Mennonite song collection project launches website

September 6, 2016 | Web First
MennoMedia

A dedicated fundraising website for the new song collection for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA has been launched at hymnalproject606.com. MennoMedia is taking leadership of the new hymnal development. A digital version of much of the music is also anticipated.

The fundraising phase is called Project 606, a title drawn from the anthem version of “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,” affectionately known as “606” from its designation in the red 1969 Mennonite Hymnal. A fundraising objective of $606,000 will help with development costs ahead of sales years.

The 13-person song collection project committee comprised of both Canadian and U.S. citizens will meet for the first time September 22–25, 2016, in Harrisonburg.

Russ Eanes, MennoMedia’s executive director, notes he has been asked more than once, “When you do a new hymnal, can you put ‘606’ back in its place?”

In March 2016, Eastern Mennonite High School in Harrisonburg sponsored a concert of the British a cappella music group Voices 8. Their mix of sacred and pop music entertains audiences all over the world. As is customary toward the end of the EMHS concert, the again mostly Mennonite audience sang “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” in a cappella for Voces 8. As Eanes related, Voces 8 listened on stage in quiet appreciation. When the echoes of the final “Amen” receded, Voces 8 gave the crowd a loud ovation.

One member of the group, Ollie, was in tears. He later explained, “Sorry I was blubbing. Last year I was in a serious car accident, totaling my car. Amazingly, I wasn’t injured, but I blacked out. While I was unconscious, I had a strange sense of being taken care of in a special way. I felt held and looked after. It had a profound impact on me.” The audience’s singing of “606” again moved him, reminding him of God’s care.

Mennonites sometimes take beautiful singing for granted. “But we should never forget what a gift it is, and that this gift is so readily obvious to outsiders,” reminds Eanes.

To date, more than $235,000 has been given or promised, representing nearly 40 percent of the goal. HymnalProject606.com accepts credit cards; those who give $500 or more over the next three years can be named or honor a loved one, with a line in the back of the hymnal. In addition to donations at the website, people can recommend favorite songs.

A separate song and worship resources collection website will be launched in the fall 2016, where writers, composers, and song writers will find submission guidelines.

MennoMedia resources can be previewed and/or purchased at www.commonword.ca, where sale items are priced competitively with major online retailers, and loaned books are shipped free. MennoMedia is the publishing ministry of Mennonite Church Canada. You can also browse MennoMedia resources at www.mennomedia.org. Purchases help support the national church and its publisher.

See also:
Mennonites to compile new hymnal and more
Director announced for new Mennonite song collection project

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Comments

First a comment regarding our famous #606--it is NOT the definitive Mennonite hymn. Anglican in origin, it may be worshiped next to God himself in some congregations, but in others there are not enough college vocal music majors to make it work properly. How about we put this in the archives, move on and praise God with some new compositions? Our own choir has filing cabinets full of traditional, German ethnic 19th century choral pieces, many of them in numbered notation, that simply don't have any utility anymore, in spite of the fond memories. Some from that proud old congregation in Gnadenfeld, Molotschna, are even reminiscent of the Eastern Orthodox genre.

But I come from a somewhat different direction on this topic--as someone on the Asperger's spectrum, the "full-voice" singing of hymns in a sanctuary gives me some significant discomfort. So does contemporary Christian music with insipid, repetitive lyrics and loud instrumental accompaniment, especially drums. This seems to be something that a lot of congregational music leaders are woefully ignorant about. Especially at large gatherings, there seems to be some sort of ecstasy that Menno's folk experience, when everyone's shouting at the tops of their lungs. Can a new hymnal, and not just the accompaniment's version, include some suggestions for the mood that a composer had in mind? Contemplative songs also reflect our believers' theology especially well, in my opinion. The old joke about being told by St. Peter to not sing too loud in heaven, because the Baptists, etc., think that they're the only ones there, has a lesson for us as well.

I wish you well on the challenging task the committee faces; pleasing everyone might be easier if you prepared special editions for the charismatics, the evangelicals, the Moodyites, and the Iona Community, etc.!

Thank you for sharing your perspective. It is unlikely that the organizers of new Mennonite music collection will see your suggestions here on our website. Please see an updated story, “Worship and song submissions, recommendations sought for new hymnal” for information on how to submit suggestions directly to the hymnal’s music and worship committee.  —Ginny Hostetler, web editor

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