[00:00:01] Speaker A: Concerning him. An Emmaus podcast is a ministry of Emmaus Bible College. Concerning Him seeks to enrich Christians around the globe by educating and equipping them through various media. For more information about Emmaus, please visit Emmaus.edu.
Hello and welcome to another episode of The Concerning Hymn podcast. Today I am excited to be joined by Craig Fritchy. How's it going, Craig?
[00:00:29] Speaker B: It's going great, thanks.
[00:00:31] Speaker A: So, you know, we've never met in person, but I'm really excited to be able to record.
I've heard a lot about you. Obviously, I think we know a ton of people in common through Emmaus and the assemblies and all that, but today we're going to be talking about Anthem Songs new hymn book that's recently come out, something I'm really excited for. I finally got my hands on one over Easter. My father in law had a copy and we were up visiting, but I've been kind of following along, and when you guys announced kind of the whole song list on the website. So anyways, I'm excited, Craig, to talk about all that today.
Before we get there, I would love for you just to kind of tell us your story, who you are, how you got to where you are in life now.
[00:01:17] Speaker B: Sure. Well, Eric, thanks for having me on. And I'm excited to talk about anthem songs. It's kind of been my passion project on the side for several years.
I am originally from South Florida. Born and raised in Pembroke. Pines, Florida. I lived my life down there, loved Florida, hated to leave, but God called me to help and work at Christian missions in many land. CMML, which is the missionary service organization that serves the assemblies. And so I got called up here, I guess it was January 2014, I came up, and that was a whole story in and of itself, how God called me and just really confirmed in a lot of ways that I needed to make that move to New Jersey. Came up here and kind of my life happened. I met my wife just a few months later, Daniella, and we were married in 2014. We have three kids. Five, three and one. So we're super busy at home. Yeah.
[00:02:13] Speaker A: Wow.
[00:02:14] Speaker B: Yeah, we keep busy.
It's been the season of sickness, right? So that's winter. Winter is done, though. We're excited for the springtime. So I've been up here at CMML for ten years. I fellowship at Fifth Avenue Chapel, one of the elders there in Belmont, New Jersey, and we just love the community that's here.
It made it easy to transition it's by the beach, which is like Florida. So we've got just a little colder, a lot colder. But you can take Florida. The guy out of Florida, but you can't take the warmth out of me. I'm always cold.
But it's been great. Yeah, we've been up here for ten years working with CML. I do their conferences, I do their assembly relations, and just connecting with people in the United States about missions and all of the things that we can do to help Assemblies think through the Great Commission. And so it's through that, actually, and through the connections and the relationships we've built through conferences and assembly relations where the story of Anthem Songs comes in. So I'm really grateful for CML and how that's opened.
[00:03:25] Speaker A: So with Anthem Songs, this new hymn book, maybe we can talk about this more later, but my understanding is, I would say primarily for the Brother and Assemblies. Is that correct?
[00:03:36] Speaker B: Yeah.
Yes and no. I would say it was created as a gift to the Brethren Assemblies. It was created with them in mind for them. But it's so much more, I think I think we have a lot to offer. I think one of the issues that how do I say this? I think one of the issues that we have in our Brethren movement today is we only think about ourselves and how we can help each other or what works for us and what we can do for each other. We need to be thinking about that because no one else is going to think about that. But something that our movement is known for is that we created a form of church. We created doctrine, not created doctrine. We have explained doctrine. We've presented materials throughout our history that are good for everyone. They're just Bible. Truth is what we're trying to go for. Right. We're trying to be as faithful to Scripture as possible, trying to follow the New Testament, trying to follow the Lord Jesus. And I feel the same about this hymn book.
Yes, there's one of our core values. We have eight core values and one of them is that we wanted to include the Best of Our Brethren Hymnity of the Past in it, but as a method of just sharing with the broader Christian community the rich. Hymns that have been written in our movement so that they're not lost for the next generation, both for ourselves, but for the greater community as well.
And so while, yes, we created this for the Assemblies, because the last hymn book created for the Assemblies was in 1971, when Hymns of Truth and Praise was published, I got to be careful about that. Other groups, Gospel Halls and the British and others have done other hymn books, but from the US point of view, us and Canada hymns of Truth and Praise, which was published in 1971, was the last hymn book made with us in mind.
[00:05:32] Speaker A: Yeah.
[00:05:33] Speaker B: So, I mean, that's 50 years. And the Black Book. Our beloved Black Book, the hymns of worship and remembrance that was published first in 1950.
[00:05:43] Speaker A: Okay.
