Sunday, December 20, 2015

When was a hymn written?

For several years, I have been contemplating the question: When was a hymn “written”? The original (and ongoing) impetus have the promos on Issues Etc. for their wonderful Internet radio station, Lutheran Public Radio, that promises “hymns from the second century; hymns from the 12th century” and so on.

But when was a hymn actually written? There are discrete steps of writing a hymn:
  1. Writing the verses
  2. Translating, selecting and editing the verses
  3. The tune
  4. Adapting and arranging the tune, including the setting the rhythm and organizing the verses and (possibly) a refrain
  5. The harmonization, including (in the last century) adding a descant
There is also the question of when are these first combined: the tune and verses may be old but when were they first sung together?

Beyond the written hymn, there are the choices of how it is performed, which could include
  1. Tempo
  2. Voices
  3. Accompaniment
These are questions I still don't have an answer to, so I expect to update this posting over the life of this blog.

Revised December 28, 2015

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