Monday, January 26, 2015

Rejoice in the Lord (1985)

Erik Routley's "Rejoice in the Lord", one of his last publications before his death, is an interesting compilation that, while undercut in its attempt to be a true hymnal companion to the Bible, is still commendable in its scope and perhaps one of the more interesting hymnals of the latter 20th century.


Routley's introduction makes note of the usual editorial choices — archaic language like "If thou but suffer God to guide thee" has been altered to sound more modern, while "thee"s and "thou"s are left intact. Attempts at inclusionistic language have been made, most notably in altering "man" and "mankind" in certain cases, although a few verses are marked with daggers in instances where changing such references would not be feasible. Perhaps it would have been better to leave the alterations alone, and dagger more instances?

Routley goes on to mention that "As for the twentieth century, it has of course been the age of adventure and experiment and has — as we can now see during its last years — produced as much disposable music as did the century before." I find this sentence in particular fascinating in how it indirectly mentions the rise of oft-despised contemporary material, but also mentions that this is not a recent development. I've seen older hymnals, and I can tell you that a lot of them have unusual, subpar material that was probably as popular in its time as, say, Marty Haugen is today, but is now largely forgotten. (Temperance songs, anyone?) It also notes that, unusually for its time, no national songs or hymns are included.

In any event, the inclusion of older forgotten tunes does lend this hymn a great degree of color, while also making it harder to comment on. For that reason, I will not comment on many of the more obscure tunes unless I find them rather noteworthy; and due to the low number of new material, I feel that the best approach is simply to go front-to-back.


2. "O Worship the King" is the first example of a more UK-oriented tune being used ("Hanover" instead of "Lyons", although the latter is suggested as an alternate). No doubt, this is due to Routley being British.

4. "All Creatures of Our God and King" includes a verse I have never seen before, beginning "Dear mother earth, who day by day…" Also, I have never seen "Lasst uns erfreuen" barred in 4/4 before, which seems especially strange, since it still goes back to 6/4 on the "Alleluia"s. The same is true of all other instances of this tune. What was the reasoning behind this?

8. Charles Steggall's "Christ Church" is the tune used for "Let All the World Rejoice". I have never encountered this tune or text elsewhere, and the tune is sturdy and singable, as well. It seems that 1865 is a rare time for hymns, at least among those I've encountered.

11. Routley is also the provider of some original material, including a personal favorite, his excellent, modulating melody for George Herbert's "Let All the World in Every Corner Sing".

13. Paul Gerhardt's "Now All the Woods Are Sleeping" (paraphrase from Lutheran Book of Worship) is set to "Innsbruck"/"O Welt, Ich Muss Dich Lassen", best known as the tune for "O Food to Pilgrims Given". (Interestingly, Lutheran Book of Worship uses the rhythmic version of this tune, and not the more familiar isometric adaptation by J.S. Bach.)

15. Oddly, on "All Things Bright and Beautiful", "The purple-headed mountains, the river running by / the sunset and the morning that brightens up the sky" is changed to "The rocky mountain splendor, the haunting curlew's call / the great lakes and the prairies, the forests in the fall". Or is that the other way around? This text says "alt'd", and uses the "rocky mountain splendor" version, whereas the "purple-headed" version, without credit for alteration, is the one I've seen in all other books.

16. Caryl Micklem's "Father, We Thank You" has a herky-jerky melody that can't make up its mind whether it wants to be in 2/4 or 3/4, and has childish lines such as "for the friends that brighten our play" that make this seem more intended for children's songbooks than a hymnal.

18. "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come" fuses in some completely different text from Anna L. Barbauld, including lines about "all that lib'ral autumn pours". What was wrong with the existing text?

22. An example of the "Save the earth" texts similar to the many in the United Methodist Hymnal from Brian Wren. Words like "Forgive our spoiling and abuse of them" ("them" being "large gifts supporting everything that lives") and "hel pus renew the face of the earth" are extremely un-subtle and somewhat preachy, as is often inherent in such subject matter (though the intentions may be good).

23. A somewhat less egregious example, though lines like "Plenty for all, if we learn how to share it" and "Long have our human wars ruined its harvest" show the inconsistency inherent in Fred Pratt Green's text. Also, could Austin Lovelace have written the melody in such a way that did not require the words to be spaced out differently on each verse? I feel like I'm trying to sing "I Am the Bread of Life".

24. Yet again, with "Forgive our careless use of water, ore, and soil" in Ian Fraser's text "Lord, Bring the Day to Pass".

25. And again with the usually more reliable Thomas Troeger's "God Folds the Mountains out of Rock" having "And too impressed with our own skill / We use the flame that we acquire not thinking of the Maker's will". Interestingly, frequent collaborator Carol Doran named the tune "Routley", suggesting that it may have been written for this book.

33. "Earth and All Stars" is left mostly intact. The loud shouting army is in there, but not the test tubes. Shame.

38. "O God of Truth, Whose Living Word": A herky jerky tune from the Scottish Psalter, back before time signatures were a thing. I appreciate going back to 1635 for the melody, but I still feel that tunes without a consistent time signature would present challenges to congregations and/or organists not used to irregular rhythms (including me).

39. "God of Compassion, in Mercy Befriend Us". This and all other instances of "O Quanta Qualia" note a "later version" of the third-from last measure, which changes all of one note, making the first chord an A minor with C bass instead of just A. For such a minor change, this addition seems unnecessary.

44. "Faith, While Trees are Still in Blossom": One of the more palatable texts from Fred Kaan, set not to V. Earle Copes' "For the Bread", but rather to a tune by W. H. Monk called "Merton".

46. While Routley's tunes are usually somewhat simple, his tune for "Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown" is a complex mess of augmented chords and general dissonance that seems quite unusual for him.

51. "Captain of Israel's Host": You know a Wesley text is obscure when not even the Methodists use it!

58. "God of Our Life": The text and tune are new: the former by Hugh Kerr, the latter by W.H. Harris. Oddly, despite the tune being in C, there is a footnote stating that it was originally written in D-flat. I have never seen such a simplification before.

62-63: "We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer"/"We Gather Together". This is the first book I have seen that has both texts, the latter being text-only with the tune on the facing page. They both say nearly the same thing, so I don't understand why the former even exists.

