An Easter Hymn--Text for Discussion
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    In another thread, Fr. Krisman offers a hymn for comments, and makes this observation:
    [This] text wants to celebrate the totality of creation and redemption, as we attempt to celebrate all of it at the Easter vigil. This is the ultimate "catalog aria." There is just so much that invites our attention: we are like kids in a well stocked candy shop. The text points us here, then there, now over to that aspect. Take this in, now consider this. It's all so wonderful.

    That's what I experience with this text. It's a paeon of praise for God's love in creating and redeeming us. I want to scream for joy.

    Here is a text I wrote with similar exuberant motivations in mind, and I present it to you here in the hope that you will comment on it. It hasn't gone through any editing or vetting, so I would be interested in honest feedback. Go ahead, play whack-a-mole. The tune I had in mind was ENGELBERG.

    Let Easter alleluias fill this place
    for God has sanctified the human race,
    fulfilling all the pledges of His grace,
    Alleluia!

    Why seek the Living One among the dead?
    The Lord was raised in glory as He said.
    That we might follow where our Master led,
    Alleluia!

    The path of glory shines before our eyes:
    the Christian road that leads beyond the skies.
    By crucifixion and by death we rise,
    Alleluia!

    The stone and soldiers kept their watch in vain,
    And Christ, once raised, shall never die again.
    All praise and honor to the Lamb once slain.
    Alleluia!

    Come quickly, Jesus, prove your promise true.
    Bring all creation into life anew:
    a living sacrifice of praise to You,
    Alleluia!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    I have read through Kathy’s text perhaps a dozen times this morning. Without addressing the five stanzas individually, except for stanza 1, my most important overall impression of the text – which has not changed all morning – is that it lacks coherence. It is not clear where it wants to go, with two stanzas (2 and 4) pulling us in the direction of reflections about the empty tomb, and the other three all containing good but rather unrelated thoughts.

    I think the incoherence problem begins in stanza 1, line 2, “for God has sanctified the hymn race.” No one can fault the truth of this line, but it does not seem to be the expected response to the question “Why?” elicited by the hymn’s opening line: Let Easter alleluias fill this place. Why should Easter alleluias fill this place? Not because “God has sanctified the human race” – which comes across as being the most forced rhyme in the entire text. As wonderful as our salvation and sanctification are, we rejoice because Jesus Christ lives, he has been raised!

    There appears to be no development of the “sanctification of the human race” theme throughout the rest of the text after it is mentioned in stanza 1, line 2, so why make that the reason for our Easter alleluias?

    There certainly is nothing wrong with retelling the empty tomb story in a contemporary text. But it needs to be told in a fresh, new way, exploring new images.

    I think the first thing to be done to create a coherence and a development in the text is to place the stanzas – perhaps - in this order: 1, 4, 2, 3, 5.

    My second overall impression is that too many of the lines sound like they are from other hymns. Certainly some of that will happen when a hymn writer employs scriptural references; since other hymn writers have used the same references, the resulting verses in their hymnic creations are bound to have similarities. Also when the author's knowledge of other hymns is a broad as I am sure Kathy's is, there's bound to be some unconscious borrowing of phrases.

    I’ll say more about individual stanzas, if this first posting gets a fruitful discussion going.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Fr. Krisman,

    Your overall impression of "incoherence" certainly surprises me, as the idea for introducing this text here came from your exultation in a hymn that takes the form of a "litany" or "catalog aria." That is what this text is meant to be, a kind of joyous list. I am not sure you understand that style in a WIV text but not in one of mine. Interesting.

    I will answer each of your criticisms in turn, and would appreciate your response. This is #1.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    (By the way, that #1 above and doubtlessly here doesn't lead to anywhere. For some reason that's a software thingy.)
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    2. The sanctification of the human race comes up in line 3 of verse 2 and is the entire theme of verses 3 and 5.
    It is not a randomly placed line. The Exultet itself follows this form. Why does this holy building shake with joy? Why is it truly right to acclaim the Eternal Father and His only Son? Because of our redemption.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    There certainly is nothing wrong with retelling the empty tomb story in a contemporary text. But it needs to be told in a fresh, new way, exploring new images.

