Mir Vam! (Peace Be with You!): Hymnal of the Russia United Methodist Church

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Mir Vam! (Peace be with you!): Hymnal of the Russia United Methodist Church edited by Lyudmila Garbusova. Moscow: GBGMusik, 2002. 318 pp. ISBN: 1-890569-55-0. U.S. $20.

Russian Methodism re-emerged in the 1990s after a long hibernation during communism. Shortly thereafter, work began on a hymnal for the new Russia United Methodist Church. Mir Vam! is the result of that work: a surprisingly comprehensive collection of hymns drawn from many cultures and offered as a tool for the growing United Methodist movement in Russia.

Lyudmila Garbusova, the chief editor of the hymnal, had both the theological and the musical background necessary for such a task. A professor at the Moscow Conservatory of Music, she is also the pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Moscow. In addition, Garbusova is known for her work with the Gloria Singers, a vocal ensemble that has toured in the United States and also contributed to the hymnal.

Mir Vam! presents a dizzying array of hymnological genres. One can find Taizé chant, global songs, traditional Russian Orthodox verses, Western hymns, contemporary choruses, African American spirituals, and modern Russian songs in the pages of this volume. Although the number of traditional Western hymns far outweighs the total of all the other genres combined, with gospel hymnody in particular looming large in the collection, I was amazed at the variety I found. I would not have expected to see "Jesu tawa pano," "Soon and Very Soon," "Laudate Dominum," "Here I Am, Lord," or "Vom Himmel hoch" in a Russian hymnal. This marvelous breadth reminds us that, truly, there is neither Jew nor Greek, Russian nor American, in the Body of Christ.

The hidden gem within Mir Vam! is its assembly of contemporary Russian sacred songs. This genre of hymn has not yet reached Western shores, and one can only hope that this hymnal will help to introduce it. These songs, of which there are nearly 70, are marked by a reliance on melodies in the minor mode and structures that include verses and a refrain that may repeat. …