67-68: "Be Thou My Vision" and "Lor of Creation, to You Be All Praise!": I find it awkward to use the same tune ("Slane") for two consecutive texts. Why not do the same thing here that was done with the above?

79: "Forth in Thy Name, O Lord, I Go": This tune by Orlando Gibbons uses dashed lines to indicate the implied rhythm of the irregular melody. Why could this not have been done for other similar tunes to make them easier to learn?

82: "Happy Are They Who Walk: A traditional text of unknown attribution, paraphrased by Routley, and set to a poorly-flowing Thai melody. This is just all kinds of strange, and the meter seems unbalanced.

90. "The Lord's My Shepherd": The usual "Crimond" is used too, but "Searhing for Lambs", with its 5/8 time signature, seems ungainly and hard to learn.

91. "My Shepherd Is the Living Lord": Another Psalm 23 paraphrase, with an odd credit: "First quatrain by Thomas Sternhold, the rest by Isaac Watts".

97. "How Blest Are They Whose Trespass": Again with the dashed lines for implied measure breaks.

106. "Praise Waits for Thee in Zion, Lord": As the tune is in B Major and uses no other accidentals, a parenthetical key signature shows that it may also be done in B-flat.

108. Same story as 106, but with D-flat versus D.

109. "Great God, Arise": A long, long (88.7 88.7 D), rambling take on Psalm 68 by Norman J. Kansfield. I'm surprised they actually found a Genevan Psalter tune long enough for it!

116. "To Thank the Lord Our God": An odd pairing of a Scottish Psalter text with an AABA melody in the Kentucky Harmony.

120. "All People That on Earth Do Dwell": For versions of "Old Hundredth" that bother with the half notes, I have never before seen one that makes the measures bridging each stanza (Dwell/sing, voice/him, tell/come) randomly jump into 6/4 with a half-rest between each. Wouldn't a fermata over the notes on "dwell", "voice", and "tell" have made more sense?

123. Marjorie Jillson and Heinz Warner Zimmerman's "Praise the Lord!", with its syncopated melody and repetition, seems to be the closest this book gets to having a "happy clappy" praise song.

125. An example of a familiar tune with an unfamiliar text: "Martyrdom" for "O Thou, My Soul, Return in Peace".

126. Once again, "Lasst uns erfreuen", here used for "For All That Dwell Below the Skies", is pointlessly barred in 4/4 on the verses.

144. As with The Hymnal 1982, a different harmonization is used for each verse of "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven". Oddly, the "alleluia"s are changed to "Praise him" for no fathomable reason.

151. As mentioned in the intro, "If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee" was changed to sound a bit less obsolete. It is now "If Thou but Trust in God to Guide Thee".

155. Oddly, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" is altered so that the melody of the refrain instead has verse 2 tacked onto it. The refrain itself is instead treated as a fourth verse. This odd alteration seems even more pointless when a footnote suggests the more familiar verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern.

159. The first dagger shows up at "Sometimes a Light Surprises" due to the line "the Christian while he sings".

163. Another one that flirts on the edge of happy-clappy: "Wherever I May Wander", a childish text about God's presence everywhere that resorts to such dopey lines as "He made the sky where airplanes fly".

168-169: "Watchman, Tell Us of the Night" and "Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People", usually seen as Advent texts, are in a totally different section. ("Thus Says the Lord".) Even more oddly, the next section is named "Comfort, Comfort My People"!

172. "How Firm a Foundation" has a couple passing eighth notes in it that I have only otherwise seen in The Hymnal 1982. Is this another British affectation?

184. "O Come, O Come, Immanuel" (not Emmanuel?) is barred in the "traditional" way without every measure being in 4/4. No hold on the first "el" or the last one. I actually find that it flows better in straight 4/4.

190-191: Oddly, "Of the Father's Love Begotten" is shown in both the quasi-plainsong style, and the "straighter" 3/4. I have heard that the 3/4 version is the true original, so I find the inclusion of both strange.

196: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is barred to start on the third, instead of fourth, beat. This is a curiosity that I usually only see in older hymnals.

199-200: "Winchester Old" and "Christmas" are both used for "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks". The former's inclusion is likely a UK thing too, as I played "Christmas" for an Episcopal congregation who did not recognize it at all.

202. "All My Heart This Night Rejoices" ("Bonn/Fröhlich Soll") uses the "ghost bars" between measures, too. Again, why the inconsistency, especially when this one seems to fit into straight 4/4 reasonably well?

203. "What Adam's Disobedience Cost". An odd Fred Pratt Green text tying Adam to the Savior's birth, with an odd note indicating a 1978 book that includes a choral setting. This seems like a very unusual manner of promotion.

209. Of course, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" has a dagger. And a footnote saying you may use "Christians all" instead of "Gentlemen". Of all the gender-specific tunes, I have never seen complaints about this one!

226. "Unto Us a Boy Is Born". Oddly, the last line is repeated to omit the three-measure melisma on "Lord of every nation" et al. This seems somewhat of a cheap way to overcome that melisma!

232. "Hail to the Lord's Anointed" seems too cheery a text for a minor key tune (in this case, T. Tertius Noble's "Rockport").

234, 236: Two versions of "Blest Are the Pure in Heart". The latter is an abridgement/partial rewrite of the longer John Keble text. I have seen abridgements before, but never one that is included alongside the longer version!

250. "We Would See Jesus" is set not to its perfectly fine regular tune, but rather to a complex Welsh tune from 1923 called "Forest Hill". At least this tune is in major key.

251. "Hark, the Glad Sound" is usually an Advent text, is it not? Then why is it in the "ministry [of Jesus]" section? And why is it not set to "Chesterfield"?

253. Given the attempt to modernize the language elsewhere, I'm surprised that "the palsied rise" was not edited on "O Where Is He That Trod the Sea?"

256: I feel that "Deo Gracias/Agincourt Tune" is too somber for the somewhat upbeat "O Wondrous Type!", but maybe that's just me.

257: Peter Cutts' striking, modulating melody for "Christ upon the Mountain Peak", despite its complexity, probably fits that text better than any other I can think of.

258-259: I have never seen "Jesus Calls Us" to any tune other than "Galilee" by W. H. Jude, so the use of "Sussex" (adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams) seems odd.

