Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hymns for Trinity 9

As part of my Sacred Music class at Cranmer the class was required to select hymns (and explain the selection) for a Sunday communion service, weekday morning and evening prayer, and for a special service (in my case, ordination of a priest).

My assigned Sunday was Trinity 9 (next Sunday). Since it seems germane to the theme of this blog, below is my assignment and what I submitted. Ground rules for the assignment:

  1. All hymns should be taken from Hymnal 1940;
  2. For this hymn only one “obscure or unfamiliar” hymn was allowed. Since the seminary is headquartered at the Church of the Holy Communion in Dallas, the hymns regularly used at CHC were used by the class to define “familiar” hymns.

9th Sunday after Trinity (Holy Communion)

Readings:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, which emphasizes the unity of believers while calling out human sins of the Old Testament that displeased God
  • Luke 15:11-32, The Prodigal Son

There are not obvious hymns about the Prodigal Son in Hymnal 1940, and so all the hymns chosen for this week are tied to the Epistle.

These hymns touch on three aspects of the first lesson: Conformity to God’s Will, Church Unity and Brotherhood. Each of these is a topic listed in the Topical Index of The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America 1940 (hereafter Hymnal 1940). The first topic relates to our union with God — sometimes called vertical communion — while the latter two both relate to our union with other Christians, otherwise known as horizontal communion. All of the hymns selected for this Sunday fit one of these two themes.

Processional: 535, “Rise up, O men of God” [1]

In the Hymnal 1940 Topical Index, the topic “Brotherhood” (page 800) lists 17 hymns. One of these is “Rise up, O men of God”, written in 1911 by William Person Merrill, an American Presbyterian minister, for the Presbyterian brotherhood movement.[2]

This brief hymn — four verses of Short Metre (6.6.8.6) — touches on both types of communion and unity. On the one hand, a part of each verse emphasizes unity with fellow Christians, as with verse 2 (“Bring in the day of brotherhood”) and verse 4 (“As brothers of the Son of man, Rise up, O men of God.”) At the same time, the brief hymn emphasizes obedience to God, as in verse 1 (“Give heart, and soul, and mind, and strength to serve the King of kings”), in contrast to the disobedience and sin that Paul laments in 1 Cor. 10:6-10.

It is relatively singable: except for the first phrase, the melody has simple voice leading, and the first four notes are in unison. It also has simple meter, with 20 of the 26 syllables on a quarter note (the remainder split between paired eighth notes and dotted half notes). According to Hymnary.org, it appears in more than 200 hymnals — known to multiple denominations, but not among the most popular. It did appear in all three Episcopalian hymnals of the 20th century: Hymnal 1916, Hymnal 1940 and (in inclusive language form) Hymnal 1982, and is familiar at the Church of the Holy Communion (hereafter CHC) in Dallas.

Gradual: 465, “Nearer, my God to thee”

In the Topical Index, nine hymns are listed under “Conformity to God.” The most familiar would appear to be “Nearer, my God to thee” (#465). According to Hymnary.org, the hymn has been published in more than 2,000 hymnals. The hymn was originally written in 1840, based on the Old Testament dream of Jacob, in which God renews his covenant with the children of Abraham and Jacob vows to tithe all that he has to God.

All five verses emphasize how Jacob will get nearer to God through obedience and worship to God. In other words, Jacob is the model of Old Testament obedience to the Law sought by Paul, rather than the disobedience that he specifically chastises.

Sermon: 536, “Turn back O man”

In the rare week when the focus of the sermon is known before the bulletin is printed, I would choose a hymn that ties directly to that focus. Otherwise, my preference for something that is reflective, to help each parishioner think about his or her role as a Christian and prepare his/her heart to hear the message being preached.

Among the 17 hymns listed in the “Brotherhood” Topical Index in the Hymnal 1940, the most familiar to me is “Turn back O man” (#536). The hymn begins on a reflective note, opening with a call for us to think about and repudiate our “foolish ways”. It builds up to a call for church unity with its final verse:

Earth shall be fair, and all her people one:
Nor till that hour shall God’s whole will be done.
Now, even now, once more from earth to sky
Peals forth in joy man’s old, undaunted cry.
Earth shall be fair, and all her people one.

The voice leading of the melody is simple. It is a relatively recent text, written in 1916 for a tune and arrangement by Gustav Holst (based on an earlier tune from the 16th century Genevan Psalter). It appears in two Church of England hymnals edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams — Songs of Praise (1925) and Songs of Praise Enlarged Edition (1931). However, according to Hymnary.org, it appears in only 56 hymnals — a relatively small number — and so I would have to assume that it would be unfamiliar to Americans not raised on Hymnal 1940.