[00:05:45] Speaker B: That was the last of our worship hymnal. And so in my heart, in my mind, we needed to present something for our churches that would include basically anyone born after 1970. Right.
Most of everyone living today in our movement and so that was really the heart behind creating this book primarily for us. But we hope it's a blessing to all churches that love the Lord Jesus.
[00:06:15] Speaker A: So am I understanding this right? It's kind of CMML by day, anthem songs by night, is that correct?
[00:06:22] Speaker B: That's correct, yes. Anthem. Yeah. Anthem songs by night, anthem songs by lunch break as I drive home. Yeah. But CMML is my day job and the main focus of my work. Of course, my family and our assembly are key components to yeah, it's a real juggling act. It's a balancing act. Thank the Lord, I'm not alone in any of this. We have a whole team that works together, and it's kind of my job to hold the team together and to keep the vision on track.
The Lord was good. I was able to be part of it from the beginning, and so it's my job to kind of hold it all together and make sure we keep moving forward and make this something that's really a blessing to people.
[00:07:07] Speaker A: So you've talked a little bit about maybe the vision.
Tell us the origin story. How did this all get started?
[00:07:15] Speaker B: Yeah, so 2018, CML had been doing a lot of work with Emmaus.
Then it was worldwide. Now it's international. ECS ministries. Emmaus. International? We were doing a lot of work with them, with our conferences, and we share board members.
Phil Parsons from CML is on the Emmaus board. Joel Hernandez at that point was serving on the board.
Terry Wilson, who was the executive director then. We have great relationship with him for years. His parents were missionaries, commended from our church, so we liked the Wilson clan, his brothers commended from our assembly. So we've known them for years. And I think it was just I was talking terry and I were both also on the Everyday Publications Board at that time together and was talking with them and said, terry, what's up with this hymn book? I've heard rumors that there's a committee that's been put together to make a new hymnal. But I've been hearing this for like ten years, since I lived in Florida. What's going on? And he said, well, yeah, we've got a committee that just doesn't have the time to do anything about it. We need someone to lead it. And at that point, I've been thinking about this for years. When I was a high school chorus president and music nerd, I'm a music school dropout. I did two years, and then I decided to go to business so I could make a living. But I love music. I've always been involved in leading the singing at church and camp, and I love combining old and new. That's a huge part of what Anthem Songs is about, is bringing together every era of church music. And that's always been something that I have loved. And just a dream of mine had been to put something new together for our churches. And I think a lot of people have that dream. And more I talk to people, more churches I go to, everyone's got their little chorus books and then there are other chorus books and they've got all these things. Then they've got the songs that didn't make the book, but they're on the slides. And so we've all kind of had this dream of how do we do music in a more multi generational way? So I was just saying that. I said to Terry, I was like, if you need someone to lead it, I'll do know I want this so bad for our churches. And so he said, well, let's set up a meeting. And we got a meeting together with a few people with the board. And again, we all knew people in common and they gave their blessing, thank the Lord, for me to kind of run with the project.
They gave us the funds and to start it off and to do some exploratory work.
That was in, like, spring of 2018.
We started working on this and we made a lot of progress through 2019. And then COVID hit, right? And when COVID hit, a lot of things happened.
For one, it gave me a ton of free time because I wasn't traveling as much anymore and everything was locked down. Yes, I was having children, but we were at home, like, 24/7. So I really could pour a lot of time, basically all my free time into this project and really make it good. And I think that wasn't just me. Our entire team had all of that time. And so we all worked together on this. And we found an arranger who grew up in our assemblies, but he's married someone outside of but that's his job, is to make hymn books for churches.
We think that everyone's on slides and projection and the hymn books are dead. Hymn books aren't dead. They're just not mainstream anymore. But there are hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands of churches that still use well, I know there's thousands of churches that still use hymn books and lots of denominations still produce hymn books. And so this guy, Michael Owens, with Noteworthy Productions, we found him through a mutual friend. And that's his job. Like, he's so busy, we had to fit into his schedule and he started doing arrangements for us. And through that time, Emmaus Worldwide was going through changes and they really wanted to focus back on the courses, the Emmaus courses, which are such a huge part of our missionaries ministry, just such a great blessing. And they really wanted to make that the core of their ministry. And they'd gotten really bogged down a lot of other productions. And so they said but we both kind of agreed that in order for Anthem to do well and for the courses to really thrive, we should probably separate the two so that it's not a whole lot of bureaucracy and a lot of back and forth. And so we decided mutually that we would make Anthem its own incorporation. So we separated that out. We had a lot of people help us with that. It's so fun to see how all of our different assembly organizations caught the vision for this project and each one, in their own way, have supported it. And so legacy Ministries used to be called believers worship services. They helped us incorporate different groups, gave us some funds for all of this. And CMML allowed me to have some extra time during that period to work on the project. And everybody was kind of working. Everyone saw the value in this and that was really encouraging. Things kind of did go slow throughout 2020, even in 2021.
