Hymn Text for Advent 2 - Critique, Help, and Invitation
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    [UPDATE 11/2013 -- See below in thread for final version of text and a PDF of it set to CONDITOR ALME]


    From ancient roots, a shoot will rise,
    Full-blooming Wisdom of our God;
    With perfect judgement in His eyes,
    and perfect justice from His rod.

    Abundant peace, like streams, shall flow,
    Til stars and moon fall from the sky;
    And all the lands and peoples know,
    the Name of God, the Lord Most High.

    A voice shall sing, "Prepare the Way,
    Repent, and make His pathways clear!"
    We dare not rest, dare not delay,
    Salvation by our God is near.

    The axe, as yet, awaits the tree,
    The threshing floor awaits the fan.
    Before His justice, none can flee;
    Beneath His judgement, none can stand.

    Prepare then well, and swiftly too,
    For swifter still is God's own grace.
    Prepare your heart to be made new,
    Prepare your eyes to see His face.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    Usual disclaimer:
    I work in an Episcopalian parish, so no need for a discussion on why metrical hymns are not proper to the Roman Rite. Yeah, yeah- got it.

    Critique:
    Last time I posted a hymn text here, it was greatly improved by the groups ideas and suggestions.
    That would be great again.

    Help:
    Ideas for tunes?
    I had "Waly Waly" in my head when I started writing it, but that's only because the Advent 1 counterpart was influenced by "Take Up Your Cross."
    By the time I was writing the last stanza or two, I had "Old Hundredth" in my head. That might be a good idea, as this will be the Offertory and it could flow straight into the dreaded Doxology without a break.
    Other ideas?

    Invitation:
    Most people would probably have prepared music for this coming weekend, but if anybody would like to use this text (set to any tune you like), you are more than welcome to do so.
  • Great concept, Adam. A couple of....

    "With perfect judgement in His eyes,
    and perfect justice from His rod."

    He sees the paths we chose to trod.

    "Before His justice, none can flee;
    Beneath His judgement, none can stand."

    Beneath His Mercy, all must stand.
  • I immediately thought of Conditor Alme Siderum but I don't know anything about Episcopalian music, so I'm not sure if that would work or not.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,655
    Wow, this is great! Chock-full of biblical imagery in just the way the Bible means it. Tremendously fluent, captures the season's urgency. I wouldn't change a thing, except "will" to "shall" in line 1 to match the others. Why worry about sh-sh, when you're talking about trees.

    It's in some sense terrible--line 4 is scary. But it's true and I wouldn't want it changed.

    "The axe, as yet, awaits the tree./ The threshing floor awaits the fan." You have been reading your B-i-b-l-e, distilling it, and this is the very welcome output. It's the gospel, rhymed and metered. Congratulations, Adam.
  • "Conditor alme" used to be quite popular - at least in the times of The Hymnal 1940. I'm not as sure about The Hymnal 1982, and I would certainly stick with the H'40 accompaniment if it has been updated by another composer in the H'82.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    Thanks so much for the positive feedback, Kathy. You make me want to write a lot more.
    Good call on "shall," also.

    I love Conditor Alme Siderum. It's in the 1982, so they might know it already. In any event it's a tune worth them learning.


    Charles- I gotta disagree, though. I don't want to interrupt the double parallelism of justice and judgement, which are the critical "keys" for my concept here:
    The terror of judgment and the grace of salvation are the same thing. They are the same side of a single coin.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,655
    Once in frustration I told somebody, "You know, very few words rhyme with God." He answered that he thought that was appropriate :)

    Adam, you should write a LOT. Please. As an ecclesial service.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    Aw...
    Thanks!
  • Dear Adam (and Kathy),
    I don't at all disagree with the importance of your text's theological underpinnings. I simply raised a couple of flags of lesser hues that don't require saluting. ;-) Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    I ditto Kathy's enthusiasm, and Kathy knows from hymnody.
    Cheers,
    C
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 306
    The first tune that came to mind was "Dunedin."
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,738
    stanza 3:

    "A voice shall sing" is a sibilant tongue-twister; perhaps "A voice will sing".

    (Besides, it may be more traditionally correct usage: my old high-school grammar book prescribes "will" instead of "shall" for second and third person subjects.)

    "pathways" -- this might work better as a singular noun: "make His pathway clear"

    Best wishes! (Back to homework.)
  • On the minor side, I would think that the semicolon in stanza 2, line 2 needs to be a comma, as "And all the lands and peoples know, the Name of God, the Lord Most High" probably isn't meant to be an independent statement.

