Monday, February 7, 2011
I read a post on another blog about the variety of hymns used by a church over the course of the church year. I have written frequently and in many and various ways that I think choosing hymns is one of the hardest things I do. Certain seasons of the church year aren't too bad, like Advent and Easter, and special days like Reformation and All Saints have wonderful hymns to choose from. But other Sundays . . . well, sometimes trying to find hymns that highlight and underscore the readings for the day is very, very difficult.
Well, after reading this post, I was curious about the variety of hymns sung by my church. As a rule of my own making, I try not to sing any hymn more than twice in a year, so that we sing a great variety of the church's hymnody. This is not a hard and fast rule, as I break it for the singing of Lord's Supper hymns during distribution, but I try to stick to it as best I can.
So, I think all things considered, we sing a good variety of hymns.
So, how did my congregation do? If my count and figures are correct, we sung 283 different hymns last year (2009-2010 church year) out of 635 in The Lutheran Service Book, or about 45% of the hymns. Is that good? I don't really know. But I'd be interested in how other congregations do.
Perhaps there is another figure here too. If there are 52 Sunday a year (at 6 hymns per Sunday), and we throw in a rough guess of 30 midweek services per year (at approx. 3 hymns per midweek), that means the possibility of 402 hymns per year. Which means that if we never repeated a hymn, we would use 63% of the hymns in LSB. Given that my math skills aren't great, that would give us a "hymn diffusion usage rate" (I just made that up!) of 71%.
Is that good? Seems so to me. Again, I would be interested in how others do. As I said, picking hymns is hard business. I'll have a post tomorrow with a piece of good advice given me by Kantor Richard Resch while I was at seminary . . .