But that gave us a great opportunity to like, did we pick the right songs?
Did we do the right thing? Some people are having some problems with this songwriter or that church that produced music and should we have them? We gave us a lot of time to think it through as we were trying to get all this stuff together and then we had to print. And printing in 2021 was like a massive nightmare because everything was stuck on ships somewhere or backlogged in production because of COVID But God's timing is perfect. Nobody needed hymn books while we were in lockdown. No one was really singing right. And even the music coming out from the CCM industry was kind of like Laissez during that time. There wasn't much going on. So as we exited that whole lockdown phase and that's when the production ramped up. And in September of 22, we are able to finally, in our hands, hold these beautiful hymn books and now we've begun to do the whole thing. And as of yesterday, we actually sold out of our first print run.
[00:14:03] Speaker A: Wow. Yeah.
[00:14:04] Speaker B: So we're in the process of reprinting.
[00:14:07] Speaker A: How many was it?
[00:14:09] Speaker B: 500 copies.
[00:14:11] Speaker A: Okay.
[00:14:12] Speaker B: That's not including the piano books and all that other stuff, just the Pew Him books. And so we sold them out in nine months. And we have so many assemblies. I just got calls yesterday, we want to get this book when's it back. And so we're really encouraged to see all the generations, seeing the value of a book that encompasses the various generations and just how important that is, that we don't lose our heritage. We don't lose those old classic hymns of the faith. We don't lose those old brethren hymns that mean so much to us and are so rich in theology and focused on Christ, but that we don't neglect that the Lord loves a new song and that generations forward continue to write just as wonderful songs that glorify the Lord. And so we're excited to see that so many people are excited about it. And so that's kind of where we are now.
[00:15:11] Speaker A: I've got so many questions for you, but one of the things is what was that process like of I mean, there's obviously I'm a huge hymn fan.
I love the 1800 stuff. Right.
[00:15:27] Speaker B: You know, there were hymns before the 18.
[00:15:28] Speaker A: There were, yeah, there were, but that.
[00:15:31] Speaker B: Was the sweet spot.
[00:15:35] Speaker A: I love it. There's hundreds, thousands of wonderful hymns from that time period. There's some wonderful stuff that came out in the 19 hundreds that I would say maybe the brethren have often somewhat neglected at times, especially the second half of that. And then there's really been great stuff in the last 28 plus years of the 21st century so far.
I mean, you're looking at thousands and thousands and thousands of songs. What was the process of starting to narrow it down like?
[00:16:09] Speaker B: Yeah, it was mammoth. I'm grateful we had like 20 people helping us on this.
[00:16:14] Speaker A: Right.
[00:16:15] Speaker B: But it did start with me. I had to start. So the first thing I wanted to do is I know how hard change is, I just know how difficult it is to wear different shoes. So like, changing a hymn book that you've had since the 1950s for 70 years is going to be hard. So one thing we really wanted to make sure we did is that we got all of the good songs from our Black book that we transferred them into this book. So just to explain, our initial concept was just to create a new worship hymn book and then we realized we get one shot at this. We only have one shot to put out a new book because it could flop. It really could flop. So let's put out more than just that. If this flops, at least we got it all in there. At least we did the whole thing and it hasn't flopped, praise God. But we decided we were going to do just a big hymn book, kind of like the Red book, but we really wanted to do one hymn book to rule them all, to quote Lord of the Rings.
And so we decided to split it in half. So the first half is Worship and remembrance, really good stuff for the Lord's Supper. And then the second half is called Response and Celebration.
That's just good for other services, just life, Christian life, testimony, et cetera, Christmas.
But we did want to make sure we had a good number of songs for worship because in our movement that's so core to who we are, we want to lift up the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And it's not that it's not true of other movements, they are about that know, a lot of the praise and worship movement is really just vertical songs to the Lord. And so we wanted to make sure we had a really robust collection of worship and praise music but not neglecting all the other things that are so valuable in our worship and in our singing together.
