Baptist Hymnal Celebrates Its 10-Year Anniversary

The 2008 Baptist Hymnal, published by LifeWay Christian Resources, debuted Aug. 8, 2008.
File photo by Kent Harville

This August, LifeWay Christian Resources is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the latest Baptist Hymnal. It’s a milestone Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship, finds humbling — especially considering a physical form of the 2008 hymnal wasn’t initially supposed to exist.

“The original idea was that a new hymnal for Baptists would be digital only.” Harland said. “But we did extensive research and discovered almost half of the churches we served still held hymnals every week.”

The result of this research was for LifeWay to produce three resources simultaneously — a new physical hymnal, a site for digital worship resources in LifeWayWorship.com, and full accompaniment orchestrations of every song in the hymnal.

“We had five production teams that would each deliver 20 completed songs per month,” recalled Grammy-winning producer Greg Nelson, who worked on the orchestrations. “This continued for 10 months until we had recorded 1,000 songs.”

According to Nelson, it was the largest recording project in the history of Nashville — a feat especially notable considering the city is known more for honky-tonks than hymnals.

In addition to recognizing the scale of the project, Harland said he felt its weight, knowing it would have an immediate impact on the body of Christ and that it would represent church history for years to come.

“Hymnals are something anthropologists and historians study,” Harland said. “I knew this resource would represent Baptists and evangelicals for decades.”

With this in mind, great care was put into every detail of the hymnal, from song selection and orchestration style, to typeface and pagination.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press, Aaron Wilson