Archive for Novembro, 2009

Nằm yên trong máng chiền kia

Novembro 26, 2009
Nằm yên trong máng chiền kia

Nằm yên trong máng chiền kia

This is the first verse of the Vietnamese version of “Away in a manger” that is found in my only Vietnamese hymnal, the Christian & Missionary Alliance-published Thánh Ca, where it is hymn #58. There are two stanzas, each twice as long as the English and Esperanto stanzas I am familiar with, and it is set to SPILMAN, a tune also known by its best-known text’s incipit, “Flow gently, sweet Afton” (not to be confused with AFTON WATER, Robert Burns’ tune for the text). I’m interested in knowing more about it: who translated it, and when? what exactly does it say, and does that meaning correspond closely, loosely or not at all to the English original, in whole or in part (and if in part, what part(s))? is it the “canonical” Vietnamese version of this carol? is it always sung to SPILMAN or does it also find itself set to MUELLER and/or CRADLE SONG?  I despair of ever learning enough Vietnamese to answer these questions for myself.


New Books! And a wiki!

Novembro 25, 2009

Just a note to mention the two latest acquisitions for the Ann E. Beatty Hymnal Collection:

  • An American Christmas Harp: A Choice Collection… (3rd ed.), a wonderful fasola shapenote book edited by Karen E. Willard. This new (Oct. 2009) edition contains almost 100 tunes, mostly from the early American shapenote traditions but some of English provenance or recent manufacture, with wonderful Christmas texts, largely from the same sources but in many cases newly tied to these tunes.
  • Rejoice in the Lord, a hymnal (1985) of the Reformed Church in America, one of the last works of Erik Routley, who edited its music. It’s a great hymnal, and quite idiosyncratic. Some of the contents leave me scratching my head, but some (such as setting “A stable lamp is lighted” to ES IST EIN’ ROS’ ENTSPRUNGEN) have me wondering why I hadn’t thought of that. And Routley’s paragraph on inclusive language revision of hymns is a joy for me to read: “… we have not often embarked on the extremely hazardous and difficult task of adjusting all language so that it gives no offense to those who regard it as wrong to use the male pronoun for God the Father or God the Holy Spirit. What is appropriate to precise theological discourse is, we believe, not necessarily appropriate to religious lyric. Ours is an era of sensitivity to this issue but it is also a time which has not yet developed a genderless pronoun. In this context, the selection or adjustment of texts to accommodate this awareness would commit us either to omit a very large number of established classics, or so to alter their diction and style as  to make them unrecognizable to singers (and probably to make them a travesty of what their authors intended). For better or for worse, we have gone as far in this matter as our times and good sense would allow….”

Let me also note that I have set up a wiki (at wikispaces) for those hymnal editing tasks which can probably be better done in a wiki than in a blog. It is empty now, but it is likely that I will start filling it soon.

KH5 Come, let us join our cheerful songs

Novembro 18, 2009

Isaac Watts again, this time not a metrical psalm but a spiritual song, in Common Metre:

Come, let us join our cheerful songs
With angels round the throne.
Ten thousand thousand are their tongues,
But all their joys are one.

“Worthy the Lamb that died,” they cry,
“To be exalted thus!”
“Worthy the Lamb,” our hearts reply,
“For He was slain for us!”

Jesus is worthy to receive
Honor and power divine;
And blessings more than we can give,
Be, Lord, forever Thine.

Let all that dwell above the sky,
And air and earth and seas,
Conspire to lift Thy glories high,
And speak Thine endless praise!

The whole creation join in one,
To bless the sacred Name
Of Him Who sits upon the throne,
And to adore the Lamb.

The Karen text is attributed to E. B. Cross, D.D., and has four stanzas (to Watts’s five; which one was omitted?). The 1963 hymnal sets it to GENEVA, by John Cole 1774-1855 [the Cyber Hymnal just calls him “19th century”]; corroboration? The English text is set to many different tunes; my index lists 11 occurrences with 7 different tunes among them (and GENEVA is not one of them). The most frequent is WARWICK (see KH3); others are AZMON, GRÄFENBURG [sic, = GRÄFENBERG = NUN DANKET ALL’], NATIVITY, NEWBOLD (which repeats the last line of each stanza), and NOTTINGHAM (probably meaning ST. MAGNUS), and an unidentified tune arranged by Alfred Smith. The Cyber Hymnal adds one called LOUGHTON, which however looks more like to me.


