Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Let us be merry, our saviour is borne

Writing on the Catholic blog First Things, Matthew Schmitz remarks on why in English we say Merry (and not Happy) Christmas:
Christmas is conspicuously the only time of year when the word “merry” receives heavy use. The greeting “Merry Christmas” dates back to at least 1565, in which year the author of the Hereford Municipal Manuscript wrote “And thus I comytt you to god, who send you a merry Christmas & many.” Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, pushed it forward, as did industrialization: The first commercially sold Christmas card (also printed in 1843) contained the salutation “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

Queen Elizabeth, a woman of serious low-church piety, is said to prefer “happy” to “merry” because she dislikes “merry’s” connotation of boisterousness, even slight intoxication. …

This moral suspicion of “Merry Christmas” dates back to the Methodist churchmen of the Victorian era who sought to promote sobriety among the English working class. Merrymaking of the ancient, alcoholic sort was frowned on year-round, perhaps never more so than during the celebration of the Savior’s birth. …

We may no longer associate “merry” with spirits alcoholic as well as high, but the meaning was once familiar. “Merry” appeared in both the Wyclife and King James bibles in reference to intoxication, where it describes an evening in the life of the rich man Nabal: “He held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken.” (To wish someone a holiday feast like Nabal’s was to wish him a very good Christmas indeed.)
This of course brings us back to the central tension ever since the creation of the Church of England — between the Reformed (low church, Puritan, Methodist) and Anglo-Catholic (high church, Oxford Movement, Catholic without the Pope) branches of the CoE and Anglicanism.

Meanwhile, the meaning of “Merry” brought to mind the refrain of an English folk carol
A Virgin unspotted the Prophet foretold,
Should bring forth a Saviour which now we behold,
To be our Redeemer from Death, Hell and Sin,
Which Adam's transgression involved us in.

Then let us be merry,
Cast sorrow away.
Our Saviour Christ Jesus
Is born on this day.
The words officially date to a 1750 text, and although there are many tunes, the one I know is Judea by William Billings (1746-1800).

Wikisource calls it “an English Marian folk carol of medieval origin.” Although not the most reliable of sources, the text is undeniably Mary-centric and with Billing’s tune has an Elizabethan (i.e. 16th century) feel to it.

So if savouring the news of our Saviour is catholic, high church or Marian, I’m all for it.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Church marketing in the 21st century

As part of my efforts to help my church improve its WWW presence, I went looking at what some other parishes in our diocese do. (A bit off-topic for this blog, but hopefully of interest to readers).

Looking at the content of pages I found some obvious suspects — Drupal, WordPress, even LightCMS. And then I found a company, Clover, that has its own content management system and specializes in church websites, and a couple of competitors who bought Google AdWords for anyone interested in that company.

Here is how they compare:
The first two have very fair, all-inclusive pricing. I even found an article in ChurchMag (and a follow up) comparing Clover and Bridge Element. Alas, the review lists both as "Flash-based" — so 2000s and by now obsolete in this world of iPhones and other portable devices.

Interesting, in doing another google search, FaithConnector bought another ad that says: “Flash no longer on mobile devices? No problem for us. We're HTML5.” That's convincing for me, but not enough to pay twice as much every month.

Another google search brought two more candidates
  • ekklesia360.com, $995 up front, $45+/month, but then they nickel and dime you for other features (such as "mobile site"). However, it seems to include other features like an integrated email newsletter and event management modules which seem like they would be important for many churches.
  • iministries.org, $700 up front, $39+/month
It sees like the tools have come a long way since I set my (ECUSA) church's first website in 1998. I've also learned a lot about websites in the past decade, so I would look for
  • easy content update: this is essential, as websites are run by volunteers (or even the rector) with limited amounts of time
  • non-technical interface: this is probably the only website this volunteer does, unlike an ISP or company where the maintainer can come up to speed on Drupal, Joomla, Plone
  • easy changes to layout: some CMS seem to force you to have a particular layout, but maybe you need to tweak your layout to put a larger sidebar logo or header picture
  • automatic publishing/rolloff: I don't know how many times I’ve looked at a site in January that still lists the Christmas service times — because taking down the old content is not the most important thing we have to do on Dec. 26.
  • automatic support for mobile devices — which don’t have a mouse for navigating complex menus, may have a small screen (as small as 320x480) and certainly don’t want to mess with flash (even if it’s installed)
  • good hosting and support options
I think the latter is the strength and weakness of these dedicated church hosting companies. The strength is that they do everything; the weakness is that you can’t migrate your hosting to another ISP. But frankly, the latter seems unlikely — instead, you're just going to create a new site from scratch, as every organization seems to do every 3-6 years.