    This is one of the metaproblems that rings through all of our discussions here, so if you don't mind I will start a new thread about this. Suffice it to say here that there is enough biblical imagery to fill any hymnal, and I believe it should always be preferred to new imagery that comes from outside the scriptures, because the scriptural imagery is part of revelation.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    Ah, but there is a great difference in the two texts. The Dufner text is litanic, mentioning a list of things but not attempting to develop any single one of them into a separate stanza. And the readings and ritual actions of the Easter vigil provide the framework for the development of images in Sr. Delores' hymn.

    I don't view my participation in this discussion of your text as a "debate" where one of us is trying to score points in front of an audience of onlookers who themselves are not participants.

    If we are the only participants, let's carry on the conversation off line, shall we? You know how to contact me.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    As far as I know, there are only two borrowings from other hymns, and they were quite conscious:
    verse 2 line 2: the Regina Caeli's resurrexit sicut dixit
    verse 4 line 1: Wesley's Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, as I've mentioned on this blog in one of the discussions in which you participated, and on the Chant Cafe, on a post to which I linked from that discussion.

    There are direct borrowings from Scripture throughout. Perhaps this is what you recognize. I would be happy to provide citations if that would be helpful.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    I don't understand. Is there some problem with discussing things in public?
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    Good:
    I like it.
    My favorite line: "By crucifixion and by death we rise"
    I don't find it the least bit incoherent.

    Bad:
    "vain" and "slain" do not rhyme with "again" - at least not where I come from

    Suggestion:
    add a second "Alleluia" and sing it to SINE NOMINE
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    My favorite line: "By crucifixion and by death we rise"

    Haha, that is my least favorite line. It sounds clunky to me.

    About vain and slain, true.

    I was going to say that SINE NOMINE introduces caesuras into the middle of my words, but actually the caesuras are there with ENGELBERG, just less noticeably so.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    I love SINE NOMINE - I use it for "When in our music" instead of ENGLBERG when I'm able- and I think ti works really well with this Easter text.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    Suggestion:
    add a second "Alleluia" and sing it to SINE NOMINE


    This suggestion does not work for me. ENGLEBERG and SINE NOMINE are not always interchangeable. The first musical phrase of SINE NOMINE, with a dotted half note on the fourth syllable, seems to call more for a text with this meter: 4 6 10 10 with alleluias. How's text does have 2 words which do not conclude on the dotted half note (vs. 3 soldiers; vs. 4 communion). But in Kathy's text the fourth syllable in each stanza does not conclude the word it is part of.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    I agree.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    If an organist played, or a congregation sang, SINE NOMINE as if the first four syllables and the six that follow are two separate lines, I'm pretty sure I'd have to find another parish. In fact, if I had to guess, I'd say this is probably the number one reason for the decline in attendance at Mainline Protestant congregations.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Haha.

    It's too big a caesura for me.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    Adam,

    I don't think you are understanding my point. It has nothing to do with singing the four syllables and the six syllables any differently.

    With Kathy's text sung to SINE NOMINE the first stanza in particular is not pleasing:

    Let East-er al---------- le-lu-ias.... (I'm exaggerating the length that "al-" is held, but that's the problem area.)
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    De gustibus.

    I like it..
  • Kathy,

    Have you considered using your text (adding two more ending "Alleluias") to the tune FREDERICKTOWN? I was introduced to this fine tune during our Worship IV committee meetings, and find it hauntingly beautiful. The tune is in Worship IV at #971, and would take care of the caesura issue. Also, the rising melody of the first part of the second phrase of this tune would serve your text quite well.

    FREDERICKTOWN was also the tune used for the text "When In Our Music, God Is Glorified" in the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship. In the 2006 hymnal Evangelical Lutheran Worship, "When In Our Music" is printed twice, once with ENGELBERG and once with FREDERICKTOWN.

    Speaking of tunes of this meter (10 10 10 with alleluias/refrain)... there was a wonderful article in the July 1993 journal, The Hymn (published by the Hymn Society) written by Austin Lovelace, entitled "Which Is the Right Tune?" Austin discusses FIVE different possible tunes for the text "When In Our Music," commenting on how the five tunes do or do not serve the text. Very interesting reading!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    rk- I get it.
    I just disagree.

    But it's a matter of taste.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    Maybe it's because I like SINE NOMINE at c. ♩ = 144
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    Well, Kathy and I do agree!

    Who woudda thunk?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Well, Kathy and I do agree!

    Who woudda thunk?

    Haha.

