I’m compiling a list of differences between the new CRC/RCA hymnal Lift Up Your Hearts and the new PCUSA hymnal Glory to God. Several of my friends have asked which one I would recommend, so I am deciding for myself which one I like better. Obviously my assessment will be highly personal and idiosyncratic, but hopefully it will be helpful to others.
I will be looking for the following things:
- important textual changes
- harmonizations for voice, keyboard, and guitar.
- songs for liturgical use
- global songs
- classic low church hymns (I suspect both hymnals will be a bit spotty on this)
This is a work in progress. I will continually update this page as I gather more information.
My ultimate goal for this project is to help other pastors and worship leaders make the best decision for the spiritual care of their congregation through music.
Songs in Glory to God that are NOT in Lift Up Your Hearts
“Eternal Father, Strong to Save”
Songs in Lift Up Your Hearts that are NOT in Glory to God
“Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid”
Songs that are not in EITHER hymnal
Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Glory to God has two Kyries, a Guarani and a Russian Orthodox.
Lift Up Your Hearts has four Kyries, one by K. H. Brumm, the same Russian Orthodox one as GtG, a Ghanaian, and the Merkel Kyrie made popular by Michael W. Smith.
Both hymnals mess with “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus”. Where Dix originally said in the third stanza:
Alleluia! Bread of Heaven,
Thou on earth our Food, our Stay!
Alleluia! here the sinful
Flee to thee from day to day:
Glory to God changes it to:
Alleluia! Bread of angels [??]
here on earth our food, our stay
Alleluia! here the sinful
flee to you from day to day.
and Lift Up Your Hearts changes it to:
Alleluia! Heavenly High Priest [not the most felicitous text for the music]
here on earth, our help, our stay;
Alleluia! Hear the sinful
cry to you from day to day.
Both hymnals obscure the “bread from heaven” metaphor, but Lift Up Your Hearts more so.
Also, Lift Up Your Hearts was uncomfortable with the line “here on earth both priest and victim in the Eucharistic feast,” and instead substituted the very Calvinian “by your Spirit life us heavenward, to the Eucharistic feast.” Both are good lines, (the first is much more stark,) but I do love the Calvinian rewrite.
Apparently the editors of GtG were a bit squeamish about the martial language in “Come Thou Almighty King.”
Where the second verse originally said:
Come, thou incarnate Word,
gird on thy mighty sword;
scatter thy foes.
Let thine almighty aid
our sure defense be made,
our souls on thee be stayed;
thy wonders show.
GtG has this version (changed from the 1990 edition):
Come, thou incarnate Word,
merciful, mighty Lord,
our prayer attend.
Come, and thy people bless,
and give thy word success;
Spirit of holiness,
on us descend.
Besides the fact that the word as a sword is a legitimate Biblical metaphor, the revised second verse oddly inserts Spirit language into the Son verse of this Trinitarian hymn, thereby destroying a little bit of the Trinitarian symmetry of the song. Glory to God -1 point.
Another interesting subplot: to counterbalance the masculine/king/Lord imagery of this hymn, the editors of GtG placed the Ruth Duck hymn “Womb of Life and Source of Being” on the opposite page. “Womb of Life,” as its title suggests, features some [scriptural] feminine imagery for God, and the two side by side form a kind of gendered diptych of hymns about God. For better or for worse, the editors of LuYH did not include this hymn. +1/-1 point, depending on the theological orientation of your congregation.
While we’re talking about feminist liturgist Ruth Duck, LuYH features 8 hymn texts by her, whereas GtG features 16. Even a cursory glance through Glory to God has evidenced much more feminine imagery for God and feminist theological leanings. +1/-1 point, depending on the theological orientation of your congregation.
chord voicings on “contemporary”* songs
*in this case, charismatic choruses written between 1970 and 2000.
> The two hymnals take different approaches to notating “contemporary” songs. Glory to God seems to prefer stripped down lead sheets (also my preference), while Lift Up Your Hearts includes fully written out piano parts. I can understand how fully written out parts could be hospitable to a keyboardist unaccustomed to playing pop music, but I think it’s better from a long term perspective for a keyboardist to simply learn (however slowly) to play from lead sheets. I don’t think it’s possible to ever play contemporary pop/rock worship music from fully notated sheet music. There is too much rhythmic subtlety that cannot be notated accurately anyway. Of course, this requires a tremendous amount of patience, trust, and care between the worship leader and the keyboardist who is being asked to step way out of her comfort zone.
“contemporary” songs in each hymnal
“Open the Eyes of My Heart” : both
“Thy Word” : GtG
“We Fall Down” (Tomlin) GtG
misc. comments on each hymnal
Glory to God
+1 Language for people has been changed across the board to be gender inclusive.
+1 Each hymn has a nifty little note at the bottom. This could also be a negative point if that sounds distracting.
+1 If you preach the lectionary, Glory to God features a truly kick-butt extra index: an index of hymns by week in the lectionary cycle. Yeah, it’s awesome.
+1 The hymn numbers are much larger than Lift Up Your Hearts. This may seem minor, but it does help you find hymns faster.
+5 The topical index in the back actually has the full names of each hymn printed. This saves you a TON of time when looking for hymns for a particular topic.
Lift Up Your Hearts
+1 Language for people has been changed across the board to be gender inclusive. Occasionally this results in changes to well-known hymns that may annoy your congregation, as in Be Thou My Vision’s “I thy great son” changed to “thine own may I be.”
-1 Less familiar tune for “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” (Kingsfold) [though it’s a great tune, of course!]
LuYH removes instances of “Jehovah” whenever possible. I have no problems with that, but it sometimes means changing a well known line or title. (“Guide Me, O Thou Great