From a newbie (an ex-Anglican and budding hymnodist)
  • Grace and peace to everyone here. My name is Anna; I am a writer and ESL teacher who was received into the Catholic Church from Anglicanism at Easter 2019. I'm grateful for this site; there is a lot that I do not understand about the Catholic musical landscape and the resources here are helping.

    Among other things, I write hymn texts in English set to tunes in the public domain and have had the privilege of hearing several used in worship. My top priority is to render such texts as theologically sound, singable, and beautiful as possible. I know that the role of such hymns in Catholic liturgy is different, or ought to be different, from their role in Anglican liturgy. Unfortunately for me, I've got the hymnody bug now and it does not show signs of going away anytime soon. Hymn texts, I've found, have a particular look to them, a characteristic patina, when they're really and truly finished; for me there is no greater joy than seeing this in my own work and in that of others.

    Any thoughts would be most welcome. I am very happy to be Catholic.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Kathy
  • Since you have come from the Anglican tradition several good guides are at you finger tips. If you are British, there is The English Hymnal of 1906. If you are in the US there is, of course, The Hymnal 1940. Each of these books contains many hymns that are quite Catholic in content. Indeed, many of them have been borrowed from the Catholic tradition. A study of these would provide invaluable guidance for anyone wishing to compose new hymns. A good modern Catholic hymnal would be the Lumen Christi Hymnal, which, in glaring contrast to most current Catholic hymnals, has excellent translations and language. Another invaluable source would be the translations of Latin and Greek hymns by John Mason Neale. The Collected Hymns, Sequences, and Carols of John Mason Neale is available as a reprint. Look it up on the internet and order it from Amazon. Another scholar and translator of historic hymnody is the Catholic Edward Caswall. Too, there are the translations of office hymns, not to mention several original hymns, by St John Henry Newman. Any of these sources would be invaluable exemplars as to form and content - and, of supreme importance, a language which expresses itself in a sacred grammatical style.

    As you have stated, hymnody in the Catholic Church has quite different functions than it does in the Anglican tradition - though nowadays there is considerable overlap. Historically, hymns in the Latin west were restricted to the daily offices. Only since Vatican II have they been allowed a prominent role in the mass. In this, their function is not terribly different from Anglican usage. It is important that they be appropriate to season and to the lectionary of the day. Or, they may be meditations on the Sacraments or the spiritual life. As well, they may extol the virtues of given saints, etc. They should at all costs be objective treatments of aspects of theology, avoiding any subjective personal or communal experience. (You want them to be divinely oriented - not about subjective experience.) Ordinarily, hymns at mass consist of a processional, an offertory (when there is no anthem), a communion, and often a dismissal.

    While this usage is all but universal in the US it should be borne in mind that the use of hymns has for the most part supplanted the far more appropriate and ancient Propers of the mass. These consist in a set of antiphons and responsories that are assigned to every Sunday and Holy Day. They may be found in the Graduale Romanum, which you can order from GIA. An English version of this Graduale is Bruce Ford's The American Gradual, which is available from Lulu. Some now, notably our gifted forum member Kathy, have written hymns that are poetic interpretations of these propers, particularly the processional introit. You might want to follow this example for some of your hymns. At any rate the propers might well suggest thematic subjects as inspiration for new hymns. And, such as these would be quite desirable for liturgical use.

    Be sure to share some of your work with us!

    Since you have come from the Anglican world I must ask if you are associated with the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, established by HF Benedict for those of Anglican heritage who are allowed to maintain their historic liturgical, musical, and spiritual traditions. Is there an Ordinariate parish anywhere near you?
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • This is all tremendously helpful, M. Jackson Osborn. Thank you so much.

    As it happens, I am not associated with the Ordinariate; there is some movement to establish such a parish near me, but even if there were one, I am not sure that I would join, as I have fallen in love with the (NO) parish to which I belong.

    I don't think that my Latin is up to the task of working with introits; writing meditations from scratch is really more my speed.

    Here is a recent effort. "Hear, Holy Mother," set to CHRISTE SANCTORUM, asks the Blessed Mother's intercession in the pandemic. Our music director and cantor did a lovely job in this video:

    That first "your" should be a "Thy"; my fault.

    Thanks again.
  • Anna, I like this hymn. Thanks for sharing.
    One note on engraving: words that are split over multiple notes should still use hyphens between syllables rather than extender lines, which should only come at the end of a word. (mm. 10,12,14.) "pro-tec-tion" rather than "pro-tec____tion"; the slurs indicate the note grouping visually.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • Goodness gracious, thank you so much!! I have fixed the score.
  • Thanks :) It's such a funny thing... there are scores that I have poured over for HOURS, finally committed to print (mind you, I was doing test prints and reviewing physical copies during the editing process) and immediately noticed mistakes after printing 20 copies.
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 191
    Hi Anna. Welcome.
    Come O Long Expected Jesus. I've played around with about 10 different 8787D tunes. The ones I like the most so far are Beach Spring, In Babilone, and even Hyfredol. If you have suggestions beyond Stuttgart and Jefferson and the above, I'd like to hear. It's for Advent 1 so I want a more somber tone (which leads me to favoring In Babilone so far.)

    Excuse the misspellings and types. Headed into a meeting right now.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • Hi PolskaPiano and thanks so much for your kind welcome!

    I wonder whether perhaps EBENEZER (Williams), also known as TON-Y-BOTEL, might work. It is as somber as it gets---but then, so many of us are feeling thus.

  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,399
    'Come O (Thou) Long Expected Jesus' is an 87.87 metre text, not 87.87.D - unless you want to compress the four stanzas into two by doubling up. I personally think that STUTTGART is an excellent fit, solemn but not somber.

    The attached score & mp3 files have the traditional Havergal harmonization for the first two stanzas (with my descant on the second) and my own harmonization for the last two stanzas (descant on the fourth). Score is also available at CPDL.

    Thanked by 2Anna_Bendiksen Liam
  • I enjoyed the text- although I have to say that due to the clever wordplay in verse four, my chuckling would have made it hard to sing!
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 191
    Ahh- my apologies. I did mean solemn, not somber.
    Charles- Good point! You know in G3 GIA changed it to 87.87.D! (by putting it to Jefferson).
    I've always played Stuttgart with a piano (what the church had). I may like it more with the organ filling it out a bit more. I'll play around.