    One of the reasons we agree, I think, is because we're at the same zoom level. Up till now, I think, one of us has been talking about details whenever the other has been talking about the big picture. Apples and oranges.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    rk: I was amazed the first couple times it happened to me, too.
    Thanked by 2Kathy ronkrisman
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    NOTHING in church should be at 144. Now, if you want to take the the half note at 72....

    Or the whole at 36.....
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood Kathy
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Another reason is we're not talking about theology.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    My metronome is not accurate down at 36. Best to keep it at least at 72, but 144 would add a bit of percussion.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Fr. Chepponis,

    I really like Fredericktown! I don't think it's modal, quite, but it has that vibe.

    A problem with ENGELBERG is you could sing a chicken pot pie recipe to it and it would sound thrilling. I hope my text could stand up with something softer.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Chicken pot pie

    You take the bird and put it in the pan
    just let it simmer, leave the lid on, man,
    and when it's cooked, remove and let it stand
    for about a quarter hour!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,331
    I like most of this text, but the first line with "this place" has a self-referential feel about it: singing about us, here. I probably wouldn't mind that in the last verse of a hymn.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    Just take the chicken, thaw it out and then
    Be sure to rinse (you don't know where it's been)
    And chop the veggies, garlic, and on-yen
    Alleluia!

    Unroll the dough onto your baking dish
    then put the stuff in, anyway you wish
    and cook until it's good and golden-ish
    Alleluia!
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    beat me to it
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    And in the meantime, make the crust for pie
    prebake it at three hundred sev'nty-five
    when golden brown remove and set it by
    till the filling's ready!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    hahahahaha
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    unsurprisingly, yours is way better.
    But you did cheat: "pie" and "five"; "pan" and "stand"

    Maybe I should get over my rhyme issue...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Dude, I think yours is way better. I love (you don't know where it's been)
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Re: "now"

    We both used the word "just" as a placeholder in verse 1
  • I think my above post at 3:44 may have gotten just a little lost in the shuffle... or kerfuffle... or (anyone know other words that rhyme with shuffle and kerfuffle?!)

    Anyway, I just re-read the article from The Hymn. Austin Lovelace comments:
    "The most striking feature of FREDERICKTOWN (LBW 555, named for the composer's birthplace) is the sequence of Alleluias. The first is in A minor, the second in F major, and the last returns to A minor, ending in C major with the opening note of the hymn tune (the third) in the soprano."
    Thanked by 2Kathy CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    We both used the word "just" as a placeholder in verse 1


    well, when I submit it for publication in the next edition of Hymns, Psalms and Culinary Songs, I'll spend a little more time on it.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    That article sounds fascinating. Is it available online?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,331
    duffel, muffle, and ruffle
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    stuff'l - as in "that stuff'l kill ya"
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Hymns, Psalms and Culinary Songs,

    This is what biblical scholars call a "redaction."

    But cooks call it a "reduction."

    Fr. Chepponis, I'd like to read the article too.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Kathy & Adam,

    I don't know if the Hymn Society has digitized the back copies of The Hymn. I tried an internet search, to no avail. Maybe Ron would know?

    The article is on pages 10-14 of the July 1993 journal, Vol. 44, No. 3. I think it's still under copyright. I wish I could send it to you, but feel uncomfortable doing so due to the copyright issue. I hope you understand!

    Perhaps contacting The Hymn Society would help. Back issues are also probably available in some libraries.
  • MarkThompson
    Posts: 768
    A few thoughts about this hymn (the real one, not the chicken pot pie alt. text). Kathy, you may chalk any points of approval up to your talent, and any any disagreement up to sexism.

    First, what did I like?

    1. The rhymes are great and do not seem forced. "Again" is the clear exception; I assumed you included it to make your hymn sound like it was written in the 1880s, but maybe this was just an error. In particular, you do not rely on any unnatural inversions to jimmy a rhyming word into final position in a line.

    2. I liked the reference to resurrexit sicut dixit. I also appreciated the apparent reference in the final line of v. 4 to Rev. 5:12; I think this could be improved by replacing "praise" with one of the things actually mentioned in that verse. Perhaps not easy to do, meter-wise.

    3. And I liked the notion in the final line of the hymn of "a living sacrifice of praise." Of course, the concept of sacrifice is implicit in many of the other references in the text, but it might be nice to see one other concrete reference to "sacrifice" to have something to connect this last line back to.

    4. All in all, it is a solid, traditional-sounding hymn. It contains nothing trite, frivolous, or extraneous, which is in itself a great victory.


    What didn't I like so much?

