Den svenska psalmboken 1986 i Svenska kyrkan


  • Per Olof Nisser CTR
  • Sven-Åke Selander


The year 2006 marks the 20th anniversary of The Swedish Hymnal which was approved for the Church of Sweden at its annual meeting in 1986. After this, other Christian denominations followed suit. The introductory part of the hymnal, hymns 1-3 25, is the same for most of the Christian churches in Sweden - an historical, ecumenical first. 

In this essay several questions are addressed regarding what has happened during the first twenty years after the hymnal was approved in 1986; what were the most important goals for this edition, how was the hymnal received, what additions and revisions have been made since 1986, what have the reactions been to these, and what can we envision about sacred songs in the future? 

A primary goal of the 1986 Swedish hymnal was to provide a hymnal that could also be characterised as a book for worship services. It would include both traditional and modern Christian hymns. Thus, extensive development work was done on both the texts and music in order to meet this goal. Famous hymn text writers such as Anders Frostenson, Olov Hartman and Britt G. Hallkvist contributed. 

The new hymnal was well-received. Concurrently, another project was started that resulted in Psalmer i 90-talet (»Hymns for the ’9o’s») an experimental booklet of hymns. In this booklet, older material that is not included in The Swedish Hymnal - as well as newly written hymns - were included. This collection won more and more approval as time went on. 

In 2003, the publishing company Verbum released a revised hymnal, primarily as a result of new texts in The Mass Lectionary in the Church of Sweden. In this revised hymnal an expanded appendix was included in cooperation with The Swedish Evangelical Mission. 

In 2004 a new hymnal project was started in the Church of Sweden. The development work for this project was aimed partly at collecting material which was not directly identifiable with traditional Christian texts and melodies, and partly at spreading newly written hymns in a more traditional sense. Prominent hymn writers who contributed to this collection are Bishop Jonas Jonson and author Ylva Eggehorn. This booklet of hymns was launched in 2006 on the fifth Sunday after Easter and includes 116 new hymns as well as 50 from the earlier experimental booklet Psalmer i 90- talet. 

The development work which has been done since 1986 has received a positive response; new hymns were needed that met modern needs for expressing and interpreting the Christian message. Yet, it has been difficult for congregations to evaluate all the material when there has been quite alot of newly produced hymns during a relatively short time. Perhaps this sort of continuous development has come to stay. In any case, one must decide if the current idea of a large and expensive hymnal is the best way to develop the hymnal of the future, or if we should have a more open attitude to Church, tradition, communications technology and questions of how to interpret Christian faith.