A New Publication – One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: An African American Ecumenical Hymnal

A New Publication – One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: An African American Ecumenical Hymnal
by Dr. Carl MaultsBy

On June 5, 2018, the Hampton Ministerial and Musicians Conference, Hampton University, Hampton, VA, saw the unveiling of One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: An African American Ecumenical Hymnal (1LFB) for which I, Carl MaultsBy, (Director of Music, St. Richard’s Episcopal Church) was the Episcopal representative to the Core Committee as well as a contributing composer/author of 11 pieces.

In creating the African American ecumenical hymnal, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, it was imperative to the Core Committee that the hymnal serve as a needed resource for the many denominations in the African American Church. It was the committee’s strong desire that this hymnal would represent and preserve the rich theological, cultural, and musical heritages of these traditions and offer a full breadth of music representing historical as well as vibrant contemporary worship, while looking toward the future. It was also of utmost importance that this hymnal draw the body of Christ together so that it may be enlarged, enriched, and inspired to live and worship based on what unites us: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

This hymnal contains selections of diverse styles and genres, including traditional ecumenical hymns, contemporary texts written for the twenty-first-century church, praise and worship selections, music from Taizé, choral responses, responsorial psalmody, traditional and contemporary gospel music, and Negro spirituals.[i]

The Process

One day during the winter of 2014-2015, I arrived at the St. Richard’s office to be greeted by the receptionist, Tom Irish, with an urgent message from Dr. James Abbington of GIA Publications and Associate Professor of Church Music and Worship, Candler School of Theology, Emory University as well as Friendship Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, Director, Sanctuary Choir. At the recommendation of the Rev. Darryl F. James, Rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Jamaica, NY, Dr. Abbington called to invite me to become a member of the Core Committee for a forthcoming African American ecumenical hymnal. I readily accepted the invitation.

Dr. Abbington and I were not strangers. In January 2005, while I was a member of The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, we worked on an ecumenical consultation (“Enabling Pastors to use Music to Revitalize Congregations”) sponsored by the Anglican Musicians’ Seminary Music Initiative. The event was held at the Louisville (KY) Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

1LFB is the brainchild of Dr. Abbington who served as the Core Committee Chairman and Executive Editor of the hymnal. He also served on the Editorial Committee of African American Heritage Hymnal which sold over 300,000 copies and is the predecessor hymnal of 1LFB. Other committee members were Dr. Leo H. Davis, Jr., Disciples of Christ; Grace Ingrid Faniel, African Methodist Episcopal Zion; Dr. Jayson Max W. Ferdinand, Seventh-day Adventists; Dr. Birgitta Johnson, Ethnomusicology, University of South Carolina; Brian Johnson, United Church of Christ; Dr. Judith Christie McAllister, Church of God in Christ; the Reverend Anthony B. Vinson, Sr., African Methodist Episcopal; the Reverend Lisa M. Weaver, Baptist, Theological Consultant, and Robert J. Batastini, Senior Editor Emeritus, GIA Publications, who served as Project Director.

When the first meeting of the Core Committee was scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter, I hit the panic button. The meeting coincided with Ascension Day. However, St. Richard’s rector, the Rev. Alison Harrity, had a second sense re: the import of the project at hand and graciously allowed me to engage a substitute organist to lead both the Wednesday night rehearsal of Schola St. Richard’s as well as the Ascension Evening service. Therefore, off to Chicago to the GIA Publications office I went.

In our first meeting, we, as a group, reviewed existing African American hymnals, notably African American Heritage Hymnal  and Total Praise, and collectively decided on pieces that would form the core of the proposed hymnal for which we used the working title African American Ecumenical Hymnal. Throughout the review process, each committee member rated each song on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest endorsement of a song being included in the collection and 5 being the highest endorsement of a song being included in the collection. For a song to move to the next round of review, each song had to receive an average member rating of 3.5.

In the foreward to 1LFB, the Rev. Lisa M. Weaver recounts, “At the end of this meeting, Mr. Robert Batastini gave us an assignment in preparation for the second meeting. ‘When you go back home, pick songs from your respective traditions that are beloved and that you can’t imagine a hymnal without them.’”

Two hundred two (202) of the hymns in Lift Every Voice and Sing (LEVAS)  were selected in the first round of reviews. However, I wanted to focus on the material that was unique to Episcopal and eucharistic liturgical hymnody, specifically, responsorial simplified Anglican chant psalm settings as well as mass settings. This required a bit of teaching to the Core Committee. Similarly was this case for my learning from other Committee members of the other worship traditions represented on the Committee.