    Also, if, as I assume, "Prepare the Way, Repent, and make His pathways clear!" is a reference to the vox clamantis in deserto, then perhaps "A voice shall sing" might be changed to "A voice cries out," both to make the reference clearer and to make the call more immediate.

    And I wonder if one of the instances of "God" might work better as "Christ" -- "The name of Christ, the Lord Most High," or "Salvation in our Christ is near." In a hymn of this nature, I'd think at least one specific reference to the Son would be appropriate.

    Overall, I think this is great.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    chonak, Mark:
    Good suggestions. I'll make some updates and post the revised text later today.

    However-
    Never believe anyone who says they have the right answer to the "will/shall" question. New Oxford isn't even sure.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,655
    I wanted to chime in on the last of Mark's suggestions, which seems valuable in one sense. It would be great to mention Christ's name at least once; although he is mentioned throughout by Scripture references, if those references are not known, it would be better to be explicit.

    On the other hand, the two instances which Mark mentions as examples are Old Testament references, if I'm not mistaken, which don't in themselves reference Christ. So I wouldn't make that particular adjustment myself, in those particular places.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    They are OT references, which is why I wrote them the way I did. And I think I'll leave them.

    I do agree with "A voice cries out," as that is more accurate to the text, if less poetic.

    I've looked at three different translations (NAB, NRSV, Douay-Rheims). "Make straight His paths" is plural in all three.
  • "However-
    Never believe anyone who says they have the right answer to the "will/shall" question. New Oxford isn't even sure."

    From what I remember from my Latin class (at least in translating) is that the first person singular and plural always are "shall" and second and third person is always "will."

    Don't even know if this is relevant but worth a try...
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    The final text (unless it isn't).


    From ancient roots, a shoot shall rise,
    Full-blooming Wisdom of our God;
    With perfect judgement in His eyes,
    and perfect justice from His rod.

    Abundant peace, like streams, shall flow,
    Til stars and moon fall from the sky;
    And all the lands and peoples know,
    the Name of God, the Lord Most High.

    A voice cries out, "Prepare the Way,
    Repent, and make His pathways clear!"
    We dare not rest, dare not delay,
    Salvation by our God is near.

    The axe, as yet, awaits the tree,
    The threshing floor awaits the fan.
    Before His justice, none can flee;
    Beneath His judgement, none can stand.

    Prepare then well, and swiftly too,
    For swifter still is God's own grace.
    Prepare your heart to be made new,
    Prepare your eyes to see His face.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    RIDICULOUS REQUEST

    Does someone have the time in the next few hours to set this text over Conditor Alme Siderum (Creator of the Stars of Night).
    Harmonized (like chant, not like a German hymn) is preferable, but unison would be better than nothing.

    I'm having some PC issues that preclude me from being able to do this myself, and I have choir practice tonight (I know, I know- I shouldn't wait til the last minute...)

    (Although if someone wants to write a new chant-like hymn-tune, that could be awesome, too... a new LM tune could get a lot of use...
    The arrangement would need to be easy, homophonic, and SAB [splitting the men doesn't work real well in my choir])


    Anywho.
    I know it's a ridiculous thing to ask, but people on this board have come to my rescue a couple other times with requests like this, so if anyone feels so moved- Thanks in advance.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    For those following the saga-

    I did it myself
    Since I couldn't use my PC for Finale, I was forced to find an online/free/open-source solution I could learn and then use VERY QUICKLY.

    I ended up using Gregorio to set in in four-line chant notation.
    (I used the online Gregorio processor)
    It turned out pretty decent, and I was able to learn how to use it and notate all five verses in about a half-hour.

    Here it is for anyone who wants it:
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,738
    Hey, I'm glad the online Gregorio application was handy. I was going to suggest it, but didn't know if you could take the time to bone up on Gregorio.
  • Is that how the melody goes? I thought it began mi do mi so SO LA fa so.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    I think if I was doing something complicated, Gregorio would have been tougher to crack. But it is such a straightforward piece that it was no problem.
    And it was much easier than using any open-source modern-notation applications I could find.

    I think it actually was better that I used four-line notation: My choir already knows this tune, so they were able to get used to four-lines and square notes without also learning a new piece of music.

    Incidentally (or not) the text went over very well with my choir, and they loved it paired with Conditor Alme Siderum, so thanks Bobby for that suggestion.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    newmanbe:

    Before I started working on putting it together, that's the way I wanted to sing it, too.
    Some cultural memory, perhaps?

    But I used this document as a guide:
    http://ceciliaschola.org/pdf/conditor.pdf
    I don't kow the pedigree of that document, but it looks pretty solid, and Google believed in it.

    Also, this is the way (I'm pretty sure) it's written in the 1982 Hymnal.