263: "Seek Ye First the Kingdom" by Norman Elliott is set to "Cranham" by Gustav Holst, probably the only time I've ever seen that melody used for anything other than "In the Bleak Midwinter".

266-267: Considering I've seen some modern hymnals that use only the boring "Dominus Regit Me" for "The King of Love My Shepherd Is", the inclusion of both it and the much better "St. Columba" is somewhat interesting.

276-277: "Come, My Way" by George Herbert gets two melodies. The latter is R. Vaughan Williams, and the former is a complex tune by Alexander Brent Smith that has the congregation, choir, and organ in different spots on verse 3. Confused yet?

279: "All Glory, Laud, and Honor". First off, I have never seen alternate suggestions of a melody here, other than the strange one in Hymnal 1982. Specifically, this book suggests "Aurelia" and the unfamiliar-to-me "Helder" as well. It also puts a repeat bar on the refrain, even though there was enough room to print it without one.

283: "It Happened on That Fateful Night": Another from the Lutheran Book of Worship. They use "Bourbon" from Hesperian Harp; Routley et al. use "Tallis' Canon".

284: The danger of alternate tune suggestion. "My Song Is Love Unknown", set here to an unfamiliar tune by John Ireland, notes "Rhodsymedre" as an alternate, but mentions that "repeating the fifth line of words" (marked by plus signs and ellipses) is needed. In situations like this, I find that simply printing it on the facing page with the suggested alternate melody would be better.

287: A rare apperane of plainsong with "The Royal Banners Forward Go". Are other congregations any good at this? I can't imagine it being easy to learn.

290: A rare liturgical twofer: The congregation sings "Faithful Cross, Above All Other", with a plainsong version of "Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle" for the cantor or choir tacked on. This just seems like a strange composite.

292-293: "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" uses a seldom-seen fourth verse ("His dying crimson, like a robe…")

299: "Never Further than Thy Cross" notes that the congregation and organ should not pause between stanzas 5 and 6, as the former ends mid-sentence. The organ accompaniment is even included. Again, a strange inclusion, but probably a somewhat useful one.

303: "Tallis' Third", with its lack of time signature and its oddly placed triplet groups, seems like a very congregation-unfriendly tune to the extreme. Here, it's used for "To Mock Your Reign" by Fred Pratt Green, a decent passion text.

304: The other tune for the same text as above is atually two tunes stitched together: "Windsor" and "Colehill" from Daman's and Barton's Psalters, respectively. This is actually ingenious, as they fit together seamlessly (well, except for the fact that the middle is now 5 beats), and are just different enough to give the text more color.

310-311: "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" has, as far as I've seen, only ever used "St. Christopher". Here, however, it also pulls double duty with the jumpy "Wolvercote".

318: "O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing"? Nope, here it's "Ye Sons and Daughters of the King".

319: "The Strife Is O'er" is missing the opening "Alleluia"s.

324: "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands". Never mind that I find the tune way too dreary for its upbeat, Eastertide nature, th ghost bars show up again even though it's still written in straight 4/4.

342-343: "O Love, How Broad, How Deep" usually shows up before Easter, not after.

354: "Who Is He in Yonder Stall" is set to a rather jaunty melody from the Piae Cantiones. This also requires the use of solos for the verses.

355: "To God Be the Glory" is set not to the usual Doane tune, but rather to a melody from S. Jarvis in 1762 that also requires the omission of the refrain. Once again, this is a case where I have never seen any other melody for this text.

365: I have never seen "When Morning Gilds the Skies" in any other key than C. Here, it's in B-flat. I don't know why, because the melody doesn't go all that high even in C.

367: "O Morning Star". Once again, usually an Advent piece, but here in the "Jesus Christ Is Lord" section.

371, 498: The melody of "Hail Thee, Festival Day" is given two new texts, both titled "Christians, Lift Up Your Hearts". There is also a confusing note saying that the organ should play the entire refrain as the intro, the choir should then sing the refrain, and then the congregation should join in.

386: This is the first time that I've seen "Thy Strong Word Did Cleave the Darkness" to anything other than Ton-y-Botel. In fact, it's given a new melody by Alfred Fedak that's actually quite good.

395: "King's Lynn", here used for "O Faithless, Fearful Army", is oddly written as if it were in Dorian, but still has every single B flatted individually. I could understand this if the melody had no B-flats in it, but since it does, this seems almost like an editorial error.

398: More Fred Pratt Greenery: "Rejoice in God's Saints". I've always found the line "A world without saints forgets how to praise" sits oddly with me.

421: "O Zion, Haste" clearly has different harmonization than usual, perhaps from Routley's own pen, but no such arrangement credit is given.

422: I have never seen "Christ for the World We Sing" to any melody other than "Italian Hymn". Here, it's a new melody called "Milton Abbas", but "Italian Hymn" is still given as an alternate.

447: "Rock of Ages" is set to a totally different melody: "Redhead 76", aka "Go to Dark Gethsemane". Yet again, I find a tune-text pairing I've never seen before.

449: "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" changes "Praise the Rock, I'm fixed upon it / Rock of thy redeeming love" to "O the vast, the boundless treasure / Of my Lord's unchanging love."

454: "Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me" is set to the melody "St. Catherine", aka "Faith of Our Fathers". Another odd pairing.

458: And another: "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" to "Pleading Savior", another boring AABA melody from the early 1800s.

459: "My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less" is set to both "St. Catherine", and (with some alterations and the removal of the refrain) to a strange Lowell Mason tune called "Elton". And I thought the Lutherans using the melody of the Marines' Hymn was an odd choice…

466; Perhaps the most notorious piece in here. Erik Routley supposedly despised the classic "How Great Thou Art", and chose to entirely gut it in favor of his own words that say pretty much the same thing. He also re-harmonized the familiar "O Store Gud" melody. I have to wonder if the rewrite as a begrudging inclusion for others who pressured him to put it in his book in some fashion.

487: A weirdly short Brian Wren text, "Lord Jesus, If I Love and Serve My Neighbor", dodges the masculine pronoun.

493-497: Despite the stated lack of national hymns, there are a few anyway: "God the Omnipotent", "God of the Ages", "It Is God Who Holds the Nations" (new text by Fred Pratt Green — gotta love the line "when a nation's life turns sour"), "God Bless Our Native Land", and "This Is My Song". These probably got the thumbs-up as they are more generic in scope and not American-centric.

