Foreword by Carl Schalk
The last half of the 20th-century and the early years of the 21st-century have seen a remarkable outpouring of new hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs--both texts and music. It is an outpouring quite unprecedented since the time of Pietism in the late 17th- and early 18th- centuries, and the periods of revival in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Scott M. Hyslop’s collection The New Song Never Ends: Hymns, Songs, & Spiritual Songs is one of the most recent and more interesting compilations to appear.
The texts, with original musical settings by Hyslop, are drawn from a wide variety of authors, some ancient, but mostly more recent. The larger number of texts are drawn from such well-known authors as Jaroslav J. Vajda, Christopher Weber, Thomas Troeger, and Stephen Starke, but also includes texts by lesser-known writers such as Harriet Warnick--from one of whose texts the title of this collection derives. Other authors represented in this collection include Timothy Dudley-Smith, Shirley Erena Murray, Martin Franzmann, and a number of authors represented by only one text.
Currently the cantor at St. Lorenz Lutheran Church, Frankenmuth, Michigan, Scott Hyslop’s music reflects by his own words his background “as an American Lutheran…under the influence of the rhythmic chorale and Victorian English hymns.” He also acknowledges his own “fascination with and attempt at wedding the genres of art song and hymnody…” While many of the musical settings in this collection are intended to be sung by a musically untrained assembly, others are clearly intended as vehicles for a choir or a soloist. In all this, Hyslop manages to find his own unique voice and his work deserves serious attention and a prominent place among the many voices contributing to the “new song” of our day.
Amid the all too often self-aggrandizing talk about the “new song” in today’s church, where many are all too ready identify their new song and the new song, we might do well to hear what Clement of Alexandria had to say in the 2nd century. Clement, in his Exhortation to the Greeks, reminds us simply that Christ is the new song. It has nothing to do with guitars or banjos, praise bands or bongos. It has even less to do with such slippery and ultimately meaningless terms as “traditional” and “contemporary.” The “new song” is Christ. He is the song that goes on forever. That is something this collection, in both its title and its substance, reminds us of—and which the church would do well to remember.
Distinguished Professor of Church Music Emeritus
Concordia University Chicago
River Forest, Illinois