This article was originally published by The Mennonite World Review

Music leaders test songs for hymnal coming in 2020

MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa. — Anticipation for the new Voices Together music and worship collection — which is nearing the end of the research, song-collection and testing phase — was in high gear Jan. 11-13 at the annual Laurelville Music and Worship Leaders Retreat.

Rob Yoder on banjo, Bill Barrett on bass, Tim Shue on fiddle and Jeff Raught on accordian play during a retreat for music and worship leaders at Mount Pleasant, Pa. More than 150 people gathered to test songs for the Voices Together hymnal, coming in 2020. — Kreg Ulery/MennoMedia
Rob Yoder on banjo, Bill Barrett on bass, Tim Shue on fiddle and Jeff Raught on accordian play during a retreat for music and worship leaders at Mount Pleasant, Pa. More than 150 people gathered to test songs for the Voices Together hymnal, coming in 2020. — Kreg Ulery/MennoMedia

“I’m amazed at the exhilaration that comes from a room full of voices singing together,” said Brent Alderfer, one of 11 people at the retreat from Blooming Glen Mennonite Church.

More than 150 participants gathered to test and explore songs in consideration for the upcoming hymnal.

Attendees learned about the joys and challenges of shaping a worship book for the 21st-century church.

“I got a better grasp of what an enormous undertaking this has been for the team and how much that has pulled them away from other important things in their lives,” said Emily Rittenhouse of Blooming Glen. “It is a sacrifice and a gift that will be interwoven into the songs we sing for dec­ades to come.”

Project director Bradley Kauff­man estimates the team has reviewed at least 5,000 pieces of music.

Michael Bishop, pastor of music, worship and pastoral care at Blooming Glen, is enthusiastic about the new collection.

“Voices Together will honor our past peoplehood, provide tools for living in these days and draw us toward the work of God, who is always leading into a new creation,” he said.

Adam Tice, text editor for the hymnal, suggested that a hymn collection should probably include a few hymns that the individual user does not appreciate.

Any particular song might resonate deeply with someone else.

Preorders will be available this summer at the Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA conventions.

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