Sunday, December 21, 2014

What H40 can learn from H82

Today was lessons & carols, an excuse to sing Christmas carols a few days early during the season of Advent.

I'm currently attending (for better or worse) a Hymnal 1982 parish — which presumably describes 99+% of ECUSA/TEC and the ACNA. I’ve previously complained about the political correctness of the H82 hymns, which is why it’s not my favorite hymnal. However, the Hymnal does correct one deficiency of Hymnal 1940: missing Christmas carols.

1. Joy to the World

The original Hymnal 1940 had an unfamiliar tune for “Joy to the World,” but was missing the familiar Handel tune that we all sing. In 1981, this was finally corrected in Supplement II (i.e. the 3rd edition of H40) when the familiar carol was added as #775. Supplement II also adds replaces the older Sanctus with a Sanctus+Benedictus for all eight variants of the service music.

2. Gabriel’s Message

All editions of Hymnal 1940 are missing “The angel Gabriel” aka “Gabriel’s Message” (H82: 265). A 13th or 14th century Basque text was published in 1895, translated into Victorian English by Sabine Baring-Gould (author of “Onward Christian Soldiers”). Sting (the 80s pop star) made a jazzy CD recording and music video of this carol.

It's not in H40, in Songs of Praise (1925) or the SOP Enlarged Edition (1931). Two carols (#37, #102) with similar names are published by the authors of the latter (i.e. Vaughan Williams and Dearmer) in The Oxford Book of Carols (1928), but the Basque version is nowhere to be found. The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992) has it (#196) with the original Basque text and a more literal translation.

3. Of the Father’s Love Begotten

There was another hymn from this week’s H82 service that I couldn’t find in my copy of Hymnal 1940: “Of the father’s love begotten.” However, in researching this blog post, this omission seemed implausible given the familiar associations with my childhood (which is why I blogged about it back in 2008. )

The carol uses a 4th century text translated into English by John Mason Neale, and paired by Neale with an 11th (13th?) century tune in Hymns Ancient and Modern in the 1860s. As it turns out, this hymn (H82: 82; H40: 20) is in Hymnal 1940, just not in the index where I thought it would be. And the older hymnal has an extra verse (albeit one marked as optional in 1940).

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