What is the definition of the word "Hymn" ?
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    In a recent post, I mentioned "hymns," and many people thought that (perhaps) I was referring to Gregorian Hymns. Subsequently, there has been much discussion about HYMNS on this CMAA forum.

    I would like the opportunity to add my two cents: THE DEFINITION OF THE WORD "HYMN"


  • Hymn: A derivative of the Latin hymnus, which comes from the Greek hymnos, derived from hydein, to sing.

    New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 854
    Jeff O.,

    Thanks for saying what I was thinking!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,397
    That's a nice taxonomy as well.

    And so....
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    As Bishop Fulton Sheen would say, "Hymn is a word much-abused . . . ."
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,397
    Jeff, you were the one who was using "metrical hymn" inexactly. I appreciate the clarification, but, soo...? Do you think some of them are good for the life of the Church, some are evil, all are evil, or what?

    Look, just tell me that you don't have a really cool arrangement of Jesu Dulcis Memoria, and I'll let it go. But frankly I'd be really surprised if you don't have a really cool arrangement of Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Jeff, you were the one who was using "metrical hymn" inexactly.

    Howdy! Not sure what this means . . . I mentioned that Gregorian chant was played. Gregorian hymns ARE Gregorian chant.

    Do you think some of them are good for the life of the Church, some are evil, all are evil, or what?

    I think Gregorian hymns are exceedingly beautiful, and we sang them constantly when I was in charge of EF Masses. They work extremely well at Offertory and Communion, if polyphony is not possible. (Needless to say, we also sang the assigned Offertory and Communion chants always).

    In terms of "Anglican-style" hymns, I don't think the Church has ever said these are to be given pride of place at Mass. However, I think they can often work well, especially at the end of Mass as a Recessional.

    Music has the power to take one to a different place and mindset and affect one in a truly profound way. I think Gregorian chant and polyphony do this in an incomparable way. That's why the Church gives preference to these forms. Let us continue to pray.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,397
    Ok, good.

    (IIRC, you said that they played Gregorian chant, not x, y, metrical hymns, z, etc. Metrical hymns, as such, were listed with the baddie-baddies.)
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    "IIRC" = If I Recall Correctly

    (just had to look that up on "the google")
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,397
    Oh darn. I MEANT to say If I Remember Correctly.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,397
    Anyways, I've said this many times before, but I don't think that the Reform of the Reform (spelled out :) ) gains by making good things into baddie baddies. "Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good," is the old religious formation expression. We have to take into consideration the process!

    By the way, did y'all see this:The Catholic liturgy lives "a certain crisis," and Benedict XVI wants to create a new liturgical movement, showing the most sacred and silence in the Mass, and more attention to beauty in song, music and art sacra.Il Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, 65, Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship, that when he was bishop in Spain was called "the little Ratzinger," is the man to whom the Pope has entrusted this task. In this interview with the newspaper, the "minister" of the liturgy of Benedict XVI reveals and explains the programs and projects.
    As a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger had complained in a hurry in the post-conciliar liturgical reform. What is your opinion?
    "The liturgical reform was carried out very quickly. There were good intentions and a desire to apply the Vatican. But there was precipitation. It was not given enough time and space to accommodate and internalize the lessons of the Council, all of a sudden you have changed the way of celebrating. I remember well the mentality was widespread: it was necessary to change, create something new. What we had received the tradition, was seen as an obstacle. The reform was intended as a human endeavor, many thought that the Church was the work of our hands, instead of God liturgical renewal was seen as a research laboratory, the fruit of imagination and creativity, the magic word then '. (Courtesy of Google translate.)

  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,872
    I had started a long post here that somehow disappeared when my cursor landed on the "back" button. I'll not try to recreate it here.

    Suffice it to say, that I think Jeff's dismissal of non-Gregorian hymns as being "Common practice, Major-minor tonality" is a gross (and erroneous simplification). Famous counterexample is in Tallis's "Third Mode Melody" (or "Third Tune"), used for hymn "I heard the voice of Jesus say" (as well as Vaughan Williams haunting orchestral work "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis"). The melody is indeed in Mode III, but it is not a Gregorian melody, since Tallis wrote it. The plainsong melody/tune for my own "Adorna, Sion, thalamum" and "Creator of the stars of night" is in Mode IV.

    I was also just beginning to comment on other comments made in another thread about Gregorian hymns as Catholic and the rest as "Protestant" ... again this is a distortion, even though allowance was made for Anglican hymns and German (meaning, I suppose, "Lutheran") chorales, thus leaving out German, French, Spanish, Italian (and even English/American or other) Catholic hymns (tunes and or texts). Moreover, to lump anything other than Catholic, German (Lutheran?), or Anglican hymns in a "Protestant" cloak is still a distortion ... what about hymns of Byzantine Greek or Slavic origin? ... are Wesley's hymns simply "Protestant" ... is "O Lord my God ... How great Thou art" a grossly American "Protestant" hymn and tune (no, it is not ... the tune and text come from the Swedish "O store Gud"). Why do Catholics always seem to sing "O sacred Head, surrounded" to a Bach harmonization of a Lutheran chorale tune? And, getting back to things Catholic ... what about all those good old Catholic hymns (we know they are Catholic because the texts are translations) that are so popular from times before guitars took over?

