CSCS Hymnal Resource Now Available
On October 17th and 18th, a choir of concerned Virginians gathered in Richmond to sing in protest of the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The choir marched as they sang, with their march culminating on the steps of the state capitol building, where a letter was read to governor Ralph Northam calling for the declaration of a climate emergency and a stop to pipeline construction. Letters were also delivered to the offices of numerous public officials.
Joseph Harder, CSCS Program Assistant, assisted in developing the songbook for the event, drawing from his research on environmental expressions in Mennonite hymnals done as a CSCS Climate Futures Fellow. Joseph recently made available several web resources detailing his research and providing extensive information on the history of Mennonite environmental expression in hymnals from the 1902 Church and Sunday School Hymnal up through 2020’s Voices Together. These resources introduce various facets of his work, providing historical backdrop, outlining his typology of environmental expressions in hymns, and providing a list of environmentally-healthy hymns for consultation by worship leaders.
Joseph’s web resource is organized into three pages: an introductory home page, which provides historical information and a methodology for the project, a page containing hymnal data which explains Joseph’s typology and shows the evolution of Mennonite environmental thought as expressed in hymns, and a page containing resources for worship leaders which lists environmentally healthy hymns from the recent Voices Together hymnal. The hope is that these resources can aid Mennonites in learning to assess the environmental content of the hymns they sing. Singing has long been an integral element of Mennonite faith, and it indelibly influences theology: by singing hymns, Mennonites are performing theology. It is for this reason that the environmental content of hymns must be assessed; Mennonites must be aware of the messages they are receiving and expressing as a part of the process of developing a robust eco-theology.