You are here

Learning to Sing: Presbyterian Hymnals and Psalters

American Presbyterian governing bodies overturned efforts to form a sanctioned hymnal committee, but in 1819 the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. General Assembly finally granted approval. After much work and several revisions, Psalms and Hymns Adapted to the Public Worship (first printed in 1830) became the first official American Presbyterian hymnal in 1831. Other Presbyterian denominations continued to sing only psalms; the United Presbyterian Church of North America, for example, published its first volume that included hymns in 1927. As musical tastes and worship practices changed, Presbyterians compiled new hymnals and collections of sacred songs that provided a rich heritage of ways to “sing to the Lord a new song.” (Psalms 96:1)

The Psalter Hymnal: the Psalms and Selected Hymns. Pittsburgh: United Presbyterian Board of Publication and Bible School Work, 1927.

The Presbyterian Hymnal was the first hymnal published by the newly reunited Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. “Old” and “New” schools under the direction of a committee of five headed by Joseph T. Duryea. The Presbyterian Hymnal. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1874.

Edited by Louis Benson (1855-1930), one of the premier American hymnologists, this hymnal was the first to include the word “amen” at the end of each hymn.The Hymnal Published by Authority of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School work, 1895.

Published during World War I, this hymnal includes tunes such as “God of Our Fathers,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”The Hymnal Published in 1895 and Revised in 1911 by Authority of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Education and Sabbath-School Work, 1917.

This volume was a joint publication of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. In addition to hymns and musical responses, The Worshipbook also contains various orders of worship, litanies, prayers, and lectionaries. The Worshipbook: Services and Hymns. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1972.