The anticipated appearance of the hymnal supplement (actually the second supplement, since hymns 401-429 in the present hymnal are a supplement) could serve as a fresh opportunity for tut-tutting, but it may also be another sign of the sad state of music in branch churches and of the churches themselves. Those who awaited the supplement with greatly subdued expectations will probably not be pleasantly surprised.
A copy of an impartial and quite thorough ten-page letter from a professional musician to the Board of Directors in Boston was sent to me. Since many copies are doubtless floating about it can probably be sniffed out locally if one is interested in seeing it.
The letter discusses each of the 33 new hymns, numbers 430-462. The musician's conclusion is that overall they fall short, perhaps considerably so (my words), of meeting the requirements of Article XIX of the Church Manual. A number are, it would seem, woefully amateurish. It is doubtful that churches with professional or competent musicians will be scrambling to use many of them.
In part, it seems likely that this supplement was just poorly executed by persons who scarcely know music themselves and who simply supplied "hymns" compatible with their level of expertise. But it may also be an indication of the dismal state of music in many Christian Science churches. It is probable that professional or competent musicians and soloists are unaffordable or unavailable to many churches with small memberships or even to some with larger ones. Willing, though unqualified, members and Sunday School students may be filling the musical vacuum in many churches.
Mrs. Eddy gave music a prominent role in her Sunday Services and Wednesday Meetings and expected quality and quantity, so it is regrettable that churches may well have gotten what they needed and wanted with the new supplement. Can one be forgiven if the thought of gaggles of amateur music-makers dutifully committing sacrilegious mayhem on a crazy-quilt repertoire of hymns, solos, preludes, and postludes finds him sneaking in a furtive prayer to St. Cecilia? Yet another item for the already crowded "prayer and fasting" list.