Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anglo-Lutheran worship

For the first time since they processed away from their building, today I attended Holy Trinity (ACNA) in San Diego, which now worships at the LCMS parish next door to their longtime sanctuary.

As it happens, it was also the observance of feast of Pentecost, so I was able to witness their high feast worship style. It was nothing but “bells and smells” (as my choir buddies used to call it) with full incense at the most Anglo-Catholic of the Schism II parishes in San Diego. I estimate about 75 people were in the sanctuary for the 8 a.m. service.

The choice of the opening and closing hymns were about as Anglican as you can get — both with Vaughan Williams tunes from The English Hymnal: “Hail thee festival day!” (Pentecost edition) and “Come down, O love divine.”

However, the “Hail thee” was rendered in an unusual format by the Lutheran hymnals that Holy Trinity is using while temporarily meeting at Bethany Lutheran in OB. One unusual quirk is that the Lutherans decided that RVW only gets one hymn for three feast days — Easter, Ascension and Pentecost — with 3 variants specified for the chorus, verse 1 and verse 2. Without having the hymnal in front of me, it was impossible to say what damage this did to the CoE conception of the hymn.

The other change was more obvious. Instead of the PECUSA (1940, 1982):
Hail thee, festival day! blest day that are hallowed for ever;
Day whereon God from heav’n shone in† the world with his grace.
the Lutheran Book of Worship (and also the other Bethany parish hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book) render the refrain as
Hail thee, festival day! blest day to be hallowed forever;
Day when the Holy Ghost shone in the world with his grace.
(† The English Hymnal (#630) says “shown on the world” but the refrain is otherwise the same.)

The translation of the Fortunatus was attributed to the LBW, a ELCA hymnal that was rejected by the LCMS due to doctrinal errors. But the LSB translation is no better.

As far as I could tell, the other RVW hymn was divine (with words similar to those of H40 #376).

In the middle, Holy Trinity sang as its second communion hymn “O Lord, we praise you” which was unfamiliar to these Anglican ears but with a pedigree about as Lutheran as they get: verse 1 from 15th century Germany, verses 2-3 from 16th century Martin Luther hymself, and a 1524 tune from a German hymnbook.

So in the end, this was an English-American-Lutheran blended worship service — a bit unfamiliar but better than a rock band playing 19th century hymns.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

PECUSA hymnals: first 130 years

In reading about the American prayer book, I found interesting snippets of history regarding the PECUSA hymnals of the 19th and early 20th century. The source was William Sydnor, The Real Prayer Book: 1954 to the Present (1978).

The end of Chapter VII (on the 1892 BCP) and beginning of Chapter VIII (on the 1928) summarize American hymnals up to that date. (No mention is made of Hymnal 1940.) According to the book, the American church distributed hymns as follows:
  • 1786: 51 hymns, 8 pages of tunes, appended to end of proposed prayer book
  • 1789: 27 hymns (no tunes) as an appendix
  • 1826: 212 hymns (no tunes) appended to the prayer book
  • 1828: tune book published by Rev. Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright
  • 1871: 502 hymns in first stand-alone hymnal
  • 1896: 679 hymns
  • 1916: 559 hymns, adding 126 and dropping 200. Sydnor favorable quotes a contemporaneous account that praises Hymnal 1916 as “a visible demonstration of the liberality of the [General] Convention to new devotional demands.”
Of course, regular readers know that PECUSA has since published two main hymnals, Hymnal 1940 and Hymnal 1982.

It turns out that this history came from the preface to the Hymnal 1940 Companion, a must have book for any Anglican musician. (By now I would also own the companion to Hymnal 1982, except that it’s multiple books totaling hundreds of dollars, which I am acquiring as I can find them available used.)

Although it’s the only book I’ve found about the history of the American prayer book, I can’t say I care for the book overall. It was written as an apologia for the 1979 prayer book and in the sort of temporo-centrist conceit common to that century, claims that the vast transformation of industrial society justifies new approaches to worship and theology. As with Oremus, it also justifies modernist revisionism with the claim “things were always changing anyway.”

Actually the Brits managed just fine with one prayer book for 300 years. The late Peter Toon argued that if you changed the thees and thous, it would make a fine prayer book for 21st century Americans.