Strong Hymns....Strong Community NCR Online article
  • This is on NCR? My mind is blown.
  • oldhymnsoldhymns
    Posts: 226
    Me too!....will wonders ever cease?
  • Even a stopped watch.....

    Remember to look for more gems of truth, rather than merely rejoicing in this one.

    Thanked by 1NihilNominis
  • No problem agreeing with the idea that once a strong text is paired with a strong tune, you shouldn't change it: don't be taking a well known tune and trying to sing some other set of words to it. Musicians get what you're doing and that it's possible. But for everyone else, it just messes with their heads. (I'm convinced that the reason Hail Redeemer King Divine gets such short-shift: too many possible tunes, not one knows which it should be.)
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,987
    I guess I've only ever heard HRKD to ST GEORGE'S WINDSOR.
  • OK. She found a very strong hymn, both text and tune. She found in the key of C. While that might be the original key, most hymnals now have it in Bb, not just Catholic hymnals. Let her find the original "strong" texts, word for word, in a Catholic hymnal, without modernizations, with the original thee's and thou's, etc. That's a difficult challenge.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,987
    It should be noted, however, that revision of metrical hymn texts was not uncommon in the past. Else most of us would still be familiar with welkins at Christmas.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,164
    Hmmm ... key of C major at #203 in Worship II, at #680 in The Hymnal 1982, and at #533, #28, #117 in three editions of The Methodist Hymnal (1939, 1966, 1989).

    #405 in Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (2013), p.439
    #687 in to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal (2013), p.854
    #566 in Celebrating Grace Hymnal (2010), p.533
    #632 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), p.881
    #733 in Lutheran Service Book (2006), p.713
    #161 in Church Hymnary (4th ed.) (2005), p.297
    #170 in African American Heritage Hymnal (2001), p.225
    #537 in Common Praise: A new edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (2000), p.1139
    #160 in Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996), p.393
    # 25 in The New Century Hymnal (1995), p.104
    # 74 in Baptist Hymnal 1991 (1991), p.66
    #210 in Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs (1990), p.233
    # 30 in Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) (1990), p.30
    # 67 in Sing Joyfully (1989), p.70
    #417 in The New English Hymnal (1986), p.883
    # 52 in The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration (1986), p.57
    and more than 100 instances more in hymnals cited at

    Very few versions of St Anne (fixed) in B-flat major. A few other tunes, though.

  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,301
    St Anne?
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,164
    Oops, sorry ... it's late ... fixed St Anne (instead of St Agnes).
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 401
    The original tune of Hail Redeemer, King Divine is KING DIVINE, written in the 1930s for the new Liverpool cathedral which was never completed in its original form.
    I've never heard it (in the UK) to any tune but this, written by Charles Rigby, 1901-1962
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • HRKD has been set to at least three different tunes:

    1) HYMN TO CHRIST THE KING - REX by William Henry Grattan Flood (1859-1928) - as here:
    2) ST GEORGES WINDSOR by George J Elvey (1816-1893)
    3) HAIL, REDEEMER aka KING DIVINE by Charles, Rigby (1901-1962).

    The least-formally-trained musician in my current parish knows two of these - and unless reminded, starts playing KING DIVINE (I think) which the other musicians in her group don't know instead of the one they know (REX). Singers and congregation are 50/50 between the two - no matter which is played, some will give the "you're doing it all wrong" look.

    To make matters worse, our curate recently taught another hymn again (can't remember which, but it was a classic that I'd have liked to re-introduce to the repertoire) to the REX tune - the one I'd been trying to focus people on for HRKD because it's what our more-formally-trained musician knows.

    So now I'm scared to program it at all.

    One Text <=> One Tune is the only way to go, IMHO. All the better if they're both strong.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,164
    One example (of many):

    "Come, thou long-expected Jesus" is a strong Advent hymn (in my estimation), well-known to two different tunes, STUTTGART and HYFRYDOL. Interestingly enough, the metres aren't the same, the former being 87.87, the latter being 87.87.D. Moreover, HYFRYDOL is used for various other texts, including the "strong:texts "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus" and "Love divine, all loves excelling" (the latter perhaps better known in some circles to BEECHER).

    I just don't buy into the One Text <~~~> One Tune as a blanket principle. There are too many texts and tunes that don't fit this paradigm.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,987
    "I just don't buy into the One Text <~~~> One Tune as a blanket principle."


    Metrical indexes of tunes would be much less useful if it were a governing principle (though I very much appreciate indexes that distinguish trochaic/iambic/either for the most common meters). That doesn't mean all tunes in the same meter work as well for a given text - some tunes just marry better with certain texts. (Then again, I think My Country 'Tis of Thee set to MOSCOW is lovely to *sing*.)

