The WELS Hymnal Project Executive Committee met for its final face-to-face meeting this month. This 14-member committee charged with carrying out the development of the new hymnal and its auxiliary resources started meeting in 2013.
At that meeting, the committee made final decisions on the two main pew books—the Hymnal pew edition and the Psalter pew edition—before sending the files to Northwestern Publishing House for editing, proofreading, and layout.
“There was a temporary pause for reflection at the meeting,” says Rev. Michael Schultz, director of the WELS Hymnal Project, “but there are still a lot of things to finish to get the balance of the books out.”
Schultz is talking about the 15 to 17 books and 3 digital products that will accompany the hymnal—the majority of which will be released at the same time as the hymnal in Advent 2021. Several subcommittees of the WELS Hymnal Project are continuing to write and develop these materials that will provide direction, support, and resources to pastors, worship planners, musicians, and choir directors. The Technology Committee especially is ramping up as it takes finished materials and inputs them into a digital service builder software program.
To begin introducing the new hymnal to WELS members, the WELS Hymnal Project is releasing a 64-page preview booklet at the January 2020 WELS Leadership Conference in Chicago. Each congregation also will receive multiple copies of the booklet. Schultz says the booklet will show features of the new hymnal, psalter, and other resources so that congregations can start planning for the hymnal’s release. A formal Hymnal Introduction Program will start at the same time, offering introductions to the products that are coming out, ideas for introducing the hymnal to members, as well as tips for funding. New hymnal materials also will be highlighted and featured at the next worship conference in 2021.
Schultz says the executive committee will still meet online as products continue to be finalized. He says, “There’s still a lot of work to do!”