So the first thing we did is we took the Black book and me and the team, we all kind of, like, marked the songs that we knew no one ever sang. We're like, okay, nobody ever sings this. No one ever sings this. This is just I don't know what this is. In fact, half of the Black Book we found out is not even worship. It's like baptism and marriage and prayer and whatever. So we were just, like, moving and moving. So we wanted to make sure we got all the Black Book songs we needed. And of course, there's some that we sing at our church that you don't sing at your church. And so we left those in there, but we had them all color coded. Like, these are that we must haves. These are the Untouchables. You can't even update the lyrics. They just have to stay the way they are. These are the ones I could really use and upgrade. These are the ones that I sing, but you don't sing. And then we had a detritus list that we're just cutting these.
And we did the same thing for the Red Book, also the hymns of Truth and Praise, because we figured, let's start with the two books that most churches in our movement are most familiar with and make sure we get the critical mass of those books. What are the most important songs? The other thing we really wanted to think about is what are considered standards of the church? Forget brethren, forget assemblies. What are standard hymns of the faith? Like, you're not going to have a hymn book without To God be the glory in it. You're just not going to we're not going to have a hymn book without How Great Thou Art in it anymore.
[00:19:37] Speaker A: And can it be that type of exactly.
[00:19:40] Speaker B: When I survey the Wonders Cross, you're just not going to have a book without these songs. And so we wanted to make sure we got all of those classics in there. And then we also had the Celebration Hymnal, which a lot of churches use. Since everyone got tired of the Red Book, most people moved to Celebration. That's an excellent hymnal. Too bad it's 30 years old, but it was excellent. They did such a good job. I love the key choices, the arrangements.
I felt that that was a great model to follow as far as the way they approached arrangements. And so we wanted to make sure we included some good songs from there, since a lot of churches had moved on to that hymn book. And then I went to the CCLI website and I looked at their top 100 songs, and I wanted to make sure we got all the classics of modern worship. And I looked back at several years of that.
Everyone took out their Camp Binder that they have and their youth group Binders, and we all kind of threw in our Chris Tomlin songs. We loved our Hillsong ones that we loved, the 90s songs keith Green had to get in there. We had to get Twyla paris up in there. We had to get all these people that from the Gaithers. I don't like the me. I don't like the Gaithers. I just like because he lives. That's my contribution to the Gaithers. But a lot of people like Gaithers, so we had to find somebody that liked the Gaithers and some Gettys.
[00:21:07] Speaker A: I'm sure.
[00:21:13] Speaker B: After having kids, you kind of like, stop listening to music a little bit. You're just listening to songs all the time. Odly, enough. My daughter is obsessed with kids singing hymns. So I really got a nice hymn repertoire going on. But I had to force myself to sit down and go through the getty repertoire and listen with the point of which songs are the ones, because they're all good.
We can't just put like, 500 getty songs in there. Which ones are the ones? Obviously, in Christ alone. Power of the Cross, of course. But there's more that we really need to include. So I gave myself a class and and then we looked at Shane. And Shane have done a great job of collecting all of the worship initiative, like, what songs should you know as a Christian?
And so we kind of looked at all of that, we put it all into this massive Excel spreadsheet and we started yes, no, yes, no, yes, no. So our executive committee were like, yes, no, yes, no. And then we whittled it down to like, I don't know, 600 something songs. And then we sent it out to about 20 other people. And we had people that were specifically like, hymn people, like, you know, the hymns. Which hymns are we missing? What is not important that's on this list. And then we had our youth group leaders and the worship leader kind of people like, what songs of the contemporary world do we need to include? I will say with that process, that mid century time was kind of lost a little bit because no one really was focused on that. Most were focused on contemporary. So at the end, when we had the delays of printing, we were able to go back and kind of find those gems that we lost and throw them back in. So I'm kind of grateful for that delay, because we did. And it may still be underrepresented as a whole, but the truth be told, people aren't singing those as much as they were ten years ago. And so it's a capsule in time. That's kind of what happened. But we still tried to get the key songs from those eras, every era in there. Maybe we left out a few of the chants from the Middle Ages, but we tried our best to even include that a little. We got some of those. So, yeah, that was kind of how we did it. And then we sent it after we kind of whittled it down to about 700 songs. We sent it to a biblical advisory committee. So about like, maybe 1015 people that we knew are respected in our churches that we knew, knew their Bibles, and they also had a keen eye for doctrine.
And so we sent to them, but also balance knowing that assemblies fall on all spectrums of Calvinism and dispensationalism, there's several spectrums that we got. So within the general biblical feelings of our assemblies and our convictions, are these songs doctrinally accurate, particularly the newer songs we wanted them to review because a lot of our modern music comes from the charismatic church, just for better or for worse. They are the ones that have taken up the mantle of singing in a real public way. And so people are singing their songs. And so we wanted to make sure that the songs that we included from these groups were doctrinally, sound, biblically correct and edifying for the people of God.