    1. Even before reading Fr. Krisman's comment, I thought, "This is out of order," and I came up with the exact same suggested ordering of stanzas: 1, 4, 2, 3, 5. In particular, the reference to "the stone and soldiers" seems to come much too late. And I have to disagree that there is anything litanic in the slightest about this hymn text. I happen to find the text pretty coherent, but even if it were incoherent, a mere series of unconnected references does not a litany make.

    2. "That we might follow where our Master led." A sentence fragment.

    3. "The path of glory": I think that for many literate people this will be hard to read without mentally supplying as the rest of the line, "lead[s] but to the grave." Kind of the opposite of what you had in mind. A change as simple as "path to glory" would fix the problem, and indicate as well that "glory" is the destination.

    4. In v. 4, ll. 2-3, I do not care for the double usage of "once." This is particularly so as I read their meanings differently: the "once" in "once risen" as meaning "already, before," and the "once" in "once slain" as meaning "one time only." If I were you, I would find a way to eliminate the first instance.

    5. "Come quickly, Jesus": this phrase seems very out of place -- it sounds like it's from an Advent hymn. I know, I know; you are talking about the Second Coming. That doesn't change the fact that this really sounds like it's from an Advent hymn.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Digression alert
    I don't care if I come off as a weepy gramma from "I Remember Mama" or not, but I am so pleased to have Rvs. Krisman and Chepponis still breaking bread and syntax among us, I just had to say it "out loud.
    (Am I hearing a few diehards mumbling "Idiot Old California Hippy?") Yeah, well....
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,518
    Just remember we love our old California hippy!
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    In addition to some things already mentioned by others that I too think call for alterations in the text, I had a few others.

    In stanza 2, I had a different reading of the final line than Mark. I thought line two had the wrong punctuation (a period in place of what should be a comma) and wondered if line 3 were intended to be a purpose clause and, if so, whether the statement is adequate.

    In stanza 4, I wondered if inanimate things “keep watch.” (And, contrary to Adam, I think “vain/again/slain” are still considered to be perfect rhymes despite the usual American pronunciation of “again.”)

    Finally, will the references to “pledges” in stanza 1 and “promise” in stanza 5 be understood by most of those who sing this text?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Thanks, Mark.

    For me, persistent dismissiveness of the only two women on the blog with whom I've ever noticed you interact, and never of men, seemed sexist. Repeatedly, I would make a point which, even if you didn't agree with it, was thoughtful and worthy of respect. And you just smacked them down. So whatever that was, I hope it doesn't happen again.

    But water over the dam, unless you want to redress, which is understandable.

    ***

    Thanks for your very kind words.

    About the problems:
    1, 4 and 5. I realize that this is the odd duck in the herd. There are ways in which it's the weakest of the verses--the lame (but commonly accepted, I think) rhyme, the two onces. But, there are ways in which it's the strongest verse. Line 1 has the only real turn of an image in the hymn (the stone keeping watch), and a reference to Wesley that I think is clear even if I didn't keep explaining it.

    It plays with time:
    line 1: we see the empty tomb of the Gospels
    line 2: we hear the apostolic preaching (Romans 6:9)
    line 3: the voices of the redeemed sing their praises to the Lamb (Rev 5:12). Which leads right into the first line of verse 5, which is also from Revelation, the voice of the Church in the second to last verse of the whole Bible.


    2. The previous line ought to end with a comma. My bad.

    3. Seriously? I mean, I was aware of this poem, but it's not something I've memorized. Have a lot of people? In any case, the quote would be "paths of glory." Is this really in a lot of people's minds? (Show of hands?) If I thought it were super necessary, "path to glory" would be okay as a substitute, but you lose something important. The path of glory is itself glorious. Glory isn't a destination, it's a road. Already it shines, see?

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Finally, will the references to “pledges” in stanza 1 and “promise” in stanza 5 be understood by most of those who sing this text?

    This is a fair question. Maybe not at first glance. But, I think that's ok in a hymn, as long as there aren't too many things like that, and if they are really deeply true.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Something that is probably obvious but which I might as well state is the strong sense of connection between the resurrection and the eschaton. It seems to me that what Timothy T'ingfang Lew calls "The final consummation/ the glory of all things" is present, in seed form, in the resurrection. We all have to buy into it to be part of it, but that heavenly song of the redeemed is already a given fact. Just because it hasn't happened in fullness yet, according to our point of view in time, doesn't make it any less present or real.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen