Friday, December 18, 2009

Hymnody Review: Lutheranism on Acoustic Guitar

The Commission on Worship of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Christian Worship Supplement: Guitar Edition. Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2008. 67 hymns. Three-hole punched sheets. $15.00. (H)


Not long ago, QBR reviewed the new WELS Supplement to Christian Worship. You may remember we rather liked it.  :)

As a guitarist growing up, I usually had to figure out chords for hymns since hymnals didn't usually provide that information. The LCMS Spanish-language hymnal Cantad al Senor! was an exception. Hymnal Supplement 98 set a new pattern. Since the release of those resources, the new LCMS and ELCA hymnals announced guitar chord editions as part of the official set of Lutheran Service Book or Evangelical Lutheran Worship, respectively. Such "chord editions" could also be used by a pianist as a lead sheet edition. Words, melody, and chords are provided for extemporaneous arrangment.

As a reviewer and musician, I preferred the larger format and more durable cover of LSB: Guitar Chord Edition. I liked the musical advice of the ELW set, and the fact that a chart of guitar chords was conveniently included in the back of each of the two volumes.


What makes CWS: Guitar Edition unique?
  • It provides a "lead sheet edition" for guitarists and pianists with the usual chord, melody, and text for each hymn/canticle in CWS. It is indispensible for users of that collection.
  • It is provided (as shown above) in a large and easily legible letter-size format, conveniently three-hole punched. Add your own binder! (My favorite is the aptly-named Better Binder available exclusively through Staples office supply stores.)
  • The best idea of all of the recent LSB, ELW, and CWS books for guitar? In CWS: Guitar Edition, Guitar chords needed for each hymn are reproduced at the bottom of the page of each hymn. How cool is that?
Many of the hymns in CWS are also found in collections in use by other Lutherans. So far, I've used #752, "In Christ Alone," the most. This modern hymn was happily included in CWS, but apparently just missed LSB due to the timing of the proposal and approval process completed by the 2004 LCMS Convention.

$15 is a bargain for this resource. Thanks go to Northwestern Publishing House and the WELS Commission on Worship for sharing a complimentary review copy with us.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.