And that's kind of the line that we took on that know.
The guy who wrote Jesus, the very thought of thee and O sacred had now wounded was also the man that promoted Mary worship in the know. The guy one of the guys that wrote Living Hope with Phil Wickham is part of a movement of churches that I would never know, and they believe things that I would not espouse.
But we have to be consistent. If we're going to cut people out, we've got to be consistent. And we decided we are going to take each song at its own merit.
Is this song who cares about the personalities that wrote it? Who cares about the churches that it was associated with? Is this song biblically correct and edifying for the people of God, or is it distracting? So, you'll see, we didn't put a lot of 711 kinds of songs. Seven words, eleven times. Those kind of choruses are kind of missing from the book because that's a real contention point in our churches. They're not edifying, they're not helpful for people. They just cause dissension. So we're putting songs in there that would cause people to want to sing together.
And in the process, we did include a number of Hillsong songs, a couple Bethel, Elevation, some of those groups that might be considered controversial. But what we did is we picked the ones that A, were already being sung. We didn't go look for new ones from those groups and then B, that are good, that are doctrinally sound. And we had this whole committee review it and make sure they signed off on it. We highlighted the ones especially we wanted them to pay attention to. I will say that songs did get cut on the cutting floor.
I don't want to say which ones, but there's a number of songs that they got cut, and you're like, well, why isn't this song in there? Well, I'll give you one. Reckless love got cut. Okay, it got cut. It should have because, again, it's not a unifying song. People are, like, fighting over it. Maybe it's died down now, but during the pandemic that was like, yeah, a.
[00:26:52] Speaker A: Couple of years ago is big. Yeah.
[00:26:54] Speaker B: Everything we just said, why are we going to do that?
There's no need. We want this to be something that people want to join around. That being said, we didn't want to be sissies either.
Just because people don't like Hillsong, it doesn't mean that they didn't write some good songs. That doesn't mean that people that go to those churches are not believers.
And so, yes, we don't espouse everything that they do. We don't we don't agree, if I did, I'd go to their church. Right? But part of our movement is that we're discerning people. We're people of the book, or that's what we've claimed to be in the past. And I don't think we should be afraid that our young people are going to be led astray if we're teaching the way we should. If we're teaching them to be discerning, if we're teaching them to be bereans and as they're listening to music, to be thinking about the words and who these people are and what they stand for and to know your Bible, you're not going to be led astray by a song.
More likely you'll be led astray by a YouTube video of a preacher that's preaching something wrong. And yes, these churches are associated with controversial pastors, but I think we're good enough in our churches of teaching truth that people can spot error. At least I hope so.
And we have to be, because every generation had these people. The guy that wrote Great Is Thy Faithfulness was a key person in the Pentecostal movement who created a magazine that all of these churches that we are not for today write for. So they're all part of the same group, and yet because of time, we're okay with that. And so we felt the only way we could do this, we can't police people's personal lives. Even friends of mine that wrote songs in this book, things have changed in their lives even since the book has come out. And do I agree with the ways they've gone? No.
There are people there's someone that wrote for Hillsong that even denied the faith, but the guy who wrote A Holy Night also denied the faith.
So we decided we had to be consistent and we could not police personal lives.
Someone that falls away from the Lord might come back to the Lord at the end of their life also. And then we'll love them again. So what we decide is just every song had its own merit. If the music was good for singing, if it was popular in churches, and if our Biblical advisory committee signed off on it, we're going to include it.
[00:29:33] Speaker A: I appreciate that. It sounds like you guys really put a lot of thought into that because it is controversial. People have a wide range of opinions. I myself have gone back and forth personally on singing songs by certain groups or certain artists.
What I appreciate is you guys didn't take that lightly.
[00:29:53] Speaker B: No, we didn't. And the other thing is we did not take it lightly.
We almost deleted a bunch of things, but we decided at the end of the day, there are 655 hymns in this book. I've never sang every hymn in every book that I've ever had. There are songs in the red book that I would never sing because I don't agree with them doctrinally either. In our assembly books, there certainly wasn't celebration. There's a whole section of singing to the Holy Spirit, whatever. There's all these things.
We're just not going to sing those songs. And if there are songs that people don't like in our book because of a personality and I fully support them not singing them, you have to follow your conscience. This is definitely a conscience issue.
Some might take it further than that. That's fine. Don't sing them. We're not telling you you have to sing a song because it's in a book.
