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Lift Every Voice and Sing II Pew Edition: An African American Hymnal Hardcover – January 1, 1993
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Top Customer Reviews
It contains both Hymns and Service music.
It makes a fine adjunct to the 1982 Hymnal as the music herein is both uplifting and traditionally American and goes over well when used. There are also some multi-part versions of music in the LEVAS that has been reduced to a single part version in the 1982 hymnal. These American classics are typically very well received by the congregants.
Uses: This is mainly for corporate worship/hymn singing. I use it twice weekly in a church setting. About half of the hymns we sing come from it.
Content: There are some good old hymns in here; obviously this is a specialty hymnal, though, and reprinting the same hymns as every other hymnal would be silly. There are quite a few traditional spirituals, some standard hymns and gospel songs, and some odd stuff that you won't find anywhere else. For instance, there are hymns for black and African saints, such as Cyprian of Carthage (#47) and Simon of Cyrene (#49). I've never sung them and I doubt that most churches would be interested in singing them. As well, you may find some of the 20th century (and even 19th) hymns to be a bit schmaltzy and theologically empty. Finally, the versions of old spirituals that many of us know are slightly different in L.E.V.A.S. As an example, I would cite #114 "Every Time I Feel The Spirit." The words tend to be standardized and the rhythms are different or simplified from what I'm used to hearing and singing.
I do appreciate some of this hymnal's unique content, though. I think the hymnal really shines in its communion hymns, which may be unfamiliar to many churchgoers, but are useful in worship, and theologically provocative. There are only 10 of them, #146-#155. They are all worth singing as far as I'm concerned. I also have found hymns like #117 "I'm Goin'-a Sing When the Spirit Says Sing" and #141 "Shall We Gather at the River" to be uplifting and fruitful hymns for worship. There are very few spoken liturgical or psalter elements in it, mostly hymns.
As with any hymnal, there will (probably) be quite a few hymns that you cannot recognize. BUT most hymnals I have used have over 400 hymns, and some have more than 600. This hymnal has 280. If, for instance, you cannot recognize (or do not want to sing) 100 of the hymns, then more than one-third of the book is useless to you. I do not think that most of the arrangements are brilliant or provocative. There is nothing wrong with most of them, though. I would say that the hymn selection, the lyrics, and the arrangements are okay. Look to this hymnal to bolster your hymn selection in a few key areas, like communion and spirit hymns. It will *not* be a great source of hymns for processional/recessional if your worship includes that sort of thing. If you need service music (Gloria, Agnus Dei, Sanctus, Pater Noster, etc.), there are quite a few choices that you will not find everywhere. For traditional churches that are multi-ethnic or willing to experiment, you may find in L.E.V.A.S. a source of inspiration and creativity.
Binding: By far the worst part of buying and using this hymnal. I do not know whether the problem has been fixed, but almost all of the hymnals we have are falling apart at the seams (even the ones that otherwise appear to be new. It's one of the worst bindings I have ever seen. Many of our hymnals have the first few pages falling out, and MOST of the bindings have come apart exactly after #110, with pages missing into the #130s or #150s. It's disgusting to see such shoddy binding on a book that demands durability so that it can be used by many different people over a long period of time. My recommendation is not to buy a used one, because it will be, quite literally, falling apart at the seams. If buying a new one, realize that it may fall apart. If buying for church, I suppose you should get a warranty or insurance policy. If you plan on playing at a piano or organ, do yourself a huge favor and purchase the spiral-bound accompaniment version, which you will have to find on another website or in a brick and mortar store (as of Jan 2010 when I am writing this review).
The only negative I would like to impart is that I wish there was an Organists version. It is very hard to keep the book open to the page you are playing since it is a hard cover and unlike most hymnals, the book does not stay open very well. Some of the songs go onto the next page and turning the page and keeping the book on the music stand is a challenge. It would be very helpful if it came in a spiral backed copy.