THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA HYMNAL is set to formulate a standard hymnody for the Church of Nigeria and to lay emphasis on the standard of worship, biblical truth and doctrines of the conservative but progressive Anglicanism.
It contains a body of hymns with the texts clearly in line with Christian faith, teaching and integrity, practicality and excellence, and reflect the true nature and composition of the 21st century church by looking at the age differences and cultural diversity of the prospective users.
The book is well planned to give room for African way of praising God through all-encompassing music of singing to accompaniments, while serious thought is given to international and interdenominational acceptability of the literary and theological merit of each hymn.
The 1250 hymns and songs in the hymnal [of which about 450 were written by Nigerians] were collated and edited after a painstakingly thorough research into most of them to make them meet the international use the book is meant for, especially as the Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America [CANA] remains the Church of Nigeria project.
As a companion to the Book of Common Prayer [BCPN], the Hymnal is laid out to correspond to the Church Calendar, and based on the sound biblical doctrines that explain the attributes and nature of God and the Trinity.
It is meant to stress our relationship with God and our fellow men, and set forth the work of salvation and the eternal hope in Christ Jesus. It expresses all aspects of Christian objectives, ministration and vocation, mission, teaching, personal development of members and corporate edification of the Church.
The book is to be an ancillary service and teaching manual of the Church, complementing the Holy Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Texts and contents of each hymn and song were critically examined for theological accuracy, doctrinal soundness, scriptural reliability and literary correctness and conformity to standard of poem writing.
Each lyric satisfies some or all the properties of being: firstly, a direct address to God in praise, prayer, promise and petition; secondly, a means of summoning worshippers to God, to glorify Him with all their beings; and thirdly, a means of preparing the minds and hearts of worshippers for a revelation of divine truth and visitation of transforming power from above; and a prophecy into the lives of believers of their wishes, hopes and aspirations for now and for the future.
The Hymnal, which is the second commissioned hymnal in the Anglican world (after The Hymnal of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America [ECUSA]), is a means of projecting the image and identity of the Church of Nigeria. It is also meant to replace all other hymnals that have found common use in our dioceses and parishes.
Meanwhile work has started on the second level of the production, namely, the production of the Music Edition of the hymnal which is expected to be completed within the shortest possible time.
It is gratifying to note that the publication is another landmark accomplished by the Church of Nigeria at her fortieth anniversary, the first being the Church of Nigeria’s Secretariat (St Matthias House). These are worthy and ever living legacies accomplished by the Most Rev’d Dr Nicholas D. Okoh, who will be retiring in seven months time.
The Rev’d Canon Adebola Omodunnbi Ilori
Is a Consultant Hymnographer and the Secretary to the Board of Editors of the Church of Nigeria Hymnal.