Bishop Edgar and Chris Walchesky Named to ACNA Hymnal Commission

At the June 2023 meeting of the College of Bishops, Archbishop Foley Beach named, and the College confirmed, a 2030 Hymnal Commission.  That team will prepare an official Hymnal for approval by the College of Bishops and provincial use by June 2029.

Two individuals from our Diocese, Bishop Chip Edgar and Chris Walchesky, who serves as the Director of Music and Choirmaster at St. Philip’s Church, Charleston, are on the Commission.

We threw a few questions Chris’s way:

Chris, a 2030 Hymnal?  Six years seems like such a long time. Why will it take that long? 

Six years is a long time, yes, absolutely! I think several things are important to keep in mind about the process of creating a hymnal, which is not unlike the process undertaken to compile the 2019 Book of Common Prayer, which took a similar amount of time. Projects like this one are the production of a committee of people, representing different areas of focus in the worship life of the Church. Gathering people together, most of whom are musicians and clergy already engaged in full-time ministry in a parish setting, takes plenty of time!

There are 12 people on the Commission. How will the work be organized? 

Our work will be divided among four sub-committees:

  • Hymns of the Anglican patrimony (think hymns distinctive of the English Cathedral tradition, that which composes the repertoire of our latest hymnals of 1940, 1982, and the REC’s Book of Common Praise, 2017)
  • Hymns of ecumenical/global significance
  • Hymns, choruses, & spiritual songs of the last half-century
  • Service music for BCP 2019, both ordinary and traditional language texts

We will meet in person in November in Arlington, TX, but most of our meetings will be over Zoom once assignments have been given.

Has any work begun yet?

I would say that the vast majority of music that will be part of this hymnal has already been composed, so yes! But we’re at the very beginning of this project.

What are you most excited about with this project?

I’m excited and hopeful for what a hymnal will mean for the larger province. Since leaving TEC in 2012, and with many other jurisdictions never having been part of or having left earlier than 2012… there hasn’t been a standard set for what constitutes “Anglican worship music” in our churches and I think this is more important than it might seem on the surface. There is also a significant desire to have such a resource in the ACNA, which has led to the publication of a non-ACNA approved hymnal titled Sing Unto the Lord simply to fulfill this need. Promotional material has been given to many churches in the diocese, but it’s important to know this hymnal is not the hymnal to be approved by the College of Bishops. Some churches or even more specifically contemporary services in our diocese may not feel that there is a need for a hymnal, but I think this project is important for the province as a whole, and is certainly more important than creating another book to fill a pew rack or the back of a chair. We are in need of an approved worship resource so our worship may indeed be considered Common in Prayer. And it goes without saying that this book will contain more modern music that is already in the repertoire of many of our churches.

Are there hymns that are hands-down, shoe-ins?

Not necessarily, but one of the things the commission will address is the noticeable lack of hymns of the American church repertoire that are absent in the hymnal most still have in the pews, Hymnal 1982. I think that’s something to look forward to.

Do you have any favorites?

This is an unfair question! I think for someone like me who could fill an entire hymnal with “favorites”, a project like this is quite appropriate!

Is there a role for the person-in-the-pew to play? Can we send in our favorites? Or will the team be open to input from outside the Commission

Absolutely! Please send any thoughts to