smith, of New Zealand, is the editor of the new hymn book Redemption Hymns. I encourage you to take a look at it. An attempt has been made to include only hymns that are rich in biblical truth. A brief look at the Table of Contents (available on the website) shows this could be a valuable compilation for a pastor or worship leader’s library. It would also be an asset for devotional use by any Christian.
Below are are some advantages Lindsay sees in using hymn books, rather than words projected on the wall. (Thanks, Lindsay, for giving me permission to share these.) I have slightly abridged his article, and added a few comments of my own in squared brackets.
In addition to his list, I personally feel it is worthwhile having a book because it provides music notation to encourage parts singing. But he tells me this is impossible with Redemption Hymns. The music edition is large and expensive, and intended mainly for accompanists. Books for the congregation have words only.
I would also add that a good hymn book contains a distillation of church history, and reflects life experiences of great saints of bygone days. When some of this history is shared before a hymn is sung, it provides a wonderful teaching tool. And using books usually places more of the hymn (i.e. more stanzas) before the reader, as well as providing information about author and composer.
One more thought. There can be more spontaneity possible with the use of hymnals. Video projectors must be programed in advance, and stanzas chosen. But if the pastor or worship leader wants to repeat a stanza sung earlier, or add another one, or feels led to call for a hymn that wasn’t planned for, he cannot do so as easily with a video system. Only hymn books provide this kind of flexibility.
With these added thoughts, here are more advantages from Lindsay Smith.
1) When a church uses hymn books instead of a projector, there’s no annual copyright charge – and no need to keep weekly records of songs used for the copyright agency.
2) Hymn books are good for people who have difficulty seeing the words on a screen due to eyesight problems — or because they’re behind a tall person. [As far as helping people with poor eyesight, this is only true if the lighting is good, and print in the hymnal is good.]
3) Hymn books can be used when the projector bulb blows.
4) Hymn books can be used when people are sitting around the room facing the centre – they don’t all need to be facing a screen.
5) If God speaks to you through a hymn, you might want to re-read the words after it has been sung. This is easy with a hymn book, but a projected song disappears as soon as it has been sung. Sometimes, only one verse is visible at a time.
6) People can purchase their own hymn books and take them home – to learn songs, to prepare for the service, or for devotional reading. They can mark or highlight the songs they like.
7) People get to know and love hymn books – but this is not possible [or less likely] with ever-changing collections of projected songs.
8) Hymn books are great for song-times in homes. They are suitable for families, home groups and other small groups.
9) Although there is a cost associated with the purchase of hymn books, there is also a cost (sometimes a very large one) associated with the purchase and maintenance of projection equipment. Projector bulbs especially are very expensive.
10) Operators of projection equipment must be recruited, trained and scheduled. There will inevitably be hitches with operator absences, equipment problems, and selecting songs on the computer.