    It just ain't that simple, folks.
    Thanked by 1toddevoss
  • Chuck, I been sayin' this stuff fer decades, y'all jes talk 'bout it much purdier! Used ta give workshops on 'em, like in Sacramento back in the day, "Volkslieder and Volkswagens!" Ahead o' m' time, dagnabbit. Anyhoo, durn glad you's on board!
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    It seems to me that these gregorian hymns are what was in mind when option 4 was written in p 48 in the GIRM, specifically the new translation of the GIRM.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,423
    It seems to me that these gregorian hymns are what was in mind when option 4 was written in p 48 in the GIRM,

    Why? Because you want that to be true?

    specifically the new translation of the GIRM.

    "Cantus" means a thing that is sung, not specifically a chant. It's the original that matters, not the translation.
    Given traditionalists' penchant for shouting about "actual, not active," I don't think it's fair to suddenly point to the translation of a word into English as somehow binding on policy.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,872
    Thanks for that clarification, Adam! How things can suffer from translation (and insisting on the possibly altered meaning of the translation).
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,423
    How does the psalm go?
    Chant to the Lord a new chant!

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,861
    Let me support Adam's argument.

    Which version of the US-adapted GIRM 48 are we talking about? The 2003 edition on the USCCB website? That has:

    (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.

    The Latin counterpart for that, without the US adaptation, is:

    alius cantus, actioni sacræ, diei vel temporis indoli congruus, cuius textus a Conferentia Episcoporum sit approbatus.

    That is, "another song, appropriate to the sacred action [i.e., which part of Mass] or the character of the day or season, whose text is approved by the Conference of Bishops."

    So what fits within the category of "song, appropriate to the sacred action or the character of the day or season"? Is it only plainsong?

    For a clue, I look to Musicam Sacram. It lists various types of music the people are to be singing, including:

    [16a:] antiphons and psalms, refrains or repeated responses, hymns and canticles.

    This makes a distinction between several genres:
    • "hymns" (let's say that refers to Gregorian office hymns and compositions of like structure)
    • "canticles" (which I assume are Scriptural texts)
    • "antiphons and psalms" (from the Graduale Romanum or the Simplex), and
    • "refrains or repeated responses" (e.g, the refrains of verse-and-refrain songs).

    Compared to those specific genres, "cantus" is pretty broad. I expect it includes all of those.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,872
    From (of all places) Wikipedia, some more fodder to digest:

    From the Old Testament, the Roman Breviary takes seven canticles for use at Lauds, as follows:

    On Sundays and Festivals, the "Canticle of the Three Children" (Daniel 3:57).

    On Mondays, the "Canticle of Isaias the Prophet" (Isaiah 12).

    On Tuesdays, the "Canticle of Ezechias" (Isaiah 38:10-20).

    On Wednesdays, the "Canticle of Anna" (1 Samuel 2:1-10).

    On Thursdays, the "Canticle of Moses" (Exodus 15:1-19).

    on Fridays the "Canticle of Habacuc" (Hab., iii 2-19).

    On Saturdays, the "Canticle of Moses" (Deuteronomy 32:1-43).

    These canticles take the place of a fourth psalm at Lauds. From the New Testament the Breviary takes the following:

    At Lauds, the "Canticle of Zachary" (Luke 1:68-79), commonly referred to as the "Benedictus" (from its first word);

    At Vespers, the "Canticle of the Bl. Mary Virgin" (Luke 1:46-55), commonly known as the "Magnificat" (from its first word).

    At Compline, the "Canticle of Simeon" (Luke 2:29-32), commonly referred to as the "Nunc dimittis" (from the opening words).

    I think the following is quite interesting (especially in the use of instruments):

    The ten canticles so far mentioned do not exhaust the portions of Sacred Scripture which are styled "canticles". There are, so example, those of Deborah and Barac, Judith, the "canticle of Canticles"; and many psalms (e.g. xvii, 1, "this canticle"; xxxviii,1, "canticle of David"; xliv,1, "canticle for the beloved"; and the first verse of Pss. 1xiv, 1xv, 1xvi, 1xvii, etc.). In the first verse of some psalms the phrase psalmus cantici (the psalm of a canticle) is found, and in others the phrase canticum psalmi (a canticle of a psalm). Cardinal Bona thinks that psalmus cantici indicated that the voice was to precede the instrumental accompaniment, while canticum psalmi indicated an instrumental prelude to the voice. This distinction follows from his view of a canticle as an unaccompanied vocal song, and of a psalm as an accompanied vocal song.

    It is not easy to distinguish satisfactorily the meanings of psalm, hymn, canticle, as referred to by St. Paul in two places. Canticum appears to be generic - a song, whether sacred or secular; and there is reason to think that his admonition did not contemplate religious assemblies of the Christians, but their social gatherings. In these the Christians were to sing "spiritual songs", and not the profane or lascivious songs common amongst the pagans. These spiritual songs were not exactly psalms or hymns.

    The hymn may then be defined as a metrical or rhythmical praise of God; and the psalm, accompanied sacred song or canticle, either taken from the Psalms or from some less authoritative source (St. Augustine declaring that a canticle may be without a psalm but not a psalm without a canticle).
    (emphasis mine)