    Anyone know if newmanbe's incipit is a typical variant?
  • You're very welcome!
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    I, too, am curious about the SOL LA fa sol vs. LA LA fa sol question. Where did I ever get sol-la?
  • If I had to guess, it would be from the Liber Hymnarius (WantsToBeHelpfulButIsnt),

    The Parish Book of Chant, for Creator alme siderum, has mi do mi so SO LA fa so, as does the 1912 Antiphonale. I blame Solesmes.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    hrm

    I wonder which one is more right...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,655
    Why would one have to be right and one wrong? I'm reminded of the different developments of the older Salve. The Parish Book of Chant has two, or is it three versions. I've heard two others, both from venerable monastic traditions. They developed differently, that's all.

    (This is my version of reading an old magazine)
  • Adam, my good man, we're tagging "From ancient roots" to "Creator of the stars..." tomorrow morning.
    Thanks for the privilege,
    Charles
  • I used the original Conditor Alme yesterday at the Latin Mass. I'm attaching your version, but with the Doxology from the original version, plus the Amen.
  • Nice work, Adam!
    I hear this text in shape-note style. Would you have any objections to it being set that way?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    Of course not!
    I love Shape note music, and other American folk styles (check out my Shaker-inspired Mass setting in another thread).


    Charles- did you end up singing my text? How did it go over?
  • Yes, Adam, choir sang it beautifully. It was a bit of a surreal morning, as our bishop had died at 3:15am prior, but your text was in great alignment with a wonderful homily given by one of our vicars, a Missioner of Charity (Mother Theresa's Order.)
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    One of the good consequences of the fairly-odd, pan-blog epic drama that was David Haas's new hymn based on Salve Regina, was that a conversation at Todd's Catholic Sensibility blog forced me to finally go over and post this text at my own site:
    From Ancient Roots - A Hymntext for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year A

    Todd was the first to comment on it, and I'm posting his critique as well as my response here because I think it furthers a good conversation about the mechanics and inner-workings of text-writing. I'd really love your followup comments, disagreements, and so forth.


    TODD:
    I like this text. It captures the readings well. I like the repetition of judgment and justice in verses 1 and 4, prepare in verses 3 and 5. When you repeat the word “dare” in verse 3, it’s with a different emphasis, and I like how that works in speaking the text.

    While I like the parallel of “stars and moon” and “lands and peoples” in verse 2, I thought line 3 to be weak in comparison. Stars and moon fall from the sky: that’s a powerful image. Lands and people just … know. Would there be something stronger to say about just what the message of the forerunner is? Also, the semi-colon there implies a connected, but a new thought. “And” doesn’t/shouldn’t follow a semi. It almost seems that you need two verses to really embellish the idea and do two principles: the end of the world and universal salvation their due justice.

    In verse four, your reference to “His” is clearly God because it’s capitalized. I’m not really bothered by a judicious use of the third-person masculine pronoun, but given the wealth of metaphors in Isaiah 11, I would have preferred something other than pronouns in that verse.

    While I like the rhythm and crescendo of verse 5, and the parallel of heart and eyes is good, but in line 1 are we preparing “then well”? It seems like a filler that could easily have been two syllables with a stronger expression.

    I’d say this hymn is much farther along than David’s. And I wouldn’t hesitate, as a composer, to work with you and your material.


    MY RESPONSE:
    Thanks for your comments. If we were two weeks ahead of Advent 2 instead of two weeks after it, I might tinker a bit more.

    It's always difficult to try to respond line by line to critique, without falling into straight defensiveness. But, in the interest of conversation (which I love) and text-writing scholarship (which I pretend to be involved with), here my initial thoughts:

    Lands and people just … know.

    This is as direct a quotation as the meter would allow of, "for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD," from the Isaiah passage. So, yes- they "just know."

    Also, the semi-colon there implies a connected, but a new thought. “And” doesn’t/shouldn’t follow a semi.
    I consider punctuation rules to be largely a matter of opinion. I'm aware that a semi-colon+and would get me in trouble with my HS English teacher. On the other hand, the construction does exactly as you suggest- provides separation and linkage at the same time. Also, as long as it doesn't become a noticeable bad habit at the start of verse after verse, I'm pretty much okay with the occasional lyrical-filler-word ("and") used in order to get the meter to work. That is much preferable to stuffing in ungainly polysyllables, or forcing a slur to shoehorn a poorly-metered text.

    It almost seems that you need two verses to really embellish the idea and do two principles: the end of the world and universal salvation their due justice.

