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February 1, 2020
Presbyterian Hymnal, 1990.
--by Douglas McVarish
Look through the hymnal that your congregation uses and note the large number of hymns that have never—or rarely ever—been sung during a Sunday morning service of worship…. Some hymns stand the test of time: some do not. Why should the unused ones take up space when more challenging and vital hymns are available?... Again and again Scripture urges us: “Sing to the Lord a new song!” And there is such an abundance of new singable, vital, challenging, and...
December 13, 2019

--by Douglas McVarish

Compiling hymnals has always been a balancing act. Many singers open a new hymnal to assure themselves that their old favorite hymns are still there, while a substantially smaller number explore a hymnal for what is new. The tug-of-war between old and new is a major difficulty of hymnal production and one reason hymnals are increasingly being replaced by digital song sheets.

By their nature, new Presbyterian hymnals generate disagreements. Thousands of hymns have been written, and each hymnal can include only a small portion. The selection process...

June 7, 2018

On December 26th 1965, Duke Ellington took the stage at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City for a performance of what he would call the most important work he had ever done. That day he performed one of his three “Sacred Concerts.” These concerts were written in the later stages of his life as he found himself grappling with his own mortality and relationship to God. The Presbyterian Historical Society is fortunate to hold within our collections a program from that historic night....

July 10, 2015

During his 25 years as a Sunday school missionary, William H. Schureman traveled 300,000 miles through the wilds of Wyoming and Colorado--a distance equal to 12 times around the earth, or a one-way trip to the moon. His faithful companion that entire time was Cornelia, a reed pump organ. As he wrote in 1939 to Rev. Thomas Pears, Jr., the manager of the Presbyterian Historical Society at the time, “I possess nothing that I prize more highly than this little music messenger that has journeyed so long with me.”  

Cornelia was manufactured by the Bilhorn...

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