“You hold in your hands a vital mission tool!” proclaims the foreword of the Community of Christ’s new hymnal, Community of Christ Sings—the first comprehensive hymnal issued by the church since 1981. This new worship resource contains 664 hymns, responses, chants, and praise songs; half of these songs have never appeared in the church’s past hymnals. Perhaps the most consequential part of Community of Christ Sings lies in its “core repertoire,” or more than 100 specially selected songs that are translated into English, French, and Spanish within the hymnal. Why the need for this common core repertoire? In the past generation, the Community of Christ has so firmly embraced its international diversity that, in some areas, the local has been the overriding norm that decided theology, music, and even the functions and types of ecclesiastical offices present in a congregation. Consequently, any shared, common songs are almost nonexistent between, say, Gumaguda, India and Manihi, French Polynesia. The new hymnal is one of several recent initiatives that attempt to articulate a common “global mission” for the Community of Christ. According to the hymnal committee, “the vision for this [core] repertoire is simple: when worshiping within Community of Christ, we will be able to share and sing these songs together, whether we are physically in the same place or across the globe from one another.” In short, Community of Christ Sings stands as an attempt to reknit together parts that are rapidly moving away from one another.
What are the songs that form the core repertoire, and what do they say about the Community of Christ’s global mission as envisioned by its leaders? [Read more...]