Recessional: 396, “The Church’s one foundation”

A key theme of the first lesson is Paul exhorting the faithful in Corinth to be united in their love of and obedience to Christ. In the Topical Index on page 801, Hymnal 1940 lists six hymns for “Church Unity.” Hymn 396, “The Church’s one foundation”, discusses both the horizontal communion between the members of the Church, and the vertical communion of the Bride of Christ (i.e. the Church) to Christ. This latter role of the Church is emphasized throughout the hymn through the use of the female pronoun to refer to the Church, as in the second verse:

Elect from every nation, Yet one o’er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses, Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses, With every grace endued.

The third phase of this verse recalls 1 Cor. 10:3 in the first lesson: “all ate the same spiritual food” (ESV, New KJV) or “did all eat the same spiritual meat” (KJV).

The hymn is both familiar and has a singable tune with simple voice leading and straightforward harmony. It should also be known to most English-speaking Protestants and Catholics, appearing on a list of 150 ecumenical hymns compiled by the Consultation on Ecumenical Hymnody.[3] According to Hymnary.org, it appears in more than 700 hymnals, and it is a familiar hymn at the CHC.

Footnotes

  1. Normally I would consider this as a recessional hymn, but that could be risky in some parishes where the Hymnal 1940 text would be considered sexist and have people leave church with an un-Christian attitude. If I had a newer text, e.g. “Rise up ye saints of God” (#551) in Hymnal 1982, then I would probably use it at the end. Otherwise, I am counting on people to forget any imagined slight over the next hour of the service.
  2. Except as noted, all historical and biographical details about hymns and hymnwriters is taken from The Hymnal 1940 Companion, 3rd rev. ed., New York: The Church Pension Fund, 1956.
  3. This list of 150 ecumenical hymns is reported by Gary D. Penkala, “Core Hymnody,” CanticaNOVA Publications, URL: http://www.canticanova.com/articles/hymns/art241.htm

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Come, let us sing!

Today is the first day of Forward in Faith North America’s annual conference. The 2017 Assembly is being held 13 miles from DFW in the Texas Metroplex, in the Diocese of Ft. Worth.

We kicked off the Assembly with a sung evensong, with a 17-voice choir formed by the local music director and volunteers from St. Vincent’s Cathedral and St. Mark’s Anglican in Arlington. Their obvious talent aside, it was great to hear a medium-sized choir, which sounds so much more full and than the 4- to 10-voice choirs I’ve mainly heard the last 15 years. (One small gripe: like most volunteer choirs, there weren’t enough men’s voices with only 5 of the 17).

The service was a 1928 BCP Evening Prayer, although the text was obviously unfamiliar to many of those present. (One tip-off: saying “Holy Spirit” instead of “Holy Ghost.”) The music was picked with taste from the English repertoire, included chants and anthems by John Stainer, John Goss, Alec Rowley, and C.H.H. Parry.

However, as a member of the congregation (rather than in the choir or an organizer), I (re)learned a valuable lesson. There was literally no music to sing — unless you count the monotone chant of the creed and the Lord’s Prayer. As you might expect for a conference of Anglo-Catholic clergy (including five bishops and one bishop-elect), there was a lot of music talent in the pews — and some of us sang along anyway (particularly on the psalm, where it was practical enough to learn as we went.)

So there were at least two key lessons:
  • For most churches and most occasions, more music should be sung by the congregation than by the choir alone. That often means two really great and elaborate anthems, and then three hymns plus service music where the congregation can sing along.
  • If the congregation is asked (or expects) to sing along, don’t trick them. For example, if we sign “Amen” after the officiant for three prayers, either make the Amens all the same or write out the music.
And this points to a final lesson. Over the past few years, I learned a lot about take-for-grantedness by visiting a wide range of churches before choosing my current church, and I’ve also tried to visit unfamiliar churches while traveling. The clergy, music director and choir need to get out more so they have empathy for how those in the pews experience the liturgy.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Picking a tune for Whittier’s greatest hit

This morning’s bulletin included a copy of “Dear Lord and Father of mankind,” which meant it wasn’t in the hymnal — but it was. So this warranted further investigation.

When I got home, I checked my six 20th century Anglican hymnals — it’s in all of them, but with different tunes. All seem to use the same five verses — dropping the 4th verse of Whittier’s original 6 — and it appears to have escaped bowdlerization in the later hymnals (perhaps because the only offensive word, “mankind”, appears in the first phrase). However, there are five different tunes.