Presumably most of these will do Google Analytics or similar for website tracking. Some probably integrate directly (as do WordPress or Joomla) while for others you need to be able to add HTML to the header or template.

One key question is whether the website includes things like email marketing, or whether the parish wants to integrate with a separate church management system — e.g. to do an email blast to all the members. I imagine this decision will be made already by most parishes, but I suppose (as at our current church) there are churches where the existing tools are weak and ready to be replaced.

I also need to investigate integration with social media: Facebook, Twitter, RSS — and perhaps LinkedIn or Google+. I tried to search the respective websites, but only one of the companies seemed to provide such integration — ekklesia360.com — although Clover seems to provide an RSS feed for many of their hosted sites. Since Facebook killed direct RSS feeds, I’ll have to explore some of the other options to see how this works.

I am guessing that where we’ll end up is have a committee make a list of requirements, sift through the various generic and church-specific packages and then take one out for a test spin. (Possibly including setting up a fake church page to prove that it will feed correctly).

Monday, August 13, 2012

60s greatest hit

A music director or priest has to make many liturgical decisions every week: sometimes their choices are inexplicable, sometimes they miss a great opportunity, and sometimes the lectionary and hymn guides make it nearly impossible to get it wrong.

Yet other times, everything comes together as if the Kapellmeister of Leipzig, JS Bach himself, had planned it out. That’s what happened Sunday when we attended a “blended” service at a Hymnal 1982 ACNA parish.

The readings didn’t follow the RCL assignment for Year B Proper 19 nor that in the 1979 “prayer book”. The first reading, Deuteronomy 8:1-10, described manna from heaven. The last reading, the Gospel, made explicit the linkage between the Hebrews in the Sinai and Holy Communion:
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

43 Jesus answered them, …
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—
46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.
48 I am the bread of life.
49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:37-51)
For communion, after an Amy Grant CCM song, the bulletin provided the words for Hymn #335 from Hymnal 1982:
I am the bread of life; they who come to me shall not hunger; they who believe in me shall not thirst. No one can come to me unless the Father draw them.

Refrain: And I will raise them up, and I will raise them up, and I will raise them up on the last day.

The bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world; and they who eat of this bread, they shall live forever, they shall live forever. Refrain.

I am the resurrection, I am the life. They who believe in me, even if they die, they shall live forever. Refrain.

Yes, Lord we believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who has come into the world. Refrain.
Unfamiliar with the tune, my eldest asked if this was from Hymnal 1982. She recognized that if I could sing the harmony of the refrain from memory, that it held a special place in my heart. (She also asked if “Amazing Grace” was in H40, thus recognizing the only other significant improvement provided by H82 over H40).

As I wrote three years ago:
[W]ithin Hymnal 1982 are a few new hymns that I am convinced will survive to the 22nd century, including my all-time favorite, the 1966 “I Am the Bread of Life” by Sister Suzanne Toolan.
Toolan’s text works as a direct restatement of John’s gospel — a linkage I never heard before this week. (It appears that H82 uses a PC “inclusive” version of the text, but I don’t have access to the original online.)

But, sappy as it is, her music also seems to work in a timeless way. The verses (where the congregation usually has more trouble singing) have a very simple voice leading, even if the melisma is not very intuitive and inconsistent between verses. The refrain has a more dramatic leading, but after five verses, just about anyone could learn it. And — my own particular joy — the bass part is very easy, with V-I-V-I' at the root of the chord progression in the first phrase, and nearly as simple for the remainder of the refrain. Hence my ability to sing the refrain — from memory — as we waited and walked up to the communion rail.

I have not read Toolan’s story, so I don’t know how long it took her to write and compose this hymn. Still, after suffering through the fingernails on chalkboard of so many Celebration and other CCM hymns of the past 40 years, the inspiration of this one success suggests that it might be possible to compose my own text (or tune) someday.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dial H for Pentecost

Today we celebrated Pentecost at a Hymnal 1982 ACNA parish. This prompted me to contrast Hymnal 1982 and Hymnal 1940 in how they handle Pentecost.

