The contents of the new Presbyterian hymnal, “Glory to God,” were released just this week, but hymnal editor David Eicher said he has already heard feedback from around the church.

On the hymnal project’s website, blog and Facebook page, some Presbyterians have expressed disappointment over not seeing a particular hymn included. But the overall feedback has been “overwhelming positive,” Eicher said.

“People seem pleased that the tradition is being honored,” he said, adding that the hymnal is “a good representation of the solid core of what has been our congregational song for generations. There will be some things that didn’t survive, and that’s true for every hymnal.”

Presbyterians will see a wider variety of musical styles, including global music from regions whose songs were not previously heard across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) — especially indigenous African and Asian music.

“Church music in the past 25 years has simply expanded,” Eicher said. “The ’90 hymnal did a terrific job of introducing global music to the Presbyterian Church.”

And although it won’t serve as a praise and worship hymnal, “Glory to God” will feature more praise and worship songs, especially those that have been tried and tested since 1990.

The hymnal’s website features several demo videos to help Presbyterians hear some of the new selections and learn how to play and sing them. Music conferences will also offer workshops and learning opportunities, Eicher said.

The denomination’s first new hymnal since 1990, “Glory to God” features more than 850 songs; the old hymnal has about 600. But thanks to innovations in printing techniques, paper and ink, the new book will be about the same size and weight as the 1990 book.

The hymnal project began in 2004 when the General Assembly authorized research into a new denominational songbook. The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS) formed in 2008 and studied other denominations’ hymnals, global music, contemporary trends and previous Presbyterian hymnals. PCOCS also reviewed new submissions — anonymously — and made selections based on a variety of factors, including hymns that address a new topic or fill a gap.

“They were making what they prayed were faithful choices,” Eicher said.

A sampler of the new hymnal will be available this summer, and music from the new hymnal will be featured in several denominational gatherings, including the 220th General Assembly in June and July. After the Assembly, a copy of the sampler with a full list of contents will be mailed to every PC(USA) congregation.

Pre-orders for the new hymnal are now being accepted, and the hymnal will be available for shipment in September 2013. The following per-copy prices are in effect:

  • $15.00 for orders and pre-payment by June 30, 2013
  • $17.50 for orders by June 30, 2013, with payment due upon publication
  • $20.00 for post-publication orders and payment

To download a PDF of the contents list, click here.