'Love of God' tops most-sung in song survey

Some differences between Canada and US congregations but similarities during Advent and Christmas.

June 27, 2012 | Web First
Michael Spory | MennoMedia
Harrisonburg, VA
The present hymnal is now 20 years old.

“The Love of God” is the song most sung in Canada and the US in the Hymnal:  A Worship Book and their two supplements, Sing the Journey and Sing the Story, reports Amy Gingerich, director of print media for MennoMedia and co-chair of the Bi-National Worship Council, from a nine-month survey of songs-most-sung.

The survey that compiled the submissions of 191 congregations sending in 32,000 entries is the Council’s first step in determining what songs from the present widely-used 20-year-old Mennonite hymnal and their supplements in both countries will be carried over into a new song collection.

In a top-ten listing of songs-most-sung in both countries, these are the other nine:

•Joy to the World

•Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow

•O Come all Ye Faithful

•The Lord Life you Up

•Longing for Light

•Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

•Lord, You Sometimes Speak

•Great is They Faithfulness

•Hark! The Herald Angels Sing


In Canada, the list differed slightly to be:

•Lord, You Sometimes Speak

•Joy to the World

•Will you let me be Your Servant

•Praise God from whom All Blessings Flow

• O Come, all Ye Faithful

•Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

•Great is They Faithfulness

•O come, O come Immanuel

•Je loueral I’Eternel (Praise, I will Praise you, Lord

“It’s interesting to note the many Advent and Christmas songs when they are only sung in one season,” observes Gingerich. “This suggests that across our denominations we have great variety in what we sing throughout the bulk of the Christian year. But in Advent and Christmas, our congregations align quickly around a few familiar favorites.”

“The results of this survey tell us what large congregations are singing compared to small congregations, as well as what urban versus rural congregations are singing,” she says. “The data also tells us what new songs have staying power and what old songs are no longer used. We will be spending lots of time analyzing the data to look for emerging patterns.

In order to determine what songs Mennonites were already singing, congregations were asked to submit the songs they sang each week over the survey period, including music from special services and weekly events.

Other collections frequently cited included Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), Mennonite Hymnal (1969), and Sing and Rejoice!, as well as a significant number of congregations that compile their own collections. Both MC USA and MC Canada had about 26 percent participation from their respective congregations, as well as five Mennonite education institutions from across the country.

“Completing the song survey was an opportunity to record and reflect on the myriad of musical styles through which we worship God on any given Sunday,” commented Kay Schroeder, pastor of worship at First Mennonite Church of Newton, Kansas. “For us, music is the primary language used to express our heart’s worship of God.   We were happy to share the music we use through the survey to join with other churches around the country in giving ideas for the next collection.”

Erwin Rempel, retired senior executive for Mennonite Mission Network, volunteered hundreds of hours with MennoMedia to help collect and organize the incoming data over the course of the survey. He kept tabs on which congregations were reporting—and how frequently—and tracked down missing pieces of information at the end of the survey period.

“I would describe it as ‘worshipful work,’” said Rempel. “As I typed the [thousands of] names of familiar songs and hymns, the melodies and words of worship and commitment played in the back of my mind.”

Once organized, the complete data set will be given to the Bi-National Worship Council as committee members discern next steps toward a new song collection. 

--June 29, 2012

The present hymnal is now 20 years old.

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Great to see an old personal favourite on top. It would be interesting to see where songs in the hymnals rated relative to the "off-the wall/Powerpoint" songs sung in most churches. Was that data collected too? Otherwise, how do we know what to add to the new hymnal?

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