510: "When the Morning Stars Together". That lone low A in the second and sixth measures may be the lowest note I've ever seen in a hymnal. Bumping this song up to B would have put in a couple high E's that would be right on the edge of the desired range, so why not?

513: "Lord, As We Rise to Leave the Shell of Worship", an odd metaphor from Fred Kaan ("for the love we owe the modern city" — huh?!), uses an equally odd melody by Ronald Neal, full of almost percussive pedal lines and block chords.

537: "Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor". This is probably the only time I've seen this to any other tune than "Bryn Calfaria", which I find both too somber and too busy for the text. "St. Helena" isn't perfect, but still a step up.

545: "Let Us Break Bread Together" is marked as "slow", the only tempo marking in the entire book. It also mentions using "praise the Lord" instead of "on our knees" in churches where congregations do not kneel at Communion. (That alteration actually makes sense, come to think of it.)

576: "St. Thomas", here used for "Come, We That Love the Lord", uses a variation I've never seen before. The third-from-last measure usually goes either G-B-D, G-A-B-C-D, or G-A-B-C-D. This one goes only G-B-C-D.

608: "Lord Christ, When You First Came". The tune was originally written in E-flat minor, but as this is a challenging key, the easier signature of E minor is the default, with E-flat written in parenthetically.

610: Another not-quite-praise-anthem: "Our Song of Hope" by Eugene Heideman and Roger Rietberg. Very little to say, and a jarring change from minor to major.

The usual order of worship, psalter, and liturgical readings are after the last hymn.


"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" is not in here at all, yet the British tune for it, "Noel", shows up twice.

In its attempt to parallel the Bible, much of the organization is all over the place. As mentioned above, many Advent and Easter tunes are far removed from that section, and the individual themes are given vague names such as "Full of Grace and Truth".

Communion responses are also bunched together at 556-567 instead of their own section.

Perhaps the biggest fault I have seen in discussion of this book is the fact that the index of scriptural allusion does not match very well to the actual content. This is apparently due to Routley dying before the book was completed, and the other editors failing to cross-reference the index with the actual content to make sure that everything was in the right order. Given that this was the main purpose of the book — to roughly correspond to the Bible at every page — the halfhearted execution brings it down. On the other hand, the vast inclusion of lesser-known texts new and old, combined with the omission of nearly all the lightweight material that drags down newer hymnals, makes this a fine compendium for musically skilled congregations, and a fine reference points for those such as I who aspire to learn more about hymnody.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Worshiping Church: A Hymnal (1990)

Hope Publishing Company's The Worshiping Church: A Hymnal (1990) may be the first hymnal I've ever seen that does something strange on the very first page.


Page 1 is "I Bind unto Myself Today". Just the words, no melody. What's the point? As usual, all the praise and thanksgiving is at the front, up to #130.

Among the older selections, "Jesus, Priceless Treasure" stands out almost as much as it did in the Methodist hymnal. I approve. Also standing out are "Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying", "Comfort, Comfort Now My People", "Savior of the Nations, Come!", "Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light" (albeit with new verses appended by Fred Pratt Green; why does everyone add new verses to this?), "Sussex Carol" (I've encountered this tune several times, but this is literally the first time I've ever seen it with its original text!), and, to go a little newer, the 19th century "O When Shall I See Jesus?", set to a lively shape-note tune from The Sacred Harp.

This book features several instances of unfamiliar texts to familiar melodies. First is a modernized translation of "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr" by Nikolaus Decius (or as it's misspelled here, "Nicolas"), set to "Mit Freuden Zart", the melody most often associated with "Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above". This is also done to original texts, such as Christopher Idle's "My Lord of Light Who Made the Worlds" to "Dominus Regit Me", aka "the far weaker tune of the two that I most commonly see used for 'The King of Love My Shepherd Is'." "Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies" is set not to "Ratisbon", which I have seen it use almost exclusively, but rather to "Dix", aka "For the Beauty of the Earth"/"As with Gladness Men of Old". Another interesting match-up is Reginald Heber's "Bread of the World" to the melody of "Wayfaring Stranger".

I find that setting new texts to old tunes can be an effective teaching tool, particularly to tunes such as "Hyfrydol" that never seem to have just one particular text associated with them. On the other hand, it seems a little jarring to me when done to a comparatively newer melody and/or one that has only ever had one particular text to it; for example, William H. Doane's melody for Fanny Crosby's "To God Be the Glory" receiving new text from Margaret Clarkson ("Sing Praise to the Father"). I also get a feeling that someone on the editorial staff is a fan of both "Hyfrydol" and "Darwall", as each shows up four times.

One unusual "new text, old tune" variant here is "To a Virgin Meek and Mild", set to the melody of "Cold December Flies Away". I happen to like "Cold December Flies Away", but I feel that it is too obscure to have new words set to it. Likewise "Personent Hodie" receiving new text from Fred Pratt Green ("Long Ago, Prophets Knew"). (And boy, do the "Ring bells, ring, ring, ring!" not fit with the darker verses at all.) To be fair, "Personent Hodie" in its original form is also present, which gets a major thumbs-up from me.

I also find that Christmas tunes are rarely used for the "new text, old tune" trick, perhaps due to their strong association with the season. However, this book has several. "For Your Holy Book We Thank You" uses "Once in Royal David's City"; "When the King Shall Come Again" uses "Good King Wenceslas"/"Gentle Mary Laid Her Child", which seems to simple for the text; "Amid the Thronging Worshipers" and "I Love You, Lord, My Strength, My Rock" uses "Forest Green"; "God in His Love for Us" (a "save the earth" text from Fred Pratt Green) uses "Morning Star"; "God Is Love — His the Care" uses "Personent Hodie" (for those keeping score, that's three instances of that tune now!); "I Know Not Where the Road Will Lead", which uses Arthur Sullivan's "Noel" (aka "the boring tune that I don't understand why anyone would use for 'It Came Upon the Midnight Clear'"); 

And returning to the subject of "Mit Freuden Zart", "Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above" changes "With healing balm my soul he fills / And every faithless murmur stills" to "My soul with comfort rich he fills / And every grief he gently stills" for no discernible reason. I would elaborate on the variations, but I just checked three other hymnals, and each had a different set of verses, so I may save this for a future post on comparing different versions.

