With the September 2013 publication of the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God, the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation will soon place all former Presbyterian hymnals out of print.
The Hymnal (1933), The Hymnbook (1955) and The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990) have been available for purchase since their original publication dates. The Worshipbook (1974) was placed out of print in 2010. As demand declined, the 1933 and 1955 hymnals moved to a print-on-demand production. This will end on Dec. 31, after which they will no longer be available for purchase from PPC. No new printings are planned for the 1990 hymnal; it will continue to be sold while supplies last.
Glory to God, available in multiple print and electronic forms, continues to be adopted by Presbyterian and ecumenical congregations. About 15 percent of PC(USA) congregations use Glory to God, and that number is growing, said the Rev. Mary Margaret Flannagan, PPC’s hymnal marketing manager.
Although some congregations continue to use at least one of the 20th century hymnals in worship, PPC views Glory to God as a safe way forward, Flannagan said.
“There comes a point when it’s a pastoral move as much as it is a business decision,” she said. “We’re not the church that we were 100 years ago, and it’s time to move forward.”
Sales of the 1933 and 1955 hymnals have been less than 10 copies a year for the past two to four years, Flannagan said. The 1990 hymnal sells several hundred copies a year, but demand decreases every year. PPC still has several thousand copies of the 1990 hymnal in stock, a supply Flannagan estimated will last a few years.
Most other denominations only publish one hymnal at a time, Flannagan said.
“We’re in line with our ecumenical partners,” she said.
The work on Glory to God began in 2004 when the 216th General Assembly authorized research into a new denominational songbook. The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song formed in 2008 under the leadership of hymnal editor David Eicher and committee chair Mary Louise “Mel” Bringle. PPC presented the complete list of contents to the 220th General Assembly (2012), which commended Glory to God for use in congregational worship.
For more information about hymnal editions or events, or to order Glory to God, visit www.presbyterianhymnal.org.