1. How important is this hymn to Karen worship?

2. How faithful is the text to Watts?

3. Is GENEVA the tune of choice or would a change be welcomed?


Novembro 18, 2009

This three-stanza hymn in an extended Hallelujah Metre ( has heading references to Psalms 27:4, 118:24, and 119:72, and one other (hope I get soon to where I can identify the other books by their abbreviations!). The 1963 hymnal attributes the text to Mrs. C. H. Vinton, matriarch of Karen hymnists. The tune, LISCHER (also called Das Lie­ben Bringt Groß Freud), is of Swabian folk origin, and achieved its current four-part hymn-tune arrangement under Lowell Mason’s hand. It is associated in English with a Sabbath-themed text “Welcome, delightful morn”.

1) How widely sung (and deeply loved) is it in Karen worship?

2) What does the text say, and can an appropriate three-stanza English counterpart be supplied?


Novembro 18, 2009

This is a four-stanza Common Metre hymn attributed to B. C. Thomas. The tune, WARWICK, by Samuel Stanley, is most frequently associated with metrical Psalm 5 adaptations such as the Scottish Psalter’s Lord, thou shalt early hear my voice or Isaac Watts’ Lord, in the morning thou shalt hear, but it does not appear that this Karen text is from that psalm; among other scriptures cited in the heading I do see 119:49, however.

1) How widely sung (and deeply loved) is it in Karen worship?

2) What does the text say, and can an appropriate three-stanza English counterpart be supplied?

KH2 Oh, worship the King, all glorious above

Novembro 13, 2009

O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.

This text by Robert Grant is a reworking of a metrical Psalm 104 by William Kethe in the Genevan Psalter of 1561. The Karen hymnal sets three verses (which?) to LYONS (MIDI), misattributing the tune to F. J. Haydn (it’s actually said to be by Franz Josef’s brother Johann Michael Haydn, though now at Semicolon’s blog I see a different attribution, to Joseph Martin Kraus). This is by far the most common tune for the hymn in US Baptist and evangelical hymnals; the more liturgical churches often set it to HANOVER, and there is also OLD 104TH from Ravenscroft’s Whole Booke of Psalmes, 1621.

This is definitely a major hymn, and not to be omitted.

Aftermatter to the 1963 hymnal

Novembro 13, 2009

In the 1963 Sgaw Karen Hymn and Tune Book, there are a number of items that follow the hymnal proper.

First there are 52 numbered pages, two columns each, where I assume that the first column is from the Old Testament and the second from the New, consisting of what I take to be responsive readings, perhaps a sort of lectionary for the 52 Sundays of a typical year, or perhaps on a variety of topics numbering 52 by mere happenstance. 

This is followed by two pages of brief scripture passages, whose headings I can’t even really guess at.

Next follows what appears to be a first-line index to the hymnal.

Following this, there are two sets of  paired columns of numerals, each two pages long, with six paired columns per page. My guess is that this is a concordance showing where the hymns of one hymnal are to be found in another hymnal, and vice versa. My hunch is that the two hymnals in question are the present (1963) and former (1908) editions. If this surmise is correct, then the fact that hymn #1 appears to have been the same in both strengthens the case for including  it in the next edition, perhaps even as hymn #1. In the first column of the first set, the numbers run from 1 to 542, with relatively few gaps (the first missing item is #35, “Hear our prayer, O Lord”). The second set runs from 1 to 588, and has somewhat more frequent skips at least in the first few dozen numbers.

Then there is an Index of English Titles, and last of all one “Correction”.

I await clarification, correction or corroboration of my guesswork.

KH1 How pleased and blest was I

Novembro 12, 2009

How pleased and blest was I
To hear the people cry,
“Come, let us seek our God today!”
Yes, with a cheerful zeal
We haste to Zion’s hill,
And there our vows and honors pay.

Zion, thrice happy place,
Adorned with wondrous grace,
And walls of strength embrace thee round;
In thee our tribes appear
To pray, and praise, and hear
The sacred Gospel’s joyful sound.