Of the few hymnals I have that use "Songs of Thankfulness and Praise", this is the only one I've seen that does not set it to "Salzburg"; instead, "St. George's Windsor" ("Come, Ye Thankful People, Come") is used. Likewise, "O Love, How Deep" uses "Puer Nobis" and not the dreary Dorian "Deo Gracias".

The modern praise choruses also creep in a few times. "Glorify Thy Your Name" by Donna Adkins; Jimmy Owens' "Clap Your Hands" and "Make a Joyful Noise" rounds (it's been my experience that congregations are generally not skilled at doing rounds); "His Name Is Wonderful" by Audrey Mieir; several Gaither pieces; you know the drill. Also, I have finally found a hymnal that does not place Michael W. Smith's "Great Is the Lord" and "How Majestic Is Your Name" back-to-back. They're at #44 and #61, respectively. And in a quick turnaround for modern material, Twila Paris' "We Will Glorify" shows up, despite having been written only eight years prior. Ralph Carmichael also gets in with "The Savior Is Waiting", and "Give Thanks" by Henry Smith is present. (Congregations, do you know how to read repeat bars?) And yes, "Shine, Jesus, Shine" is here. Older stuff such as "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus", "Rejoice in the Lord Always", and the "Dona Nobis Pacem" round shows up, too.

"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" has unusual alterations, and by that, I do not mean changing the "thy"s (seriously, why change some but not others?) or chopping out half the verses to fit it to "Warrenton" instead. The end of the first line changes from "Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it , mount of God's unchanging love" to "Praise his name — I'm fixed upon it — Name of God's redeeming love."  This change, apparently originating with Margaret Clarkson, seems to have no particular purpose. Another baffling and pointless alteration is "Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending", changed to "Jesus Comes with Clouds Descending", set to the dark "Bryn Calfaria".

"Earth and All Stars!", a definite love-it-or-hate-it song (I love it, by the way), has some downright baffling alterations. First off, all the "loud"s are replaced (e.g. "Come, rushing planets" or "Soft rustling dry leaves"), while "O victory, loud marching army!" becomes "O victory, order from chaos!", which does not make sense in context. (Oh, and the "loud boiling test tubes" verse is missing, too. Pity.)

This book usually sticks to just one given melody for texts that are associated with more than one. However, "Come, We That Love the Lord" is set to "St. Thomas" at #22, while the "We're Marching to Zion" adaptation of the same is all the way at #596! (Is this a new record for the biggest gap between two versions of the same text in a hymnal?) One of the few texts with two tunes are used is "Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven" (yes, the "thy" is a "your"), which is set to both the Mark Andrews and John Goss tunes. Likewise, "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" is set to both "Diadem" and "Coronation".

More unusually, "My Jesus, I Love Thee" is set to both "Gordon", and to an odd melody called "Affection" by E.  F. Miller which requires repetition of the "If ever I loved Thee" lines to make it work. And yes, both "Mueller" and "Cradle Song" are used for "Away in a Manger", and both "Forest Green" and "St. Louis" for "O Little Town of Bethlehem". One of the stranger instances is "When In Our Music God Is Glorified", often set to "Engelberg", but also set here to Milburn Price's oddly-titled "Celebration '85".

Speaking of Christmas texts, this is only the third hymnal I've ever seen to include the "Nails, spear" and "Raise, raise" lines for "What Child Is This?", and one of the few to put "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" in the Christmas section instead of the communion section. (Even Praise! did this, much to my surprise.)

And how does one make the already hard-to sing "O Holy Night" even less suitable for congregational use? By sticking a Dal Segno in there, of course! Oh, and that stupid "O Come, Let Us Adore Him" chorus is in here too. We have "O Come, All Ye Faithful", which everyone knows; why do many editors feel a need to water it down like this?

This is the only hymnal I've ever seen that puts "Rock of Ages" and "Lift High the Cross" in the "Passion and Death" section. It is also the only one I've seen where the national hymns are not in the very back. (Yes, "O Canada" is in here.) Also, "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" is not in the Advent section, but rather in "Aspiration and Resolve".

We get a rare taste of plainsong in "Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire", "Have Mercy in Your Goodness, Lord", and "We Believe in God Almighty". As someone who likes to count his beats, I find plainsong frustrating no matter how often I attempt it.

This hymnal is one of many that works to omit the mentions of "man" or "mankind" (as I've said previously, I see no harm in keeping these intact). This is evident as early as "Holy, Holy, Holy!" on page 2, which changes "sinful man" to "sinful flesh". (Yes, "The eye of sinful flesh." Mixed metaphor much?) And yet "One Race, One Gospel, One Task" uses "mankind", as do a few other texts. It also vacillates wildly on altering "thee"s and "thou"s to "you", as seen in "Holy God, We Praise Thy Your Name" versus "O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee". If you're going to do something like that, at least be consistent!

Another odd alteration is changing "O Zion, Haste" to "O Christians, Haste". Again, pointless dithering.

"Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face" is both heavily altered to remove the "thee"s, and fit to James Langran's melody. I find that hymnals are not consistent as to which tune is used, but my preference is Edward Dearle's "Penitentia".

A particularly odd alteration is done to "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand", which has the verses in D minor and the chorus in D major. I have never before seen any suggestion of doing this in minor key.

While the prayer responses (Gloria Patri, doxology, etc.) are in their own section, it's still not the end of the hymnal; instead, the "Dismissal" hymns follow. (Including both melodies for "God be With You Till We Meet Again. And yes, the chorus for Tomer's is missing.)

New stuff

As with many books put out by publishing companies with an existing team of writers and composers, this book features many new original compositions. First is #6, "Father Eternal, Lord of the Ages", a somewhat uninspired but decent enough text of the Trinity (each branch of which gets its own verse) set to a melody that is equally decent. That is probably the only problem with the newer texts here; none is particularly egregious, but none is particularly noteworthy, either. But sometimes, when encountering such material as "For One Great Piece" or "Obedience" or "What Gift Can We Bring", perhaps a more subdued catalog of new text is commendable by itself.

