Too Many Hymns?
  • Chris_McAvoyChris_McAvoy
    Posts: 382
    To promote hymns in the context of the holy sacrifice of the mass which are not propers tends to promote individual creativity which is the gateway to subjectivity, moral relativism, modernism, protestantism, rebellion against the divine order/providence.

    That is not to say that perhaps using a single hymn after or before the mass is as likely to be as problematic, as it has clear boundaries and limits what could go awry to be lesser...Even the use of a motet, or organ interlude is a bit different, as their theological impetus and style does as frequently come from an explicitly protestant bias, nor do they expect congregational participation and play to their emotions in the same way, nor are made as frequent usage of in an average Sunday liturgy.

    The concept of hymns as it is popularly preceived is tends most often to be protestant in both the theological content of the texts and the theological influence of their musical arrangements. If one is to compare hymns as used before the reformation in catholic processions and festivals to those used afterward one finds many marked stylistic and theological differences, even as sometimes their was some degree continuity in for instance the Lutheran Church, which in the first century after the reformation did retain many office and processional hymns for use in the venacular without necessarily changing their music or theological content, even as they added other music that did explicity reject the Church of their Fathers.

    Even in the anglican communion (which I think is an error to describe as our friends to begin with, anglicans whose ancestors sanctioned and paid mercenaries to martyr many catholics for their evil desires), the idea of regular hymn use in their "Lord's supper" was controversial and had much heavier moderation before 1800. In the early 19th century hymn use seems to have been primarily an evangelical/methodist trend, which throughout the decade influenced all of western christianity, the feel-good charismatic worship of its day.

    "Here we come to the issue of psalms versus hymns. Our fathers ruled that, with a few exceptions, only the singing of psalms was permitted in the assembly of believers. When hymns were introduced in 1807 (by unlawful ecclesiastical might) many people objected to them and refused to sing them when announced from the pulpit. At the time of the restoration of the church in the Secession and Doleantie [Sorrowing], the position was reaffirmed that only psalms were to be sung." - ABRAHAM KUYPER, Our Worship, trans. Harry Boonstra (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009), 37


    As I say, I recognize many people are obvlious to historical fact, but that does not negate that most often, what is being done with hymns, simply should not be done. To worship God is to move away from our own will and wishes and seek that "His will be done".

    I do love hymns, I truly do, but I will say I have rarely been affected or found prayer as profound as when the hymn form as been markedly protestant. Take a look at what Thomas Tallis or Michael Praetorious have done with their arrangement of the many hundreds of years old divine office hymns which maintain the old gregorian chant melodies and texts of Latin Catholicism and even sometimes written by Church Fathers such as St Ambrose.
    Compare them to Charles Wesley's 18thc century "evangelical methodist" hymns.
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  • rich_enough
    Posts: 865
    It's a bit of a false comparison to decree hymns or propers. It is possible to have both and do both well.

    This may be true in the abstract, but we all know what has actually happened. Doing both also tends to a "smorgasbord" of music at mass and risks overloading the rite.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,781
    It is interesting to note that the Book of Common Prayer does not have a role for hymns, there is an optional Anthem at Morning and Evening Prayer. The development has been outside the rubrics, one advantage of not being strictly policed by centralised authority.

    Yes. The tradition of bona fide hymns in Anglicanism is actually part of the 19th Century Tractarian/Oxford/Anglo-Catholic Movement, and was taken over from the practice of the Non-Conformist (i.e. Methodist) chapels--note that the earliest "Anglican" hymns are all by Methodists.