By the end of the second meeting, we were on a roll but still had to schedule one final meeting that would bring us altogether. I had observed that our meeting to this point had been scheduled every four months in Chicago. This would mean our final meeting would be in the dead of winter. Native Floridian that I am, I quietly said to Project Director Bob Batastini, that I, as a matter of principle, do not venture lightly into the tundra of Chicago after November 1. With a knowing smile Bob suggested that since the GIA had to fly everyone into Chicago, it might be possible to fly everyone to Florida for the January meeting. Given that opening, I immediately suggested Canterbury Conference and Retreat Center, Oviedo, FL.

For the final in person meeting of the Core Committee, the site was indeed Canterbury, January 4, 2016, and the outdoor temperature was a warm 50˚ degrees. Needless to say, my colleagues had no mercy for me that morning. But we pressed on with the work at hand. From my Episcopal perspective, that included making sure the resulting volume would have service music, music to support the Eucharist, the rite of Baptism, the liturgical year calendar including Black saints, specifically Absalom Jones, psalms, as well as music that would find a home in the hearts of today’s youth and children.

One of the hymnals objectives as first outlined by Dr. Abbington was to honor the past, acknowledge the present and engage for the future. As a guide, he offered a quote by the Reverend Charles G. Adams, Senior Pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Detroit:

I want it all: the wisdom of Lincoln and the compassion of Roosevelt, the heritage of Washington and the legacy of King, the social ministries of the Methodists and the strict theology of the Presbyterians, the pioneering protests of the Lutherans and the defiant spirit of Richard Allen, the Kingdom keys of Saint Peter and the glorious liberty of the Non-conformists, the gorgeous liturgy of the Episcopalians and the intellectual honesty of the Unitarians, the spiritual fervor of the Pentecostals, and the marvelous freedom the folks called Baptists….I want it all because there is no place for narrowness and bigotry in the Church of Jesus Christ. We are all in one and we are one in all.[ii]

In honoring the past, I saw the future compendium as a way to introduce the larger Church to the works of Black Episcopal composers such as Horace Clarence Boyer, Harry T. Burleigh, John Cooper, William B. Cooper and J. Rosamund Johnson. In addition, I wanted to share the works of living Black Episcopal composers David Hurd and Carl Haywood. Their hymns, like the other submissions, had to resonate musically and theologically with a majority of the other eleven ecumenical members of the Committee. All of the aforementioned composers are included in the final version of the hymnal as well as hymn text by Episcopalians the Reverend Harold Lewis, Michael McKee and of course James Weldon Johnson. Moreover, of the 11 pieces by yours truly, one is the setting of Psalm 34 composed for the Ordination and Consecration of Central Florida Diocesan Bishop the Rt. Rev. Greg Brewer.

By the end of the third and final of the two-three day work sessions, we had reviewed approximately 3,000 pieces of music of which 741 were agreed upon for inclusion. After the publisher secured licenses and permissions from copyright owners and administrators, the final volume netted 698 entries. The result is One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: An African American Ecumenical Hymnal.

The hymnal content is organized around five basic themes: (1) The Assembly at Worship (2) The Celebration of the Gospel Story, (3) The Gospel in the Christian Life, (4) Historic Hymns and Songs in the African American Traditions and (5) Service Music. “The Celebration of the Gospel Story” has sub-categories that conform to the liturgical year, Advent through Christ the King. The “Service Music” has two large sub-categories, “General Service Music” that includes Mass settings and “Psalms and Canticles.” For rites familiar to Episcopalians, there is music for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Ordination and Holy Communion.

Although from an African American purview, 1LFB is at its core “ecumenical.” But note, 12% of the hymns in 1LFB are in The Hymnal 1982  and a significant percentage are also found in the Episcopal hymnal supplements Lift Every Voice and Sing II (72%); Wonder, Love and Praise (13%); My Heart Sings Out (11%) and Voices Found (6%). Hence, 1LFB is clearly useable in Episcopal worship. The Reverend Weaver also writes in the 1LFB “Foreward,”

…as an ecumenical hymnal, we [the Core Committee] all echoed one another in expressing how we envision this hymnal providing a needed (and perhaps overdue) understanding of our unity in the Body of Christ. We all agreed that this witness of unity is sorely needed, particularly in the divisive and politically charged national and global contexts in which we live….Ms. Ingrid Faniel followed up… “We all serve the risen King.”[iii]