In chronological order:
  • The English Hymnal (1906): #383, Hammersmith
  • Hymnal 1916: #120, 1) Newcastle; and 2) Rest
  • Songs of Praise, Enlarged Edition (1931): #481, 1) Repton; 2) Nicolaus (Lobt Gott)
  • Hymnal 1940: #435, 1) Hermann (same as Nicolaus); 2) Rest
  • Hymnal 1982: #652, Rest; #653, Repton
  • New English Hymnal (1986): #353, Repton

Text

The 1872 text is by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), the American poet whose work I had heard of as a kid but (it appears) I never read any of it. His name is more familiar because it was attached to a street near my elementary school (and high school), a town (where Richard Nixon grew up) and a college. The Cyber Hymnal reports that this abolitionist was known as “America’s ‘Quaker Poet’,” that he authored nearly 100 hymns and perhaps 20 are still found in hymnals. Of these texts, “Dear Lord” is the only one I recognize.

Here are the five verses, in the form that (according to Hymnal 1940 Companion) it was first adapted in 1905:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!

Usage

The hymn is listed as a general hymn except in 1916, when it’s called out for Septuagesima. The Liturgical Index of Hymnal 1940 lists it for morning prayer at Trinity VII MP, and evening prayer on Lent III and St. Matthias. In the Lectionary hymn choices by Rev. Richard R. Losch on DrShirley.org, it is recommended for
  • Epiphany 3A/St. Andrew: Matthew 4:12-23
  • Epiphany 3B: Mark 1:14-20
  • Epiphany 5C: Luke 5:1-11
  • Last Epiphany B/Proper 8C: I Kings 19: 9-21
  • Proper 7B: Mark 4:35-5:20
  • Proper 14C: Hebrew 11:1-16

Tunes

These are the five tunes across the six hymnals:
  • Hammersmith, by William Henry Gladstone, M.P. (1840-1891), eldest son of the famous British prime minister.
  • Newcastle, written in 1875, it is the only surviving hymn of English organist Henry L. Morley (c. 1834).
  • Nicholaus, written in 1554 by Nicholaus Hermann (c.1500-1561), the early Lutheran hymnwriter; the tune was arranged and harmonized by J.S.  Bach (apparently for his BWV 151 cantata).
  • Hermann, the same tune, but harmonized by Winifred Douglas for his Hymnal 1940.
  • Repton, written in 1888 by Sir C. Hubert H. Parry (1848-1918), second director of the Royal College of Music who is buried in the Chapel of the OBE at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The New English Hymnal says it was “from a song in his oratorio Judith.
  • Rest, by English organist Federick Maker (1844-1927), written in 1887 specifically for this text.
All except the Parry have four part harmonies. If the hymnal choices reflect broader congregational popularity, today the choice seems to be between Rest and Ripton.

Rest is the one we sang as a kid, is familiar to an Episcopalian of the past century, and has four part harmonies; however, cradle Episcopalians are no longer the core audience for Anglican churches. Ripton has only a melody — the Parry harmonization is for organ and not voices — but is the one that’s on all the recordings (by English choirs, naturally).

Because the range is better for lower voices, I vote for Rest. Our music director (an Anglophile) votes for Ripton because, well, it’s Parry; my teenage daughter also votes for it, because it’s the one she’s learned on YouTube.

I get the argument about Parry, but musically I don’t give Parry, Stainer, Stanford or even Elgar the same deference as Purcell or Tallis. (I would put Holst and Vaughan Williams in the latter category). So here it seems like a matter of taste or congregation familiarity. But in the long run, if Americans don’t record their tunes they’ll be forgotten by future generations.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Luke, John and Zechariah

June 24 is the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, in the Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic calendars of saints’ days. Because the Annunciation takes place when Elizabeth’s pregnancy is six months along, the Western church traditionally dates John’s birth six months before Jesus.

This week, Issues Etc. reran an hour-long show on this feast day — a 2016 interview with Pastor David Peterson, an LCMS pastor from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Although the Anglican and Lutheran liturgies are different, most of the points are applicable to Anglican liturgy as well.

There are many elements of the life of John — and Jesus — that are only told in the first two chapters of Luke. This includes three key canticles of the traditional liturgy: the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Benedictus (1:68-79) and Nunc Dimittis (2:29-32) — respectively the songs of Mary, Zechariah and Simeon.