The most obvious difference is that in 1940, the feast was called Whitsunday. As the 1912 New Catholic Encyclopedia writes:
Pentecost (Whitsunday)

A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the "feast of weeks" or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10). Whitsunday is so called from the white garments which were worn by those who were baptised during the vigil; Pentecost ("Pfingsten" in German), is the Greek for "the fiftieth" (day after Easter).

Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century, although there is no evidence that it was observed, as there is in the case of Easter; …

That Whitsunday belongs to the Apostolic times is stated in the seventh of the (interpolated) fragments attributed to St. Irenæus. In Tertullian (On Baptism 19) the festival appears as already well established. The Gallic pilgrim gives a detailed account of the solemn manner in which it was observed at Jerusalem ("Peregrin. Silviæ", ed. Geyer, iv). The Apostolic Constitutions (Book V, Part 20) say that Pentecost lasts one week, but in the West it was not kept with an octave until at quite a late date. It appears from Berno of Reichenau (d. 1048) that it was a debatable point in his time whether Whitsunday ought to have an octave. At present it is of equal rank with Easter Sunday.
The two have a surprisingly similar approach. Hymnal 1940 lists 5 Whitsunday hymns (#107-111) and Hymnal 1982 lists 8 Pentecost hymns (#223-230). This morning, we opened with the most memorable hymn on either list: Salve Festa Dies (H40: #107, H82: #225), i.e. the Pentecost variant of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ second greatest hit (after his Nov. 1 classic).

What’s interesting in both hymnals is that the real hymnody comes from the list of hymns about the Holy Spirit (née Holy Ghost). For H40, it’s under “also the following” (13 hymns total) while H82 it’s under a section formally titled “Holy Spirit” (#500-516). Many of the great hymns fall under this category, include “Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove” (H40: #369; H82: #510) that we sang today.

One we didn’t sing was “Come down, O Love divine” (H40: #376, H82: #516), but with the 15th century lyric and the wonderful Vaughan Williams tune Down Ampney, we really should have. (After I wrote this posting, I noticed that bjs of Chantblog posted today a tribute to this, “the best hymn ever written.” High praise indeed.)

The other hymn I wish we had sung (perhaps at communion) is “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire” (H40: #217, H82: #504) to Veni Creator. However, I understand the decision not to use it, because this Sarum (i.e. medieval Salisbury) chant requires either a good quality choir or an moderately large and experience congregation. I love plainsong but have come to recognize through my wanderings among the Anglican diaspora is that the average parish can’t handle plainsong without considerable practice.

Neither hymnal considers “Take my life, and let it be” (H40: #408; H82: #707) to be a hymn about Pentecost or the Holy Ghost. I disagree, but maybe that’s just how a particular Pentecost sermon struck me two years ago.

Overall, I think that H82 made a good choice to group some (even if not all) of the Holy Ghost hymns into one place — making it easier to find a good Pentecost hymn under “H” if not under “P”.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Principles of Anglo-Catholic worship

From page 2 of the 66-page booklet “The Order for Low Mass and Solemn High Mass,” St. Mary of the Angels:
Worship at St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s is a parish church with her roots set firmly in the Catholic tradition of Anglicanism. Our worship is centered around the Holy Eucharist (the Mass), continuing in the Tradition we have received from the Apostles, to whom the Lord JESU was “known in the Breaking of the Bread.” Our worship is that of traditional Western Catholicism, with a uniquely Anglican flavor. The ancient chant, the medieval vestments and the Elizabeth language may make our worship seems a bit strange to those unfamiliar with it, but these things are not irrelevant or old-fashioned. For 2000 years the solemn ceremonial of the Mass, the veil of incense which fills the church during the liturgy, and the stately cadences of the Book of Common Prayer speak to us (as they have spoken to many generations of our ancestors in the Faith) of the glory and majesty of God. It is to God the Holy Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, that our worship is directed. The purpose of worship is not to entertain or inform us, but to turn “ourselves our souls and bodies” to God. So if the Mass seems a bit strange to you, relax. Sit through it if you’re curious. You may catch a glimpse, even if just for a moment, of heaven.