Implications for the Episcopal Church

For the Blue Book report of the 2018 triennial meeting of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) issued a statement that since there is no precedent for Hymnal Revision being done before Prayer Book Revision and given the conclusion of the Church Pension Group (CPG) 2012 report, “The Hymnal Revision Feasibility Study,” the SCLM is recommending no action on Hymnal Revision. The Church Pension Group (CPG) 2012 report, “The Hymnal Revision Feasibility Study,” stated:

A rush to revise the Hymnal could seriously undermine and weaken the Church, alienating those who have remained with The Episcopal Church through difficult times. Nevertheless, to do nothing threatens the long-term viability of the denomination. And so while we do not see this report as giving a green light to hymnal revision, nor do we believe it is a red light. Rather, it is a signal to proceed with caution before a decision is taken to go full speed ahead.”

However, one must give attention to the report’s statement “to do nothing threatens the long-term viability of the denomination.” Recognizing the same, the 79th General Convention (GC) did indeed authorize in resolution A068 “the ongoing work of liturgical and Prayer Book revision for the future of God’s mission through the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement….” The resolution went onto provide for the creation of

a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision (TFLPBR), the membership of which will be jointly appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies, and will report to the appropriate legislative committee(s) of the 80th General Convention, ensuring that diverse voices of our church are active participants in this liturgical revision by constituting a group with leaders who represent the expertise, gender, age, theology, regional, and ethnic diversity of the church, to include, 10 laity, 10 priests or deacons, and 10 Bishops;…

In addition, A068 went on to “memorialize the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as a Prayer Book of the church preserving the psalter, liturgies, The Lambeth Quadrilateral, Historic Documents, and Trinitarian Formularies ensuring its continued use;…

The effect of the resolution is to remove an impediment for Hymnal Revision without the precedent of Prayer Book Revision.

Nevertheless, perhaps 1LFB can be used as an example of how Hymnal Revision can take place without the precedence of Prayer Book Revision. By focusing on congregational song and scripturally based text, Episcopal Hymnal Revision, contrary to the conclusion of the CPG report, can move forward. The service music portions would probably need to be a separate volume since some texts would be directly tied to worship language of a Revised Prayer Book.  Similarly, an all inclusive Psalter whose texts are reflective of the major worship languages used in Episcopal worship could either be printed separately or with a revised hymnal, if not immediately. In 2009, The Episcopal Church adopted the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Congregational song can easily be expanded to include diverse material that re-enforces the RCL scriptures and themes.

By answering the question “what is missing from The Hymnal 1982 as well as from the subsequent hymnal supplements,” the framers of a revised hymnal will gain further direction in Hymnal Revision. I submit that for a church that celebrates Communion and Baptism as frequently as The Episcopal Church more congregational songs to support these rites are an obvious starting point. In general, easy congregational songs that readily lend themselves to a cappella singing is another category for inclusion in Hymnal Revision.

In addition, the format of a future hymnal must also take advantage of current technology and not be limited by the binders of a traditional “book.” Such a proposed collection could easily be expanded as new liturgies evolve. Just as General Convention has moved from paper to electronic tablets, can parishes not be too far behind? It is the digital electronic generation who will be the principal users of any revised hymnal or Prayer “Book.”

1LFB as is can be used right now in all churches and denominations. In addition, it can serve as an addendum to not only the 1992 Lift Every Voice and Sing II but also the other existing Episcopal hymnal and supplements cited above without The Episcopal Church incurring the financial burden of collecting, securing rights, producing, testing and distributing a new volume. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism is a single hymnal whose contents readily lend themselves to reinforcing the revival energy, social justice ministry and love tenets of diversity and inclusion of The Episcopal Church Jesus Movement.

Certainly, if representatives from 10 different denominations can produce a single viable worship hymnal from concept to publishing in a period of 3 years, is it not possible for The Episcopal Church to produce a single hymnal suitable for use that is reflective of the 2018 Episcopal Church in its diversity, inclusivity and tradition? Perhaps the time is now to break “precedence” in favor of “evangelism.” After all, The Episcopal Church also embraces the scriptural pronouncement of Ephesians 4:4-5, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

[i] https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/one-lord-one-faith-one-baptism-keyboard-print-g9600k

[ii] “All Things Are Yours” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23) preached by the Reverend Dr. Charles G. Adams, Senior Pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit on January 25, 1987 (unpublished). See also a later revision (1994) in The Folly of Preaching: Models and Methods, ed. Michael P. Knowles, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007, 185. Cited in “Introduction,” One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.

[iii] Lisa M. Weaver, “Forward” of One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018)