A Repository of RCA Hymnody?

If you check out the account of my presentation to the CI gathering this past October, you will notice mention of my concern that the hymnody of the Reformed Church in America, including texts by the Livingstons, George Washington Bethune, Denis Wortman, and Daniel Meeter, may not survive into the next generation. There is very little of it in Lift Up Your Hearts, our new denominational hymnal, and even less in other books. While much is available in older sources and/or on-line, most worship planners do not tend to look beyond the hymnal in their pews. A generation from now, people may not know there ever was a “Searcher and Savior of my soul.” In two generations, “God of the prophets” (especially in its original form) may just be a memory.

If you cannot guess where I am going, read the title of this post. Would it be wise to create a repository of hymnody of the RCA, collecting it somewhere where people could see it and learn from it and maybe make use of bits from time to time (including many hymns that bring a perspective on unique RCA theological perspectives)? If so, what sort of media would we use?

I could see, wherever it would be, some short biographical sketches, along with a bit of analysis of the texts (I am starting to contemplate possible sabbatical projects).

Or would it be best to let theological evolution take its course, and to allow all of this to slip away for a millenia or three?


Being Reformed

Following our Van Ruler conference last week, I found myself reading Herman Bavink. He comes from the other side of the Dutch lineage. He was the “brainy” Kuyper, if you will. There I found this short description of the movement from the Lutheran Reformation to the Reformed:

The question for the Lutherans was “how is one saved?” For the Reformed that was valid, but not sufficient. The Reformed asked: “How is God honored?” Continue reading “Being Reformed”

Van Ruler Conference

Readers of this blog might be interested in a conference being held at New Brunswick Theological Seminary: Making All Things New: Explorations in the Trinitarian Theology of A. A. van Ruler. The date is October 5, 2007. Speakers include Cliff Anderson of Princeton, John Bolt of Calvin, Paul Fries of New Brunswick, Dirk van Keulen of the Protestant Theological University of the Netherlands, and myself.

To register, contact Joanne Noel at New Brunswick (732-247-52441 ext 122 or email at jnoel@nbts.edu).

I suggest this conference not only because of my own interest (although there is that), but because Chicago Invitation hones in on the question of the nature of the church. Van Ruler was part of an intense conversation on the nature of the church and indeed was a major contributor to that conversation. He articulates a Reformed understanding that has had deep echoes in the RCA, but has been lost in the current buzz around “Our Call.” For instance, Van Ruler’s emphasis on the kingdom has him claim that God’s intention is not to get everyone under the roof of the church, but sets the church in service of the kingdom. At the same time, the church is not simply functional to the kingdom, but is a gestalt of that kingdom.

Al Janssen