Hymns: New Songs for Methodists

Compiling a hymnal for his fellow Methodists in 1761, John Wesley admonished them to "sing lustily," keeping always "an eye to God in every word you sing." True to his urging, Methodists have always been among the most song-minded of all Protestants. This week their brand-new hymnal arrives in church pews with the largest advance sale of any book in U.S. publishing history: 2,154,000 copies.

The first new hymnal for Methodists since 1935, the revision was ordered by the church's General Conference in 1960. To find out what worshipers wanted, the editors, headed...