-- Fr. Gregory Wilcox, rector

This statement by Fr. Wilcox, fourth rector of St. Mary’s (1986-2006), articulates both a general philosophy of Anglo-Catholicism and the particular Catholic-leaning interpretation that predates the Vatican’s 2009 announcement of the Ordinariate and St. Mary’s recent efforts to become Anglican rite Catholics.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A favorite hymn day, but not a favorite hymnal

At the ACNA parish I attended on Palm Sunday, we had a great collection of hymns. The opening hymn was the obligatory processional — “All glory, laud and honor” — that combines a 9th century text and a 17th century Lutheran tune (H40: #62; H82: 154). Since this time we started outside the building, I ended up acting as de facto cantor: all those years as a High Church (PECUSA) choir boy came rushing back.

The second hymn was the other obligatory Palm Sunday hymn “Ride on, Ride on in Majesty.”  The Hymnal 1940 Companion says it was written in the 1820s by Henry Hart Milman, an Oxford poetry professor. As it turns out, on Holy Monday the Issues Etc. (unofficial) LCMS radio show reposted their earlier interview with Pastor Will Weedon on this Passiontide favorite.

On Palm Sunday, we used the tune King’s Majesty — composed for Hymnal 1940 — which is the only tune given in Hymnal 1982 (H82: #156). While it is a wonderful stately tune — suitable for a Cathedral choir — I had forgotten how hard that was to sing: it’s out of my range, the voice leading is difficult, and this year the rest of the congregation clearly didn’t know it well.

Hymnal 1940 (H40: 64) gives an alternate choice, the familiar (and much easier) Winchester New, a 17th century German tune also used for the Advent hymn “On Jordan’s bank.” This is also the tune used with this text in my 1876 edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern. Oremus implies that this is the only tune that Church of England worshipers would know.

H40 also has a third option, St. Drostane, but I’ve never heard that sung. However, it was the first tune for the US Hymnal 1916 (#125), with Winchester New listed as second tune. The Hymnal 1940 Companion says “St. Drostane was composed by John B. Dykes for this hymn in Chope’s Congregational Hymn and Tune Book, 1862,” which implies it is a familiar American but not Anglican tune. (Unfortunately, I don’t have music in any of my 19th century PECUSA hymnals.)

So Hymnal 1982 made life difficult for our small parish by omitting the easier (and more Anglican) of the two melodies. But that’s not the only problem with H82. While singing the hymn, I also noticed their trademarked bowdlerization of the text. Even Oremus (written by a hymnal modernist) lists the original text for the second verse:
The company of angels
are praising thee on high;
and mortal men and all things
created make reply.
This is also the text in Hymns Ancient & Modern. However, that’s not good enough for the PC authors of Hymnal 1982:
The company of angels
is praising thee on high;
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply.
I guess they’re proud of themselves for only changing two phrases, but it’s neither a subtle change nor faithful to the original text:
Coetus in excelcis te laudat caelicus omnis
Et mortalis homo, cuncta creat simul.
Even with my complete lack of formal Latin training, I know that “Et mortalis homo” does not mean “we.”

Sunday, April 15, 2012

No doubt that Thomas is missed

In the RCL, today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31) is the Doubting Thomas passage. From the Authorized Version (verses 24-29):
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
This inspired the absolutely marvelous 15th century text (translated by the great J.M. Neale) of “O sons and daughters, let us sing” (Hymn #99 in my favorite hymnal):
When Thomas first the tidings heard,
how they had seen the risen Lord,
he doubted the disciples' word.

"My piercèd side, O Thomas, see;
my hands, my feet, I show to thee;
not faithless but believing be."

No longer Thomas then denied;
he saw the feet, the hands, the side;
"Thou art my Lord and God," he cried.

How blest are they who have not seen,
and yet whose faith has constant been;
for they eternal life shall win.
From decades of Episcopal singing, this are the only verses in the hymnal that I recall speaking to St. Thomas. Hymnal 1940 recommends using these verses for the First Sunday after Easter and other verses for Easter, so I guess it’s up to the music director or priest to pick and choose the right combination.

For a few minutes, I thought this passage about Thomas had been lobotomized by the editors of Hymnal 1982, since the text is no longer in Hymn #203. However, the editors (quite sensibly I think) split the nine verses into two hymns, with #203 using the Easter text and #206 including the Easter 2 verses about Thomas and the Apostles.

