Archive for Decembro 2009

New in the Beatty Collection

Decembro 10, 2009

Just received: a copy of the 2009 AGO Founders’ Hymnal, containing eighty-some hymns set to tunes composed by founding members of the American Guild of Organists. Looks to be a fascinating collection, with some settings that I simply must try, and probably must anthologize.

Cowper offensive?

Decembro 9, 2009

In the Reformed Church in America’s 1985 Rejoice in the Lord, Erik Routley (speaking for the editors as a group) writes in the “Editor’s Introduction”, “…in the very large majority of cases where “man” is used meaning “humanity,” and “brother” for “other people”, we have made such changes as seem to us to meet the need, and not to damage the original too much. In just a few cases such an amendment has proved impossible, and still we thought the hymn must be included. There are probably not more than four or five of these, and we have occasionally used the “dagger” to alert sensitive singers that a verse contains an undesirable expression.

Here is one such case where they “used the ‘dagger'”, and I am at a loss to see why. I solicit readers’ help in finding what in Cowper’s text the “sensitive singer” might find “undesirable”:

Sometimes a Light Surprises †

†1. Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings:
it is the Lord, who rises with healing in his wings;
when comforts are declining, he grants the soul again
a season of clear shining to cheer it after rain.

I just don’t see the problem.

On the other hand, I like Routley’s choice of Michael Haydn’s OFFERTORIUM (MIDI) as the tune.

(24 hours later)
Looking at it now, it’s obvious to me that it was the “he” that was “undesirable”; I wonder why “it” isn’t acceptable. “It” is the classical gender-neutral pronoun where children are the referents; and Christians are by one definition children, so why not? I know… “it just isn’t done that way”…

Śliczna Panienka

Decembro 7, 2009

Tonight is Fremont Baptist’s Christmas Carol-Sing. My wife and I will be bringing the Polish carol “Śliczna Panienka”, singing just the first verse: once in Polish, once in English (George K. Evans’ translation), and finally reprising the refrain in Polish.

I’m still just rather amazed at how few of the Polish kolędy (carols) have made it into the English repertoire. Few and far between are the hymnals or carolbooks that have more than “Infant holy, infant lowly”. So I’ll put in a plug here for The International Book of Christmas Carols by Walter Ehret (primarily responsible for the musical arrangements) and George K. Evans (primarily responsible for the singing texts), which gives fully nine of the Polish carols, each in Polish and English (but alas, the Polish is ASCIIized, making it impossible for those not fluent in the language to guess the pronunciation very closely, most annoyingly the l’s that are to be pronounced as w’s but lack the tell-tale bar – ł).

This webpage gives six stanzas (with the refrains written out in full–it’s a karaoke site) in correctly diacriticized Polish.

Next Sunday we’re going to do a set of three kolędy in morning worship.

KH 311 and KH 312 Always with us, always with us

Decembro 3, 2009

Writing the post on the two versions of “To God be the glory” reminded me of another similar case involving what at least in English is a much less important, indeed an obscure, hymn. In English, this innocuous little hymn by one Edward H. Nevin, first published in 1857—

Always with us, always with us,
Words of cheer, and words of love;
Thus the risen Savior whispers,
From His dwelling place above.

With us when we toil in sadness,
Sowing much, and reaping none;
Telling us that in the future
Golden harvests shall be won.

With us when the storm is sweeping,
O’er our pathway dark and drear;
Waking hope within our bosoms,
Stilling every anxious fear.

With us in the lonely valley,
When we cross the chilling stream;
Lighting up the steps to glory
With salvation’s radiant beam.

—is a relative rarity. In the 40 or so hymnals I have indexed, it occurs only twice, once  (in the 1883 Baptist Hymnal) set to STOCKWELL (by Darius E. Jones, 1850)—the tune given in the Karen hymnal—and once (in the American Hymnal of 1933) to a different tune by B. B. McKinney (no midi). In the Cyber Hymnal™, the text is set to Brocklesby, 1868, by Charlotte Alington Barnard. But the 1963 Sgaw Karen Hymn and Tune Book gives two different translations of it (PDF), the first by J.H.V. (Mrs. J. H. Vinton) and the second by D.C.G. (Professor D. C. Gilmore).

Which is the better song? Which is the more faithful translation? Is either (or both) in wide use in Karen worship today? If both, would it work to set one of them to one of the other tunes?

“To God Be the Glory” in Sgaw Karen

Decembro 2, 2009

The 1963 Sgaw Karen Hymn and Tune Book contains two different song texts (#58 and #181) each purporting to be a translation of Fanny Crosby’s To God be the glory. The PDF here places them side by side for comparison. Not knowing enough Karen to say how well if at all the texts function as translations of Fanny Jane’s original text, I ask that someone versed in the language comment if possible on these matters. What I can say is that the texts do not appear to be particularly similar to each other; even the refrain differs noticeably (though at least its incipits resemble each other). The first version is unattributed as far as the identity of the translator/author, while the second says it was done by Thramu Laura and Thramu Paw Say.  And the first version gives Fanny’s middle initial as G. instead of the correct J. Any other information will be most welcome.

In a projected new hymnal is there a reason to print both of these? If not, which is to be preferred, if either?

Leland aka Haruo

Top 27 US Christmas hymns pre-1979

Decembro 2, 2009

At Hymnary.org (an affiliate of the Christian Classics Ethereal Library), now the online home of D[i]NAH (the Dictionary of North American Hymnody), Harry Plantinga just posted a list of what by his calculation were the 20 most-published Christmas hymns in the United States prior to 1979 (the end-year of the DNAH). I picked a few nits in reply, and then posted my own list of (by my count) the 27 most-published Christmas hymns in the US prior to 1979 (omitting two of Harry’s 20, and adding 9 that he missed): here.