Bilingual Hymnody
  • GerardH
    Posts: 422
    I don't operate in a bilingual environment, but I know many forum members do. A note from the preface of the recently-published Revised English Hymnal caught my attention. Emphasis added:
    We have included several Welsh hymns in their original language as well as in English translation. In The English Hymnal, Vaughan Williams brought many Welsh tunes to English congregations, but they have not, so far, been able to enjoy some of the many fine Welsh texts. Two such have been specially translated into English for this collection. Bilingual hymns work best when English and Welsh speakers sing them simultaneously in their preferred language, without trying to alternate languages or merely include a token Welsh verse. The result is a wonderful and uplifting sound. We hope that Welsh-speaking members of (or visitors to) predominately English-speaking congregations will feel empowered to sing the hymns we have provided in the language of their homeland.

    Has anyone has tried the approach described? Any other thoughts?
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 560
    A certain tower comes to mind...
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,300
    Sounds like madness. Who says that bilingual hymns work best when folks sing in different languages simultaneously?
  • GerardH
    Posts: 422
    Who says that bilingual hymns work best when folks sing in different languages simultaneously?

    The editors...
    Has anyone ever tried it?
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,753
    I can tell you that merely attempting to recite the our father in two languages at once is quite… something. I cannot say that I recommend it.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,976
    The only experience I've had is not sung, but the practice for some years at a former (university) parish of mine where at Mass on Pentecost only the celebrant would invite everyone to recite the Our Father in his/her own mother tongue while the celebrant recited it in Latin. Given that the parish had a not insignificant presence of people who had non-English mother tongues, it was lovely but not nearly the same thing being described above.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,391
    My first experience of this was at St. Severin in Paris in 1973. The order of worship presented the strophic hymns in French, German, English, and Italian. The folks were invited to sing in any of the four. And ten years ago St. Severin was still doing this.

    I know of a parish that uses the Engligh-Spanish hymnal for which I served as general editor where the folks sing in either language.

    I would hazard to say that this practice does not work well where the singing is weak or the acoustics are not reverberant. Also there can't be a song leader singing in one of the languages into a microphone!

    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,023
    I don’t know about Saint-Séverin but that unfortunately is a bad habit of major French churches despite the excellent acoustics in virtually all of them (and where there are bad acoustics, it’s mostly the sermon which is problematic, not singing).
    Thanked by 2tomjaw ServiamScores
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,606
    Fr. Krisman is much too humble about his Spanish/English hymnal. It is very popular in parishes but also used for diocesan events, and often found in Spanish resource diocesan offices.