Most of my hobbies eventually get a bit… out of hand. I learned this from my father whose foreign coin collection eventually numbered in the 10,000’s of pieces. A little over 3 years ago I began to play around with my newest toys, 4 – AKG C414B-ULS microphones, (very good mics for recording a piano!) in my renovated studio. After listening to my father (a retired Presbyterian pastor) complain about no one singing the old hymns anymore I came up with the idea of recording a CD’s worth of hymns from my childhood hymnal, the 1955 Presbyterian Hymnbook. Well, like I said things got out of hand.
Today I recorded and posted my 2500th hymn on YouTube.
As T S Elliot says near the end of his Little Gidding
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. ”
I have traveled past my familiar stomping grounds of the Hymnbook, traveling to the Episcopalian High Church even while at the same time visiting the very Baptist Broadman. After those two strange bed fellows, I spent many months recording the 1940 Lutheran Hymnal which is largely a German hymnal translated into English. For the past several months I have reveled in the rich writing of the Wesley brothers and their well-developed theology in a 1939 Hymnal. At the same time I have been recording the 1935 Pilgrim Hymnal and am seeing the early stages of the post-modern theology and hymnody which has become central to the old main line denomination through the later part of the 20th century into this century.
In my position as an organist in an ELCA church which has fully embracing the post-modern movement I see on a weekly basis the loss the church is experiencing in both its historic theological roots and its rich musical heritage.
But when I turn to my recordings on YouTube (YT) I am filled with hope for the future. Even if the “organized” church is rejecting its past, the people still seek these rich texts and music. And they are doing so on a global basis.
One would expect that historic Christian Hymnody would be the one category which would not fit into the typical YT statistics, but you would be wrong. Men, and in particular men between 24 and 35 listen to my recordings in numbers exceeding their overall YT statistics. Men and women, but especially men, in this age range are my most active listeners. Isn’t this the very same demographic church planners are so anxious to attract?
Another very interesting data point which has recently surfaced is the amount of traffic coming from India. There has been news about the increasing web access in India which may account for this increase in listeners. Currently they are the 7th most active country which I think speaks volumes about the work of the Spirit in that large and disparate country. Other non-English speaking countries who rank high are: Philippines, Germany, South Korea, Brazil, and Japan.
And finally, I think the most fulfilling part of this project has been the opportunity to support living composers. People like Jared Bernotski, Ruth Coberly, Joe Uthup, and now Robin Fish are continuing the great tradition of hymn writing which goes back centuries. Their work constantly refreshes our hymnody.
Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6BRCej5GRFLlovfZrNswqw
You can also support these efforts on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/AndrewRemillard