2011 Yearbook, Singing Praise to Jehovah, p.17-21:
Singing songs of praise to Jehovah is an integral part of our worship. At the 2009 conventions, therefore, God's servants were overjoyed when they were told of a new songbook, Sing to Jehovah. But why was a new songbook needed?
From time to time, we have revised our songbooks to keep them in line with increased spiritual light. (Prov 4:18) Preparation of a new songbook thus provides an opportunity for needed adjustments to be made to the lyrics of our songs. Wording has been selected that makes it easier to absorb the meaning of the song while it is being sung and to make the words easier to remember. To help further with memorization, many of the songs have been shortened. Where appropriate choruses have been added to provide meaningful repetition of key thoughts. In addition, an effort was made to assign each syllable of each word to a single note, rather than to place more than one syllable on a note.
A careful analysis of our previous songbook, Sing Praises to Jehovah, revealed that some of the melodies needed adjustments to make them easier to sing. As a result, some of the songs have now been lowered in pitch so that the higher notes are easier to sing. Also, not all songs were being sung exactly as they were written in the book. So in some cases the melody itself has been adjusted to match the more natural manner in which the songs were actually being sung by our brothers internationally.
Details, such as how the music is printed on the page, were given special consideration. While longer songs have been spread across two pages to accommodate the longer text of translated languages, songs have been placed so that there is no need to turn a page during a song. No songs are longer than three verses.
How was the mammoth task of preparing the new songbook accomplished? In August 2007, a team of experienced composes and lyricists were invited to assist the Governing Body with the project. All of the songs in the previous songbook were examined meticulously to identify problems with doctrinal content, word emphasis, and melodic issues. It was apparent that some of the older melodies were fine but that they required new lyrics. Other songs that required little adjustment to lyrics needed substantial changes to their melodies. Then, the Teaching Committee of the Governing Body approved a list of topics to be considered in songs for Christian meetings, assemblies, conventions and dedication programs.
In addition, the composers took time to reexamine the style of music used by our brothers at our meetings. To produce reverent yet appealing songs, they avoided music that sounded like hymns used in Christendom's churches. At the same time, they did not want songs of praise to Jehovah to lean toward styles that have become popular in many charismatic churches.
Throughout the project, the Governing Body carefully monitored the composition and words of each song. Groups of new songs that the Governing Body was not familiar with were recorded by singers for the Governing Body to listen to and review. As soon as these songs were approved, they were sent to translating branches for translation of the lyrics so that vernacular songbooks could be released at the same time as the English songbook.
Additionally, in 2007, the Governing Body arranged for a chorus of singers to produce recordings that would help the congregation members to learn the songs. For many years a volunteer orchestra from 14 branches has assembled about twice a year at Patterson, New York, to record music for educational programs produced by Jehovah's Witnesses, including dramas, video productions, and musical accompaniment for conventions and assemblies. These dedicated brothers and sisters, many of them full-time ministers, use their time and resources to travel and record music for the benefit of the international brotherhood. All are skilled musicians. The orchestral recordings are then shared with branches around the world to provide background music for their conventions and for the production of vocal renditions in dozens of local languages. Many of the vocal recordings made at the branches are now available for download from our Web site www.jw.org.
What has been the reaction to the new songbook, Sing to Jehovah? This letter from a sister is typical of hundreds of letters of appreciation that have been received: “Please allow me to begin this letter by thanking you for the beautiful new songs in our new songbook. They are moving, faith-strengthening, and comforting – a delightful gift from Jehovah.”
It is our desire that the songbook Sing to Jehovah will be a source of comfort and encouragement to our worldwide brotherhood. Whether we are alone or gathered together with our fellow worshipers, may we use it to express our love for our heavenly father, Jehovah!