The Benedictus, of course, is what Zechariah says at the ceremony that names (and circumcises) John. While the 1549 BCP is derived from the Coverdale (and Tyndale) translations, the same similarities can be seen in more modern spelling in the 1662 and KJV
Benedictus (BCP 1662) Luke 1:68-79 (KJV)
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And he hath raised up a mighty salvation for us: in the house of his servant David;
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy Prophets: which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies: and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fore-fathers: and to remember his holy covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham: that he would give us;
That we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies: might serve him without fear;
In holiness and righteousness before him: all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people: for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God: whereby the Day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now: and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
As the the New Advent encyclopedia states
The whole canticle naturally falls into two parts. The first (verses 68-75) is a song of thanksgiving for the realization of the Messianic hopes of the Jewish nation; but to such realization is given a characteristically Christian tone. As of old, in the family of David, there was power to defend the nation against their enemies, now again that of which they had been so long deprived, and for which they had been yearning, was to be restored to them, but in a higher and spiritual sense. …

The second part of the canticle is an address by Zachary to his own son, who was to take so important a part in the scheme of the Redemption; for he was to be a prophet, and to preach the remission of sins before the coming or the Orient, or Dawn, from on high.
According to the New Advent encyclopedia, it was Benedict who added this canticle to the morning office (lauds) in the 6th century. In Cranmer’s original 1549 BCP, the Benedictus was the only canticle available after the second lesson of Matins. The 1552 BCP — Cranmer’s final prayer book before his execution— gives a choice of the Benedictus or the Jubilate Deo (from Psalm 100); this pattern continues into the 1559 and 1662 BCP, as well as the US prayer books from 1789 to 1928. (The 1979 prayer book, as is its wont, gives a choice of 21 canticles after either reading).

As a choirboy (prior to H82 and the 1979 prayer book), we sang morning prayer every other Sunday, and the words of the Jubilate Deo are etched in my brain; for the Jubilate Tune 645, the F-major chant by William Russell (1777-1813) seems the most familiar. It’s rare nowadays that I see a sung morning prayer, but if I were to pick a sung Benedictus, it would be #634, the G major chant by James Turle (1802-1882).

The podcast made one additional point. Zechariah (like his wife) is from the priestly line of Aaron. When Zechariah meets Gabriel in the temple, he lost his ability to speak for doubting the angel. According to Pastor Peterson, this means that he cannot finish the service, which would have concluded with the Benediction of Aaron (which is also called the Priestly Blessing) from Numbers 6:24-27:
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.
As Pr. Peterson reminded me — from my Missouri Synod days — this benediction is the closing prayer of the LCMS Holy Communion service. A quick check of my bookcase shows this benediction closes the Divine Service both in the 1941 and 2006 LCMS hymnals, as well as the 1978 LCA hymnal. In American Anglican liturgy, this benediction can be found in the Rite I Evening Prayer in the 1979 prayer book — but it is dropped in the ACNA draft liturgy (which most often follows Rite II in form and wording).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Farewell, Oremus

At a sacred music class last month, we compared notes about favorite websites for Anglican church music. I think Oremus was at the top of the list.

Alas, that was past tense. For a term paper (for this class), I went to Oremus to look up hymns from my favorite hymnal, and found this sad notice:
Started in 1997, the Oremus Hymnal is no more as May 30, 2017 due to copyright concerns. As I do not have the time or interest to update hundreds of webpages, I have taken the long overdue step of closing down this site. I am sorry that the material here will no longer be available here, but in the over two decades since starting this project, many other, excellent sites have become available. Google Books also has hundreds of historical hymnals available to browse for free.

If you need further help finding hymns, I suggest you go to Hymnary.org, which contains many more texts and audio files than I could ever hope to produce on my own.

Due to many requests, I have put the hymn suggestions for the lectionary back up. None of the links work, but they do list the first lines.
Lectionary Year A
Lectionary Year B
Lectionary Year C
This site was created by Steve Benner and was last modified on May 30, 2017.
On the one hand, I can sympathize with Steve, having created a much simpler website (on a different topic) the same year. Rather than a single guy, Hymnary.org has behind it the resources of Calvin College and its Calvin Instiute of Christian Worship.

From a legal standpoint, it should have been possible to include U.S. hymnals prior to 1923. British copyright law seems to provide 50 years after the death of the author (which means The English Hymnal and other Vaughan Williams has been available almost a decade). But again, I still understand why it wasn’t worth separating the wheat from the chaff.

There is one other reason I go to Oremus: the Liturgical Psalter, a little-known (but beautiful) translation whose licensing rights reverted to the authors in 2001. It's almost as poetic as the Coverdale psalter (found in most prayer books of the past 400 years), and a lot easier to understand.

Still, the index of dozens of Anglican hymnals at Oremus will be missed. I’m not sure if Hymnary can fully replace it, but that's a question for another time.