There are songs like we said, we cut out like 100 black book songs because literally not a single church that we knew of had ever sang them. So it's okay if you don't like every song in the book. I would encourage you to still get the book because there's probably 500 and something songs that you do like that you will love, and you probably still won't sing all of those.
[00:31:18] Speaker A: So I have a music question for you, and my musical understanding is like kids camp guitar playing and that's about it. But my wife plays piano and I've heard her and other people talk about certain hymn books have some songs that are in a key that's really hard for people for corporate singing. Or maybe the music for the piano is written really complicated where if you're not a fantastic pianist or you don't have the song memorized, you can't just sit down and start playing at a breaking a bread meeting or something.
[00:31:54] Speaker B: Sure.
[00:31:54] Speaker A: Her observation when we were flipping through this book together was this music was written really simply where if you don't know this song, you could sit down and you could play it if you could play piano. So what was kind of the thought process that went into the keys and the music and how approach all that, especially for somebody explain it in a way for somebody like me that will have no clue what you're talking about. Probably.
[00:32:18] Speaker B: Yeah, for sure. I mean, how many people have been to a breaking of bread where someone's playing the piano out of the black book and they call out, oh, behold. What love, what boundless love that we should become sons of God.
Everyone cracks when they hit the high note.
It's like way up there. So what we found is a lot of churches are just doing acapella because there's no way none of us can sing these notes. But then also acapella singing unless you're good is kind of hard too. So a big reason for doing this was to put songs in keys that everybody can sing.
That was number one. It's not about even ease of playing before it is ease of singing because this book is meant to be sung.
This is not a piano arrangement, these are for singing. So we wanted to pick keys that were good for singing first, which meant a range so low G to a high D was kind of like our sweet spot. You can go a little lower, a little higher on some songs. But we wanted to be in this range where an average regular person, yes, it's going to be a stretch at the top or at the low, but they can sing it. It's not above the staff so far that nobody can sing. And in general, we went lower before we went higher because we wanted it to be good for small churches to sing. Corporately a lot of nondenominational evangelical churches and a lot of assemblies are less than 100 people or less than 200 people. And singing is so different when you're in less than 200 people than when you're with 2000 people.
You can scream at the top of your lungs when you're singing in with Shane. And Shane worship initiative because their music is so loud, you're never going to be heard anyways. But in small churches, the goal is everyone should be heard. And that's kind of our philosophy of corporate singing is it's for the people of God to sing, not for a performance of the song leader. So I can hit a lot higher notes than what are in this book and I could sing.
I wish songs were higher from my own personal taste, but we picked keys that were good for regular people to sing. 1st, 2nd. We wanted it to be simple two page or less arrangements. I don't know how many of you use CCLI or any of these online things, but they have like twelve pages for some of these songs because every line of the song is a new page and it's just so complicated. So we want everything to be two pages or less. That was a lot of work for us with the contemporary songs, to distill it down, not as a performance, but as how would regular people sing this? You know how a lot of songs, the second verse, they'll take it up and they'll sing a high note, or they'll do ad libs. Cut all of that out. What is the bare bones of this song? Let's make it fit on two pages or less. I think two songs went to three pages, but the rest two pages or less. And just strip it down to what is the core melody of this song and the core parts of this song and lay it out, it had to be two pages or less. And then we wanted guitar chords for every song.
Now, obviously, guitarists don't like to play in the key of B flat or in the key of E flat. A lot of songs actually ended up in those keys because those are the best keys for singing, okay? Or a flat. A lot of songs we play in G, like how great is Our God? Is a great example. A lot of people sing it in G. It's just a little bit low for good singing, especially for women. And so we bump it up a half step to A flat. And this might be too technical for.
[00:35:51] Speaker A: You, but this is good. This is good.
[00:35:53] Speaker B: Bump it up. And so then we're like, well, then we need a guitar book because nobody can play in the key A flat. So we're working on that. Now we're working on this book where everything is in the key of C, D or G. And we just use capos to make it work for them. So that's coming out soon.
But we wanted guitar chords because I'm a bad pianist. I was a terrible student. I never wanted to practice, but I want to play at church, so I learned enough to play. Then I discovered guitar chords and I learned chording, and I was like, this is so easy. So a lot of young people learn to play in youth group with guitar chords. So for me to sit down and play a song, if I have the chords, you got me. I know my basic I can sight read basic melody and you give me the chords, I got it. And so we wanted in every edition of this book, there are guitar chords, okay?