One of the few that does seem a bit head-scratching is the almost Irish ballad-sounding "They Asked, 'Who's My Neighbor?'" ("It's anyone who has a need, yes, anyone who has a need."). Also saying too little is "Now Let Us Learn of Christ" ("He speaks and we shall finds / He lightens our dark mind / So let us learn of Christ." I'd kinda like to learn a little more.), which at least amuses me in that its composer has the same last name that I do. Also baffling is Carl Daw (usually a good writer) paraphrasing Psalm 23 to the tune of "Brother James' Air". There already is a perfectly good paraphrase of Psalm 23 ("The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want") that uses that melody, although I will admit that I like "Crimond" better for that particular text. So, six of one, half a dozen of the other?

Many tunes have new descants written for them. "Thine Is the Glory" seems a poor fit, as its descant offers florid echoes in places that seem jarring, while the descant for "God Has Spoken by His Prophets" (tune: "Ode to Joy") is an eighth-note melisma-fest that looks exceptionally tricky.

Considering that the excellent Erik Routley was a Hope Publishing writer and composer, I am surprised that his excellent melody for George Herbert's "Let All the World in Every Corner Sing" was not used; in its stead is a melody from Paul Liljestrand from the Hymn Society. Routley has two texts, two melodies, and one descant in this book. His lack of material here may be a consequence of his own Rejoice in the Lord hymnal coming out only eight years prior.

Editor Donald Hustad writes a new tune for "My God, How Wonderful Thou Art", a text which does not at all seem to suggest the minor key that he uses. (Perhaps this is why he went to a totally different melody in major key on verse 3?)

"Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation" gets solely a new tune by Richard Dirksen. It's not a bad tune, either, and I could see it working in alteration with the "Westminster Abbey" tune used more frequently for that text.

Fred Pratt Green's "God Is Here!" gets, instead of its usual "Abbot's Leigh", the decent enough "Beecher". Both are good tunes, but I find the former fits better.

"All Things Bright and Beautiful" is set solely to a new tune by Cornelius Vleugel, which, despite a 1957 authorship date, is not copyrighted. Strange. John Newton's "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds" also gets only a new melody, by Chris Bowater of Lifestyle Music. And continuing the trend of setting every tune to "At the Name of Jesus" except the perfectly fine Ralph Vaughan Williams one, this one uses "Camberwell" by Michael Brierley. (Williams' tune does show up for "When the Church of Jesus Shuts Its Outer Door", at least.) In addition, "I Will Sing the Wondrous Story" is set to "Cecelia", a traditional tune by Jack Schrader which strips the liveliness of the text, and "Redeemed" uses only the Aubrey Butler tune which does likewise. With changes like these, I'm surprised that John B. Dykes' warm melody for "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say" was not swapped out for something else!

Tom Colvin's adaptation of traditional international tunes usually leads to simplistic stuff such as "Jesu, Jesu" (which is in here, too) or "That Boy-Child of Mary", so the slightly darker "His Battle Ended There", which has significantly more meat to its text, and even a rhyme scheme, is particularly unusual by his standard. Similarly, when Jaroslav Vajda seems to favor experimental texts like "God of the Sparrow God of the Whale" or "Now the Silence", his "Up Through the Endless Ranks of Angels" is surprisingly straightforward, even if he pads out verse four with several "Alleluia"s. (And in my opinion, minor key seems wrong for the rather upbeat text.)

As heavy as this book is on Hal Hopson's material, I am surprised that the one instance of "O Waly Waly" ("When Love Is Found" by Brian Wren) does not use Hopson's 4/4 adaptation of the same. The 3/4 version shows up again for "Lord, I Was Blind" (one of many texts that bears the questionable credit of "revised in Hymns for Today's Church, 1982" — a reminder of a book that I should acquire if only to see how egregious the revisions are). And oddly, the 4/4 version does show up for Hopson's "The Gift of Love". This is probably the only hymnal I've ever encountered that uses both versions.

Do you like 5/4 time? Well, Dave Brubeck's "God's Love Made Visible" is here to fill that void. Hope you brought your string bass, claves, and maracas! (Also, 176 beats per minute?!?) Also looking rather unfriendly for congregations who can't read music is the call-and-response "Trust in the Lord" (Proverbs 3:5-6), set to a melody by Roland Tabell with the piano accompaniment, no less. After discovering that Jane Marshall actually does have enjoyable material ("My Eternal King"), her dissonantly-harmonized, how-can-a-congregation-keep-time-in-5/4-anyway melody for "Eternal Light, Shine in My Heart" is all the more disappointing. (Oh, and her messy "What Gift Can We Bring" is in here too.)

I would also criticize the Malotte setting of "The Lord's Prayer" as un-singable by a congregation due to its massive range and changing time signatures. But I can get a small rural congregation of 25 senior citizens to sing it every Sunday (in fact, they insisted on it!), so perhaps it's not so daunting as it seems.

"Day by Day" by Richard of Chichester is a simple enough tune, not needing the syncopated, almost atonal pop melody given it by Stephen Schwartz (it ends with "day by day by day by day by day").

Natalie Sleeth's "Hymn of Promise" loses its usual title in favor of being called "In the Bulb There Is a Flower".

Texts only

As with The United Methodist Hymnal, many prayers and readings are scattered about between the hymns. As I said in my review of that hymnal, I feel that prayers and readings should be in their own section. But this one strikes me as particularly egregious by even putting the Apostle's and Nicene creeds right at #14 and #15 — usually, even in hymnals with readings in between, those are still put in the back (as is the case with The United Methodist Hymnal)! One of the few with a bit of context is Michael Saward's adaptation of a text from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress into "Who Honors Courage Here?"  — and I know it's from Pilgrim's Progress entirely because a footnote says so.

There are also several texts intended to be hymns, but merely plopped down text-only, either with a suggested tune or not. If you're going to suggest a tune, then why not just write it in there with that tune? (For instance, "God, You Spin the Whirling Planets" at #51 suggests "Hyfrydol".) Likewise, "My Song Is Love Unknown" suggests "Rhosymedre" (I totally was reading that as "Rhodysmere" or years), but mentions that a line needs to repeat for that to work. Again, why not save the trouble of congregations having to figure this out by just putting it with the melody you want in the first place? Also, Thomas Troeger's "Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow" is left with a suggestion of "Aberystwyth", when I find that Troeger's sturm-und-drang texts fit best to the tunes Carol Doran usually writes for them.

