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Sales of new UU Spanish hymnal halted

‘Serious errors’ found in new publication.
By Jane Greer
8.24.09

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Las Voces del Camino

Las Voces del Camino, the new UU Spanish- language hymnal.

Sales and distribution of Las Voces del Camino (Voices on the Journey), a new Unitarian Universalist hymnal in Spanish, have been halted according to an August 18 email announcement from UUA President Peter Morales. Morales said that the book, created as an accompaniment to the UU hymnal Singing the Living Tradition, contained “a large number of serious errors.” He promised that the creation of a new edition would be “a top priority.”

The new hymnal was published July 15. In mid-August a member of the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, Calif., which had been a driving force behind the creation of the hymnal, notified Morales and others via email that the book had serious flaws. The prime complaint was about a large number of errors in Spanish. “These mistakes are not the sort of minor errata that can wait to be corrected in a new edition,” Morales said in his email announcement. “It is with deep sadness that I have determined that we must stop sale and distribution of Las Voces del Camino.”

One thousand copies of the hymnal were printed and 459 have been sold, according to Patricia Frevert, the UUA’s director of publishing. The hymnal was sold through the UUA Bookstore, which will give customers who bought the defective hymnal a copy of the new edition free of charge.

The hymnal was based on a collection of Spanish songs and translations of English-language hymns from Singing the Living Tradition put together by First Unitarian in San Jose, which has been offering services in Spanish for many years. A member of the San Jose congregation proposed in 2003 that the UUA publish the collection. The project was adopted later that year by a group including members of a task force that had been formed earlier to create Singing the Journey, the supplement to the hymnal Singing the Living Tradition. Money for the project, however, did not become available until 2007. Ken Herman, a task force member and music director of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Diego, was named the Spanish hymnal’s general editor. The book was to be a joint production between the UUA and the UU Musicians Network.

The UUA publishes hymnals, the annual directory (which will be published online only starting with the 2010 edition), and pamphlets under its own imprint. It also publishes books with Unitarian Universalist theological and inspirational content under the Skinner House imprint. Beacon Press is a part of the UUA but is an independent publisher of socially relevant fiction and non-fiction.

Las Voces del Camino contains 75 songs, half of which are translations of songs from Singing the Living Tradition, and half of which are selected from Spanish-speaking cultures.

Funding for the new hymnal came from several sources including capital campaign funds identified for diversity projects, according to Deborah Weiner, director of the UUA’s Office of Electronic Communication and former UUA liaison to the Musicians Network. The project also received a grant from the UU Funding Panel.

Morales promised that a review of the process leading to the flawed hymnal would be conducted. “We will learn from this mistake,” he wrote. “We will publish a corrected version of which we can be proud.”


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