Secular Hymnal Series

Client: Personoal

This five-volume series of secular hymnals combines the restorative and therapeutic effects of singing with the meditative potential of song lyrics as a program to reflect on and recover from trauma. By sorting popular music according to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ widely-regarded five stages of grief, a diverse collection of popular music is used to guide users through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and–ultimately–acceptance.

Hymns have traditionally been valued for the way they concentrate broad religious maxims into simplified versions suitable for quick daytime prayer sessions. Sounds a bit like a pop song, doesn’t it? Anyone who has listened to a song to get over a broken heart, calm down, or cheer up, understands the role music can play in mental and emotional recovery. In this spirit, the format of the hymnal has been adapted to serve our contemporary world.

Each selection includes a suggested singing style (e.g. “Annie Clark sings Rattlesnake with reckless bite”), a short introduction relating the song to its categorization within Kübler-Ross’ system, a notated chorus and complete lyric transcription. The songs within each volume may be repeated or reorganized according to the users’ needs.

Prompts to fold the book and its pages (indicated by dotted lines) are included throughout each volume: these folds can be used to mark progress, identify important sections, or anything else the user desires. When a user feels ready to move on to the next volume, they are encouraged to dispose of the completed hymnal via printed instructions to fold, float, and burn its pages.