    What existed fom the Reformation to the mid-to-late 19th Century was the Metrical Psalter (The so-called 'Old Version' of Sternhold & Hopkins is the classic from the 16th century, though there was also Abp. Parker's Pslater (for which Tallis wrote several tunes, of which 'The Third Tune' and 'Tallis's Canon' are the most popular)--which was super-ceded by Tate & Brady's 'New Version' in the 17th Century. These Metrical Psalms were sung by the people in before and after Matins--or from the 18th century on Litany and Ante-Communion--or Evensong, but never during the services themselves. These books contained only a handful of true hymns (such as 'While Shepherds Watched', "the only approved Christmas Hymn"(!) until 'Hark! The Herald Angels' appeared in a later edition) which formed an appendix, the main body of the volume was the 150 Psalms in poetic, metrical texts, in common meters, intended to be sung to the handful of tunes congregations knew, AND these books were all approved books--the old carols the village choirs and bands (which, incidentally, usually at this time served both the parish church and the Methodist chapel) sang during Christmas were never sung in church.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,216
    Fascinating, Salieri! Do you know of a metrical psalter (suitable for liturgical use) that is available online? Sounds like it might be a nice addition to a choir's repertory!
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,633
    I note that Olney Hymns by Cowper and Newton was very successful from its publication in 1779. The evangelical fringe of the Church of England and the interaction with Methodism was complex, as was the fragmentation of Methodism, and I have never studied it. John Wesley insisted to the end of his life that Methodism was a movement within the Anglican church. Newton advocated plenty of para-liturgical activity to sustain parish life, while continuing to be observant of the official liturgy as rector of a London church from 1779 to 1807.
    Up to the 1950's Catholics in England had plenty of Benediction services, holy hours, etc. with hymns. They largely died out, I think because the relaxation of the fasting laws lead to their replacement with Masses spread through more of the day. Unfortunately the hymn form became attached to Mass, rather than the other services.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,781
    irishtenor: This website could be helpful:

    I have found Tate & Brady (A New Version of the Psalms of David...) and Isaac Watts (The Psalms Imitated in the Language of the New Testament) to be the most useful. Sternhold & Hopkins (The Whole Book of Psalms Collected into English Metre, aka the "Old Version"), has some nice texts, but some of them can be quaint, even by 17th century standards. For liturgical use, you have to be careful to avoid texts that use the Tetragrammaton. The others (Scottish Psalter, Bay Psalm Book, etc.) are more interesting from an historical perspective. There is also (not available online) "A New Metrical Psalter" by Christopher Webber published by Church Publishing, which is in modern English.

    For the sake of comparison, here are a few verses of Psalm 98 in the O.V.; N.V.; and Watts, beginning at about halfway through. All three texts are in Common Meter (86.86)

    Sternhold & Hopkins (Old Version)

    5 Be glad in him with joyful voice,
    all people on the earth,
    Give thanks to God, sing and rejoice
    to him with joy and mirth:

    6 Upon the harp unto him sing,
    give thanks to him always,
    Rejoice before the Lord our King,
    with trumpets sound his praise.

    7 Yea, let the sea with all therein
    for joy both roar and swell,
    The earth likewise let it begin,
    with all that therein dwell.

    8 And let the floods rejoice their fills,
    and clap their hands apace:
    Yea, let the mountains and the hills
    triumph before his face.

    9 For he shall come to judge and try
    the world and every wight,
    And rule the people mightily
    with justice and with right.

    Tate & Brady (New Version)

    4 Let therefore earth's inhabitants
    their cheerful voices raise,
    And all with universal joy
    resound their Maker's praise.

    5 With harp and hymn's soft melody
    into the concert bring
    6 The trumpet and shrill cornet's sound,
    before th' Almighty King.

    7 Let the loud ocean roar her joy,
    with all that seas contain;
    The earth and her inhabitants
    join concert with the main.

    8 With joy let riv'lets swell to streams,
    to spreading torrents they;
    And echoing vales from hill to hill
    redoubled shouts convey;

    9 To welcome down the world's great Judge,
    who does with justice come,
    And with impartial equity
    both to reward and doom.

    Part 2, The Messiah's coming and kingdom

    1 Joy to the world! the Lord is come!
    Let earth receive her King;
    Let ev'ry heart prepare him room,
    And heav'n and nature sing.

    2 Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns!
    Let men their songs employ,
    While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
    Repeat the sounding joy.

    3 No more let sins and sorrows grow,
    Nor thorns infest the ground;
    He comes to make his blessings flow
    Far as the curse is found.

    4 He rules the world with truth and grace,
    And makes the nations prove
    The glories of his righteousness,
    And wonders of his love.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169

    As I say, I recognize many people are obvlious to historical fact, but that does not negate that most often, what is being done with hymns, simply should not be done. To worship God is to move away from our own will and wishes and seek that "His will be done".

    I'm not oblivious to historical fact in the previous rite of the Roman church, the TLM. It just isn't my model of how things should be done and I don't look to it for guidance. I don't have the obsession with propers that some seem to have, but am not ready to junk them completely, although they often seem based on unrelated bits of scripture plucked out of thin air.

    It's a big leap to assume that the TLM is God's will to be done since it was itself a change in and an evolution of the earlier liturgy of the western church. Some deny that the church can revise its liturgy although I suspect it does have that authority.