    Of course, congregational familiarity is an important consideration, but, for texts that are relatively unfamiliar involve greater discernment. For example, I strongly prefer SANDON for "Lead Kindly Light", but I know others might strongly differ. I suspect most American Catholic congregations today don't know it anymore, so the (re-)introduction of the text to such congregations today allows room for maneuver in choice of tune. There are new LM texts for which lovely but less used tunes like DANBY might serve well rather than the most well known LM tunes. YMMV.
  • I generally (or, at least, conditionally) 'buy into' Chuck's assertion regarding the often indefensible 'one tune-one text' paradigm. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it gets in the way.

    I think that there would be a justified rebellion of grand proportions if some nut foolishly offered a text other than 'O come, all ye faithful' to Adeste fideles. There be many other such 'sacred cows' in our repertory that are components of our cultural DNA. Bianco da Siena and RVW's 'Come down, O love divine'-Down Ampney comes to mind.

    I've never heard 'Come, thou long-expected Jesus' to Chuck's Hyfrydol and hope that I never do. All things being equal, it is/would be a poor, very poor, marriage of text and tune. Other tunes may or may not compliment this hallowed text.

    Hyfrydol itself seems remarkably versatile, working very well with several texts which Chuck mentions - but not with all that are mangled, glass slipper-like, onto it. I must say, though, that having last summer fallen under the spell of Braenwern I am no longer enchanted to sing 'Love divine...' to anything else; indeed, it makes (at least to me) 'Love divine...' sung to Hyfrydol seem like 'old hat'. Still, though, 'old hat' is not necessarily (though it sometimes is) 'bad hat'.

    Then, there are a few tunes, such as Moscow and Eerie (known by some of us as Ass's Bray), that should never have been invented.

    Unfortunately, the motivation of many for switching tune-text relationships is not aesthetical or musical, whereby one seeks a different musical expression for purely artistic reasons. Those benighted souls who switch tunes just because 'the people don't know' the one given are short-changing their people, assuming that they are idiots, or just don't want to bother teaching. Here, we are dealing with shut minds - very shut.

    We see this at work even in hymnal publications. There are a number of poorly adapted tune-text pairings in Worship IV which attempt to make the most of well known tunes (In Babilone comes to mind) by marrying them to texts which result in what can only be called aesthetical jokes.

    Many hymns can be well-served when paired with an unusual tune that truly brings out something in the text that 'the other tune' didn't. Most of the time, though, such motivations are not at work, and too many people who dabble in the index of tunes should have someone tear that index out of their books for them.
    Thanked by 2Viola CHGiffen
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 401
    We sing 'Come, thou long expected Jesus' to 'Cross of Jesus' by Sir John Stainer (from the Crucifixion oratorio). Poor old Hyfrydol is overused in my opinion; it seems to be the default 87 87 D tune.
    'Congregational familiarity' can be taken too far. Someone at a recent liturgy meeting here actually suggested that, in order to help the congregation participate, we should have just one tune for each different metre, so all hymns in that metre would go to the same tune. A stunned silence followed.
  • ...stunned silence followed.

    How fitting that there was silence.
    How even better that it was stunned!

    (And Cross of Jesus has to be one of the most deliriously, angelically, gracious melodies in all tunedom. It couldn't be anything other than English.)
    Thanked by 1Viola
  • One place a standard melody for each meter actually would be quite helpful is in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours (at least as far as the present US version goes). I know quite a few who pray the liturgy of the hours individually or in small groups who would prefer to sing the hymns for each hour but don't for lack of being able to remember a suitable tune.
  • ...lack of being able to remember...

    Well, they could always get out a hymnal and look one up.
    Or, better yet, the breviary ought to include such tunes or their names... some do.
  • Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me....


    the theme to Gilligan's Island.

    Can we imagine singing the text of Amazing Grace to that tune?

  • The amazing thing about 'Amazing Grace' is that people seem to relish calling themselves wretches. Is this how we thank the God of love for creating us? Of course, we all feel wretched at times, and do wretched things, but that is different from thinking of God's creations, in his very own image, yet, (not to mention redeemed at great cost) as wretches. This doesn't seem to me to be spiritually, theologically, or psychologically healthy.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,724
    One place a standard melody for each meter actually would be quite helpful is in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours

    Not so strange in the Divine Office, The Hymns for the BVM are usually set to one melody. Also the Dominican and Ambrosian offices have relatively few melodies, so not one melody per meter but not many more.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,987
    Well, if you had been the captain of slave ships and had a Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience in West Africa, wretch is hardly adequate. The thing is, many people do have an experience of feeling wretched for divers reasons without going into full-blown Calvinistic TULIP mania, as it were. The text is not about being wretched - it's about being redeemed. (The complaint about "wretch" tends to echo the reaction of Unitarian and Congregationalist Boston Brahmins of the 19th century to what they considered a fad for Episcopalianism among some of their brethren - that all that kneeling et cet. was at the very least indecorous.)

