Billy Bass – Horizon News Editor, Publicity Manager | @HCH_Billy
Hymn-singing has always been a vital part of life in the Mennonite Church. Regardless of the conference or denomination of the broader Mennonite Church your congregation resides, you have likely experienced a hymn-sing.
Most Mennonites are familiar with “Hymnal: A Worship Book (1992).” Before that was “The Mennonite Hymnal (1969).” Lately, though, many more contemporary congregations have been moving away from the use of the hymnal in worship. It was with this change that MennoMedia, an agency of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, decided to move forward and develop a new hymnal, with hopes to release in year 2020.
Their committee: “Project 606.”
“The name ‘606’ is a natural for this project,” said Russ Eanes, executive director at MennoMedia. “That’s about how many hymns we want to have, and that’s about how much we need to raise (in thousands) to fund it.”
The project is well on track at this time for completion.
“We hope to begin making our song selections in April 2016,” said Eanes. The committee will be looking for ways to format the songs, and some newer contemporary favorites to be included.”
Church members are encouraged to submit some of their favorite songs for consideration in the new hymnal online later this year. The new hymnal is planned to include the usual pew edition, but will play host to new elements as well.
“One thing that we will look at is digitizing whatever resources we can. One possibility is that part of the music is digitized, and anyone could subscribe and download those files from MennoMedia,” said Eanes. “Members could download newly released songs and hymnal supplements each month.”
Some Hesston College students have mixed feelings about what the new hymnal will be like.
“I’m excited for a new hymnal just to keep the tradition alive, and maybe seeing 606 moved back to 606,” said sophomore Elliott Leichty. “I do have worry with digitizing it, though. There’s something special about having the book in your hands and turning the pages.”
The project has been mapped out to be completed by the summer of year 2020, when the new hymnal and other products are to be released.
PROJECT 606 TIMELINE
January 2016 Project editor and project assistant hired
Spring 2016 Hymnal committee of 10 to 12 appointed
Summer 2016 First meeting of the hymnal committee
Summer 2016 Song and text submission process opens
Spring 2017 Song and text submission process ends
Spring 2019 Committee work ends
Summer 2020 New hymnal and other products are released