Even the pew edition. Because a lot of people don't buy the big $100 accompaniment book. They just buy the pew book and they play it at their house. And I used to write the chords in pencil above it. This has it. It's going to be there. And so we wanted chords for everything. We wanted in an easy key to sing. We did pick keys that pianists, if it was between like E or E flat or something like that, we would go with the flat chords because pianists like that better.
So we figure guitars can just capo it's. Easy solution. So that's kind of what we went with. Those were our basic guidelines for that.
[00:37:23] Speaker A: That's great. With you talking about guitar, it's causing me to think now a little bit towards you mentioned earlier the hymn book.
We're probably even past the PowerPoint slide generation of a lot of churches. Are it's up on the projector, it's up on a TV screen. Everybody's standing there's a guitarist.
And you made the point.
Hymn books aren't dead, right? Which is good. But how are you guys kind of adjusting to having a hymn book putting the guitar chords in there, but also how a lot of churches are just doing their music, which is not hymn books, right?
[00:38:09] Speaker B: Yeah. So it's a big conversation, but I think there's two pieces. One is we thought we have to still keep a book because of the breaking of bread.
[00:38:18] Speaker A: Yes, absolutely.
[00:38:20] Speaker B: They want to look at the words for a call to song. This is an open format meeting. We need to keep this. It's still available. But yeah, most churches for the preaching services and for youth services, we're going to no book situation. However, you're going to find that older people have a really hard time learning new songs. One of the biggest reasons for division in the church is that the older and the younger people don't like each other's music. And again, the goal of this was to bring generations together.
And so we do. And we are continuing to plan for the future. Hymn books are not the future, we'll be clear. So we're going to release an Ehemnal also so that people have it on their devices. We also have slides, so in four or five different formats. However your church does it, whether it's easy worship or proclaim or PowerPoint, we've offered in a variety of slide versions as well. Thinking of guitar, thinking of piano. Eventually our goal in the next phase, after we kind of make it through this year with pre production reproduction, chord book, ebook, all of these book based products, that's what this year is about. We hope to start launching a platform called Anthem Plus where it kind of becomes like the future hymnal. Where it's not just the 655 songs in our book, but it's a place where we can resurrect old songs that were cut, a place that we can add in new songs as people are writing them. This Easter, we sang a new song from Shane and Shane. I was like, I wish we could put that in the book because it's so good, it's going to live on Anthem Plus. And so thinking for the future of having a place where the work is done for you in some aspects. When we go to a big website like CCLI Song Select, there's literally hundreds of thousands of songs, maybe even a million songs to choose from. And there's like, 17 versions of greatest thy faithfulness. And you're like, what do I do?
What do I do?
Our goal is to create a platform that does kind of the hard work for people, where we're kind of distilling down from all of these releases coming out all the time. What are songs that you should consider singing?
[00:40:44] Speaker A: And here's a good key, right?
[00:40:47] Speaker B: Yes, here's a good key and an easy arrangement to learn and you can just have it there. And there's so many other things we hope that Anthem Plus can become, but that's kind of the core of it is that and also, maybe I don't like the key that was in the book. And I'm a great singer and I want to sing it higher. Well, hopefully we'll offer other keys too. Okay, but it's this place, this idea of for the future, not letting what happened with the Black Book and the Red Book happen again. Where Anthem Songs in its first array becomes the new holy book of our churches. I don't want Anthem Songs to become the new Black Book in the sense that people treat it like it's second to the word of God, that it's the only book that we can use in our churches. We have a vision for in ten years to do a new edition, cutting out the song no one sings, putting in new songs, kind of freshening it up if there's still a need, like maybe everyone will switch to digital, maybe Anthem Plus is the future. I got a sense that's not going to happen in ten years. So we're making plans where there would be Anthem Songs too. We're not going to call it that. But that idea of like a sequel, like a Redo where take what we learned from this first edition knowledge of what songs people appreciated or didn't songs that were sung or were not keys, that were good or bad. Lyric updates that worked or didn't work that's another thing we didn't even talk about is we did decide to update lyrics for some old hymns. Getting rid of it. And the reason for that was we don't want them lost.
When I was working with youth, especially non churched youth, and they get saved and come into the assembly, do we really need to teach them Shakespearean language so that they can grow in the walk with God? There's like more important things like don't have sex or before marriage or read the word of God on a daily basis. Learn how to study the Bible, learn how to worship the Lord in prayer. Learn how to share the gospel. There's so much we have to teach these young people. Watch out for social media predators. Think about all of this crazy indoctrination.
There's so much biblical illiteracy.