    For better or for worse from a Catholic perspective, the Anglican Reformation had one profound cultural effect on the English-speaking world: it made it an emphatically hymn-loving world. (It's not for nothing that any English-speaking worship that lacks metrical hymnody appears to seem lacking to most. It's that deep in the warp and weft of the Anglosphere. It's probably the one thing I'd consider as "inculturation" in an English-Roman liturgical context. Not pop music forms - they are not nearly as deep as a cultural matter.) And Amazing Grace will endure long after all of us are gone from this mortal plane.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,698
    .... we are also not to see ourselves as Haugen paints our identity...

    I never sing these foolish and words. In fact I don't sing most of the trash that is "performed" at our parish.

    Gather us in – the rich and the haughty,
    gather us in – the proud and the strong;

    Now I believe I am what I'm singing
    Give me the courage to turn down this song.
  • If a hymn is recognized as a prayer:

    Using more than one text on a tune is an excellent way to increase the number of hymn texts that enter into the prayer life of a Catholic church.

    But at the same time, the importance of the prayer is diminished when verses need to be cut to make it fit into the Mass.

    Hymns have been part of the liturgy of hours for centuries, where they are central to the worship and not truncated.

    The argument for restoring propers is not to stop singing hymns, but to sing them as the prayers they are. If the Mass calls for music that fills the time of processions that does not delay the Mass, why are we singing hymns?

    The idea of singing antiphons and verses was brilliant, the perfect solution. Why change that?

    No spoken prayer at Mass is ever shortened.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • Someone at a recent liturgy meeting here actually suggested

    Suggesting=Meddling with the Liturgy
  • No spoken prayer at Mass is ever shortened.

    You haven't met my parish priest!
    Thanked by 1Spriggo
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,987
    As at least one priest who offered Mass before Vatican II, it was so much faster when you could whisper on the inhale as well as the exhale....
  • Using more than one text on a tune... to increase...

    Why, yes! That's why we sing all the Gregorian texts to the same tune, isn't it. Why all this bother to tax our minds in the learning of multiple chant melodies?! And, what's good for chant should be good for hymnody.
    Thanked by 2KyleM18 PaxMelodious
  • KyleM18
    Posts: 150
    Uh, check several of the mainstream hymnals. Both pange linguas, as well as the corpus christi sequence, are on the same chant (and probably a few others). Multiple songs are sung to Adoro te devote.

    I use the 1:1 rule only with the more popular hymns. Newer hymns I'll use different tunes for sometimes. Some songs go well with multiple tunes, and some tunes (LASST UNS ERFREUEN) go well with a bunch of texts. I use both St. Louis and Forest Green for "O Little Town of Bethlehem", but have used Forest Green also for "Come Sing A Home And Family".

    (The purple is meant for sarcasm, am i right? Still new to this forum)
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,987
    (The purple is meant for sarcasm, am i right? Still new to this forum)


    And beware The Dot or Box of Gold. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • And, come to think of it! Why not, instead of having to learn so much music, just sing the entire Messiah to the tune for 'Comfort ye', or, if you prefer, 'Hallelujah!'.

    (For most of my life I have felt that if I could do something, then anyone could do it.
    We have, on the other hand, too many priests and even musicians, not to mention parents, whose motto is 'if I can't [or don't want to] do it, then it follows that nobody can'. - this is the syndrome which we have noted on other threads whereby one projects his and her own ignorance or negativities onto others.)

  • I would never suggest one size fits all metered melodies as an ideal, or even a normative way of doing things. However, it may have marginal utility as a last resort back-up option, particularly for those who are not trained musicians. Better for people to add music to their prayer life, even if a bit clumsily, it may encourage them to grow toward something more elegant in time.

    By the way, I abhor that wretched setting of the Magnificat to the tune of Amazing Grace, sometimes when a text and tune become so intimately associated it can only be considered a marriage it would be like a divorce to pair them with something else.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 690
    This is a good article, thanks for sharing. Regarding the content and text of hymns there is an old church axiom, as the church prays she believes, right? Should we not apply this belief to our hymns. As the church sings, she believes?

    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,987
    "And, come to think of it! Why not, instead of having to learn so much music, just sing the entire Messiah to the tune for 'Comfort ye', or, if you prefer, 'Hallelujah!'."

    Don't forget the wonderful percussive effect of banging fork and knife handles on the table during "All We Like Sheep".
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • particularly for those who are not trained musicians.

    I've found those who have the least musical training and aptitude have the most difficulty with the idea of one tune having different texts to it. The only way it works with them is if they don't notice that it's the same tune as some other hymn.
  • I've found...

    This isn't difficult to believe.
    People remember most things exactly as they were taught them.
    Change a note or leave one out (as in those silly little quavers in Grosser Gott, for instance) and they will sing it just the way they always have.
    It's much easier to teach a new hymn with its new tune.
    It's not only easier, but will make them much richer.

    Certain persons just can't get it through their dense heads that 'the people' are not stupid or learning disabled. These persons, not 'the people', are the real problem.

    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen