Question:

We are building a new building and we are needing song books. My husband is one of the song leaders. I would like to know which book that you would recommend to us. We are strictly a New Testament church. No musical instruments and no praise teams.

Also I need to know where to go to check on colors and leather books. Any ideas?


Answer:

The best song books currently published are:

Praise for the Lord by Praise Press
Hymns for Worship by R. J. Stevens

Both have good selection of songs, both old and new.

An older book that is commonly used is:

Sacred Selections by Elis J. Crum

The number of songs is fewer and the editor was heavy handed in modifying songs. In many cases it was justified in making the songs more scripturally accurate, but in a lot of cases it appears he was attempting to make the song less offensive to people with chips on their shoulders.

I've become more aware of how songs are being shorten over the years so that there is more room to get more songs into the book. One of the things I particularly like about Praise for the Lord is that it will often include more verses than you will find in other books. Still, it too has it faults. Let me illustrate. In many song books you will find:

Precious Memories

Precious mem'ries, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfold.

In the stillness of the midnight
Echoes from the past I hear
Old-time singing, gladness bringing
From that lovely land somewhere.

As I travel on life's pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder, hope grows fonder
Precious mem'ries flood my soul.

CHORUS:
Precious mem'ries, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

It is a pretty song of remembrance, but exactly what is being remembered is expressed vaguely. The original is very different. It speaks of memories of the faith seen in parents being carried into the future.

Precious Memories

Precious mem'ries, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfold.

Precious father, loving mother
Fly across the lonely years
And old home scenes of my childhood
In fond memory appear.

In the stillness of the midnight
Echoes from the past I hear
Old-time singing, gladness bringing
From that lovely land somewhere.

I remember mother praying
Father, too, on bended knee
Sun is sinking, shadows falling
But their pray'rs still follow me.

As I travel on life's pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder, hope grows fonder
Precious mem'ries flood my soul.

CHORUS:
Precious mem'ries, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

In other words, the original song is an expression of "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Sadly, that message is lost in editing.

I don't like Songs of Faith and Praise by Taylor Publications. The emphasis in this book is fancy rhythms and often the music is hard to follow because of this. In addition many of the songs are just plain empty of content. They are more repetitions of catch phrases without any thought of teaching. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).

As far as sources for these books, see:

Truth Bookstore in Bowling Green, KY, (800) 428-0121
CEI Bookstore in Athens, AL, (800) 633-3216
Religious Supply Center in Louisville, KY, (502) 366-9014
R J Stevens Music in Kemp, TX (903) 498-4181
Praise Press in Nashville, TN, (800) 331-5991