At least when this is done with a few other texts, such as "Join All the Glorious Names" at #85 and "Blest Be the God of Israel" at #332, the suggested tunes ("Darwall" and "Merle's Tune", respectively) are on the facing page; similarly, "Holy Spirit, Truth Divine" at #303 is suggested for "Mercy", which is literally right above it at #302. A double example occurs with #360 and #361, two different texts by Thomas Ken with the suggested tune of "Tallis' Cannon" being on the facing page at #359. If a text is to be printed without a tune, then this is the right way to do it.

The text-heaviness is perhaps most egregious in instances where it results in consecutive pages without a tune in sight. This happens first at #68 ("Lavish Love, Abundant Beauty", with a suggestion of "Beach Spring", aka "that fairly simple yet effective tune that I wish my congregation knew"), followed by a responsive reading of Psalm 103. Similarly, #351 and #352 are a responsive reading with refrain and the Te Deum respectively, resulting in another instance of consecutive pages without actual hymns.

I also dislike the fact that "Love Came Down at Christmas" is just set down randomly at #153 without its tune, or a suggestion for one. I happen to like that one!

Perhaps one of the most annoying readings is "God's Loving Acts in History", a paraphrase of Psalm 136 with a "His love endures forever" after every single line. That's 26 repetitions of that particular line by the congregation! Less annoying, but still seemingly rather long for a reading, is the entirety of Genesis 1, titled "Gods Work in Creation, and Ours" ("And ours"? And our what? Where are we mentioned in Genesis 1?)

In line, again, with The United Methodist Hymnal, the reading "Then Moses and the Israelites Sang" (Exodus 15) uses a sung response of "Rejoice, give thanks, and sing" ("Marion"). There are a handful of similar readings, mostly psalms with sung responses, most of which are hacked-off bits of familiar hymns (or in one case, a new tune by Hal Hopson). Again, material that feels better suited for its own sub-section. (Oddly, when "Now Thank We All Our God" is used as a response, it's in E-flat; but the hymn itself, many pages later is in F.)

Additions and omissions

This hymnal seems a bit in what is kept and omitted. The "Mortals, join the mighty chorus" verse of "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" verse is omitted, as in so many other hymnals, likely due to the mention of "man to man" in the original (what's wrong with just using "Binding all within its span"?).

As with The United Methodist Hymnal, a footnote mentions that "worlds" and "rolling" in the first verse of "How Great Thou Art" were originally "works" and "mighty", respectively.

Again comparing this hymnal with the Methodist one, it pares Andraé Crouch's "My Tribute" and "Through It All" to just the refrains. This removal I find particularly egregious, as it isolates the refrains from any semblance of context, just making them seem overly generic and boring. And Andraé Crouch should never be boring.

John W. Peterson's "Surely Goodness and Mercy", a decent enough take on Psalm 23 (gotta admit, it's hard to screw up adapting Psalm 23 — even Marty Haugen did a good job at it!) is missing its verses too. In addition, the key is lowered from E-flat to D, something which, like the removal of the verses, I have never seen done before.

While I have seen a few other hymnals remove the verses from Gaither tunes, this is the only time I've ever seen only one verse included: namely, of "Because He Lives", a personal favorite. Again, what is the purpose of cutting this one down? And most hymnals at least bother to put "He Touched Me" in its complete form, bLocationut not this one — nope, chorus only. Again, why cut down a Gaither piece of all things? They seem too simple to warrant it. Likewise, "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" uses only one verse, and for no real reason, is downgraded from the key of G to F. Oh, and "Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus" is cut down, too. One final inclusion of "first verse only" for a more modern material is "O How He Loves You and Me" by Kurt Kaiser. Uncut, it's two verses that are over in about a minute; what is the purpose here of removing the second verse?

Perhaps the oldest tune I've seen get the "chorus only" treatment is Daniel Whittle and May Moody's "Moment by Moment". Again, why?!

"O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing" is missing its opening "alleluia"s for no particular reason.

Michael Baughen writes a second verse for Daniel Iverson's "Spirit of the Living God", a very rare, not to mention pointless, instance of a praise chorus getting expanded. Likewise, the two additional verses to "This Is the Day".

In a crossover from the United Methodist Publishing house, and literally the only inclusion of a foreign language other than "Stille Nacht" in this entire book, the refrain of "Jesus Loves Me" features Spanish and Cherokee (?!?) translations.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Praise! Our Songs and Hymns (1977)

For this week's entry, I will discuss Praise! Our Songs and Hymns (1977), edited by John W. Peterson and Norman Johnson. (This book is still in print and available for purchase here.)

Peterson and Johnson wrote a foreword that reflects on the diversity contained within the first few pages alone, such as the "early revivalism" of "Bretheren, We Have Met to Worship", the mentions of "scientific advances" in Peterson's own "God of Everlasting Glory", and "How Great Thou Art" as a "souvenir of the Billy Graham crusades". It also reflects on the fact that people have differing tastes in tunes: some can get something out of something so simple as "God Is So Good", while others prefer more complex and deep material such as "A Mighty Fortress." (If you've been reading this blog, then by now you surely know which way I lean.) The fact that the editors reflect on such variety is certainly refreshing to read.

And while this hymnal is commendable in its variety and scope, it borders on the schizophrenic at times, with a surprising variation in the old and a very mixed bag of the new.


One thing I do like about this hymnal is how it's divided into three sections: "The Upward Look" for worship and Christ-centric tunes; "The Inward Look" for topics such as salvation, grace, repentance, and trust; and "The Outward Look" for topics of mission and testimony. (Although how the obligatory patriotic tunes such as "America the Beautiful" constitute "outward look" is beyond me.)

Like The United Methodist Hymnal, shorter pieces more suited for quick sung responses are scattered about, not in their own section. One of the first is the tail end of the Lord's Prayer, set to a melody by Norman Johnson. Only six bars long, it's only the 24th entry in the book. Norman also composes a melody for the Triune Blessing at #50.

