Although my own musical gifts are very limited, my discernment about musical choices has grown over the years. Perhaps it is the result of some bad musical decisions in my past.

Once, as a campus minister, I allowed a transfer student to play his guitar and sing at one of our weekly meetings without asking what song he would perform. Even today my former students from Southern Tech and Kennesaw State and I are trying to find the spiritual significance in Jim Stafford’s “Wildwood Weed.”

As teens, my friends at Boynton Baptist Church and I often belted out the worst song ever sung in church, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” It had delightful lyrics like: “Children died, the day grew cold, a piece of bread could buy a bag of gold…”

Sadly, those words are etched in my mind from the early ’70s obsession with Hal Lindsey’s wacky and profitable predictions of the world coming to an end while we were wearing our bell-bottom pants.

But for those of us who value the important and inspiring role of music in worship there is some exciting news. A new hymnal, Celebrating Grace, is headed for pew racks in the spring.

The hymnal’s premiere — with concerts, congregational singing and workshops — is set for March 7-9, 2010, at Atlanta’s Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church.

“We believe a hymnal should be a comprehensive, practical worship resource for churches and congregations,” says the team responsible for this new resource. “The editors set high standards for the music, the texts, the support materials, the organization and the production.”

The hymnal has many supplemental resources to enhance its use. Some very gifted church musicians, theologians and lay leaders (many of whom I know personally) have put enormous effort into bringing together this superb volume.

Most happily, I checked the index and neither “Wildwood Weed” nor “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” made the cut. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

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