Adding another layer of language position is just a barrier I don't think we need if we want to see the gospel advance quickly in the next generation. And so we tried to update as many we kept the poetic justice of the song. We didn't want to take away its integrity. So if we had to change every word, then we might as well just write a new song. It was just a V to a U or some simple changes. We did those so that the young people could appreciate these old songs.
This was not new to us. Celebration hymnal did this. Every hymn book has done this. All of our brethren Hymnals did this. You'll notice that we sing Lord Jesus, I love Thee not, my Jesus, I love thee tis thou who art worthy not if ever I love thee we've done this. This is part of our heritage. We change words that we don't like. We changed. And can it be emptied himself of all but love to emptied himself and matchless love. It's part of who we are. We couldn't do it to the copyrighted songs legally, so those are what they are. But if they weren't copyrighted, we did that for the future. Not for the present or the past, but for the future, for the next generations making it so that they can understand and appreciate the legacy of faith which they come from. And enjoying the fact that for thousands of generations christians have been singing the praise of our Lord Jesus Christ. That we are not new. We're part of the greater Universal church. We're part of this band of survivors that have come out from the world, saved by grace, sing to sing and proclaim the praises of him who saved us. And so to me, that's such an important thing. I love my daughter singing Emmanuel's Land with me in church. I love her singing at the top of her lungs. Trust and obey as she runs around the house my son loves at the cross and he just sings it. But then they also are singing at the top of their lungs, 10,000 Reasons or whatever the NEWSBOY song that came out. And so it's this idea that generation to generation, we can sing those songs together, both musically keeping that idea of moving forward and looking back at the same time, and then technology wise, that's actually one of our eight core values, is to use modern technology, not to just stick with print books. To have those as a bridge to the future.
And I actually think it's going to be such a help. So we do projection at our family Bible hour, our preaching service. But when we introduce new songs, all the older people pull out their hymn books and they read them and then they learn them. And guess what? Then they call that song out at the Lord's Supper themselves of their own free will. And it's just such a wonderful thing to see generations working together like, okay, you want to sing this new song? I'll learn it.
But giving them the tools to learn it, I think that's been a big issue, is we haven't had tools. You can't print out a seven page spreadsheet of music for every person in the congregation, but if you have the books there and you have the slides, if people need to learn it, they have the ability to learn it.
[00:46:36] Speaker A: Yeah, that's wonderful. Well, this has been a wonderful conversation. I don't want to take up too much of your time. I know you're on your lunch break. We appreciate your time. If people want to learn more about Anthem songs, where's the best place to go?
[00:46:51] Speaker B: Yeah, so we've got Anthemsogs.com is our website. Check us out. There you can download a free sample of the hymn book there.
It's got watermarks and stuff for copyright reasons, but yeah, you can download it, see what it looks like, see the song list. You can also follow us on social media, we're on Facebook and on Instagram, on YouTube as well and that's the best way to connect. If you have questions, you can email [email protected]
and I'll probably answer you.
And yeah, be in prayer for uh, we're going to reprint shortly. We did some minor edits to the book, just fixing a few things and we're about to send that off to the printer. We're working really hard on the Guitar Chord book on our ebook and yeah, pay attention for good things to come and pray for us. We need more people to help. So if you want to help, if you're musically gifted and you have a desire to serve our churches for free as a volunteer, please come on by, send us a note and we'd love to get to know you and have you help with this project. It's such a blessing. I can't tell you what an honor it has been to be a steward of this, to see what God can do when we try to do something right, do something biblical and humbly for his glory and for the bringing together of his people. I'm just so excited to see what the Lord can do with this.
[00:48:20] Speaker A: That's amazing.
Any idea on the reprint on when there'll be more available?
[00:48:26] Speaker B: Yeah, so it'll probably be available this summer. Typically the way it goes takes a couple of months to just print thousands of so this summer they'll be available again. But we are encouraging churches if they want to get bulk copies, if they want to buy for the church to order in advance so that we don't run out, you know what I mean? We want to make sure we can have enough for everybody. And so let us know, even if you don't place the order, let us know that it's your intention so we can make sure we account for. We're obviously going to get more than that, but it's just good for planning purposes to know the interest that's there hopefully this summer that will be coming out probably August, the books, but the accompaniment books and others might come out earlier than that.
[00:49:14] Speaker A: Okay, yeah great. Well, thank you again for your time. This has been great and I think we had talked on the phone earlier, there's probably some other conversations that we'd like to have in the future so I'm sure you'll be back on.
[00:49:26] Speaker B: Love to be back on. Thanks for having me Eric, it's been a joy. Thank you.
[00:49:31] Speaker A: Thank you.
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