Come, Let Us Worship: Our Newest United Methodist Hymnal
This November, United Methodism will have a new official bilingual hymnal for its Korean-American congregations. This hymnal is the result of a response to the special needs of our Korean-American brothers and sisters to worship together across generations and across languages. The Korean-American community of United Methodists is a vital and fast-growing community that faces the complexity of bridging language and generations. Many first-generation immigrants' language and culture is Korean. Their children, the "second generation" children, either immigrated at very young ages or were born in the United States and developed English as their primary language. In 1997 the Korean Caucus asked for a hymnal that both generations could use to worship together.
Come, Let Us Worship will, like its English- and Spanish-language counterparts -- the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal and the 1996 Mil Voces Para Celebrar -- contain a full range of hymns, ritual for the sacraments and other services, and a selection of Psalms and other Scripture readings. Until now, Korean-American congregations have used a "generic" bilingual hymnal based on the primary hymnal used in Korea by Presbyterians, Methodists, and other Protestant Christian churches.
The church's Discipleship Ministries and The United Methodist Publishing House jointly sponsored the hymnal. Bishop Hae Jong Kim presided over a hymnal committee made up of pastors, musicians, and laity. The music editor was Dr. Mahn Hee Kang. The Rev. Dal Joon Won, general editor for the project said, "It has been a very long and difficult journey in terms of publishing, and also a very meaningful one."
The Korean-English Hymnal Committee journey began in June 1997 when the Korean Caucus proposed a new bilingual hymnal to the Discipleship Ministries and the United Methodist Publishing House. In March 1998 the Discipleship Ministries and the Publishing House selected ten people to make up the Korean-English Hymnal Committee. The committee first met in July 1998 in Nashville and finished its work in February 2001. The 2000 General Conference endorsed the hymnal based on a "sampler" containing all the song titles, sample hymns and Psalms, and two of the ritual services. The church's legislative body approved Come, Let Us Worship as an official hymnal of The United Methodist Church.
Another distinctive and providential dimension to this hymnal is that the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) will publish its version of the hymnal containing the same body of hymns. The PCUSA and the United Methodist Church committees came to a common agreement on the common hymnal, which meant significant stewardship of money and staff time. The Presbyterian hymnal, titled Come, Let Us Worship: The Korean-English Hymnal and Service Book, will have its own ritual, Psalter and Canticles, and other worship resources. Both United Methodists and Presbyterians convened a nationwide introductory event in Los Angeles, January 21-24, 2002.
United Methodists can rejoice in the good things God has done in creating this hymnal for our diverse church. It is much more than a parallel of The United Methodist Hymnal. While its connections are clear, the committee has produced a book that is well-suited to the needs and context of the memory, experience, and mission of Korean-American United Methodists. Non-Korean-American United Methodists will find hymns, songs and prayers that are familiar and much that expands their own repertoire of song and praise.
The new Korean-English hymnal has 896 pages, and there are four major sections:
- General services section (Sacraments of Holy Communion and baptism)
- 334 hymns that include some from The United Methodist Hymnal and Mil Voces Para Celebrar and newer hymns and songs.
- 93 Psalms (or selections from the Psalms and Scripture readings) and other services section (Marriage and Death and Resurrection, morning and evening praise and prayer, and other services especially useful in Korean-American churches.)
- Indexes section (acknowledgments, authors/composers, categories, first lines)
- Organization: The hymnal emphasizes the history of salvation and follows the order of the Bible (God the creator, Exodus and salvation, word and teaching, Psalms and praise, prophecy and justice, Jesus Christ, and the church).
- Emphasis on the Christian year: The hymnal helps congregations follow the Christian Year. (Many hymns and Psalms are identified according to particular day or season.)
- Broad Range: The hymnal contains a wide ranges of genres -- Taize, African American spirituals, praise and worship, traditional and contemporary hymns, as well as Korean hymns. Many hymns are written and composed by United Methodists.
- Bilingual: The hymnal is totally bilingual (Korean and English), usually with material on facing pages or with Korean above and English below.
- Ecumenical: The hymnal is the result of a joint collaboration on the selection of the hymns (the Presbyterian Church in the USA joined The United Methodist Church in the final body of hymns) as well as containing hymns from around the globe and throughout Christian tradition.
- Fully indexed: The hymnal is the first Korean hymnal to provide comprehensive indexes.
- Keeps time with Christ: The hymnal'ss emphasis on the Christian Year is a fresh emphasis for Korean-American United Methodists.
- Liturgical: For the first time, Korean American United Methodists will have official ritual and worship resources available in the Korean language.
Come, Let Us Worship is available from Cokesbury.