    This is a theological point which I may or may not understand correctly, but I pretty much consider the end of the world and universal salvation (that's the salvation of the Universe, not the salvation of all human souls) to be equivalent- they are (like justice and mercy, like judgement and forgiveness, like wrath and loving-kindness) the same side of the same coin.
    Also, I feel like adding an additional verse would violate some kind of personal rule about brevity and compactness. Generically, I feel 5 verses of Long Meter is just about the perfect length of a hymn. Upon adding a sixth, the typical music director will start eyeing verses for ommission.

    In verse four, your reference to “His” is clearly God because it’s capitalized. I’m not really bothered by a judicious use of the third-person masculine pronoun, but given the wealth of metaphors in Isaiah 11, I would have preferred something other than pronouns in that verse.

    I'm a feminist. I write feminist-language hymns. Because of my willingness (eagerness) to use the word "She" to refer to the Almighty and Everlasting God, I am constantly flummoxed and annoyed by progressive-types who point out use of the word "He" in prayer texts. A casual reading of the Bible reveals that God is probably male(ish). A more indepth reading may reveal that God is both male and female. There is absolutely no reasonable interpretation that renders God neuter.
    I know, I know- you're not "really bothered by a judicious use" of "He," but you mentioned it, so it seems that perhaps you're at least a little bothered. I'm sure the PC types at the big publishers would prefer a less gender specific rendering here as well. No thanks.
    As to finding another image from the wealth of metaphors in Isaiah- I'm open to the idea, but I can't find or invent one that seems as smack-you-in-the-face powerful as "His Judgement... His justice."


    but in line 1 are we preparing “then well”? It seems like a filler that could easily have been two syllables with a stronger expression.

    I disagree that this is filler. I do metrical filler from time to time (like "and" above), but this is not it.
    "Then" is sort of the crux of the whole piece, in my opinion. It is a rendering of that all-important liturgical word, "igitur" (therefore).
    It works like this:
    Verses 1-4 are basically a paraphrase of the readings- recounting what has been foretold and what will happen. Okay, but so what? Well, THEREFORE, here's what you need to do: Prepare.
    Prepare how?
    Well.

    It's understatement, of course- like my grandfather responding to the question, "How did you do that?" "Very carefully," he would always say.
    I'm relying on the rest of the hearer's cultural and religious knowledge to understand just how serious and difficult (nay, impossible) it is to prepare "well" for the coming of Christ.
    And how else are we to prepare? Swiftly.
    Why?
    Because God's grace is swift- coming on an unknown day, at an unknown hour- like a thief. Swifter still, even.

    I’d say this hymn is much farther along than David’s. And I wouldn’t hesitate, as a composer, to work with you and your material.

    Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. I know the CMAA people cringe and giggle everytime I mention it, but David's music has been a big part of my spiritual upbringing, and it means a lot to me to have my work compared to his in that way.
    As for working with me and my material- this text, as most of the material I write, is released under a Creative Commons license. If you ever feel inspired to write a new tune or arrangement, or even a new derivative text, please feel free to do so. If you want to make money on it, please ask first (I'll probably say yes) and share (I need it), but otherwise have at it.
    (Please see the specifics of the license- there are requirements and conditions.)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,738
    I know the CMAA people cringe and giggle everytime I mention it

    Now, c'mon, Adam, that's a stereotype; we don't all giggle.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    But you all cringe, while just some of you giggle?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,738
    Yeah, that's about right. :-)
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,655
    Wait a second. I NEVER cringe.
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Smirk, maybe.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,655
    O, sure, smirking is another matter entirely...
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,738
    How about less?
    ---

    From ancient roots, a shoot will rise,
    The Wisdom of our God;
    With perfect judgment in His eyes,
    and justice from His rod.

    Abundant peace in streams shall flow,
    Til stars fall from the sky;
    And all the lands and peoples know
    the Name of God Most High.

    A voice shall sing, "Prepare the Way,
    and make His pathways clear!"
    We dare not rest, dare not delay,
    Our saving God is near.

    The axe, as yet, awaits the tree,
    The threshing floor, His fan.
    Before His justice, who can flee;
    His judgment, who can stand?

    Prepare then well, and swiftly too,
    For swifter is God's grace.
    Prepare your heart to be made new,
    your eyes to see His face.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    Hmm...

    I don't prefer it, but I if someone had an 8686 tune they really wanted to use (New Britain? Joy to the World? Gilligan's Island?), I have no problem with it.
    (and my original is CC: BY, SA, NC.... which means this version must be as well)

    Anywho, I think that's a fine version and I'm very flattered you'd take the time to do it. It does have a different feel- obviously a bit terser, and I like some of the grammatical solutions you came up with- very nice.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    bumping for Advent 2013
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    bumping for Advent 2014
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    bumping for Advent 2015