There David’s greater Son
Has fixed His royal throne,
He sits for grace and judgment there:
He bids the saint be glad,
He makes the sinner sad,
And humble souls rejoice with fear.

May peace attend thy gate,
And joy within thee wait
To bless the soul of every guest!
The man that seeks thy peace,
And wishes thine increase,
A thousand blessings on him rest!

My tongue repeats her vows,
“Peace to this sacred house!”
For there my friends and kindred dwell;
And since my glorious God
Makes thee His blest abode,
My soul shall ever love thee well.

This is an Isaac Watts text, a metrical version of Psalm 122 (A song of ascents). It is set to DALSTON, by Aaron Williams. In American Baptist hymnody neither this text nor this tune is very widely used – 197 instances in the Dictionary of North American Hymnology, but only 1 (from 1883) in the hymnals I have indexed. DNAH reports two other tunes associated with the text, AMITY (in the Southern Harmony) and ASCALON (better known as CRUSADERS’ HYMN, the tune most commonly recognized as “Fairest Lord Jesus”. Here is the MIDI of DALSTON from the Cyber Hymnal.

I intend to produce PDF pages of this hymn, in Sgaw Karen, in English, and in a bilingual arrangement.

It would be useful to know how widely sung and how well-liked this hymn is in Sgaw Karen congregational worship, so as to evaluate whether to retain it in the next edition, and if so, whether to retain its position as hymn number 1 in the book. It would also be helpful (especially for the PDFs) to know which of the five English stanzas could best be dropped to match the English to the four Karen stanzas.

TTT-Himnaro Cigneta

Novembro 9, 2009

antaŭ pli ol semajno, Yahoo! malfondis la retejon “GeoCities”, kio signifas interalie ke malestabliĝis miaj “La Lilandejo” kaj TTT-Himnaro Cigneta (ankaŭ melvilleeneo). Pluraj homoj antaŭavertis min pri tio, kaj vere nenio perdiĝis el la enhavo. Tamen, la plejparto fariĝis atingebla nur pere de Internet Archive, ĝenerala arĥivejo por la historia enhavo de Interreto. Kaj la midi-dosieroj plejparte ne troveblas tie. Se do vi bezonas iun midi-dosieron el la TTT-Himnaro, petu min rekte kaj mi sendos ĝin retpoŝte.

Iam mi rekreos tiujn retejojn—mi ja konservis ĉion hejme—sed ne tuj, ĉar mi volas ankaŭ iom ali-aspektigi ilin. Mi dankas pro la pacienco dum mia prokrastado.


New Karen Hymnal Discussion Group

Novembro 8, 2009

A few days ago, I wrote to Duane Binkley, from whom I was ordering a Sgaw Karen hymnal and a couple of Bibles,

As an inveterate hymnalist and hymnologist, I’m quite interested in your comment that “it would be nice if we could get the whole hymnal done in both languages.” If I can get my Burmese alphabet skills up to where I can comfortably type in Karen, I’d be thrilled to work on some such project. It would be wonderful to hear a congregation singing bilingually, with the English text of something like, say, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” sung to the tune in the Karen book (not a Karen tune, but also not one I’ve ever seen it set to in an English hymnal, and a fine tune), but it might also be very useful to have it set (again bilingually) on the opposite page to one of the “normal English” tunes for the text (BEECHER in US Baptist and Methodist circles, HYFRYDOL in most other US churches, or BLAENWERN or LOVE DIVINE [Stainer] in British churches). It would be good to create a new hymnal including more recent material, more indigenous material, more “World Church” material, etc., and prepared in formats that would allow either printed sheet music or projectable images in both languages. I’m starting to learn Lilypond to assist in this sort of thing (I’m working on a music resource for the Evergreen Region, so I need these skills whether or not I’m also working on a Karen hymnal)…

and he replied

I hope you can get the typing skills down and get to work on a Karen/English hymn book. One like you describe I think would be a real asset to the Karen and those working with them all around the world.

I’ve decided to set up a Google Group devoted to this project, located here: New Sgaw Karen Hymnal group...“New Sgaw Karen Hymnal”. The group will be by-invitation-only as to membership, to reduce the ongoing headaches associated with porn-links and other spam being posted to such groups. So to join the group, just post your interest here.

Leland aka Haruo