Three cheers for Hymnal 1982! (Regular readers know that such praise won’t happen again any time soon.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

True to Mrs. Alexander

Today we attended Easter Services at the most Anglo-Catholic of San Diego’s ACNA parishes, Holy Trinity Anglican Parish of Ocean Beach. The services were held in the LCMS parish across the alley from their decades-long sanctuary that they walked away from in 2010 after losing their property fight with the local ECUSA diocese.

However, today was the first major feast with their “new” hymnals.  When they surrendered their building to the rump ECUSA parish, they also surrendered their copies of Hymnal 1982. Since then, they tried to make do with the LCMS Lutheran Service Book, but it was just enough different to be confusing.

When it came time to buy their own hymnal, they had a choice — but it was no choice at all. Using Hymnal 1982 had always struck me as incongruous at the only Rite I ACNA parish in San Diego. So they took donation to buy copies of Hymnal 1940 and the solicitation was oversubscribed. (We bought five). Even today, with more than 80 in the sanctuary, they didn’t even use half their collection of brand new hymnals.

(I’d like to think this was a trend, but before the Schism II exodus in San Diego there were only two Rite I parishes — Holy Trinity in San Diego and St. Michael’s in Carlsbad — and St. Michael’s decided to split rather than leave.)

Unlike our previous visits at Christmas, the traditional language felt right in conjunction with the “bells and smells” traditional liturgy and theology. They scheduled three familiar Easter hymns: “Jesus Christ is ris’n today” (#85), “The strife is o’er, the battle done” (#91) and “He is risen, He is risen” (#90). (My wife would have liked some Vaughan Williams, but as visitors we can’t tell them what to do.)

The difference was immediately apparent when we sang the first verse of the final hymn (H40: #90), to Joachim Neander’s best-known tune:
He is risen, he is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice:
he has burst his three days' prison;
let the whole wide earth rejoice:
death is conquered, man is free,
Christ has won the victory.
So unlike in my least favorite hymnal, Mrs. Alexander’s lyrics to her best-known hymn were presented with her original intentions preserved.

Her 1846 lyrics were published in Verses for Holy Seasons, a book of poetry for children’s christian education. It seems to have been introduced to Anglican worship in her native Ireland with the The Church Hymnal (1874) by the Church of Ireland. The Hymnal 1940 Companion says us ’Mericans picked up the hymn with Hymnal 1874 and remarks that the differences are minor except for the omission of Alexander’s second verse. The first appearance in the Church of England appears to be in 1906 The English Hymnal (#132).

Hymnal 1940 and TEH use the same words, except that TEH are missing the 4th verse. Both seem to be (as promised) minor changes to Mrs. Alexander‘s words of 166 years ago:

Verses for Holy Seasons (1846)Hymnal 1940
He is risen, He is risen,
Tell it with a joyful voice,
He has burst His three days' prison,
Let the whole wide earth rejoice ;
Death is conquered, man is free,
Christ has won the victory.

Come, ye sad and fearful-hearted,
With glad smile and radiant brow ;
Lent's long shadows have departed,
All His woes are over now,
And the Passion that He bore ;
Sin and pain can vex no more.

Come, with high and holy hymning
Chant our Lord's triumphant lay;
Not one darksome cloud is dimming
Yonder glorious morning ray
Breaking o'er the purple East;
Brighter far our Easter feast.

He is risen, He is risen,
He has oped the eternal gate ;
We are free from sin's dark prison,
Risen to a holier state,
And a brighter Easter beam
On our longing eyes shall stream.
He is risen, he is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice:
he has burst his three days' prison;
let the whole wide earth rejoice:
death is conquered, man is free,
Christ has won the victory.

Come, ye sad and fearful-hearted,
with glad smile and radiant brow!
Lent's long shadows have departed;
Jesus' woes are over now,
and the passion that he bore--
sin and pain can vex no more.

Come, with high and holy hymning,
hail our Lord's triumphant day;
not one darksome cloud is dimming
yonder glorious morning ray,
breaking o'er the purple east,
symbol of our Easter feast.

He is risen, he is risen!
He hath opened heaven's gate:
we are free from sin's dark prison,
risen to a holier state;
and a brighter Easter beam
on our longing eyes shall stream.

Hymnal 1982 (#180) includes the full harmony for the hymn, and makes only one editorial change: due to the M-word, the first verse becomes “we are free.” Although it sticks in my craw every time I have to sing it, it is admittedly a relatively minor attack by the PC police. (Given that a woman wrote “man is free” in a children’s hymn, this would suggest her original language was intended to be inclusive, referring to the human race.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hymns for Maundy Thursday?

As a child, I don't recall spending a lot of time in Church during Holy Week: after we left Palm Sunday, we didn’t return until Easter morn. (Of course, back then I needed my parents to drive the 11 miles to church and back).

As an adult, I’ve made a point to attend church at the beginning and end of Lent, starting with Ash Wednesday and ending with Good Friday. Due to work and travel schedule, this year I attended Maundy Thursday instead of Good Friday.

By its nature, Good Friday has always seemed like a no-music Holy Day. The liturgical index in the Hymnal 1940 lists hymns for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Eastern Even and Easter Day. For Thursday, it likes hymns for Holy Communion but not morning or evening prayer (but then there’s no morning prayer setting for Christmas Eve or Easter Even).

Singing hymns seems particularly appropriate for Maundy Thursday, given the final line of Mark’s account of the Last Supper (Mark 14:26):
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Hymnal 1940 does not list any hymns between “Passiontide” and “Eastern Even,” but in the liturgical index it lists five possible hymns — 189, 193, 194, 195, 199 — all from the Holy Communion section. I recognize only one of these hymns — “Father, we thank the who hast planted” (#195) — because of the wonderful 16th century Louis Bourgeois tune. But none of these communion hymns seem explicitly tied to Holy Thursday.

Hymnal 1982 has a large collection (#158-173) labelled “Holy Week,” but most of these seem mostly Lenten, Passiontide or Good Friday type hymns. This includes #168 (“O sacred Head, sore wounded”) and #172 (“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”) which are also in H40 (#75, #80). Still, none of these are specifically about the Last Supper, nor are the Holy Communion hymns in H40 (#189 - #213).

Tonight I attended Maundy Thursday at an LCMS church — something I’ve often done since leaving fancy ECUSA churches with nice buildings for struggling Schism I or II refugees without buildings. And despite the chronic habit of Concordia Publishing House towards planned obsolescence as a way to make money, it seems like they’ve gone further than most in filling this gap, with two Last Supper hymns in the Lutheran Service Book.

The one we sung tonight was #445, “When You woke that Thursday morning”. The text was written by (LCMS) Lutheran pastor Jaroslav Vajda (1919-2008) for CPH, while the music was written by Marty Haugen (b. 1950) for  GIA, a rival publisher. Despite its contemporary bonafides, the tune seemed quite singable and the text reads more like a modernized version of a 19th century text than a traditional sappy praise song. (However, as part of an obnoxious trend of modern hymnals to sell a separate book to organists, the hymn is harmony-free).

The other one, #446 (“Jesus, greatest at the table”), also combines two contemporary compositions: a  text sold by CPH with a tune (“New Malden”) from the British Methodists (that appears to have been composed in 1971). I didn’t hear it so I can’t speak to its singability.

Interesting, our pastor chose a slightly different Holy Thursday hymn (#436) for communion, one that is certainly familiar to Anglicans:
Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.
The same hymn is in H40 (#70) as a Passiontide hymn; there the tune is called “Petra” (vs. “Gethsemane” in LSB) but it’s the same 1853 tune by Richard Redhead. H40 has the same 1825 text by James Montgomery as in the 1876 Hymns Ancient & Modernbut not that tune.

Both H40 and A&M have 3 verses: about the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Our Lord. The Hymnal 1940 Companion notes that Montgomery had both 1820 and 1825 versions of the text, that the hymn first entered the American hymnal in 1874. It also notes that the Americans dropped the 4th verse (“Early hasten to the tomb”) — a verse that is in the LSB but one we did not sing tonight.

The LCMS pastor’s choices reminds us that the day did not end for Jesus or the Apostles with the Last Supper, but continued on from the Mount of Olives in the inevitable road to Calvary. Even with these Lutheran options, it seems like there are more opportunities to craft hymns for one of the holiest feasts of the year.