    Hymns are good, if they are good hymns. I think we have all seen and heard hymns that are awful. The important thing is recognizing the differences between the two. There are even collections of hymn/propers that can fulfill both functions, some quite good and useful. Gregorian propers were written for a one-year liturgical cycle and don't always adapt well to the current three-year cycle. Trying to fit parts from the TLM into the NO can be like trying to put the proverbial square pegs into a round hole, not always a good fit. However, as I have said many times before, more effort could have been put forth after the Council in producing translations and collections of music for the current liturgy. It didn't happen but I give credit to those working to catch up and provide that good music which is certainly needed in many parishes.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,633
    Just happened across this article by Paul F Ford Psalmody in Catholic Worship; Pastoral Music 36.4(May 2012) starting on page 15.
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  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 377
    The Church of Scotland hymnbook is good for versified psalmody.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    The Church of Scotland hymnbook is good for versified psalmod

    Even the old Scottish Psalter is good.
  • The Scottish hymnbook is interesting and, as far as I know, unique. The tunes appear at the tops and the metrical psalms at the bottom. The pages are split half way down so that one can turn to a given psalm at the bottom and to any desired tune at the top. The translations are generally good, only sometimes sounding too dated even for some of us.
    (The Church of Scotland, by the way, is not Anglican - it is Presbyterian.)
    Thanked by 2CharlesW cesarfranck
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,628
    The Church of Scotland is also offering this on its web site:
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  • I could listen to this for as long as five seconds.
    And to think that one still clings fondly (with rapidly decreasing evidence) onto the belief that our European cousins are more cultured or civilised than we!
    How could such a noble race stoop so low?
    If one ever needed evidence that people like this view 'church' as entertainment, this is it.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Jackson, the rot is everywhere and it is increasingly difficult to escape from it.
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  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,677
    And to think that one still clings fondly (with rapidly decreasing evidence) onto the belief that our European cousins are more cultured or civilised than we!

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Chickson. This stuff is highly meh.

    But this comment - you'll forgive me, but the tone has inspired me to create a new meme based just around you. There's a clip, I think, which sums up your approach to non-Anglican music:
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 377
    How about this from the Free Church of Scotland? This tradition of Gaelic psalm singing is still alive and well in the Western Isles. There's a mesmeric quality about it.
  • May I suggest another solution entirely. If I missed it in another comment, I apologize.

    People usually pick up on the melody of even a new Responsorial Psalm, and this may provide a way for may congregations. Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB, RIP, well known to and beloved by many of us, wrote entrance chants that are very much like the RP: a simple refrain for the congregation with the verses chanted by the appropriate person or persons. At St. Meinrad, it is chanted by the Brothers, obviously. For a congregation, that could be the cantor, or the choir. Fr. Columba was quite insistent that the Entrance should be chanted so that the focus is on the priest.

    I don't have much experience with the Simple English Propers, though they might fit the bill. Perhaps others know other similar resources?

    The GIRM actually says "chant" as the first option for nearly all the "slots" where music goes. I suppose one might have to not use the word "chant" to slip it past ever-vigilant parishioners of the sort we all know.

    Just a suggestion.

  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,633
    The thread is 'Too Many Hymns?', I am not persuaded that we should replace it by 'Too Many Responsaries?'. The Wee Frees and the Anglicans both have congregations singing psalms, not responses. If we keep responses, as we should to contextualise the psalm, why not have the cantor or schola singing the response and the congregation sing the psalm? Murray and Bevenot have both shown that you only need 8 tunes, one for each mode. The Bevenot four line tunes provide a congregation with enough variety to keep them engaged (based on my observation of Westminster Cathedral at Morning/Evening Prayer), although the DM and organist may well get bored. No doubt they could and would solve that by elaborating the music for the response.
  • Viola -

    Many thanks for the link to Gaelic singing. I was moved almost to tears at this deeply ingrained cultural and spiritual phenomenon. No doubt, the Gaels have been doing this for hundreds of years. It came to me that this is the way Catholics ought to be singing chant.

    If the aftermath of Vatican II had been the determined implementation of what the council had called for vis a vis chant and Latin we wouldn't have our people singing the trash that they have been for fifty years - they would be singing chant like these Gaels sing their own heritage.

    The Gaels are not some sort of unique species, they are an example of what all humans can do, given the right environment - and, the right leadership!
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,216
    Wow, @Viola, that's pretty much unbelievable. The congregation is terrific!
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