I consulted two seminal hymnals (The English Hymnal from 1906 and Hymnal 1940) and one modernist hymnal (Hymnal 1982). The latter was because I was giving advice to someone who uses that hymnal, not because my opinion of it has changed, but it does provide a proxy for what hymns were in common use in PECUSA in the late 1970s. I wish I could have also consulted Hymns Ancient & Modern (1861) — as well as some of my Lutheran hymnals — but ran out of time.
Exactly seven Advent hymns show up in all three hymnals with the same tune. Two of these hymns I’ve previously written about:
- “Creator of the stars of night,” tune: Conditor alme Siderum. TEH: 1, H40: 6 Tune 1; H82: 60
- “Hark the glad sound! the Savior comes,” tune: Bristol. TEH: 6T1; H40: 7; H82: 71
- “Hark, a thrilling voice is sounding,” tune: Merton. TEH: 5; H40: 9; H82: 59.
- “Lo, he comes with clouds descending,” tune: Helmsley. TEH: 7; H40: 5T2; H82: 57. The Americans also have St. Thomas (H40: 5T1; H82: 58), which seems equally good but is somewhat easier to sing.
- “O come, O come Emmanuel,” tune: Veni Emmanuel. TEH: 8; H40: 2; H82: 56.
- “On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry,” tune: Winchester New. TEH: 9; H40: 10; H82: 76.
- “Wake, awake, for night is flying,” tune: Sleepers, Wake. TEH: 12; H40: 3; H82: 61,62. (Note: This is the subject of a 11/23/2009 podcast at Issues Etc.)
- “Thy kingdom come! On bended knee” appears in all three hymnals but not with the same tune. H40 (#391) and H82 (#615) use St. Flavian while TEH (and its 1986 successor the New English Hymnal) list Irish; the TEH (#504) alternately recommends St. Stephen. This is indexed as a general hymn, but listed by both TEH and H40 as a hymn “also” used for Advent.
- “Come, thou long-expected Jesus,” tune: Stuttgart, justifiably the first hymn in my favorite hymnal (H40: 1; H82: 66). I find the words by Charles Wesley to be perfect for signaling the beginning of Advent.
- “The King shall come when morning dawns,” tune: St. Stephen, H40: 11; H82: 73.
- “Christ whose glory fills the skies,” tune: Ratisbon, H40: 153; H82: 7. (H82 inflicts a new tune Christ Whose Glory as hymn #36). This is another H40 “also” Advent hymn, also with words by Wesley.
Finally, a 12th hymn is not listed as “Advent” but is recommended by H40 for Advent III and matches the H82 (Year C) reading for Advent II.
- “Love divine, all loves excelling,” tune: Hyfrydol, H40: 479T1; H82: 657. TEH and NEH print Charles Wesley’s words with other tunes, but I can’t imagine why anyone would ever sing anything but Rowland Prichard’s greatest hit.
Today at church we did two of the holy dozen: “Lo, he comes with clouds descending” and “Come thou long-expected Jesus.” I’m hoping that we’ll sing most of the remainder before Advent is over.