Also present three times in the middle is the Doxology. One version set to "Lasst Uns Erfreuen", and two slightly different versions of "Old 100th". The same two "Gloria Patri" settings seen adjacently in United Methodist Hymnal — Meineke and Greatorex — are in here, too. All the "amen"s? How about six all bunched into #101? (Including two by John Stainer, plus the Dresden Twofold and Danish Threefold.) #102 and #103 are Norman Johnson-composed benedictions: one a choral "Go out with joy", the other an adaptation of Numbers 6:24-26 "with trinitarian conclusion" (to alter one of Dave Barry's running gags, "Trinitarian Conclusion" would be a good name for a Christian rock band). Oh, and an Agnus Dei at #161. I could continue to list all of Johnson's prayer responses that are haphazardly strewn about, but it'd be easiest to say that his melodies have an almost David Haas-esque over-simplicity to them, unless he's getting all triplet-happy.

Another instance of multiple tunes at the same number is the four different prayer responses (two by Norman Johnson, one by Jon Drevits, one from the Scottish Psalter), with no thematic or melodic connection among the four. The sharing of numbers here is a really unorthodox way of arranging these that, again, could have been avoided by relegating them to their own subsection.

Interestingly, the book acknowledges on the final page that "All Service Music… has been placed within the general body of hymns rather than in an isolated choral section. By this we wish to encourage the worshippers to consider these materials their own — and indeed to sing them together congregationally at least part of the time." While this is an understandable cause, I still feel that isolating such tunes in their own section makes more sense in terms of organization, without deterring their use as congregational pieces.

"Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne", which I often associate with Christmas or Epiphany, is instead in "Christ — His Mission", putting it on the very last page before the Advent and Christmas section. Similarly, "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" is under "Aspiration", as opposed to its usual association as a pre-Easter hymn.

While "Faith of Our Fathers" is present as usual, the alternate "Faith of Our Mothers" is thrown down, text-only, at #151, a good 18 pages away from its corresponding melody. Could this section not be rearranged so as to put the text under its associated tune?

New stuff

The book starts off with Peterson's "Everybody Sing Praise to the Lord", a very simple praise chorus whose only other words are "For He is Wonderful". In true praise-chorus fashion, it even suggests starting in C and going up by half-steps until it's in the written key of E-flat. Peterson's material vacillates. Stroner text such as "God of Everlasting Glory" (which offers interesting lines about "in our telescopic probing lightyears from our world" and "As we push man's frontiers forward") and "Come, Holy Sprit" (which acknowledges martyrs and the lesser-quoted "The just shall live by faith") show that Peterson, when he is on the ball, is no less than competent. I am also fond of his paraphrase of Psalm 23, "Surely Goodness and Mercy", and its gently undulating melody. Peterson also acknowledges the intersection of Christianity and education in "A Student's Prayer", which, while one of his better texts, seems ill-suited for a hymnal.

Working less in Peterson's favor are tunes such as "Bless the Lord", which follows nearly the same path on its refrain as Andraé Crouch's "Bless His Holy Name", although it…well, it at least has longer verses? He also gets space-y on "All Glory to Jesus" ("To think that the guardian of planets in space," [insert your own Guardians of the Galaxy reference here] "The shepherd of the stars / Is tenderly leading the Church of His love / By hands with crimson scars!"), which otherwise doesn't have much to say. He also notes specifically that the refrain of "Above Every Name" is taken from Philippians 2:9-11, a note oddly placed before the refrain and not at the very top of the tune. The song itself has unusually jarring "modern" references such as "Those whose portraits grace a palace wall".

Peterson is also guilty of more complex, syncopated melodies, as seen on "With the Sound of Trumpets", and over-repetition, as seen on "Jesus Is the Friend of Sinners" ("…friend of sinners, friend of sinners / Jesus is the friend of sinners / He can set you free" — is that all you have to say?) or "O, the Love, The Love of Jesus" (repeat twice, then add "There is no greater love than this!", and there's your verse). Similarly, "I Just Keep Trusting in My Lord" has little to say beyond its title, and the one time I played it as an offertory, a couple congregation members almost thought I was playing the local school's fight song! And while its intent is good, "Cups of Cold Water" is still a silly title. Finally on the Peterson side, "It Took a Miracle" and "I Believe in Miracles" seem like near-carbon copies of each other, with their too-short verses barely scratching the surface, and their choruses both being longer than the verses.

One of the few tunes by Norman Johnson that isn't a response is an original tune ("Coronado") for Bessie Porter Head's "O Breath of Life", which I have seen set to several tunes. As this particular text does not seem to have a singular tune more closely associated with it than any other (although shows a slight favor for "Spiritus Vitae" by Mary J. Hammond), the use of a new tune here is perhaps less egregious than it would be with certain other texts. He also writes a new tune for "Standing on the Promises", but unlike another hymnal I've seen with his tune, this one at least retains Carter's original as well. Johnson also forays into text, where he "Freely translate"s August Ludvig Storm's "Thanks to God for My Redeemer" into silly mush such as "Thanks for thorns as well as roses".

Some repetitive praise choruses are included, such as Wayne Romero's "I Just Came to Praise the Lord", Otis Skillings' "Lord, We Praise You" and "The Bond of Love", Jerry Sinclair's "Alleluia" (which interestingly has dynamic markings for all four verses, something I've never before encountered in a hymnal), Terrye Coelho's (yes, that really is how you spell her name) "Father, I Adore You", Audrey Mieir's "His Name Is Wonderful", Daniel Iverson's "Spirit of the Living God", and so on. I heard someone on Facebook refer to these choruses as "7-Eleven" songs, since they often consist of the same seven words repeated eleven times.

In a rare instance of verses being appended to a praise chorus, "Thou Art Worthy" by Pauline Mills has a second verse tacked on by Tom Smail, plus a third verse which is identical to the first.

Lanny Wolfe gets some points on "Greater Is He That Is in Me" for comparing Satan to a "roaring lion", but has those points taken right back by the second verse having no thematic connection to the first (it instead mentions Pentecost), not to mention passing off wind/them as a rhyme. Bob Benson and Phil Johnson at least get some credit for mentioning that God does not always promise effortless days, but the line "broken toys" seems jarringly out of place in this text of laying down one's burdens.

Another questionable text ("Jesus Christ Is the Way") has the groan-worthy ending line "And he's mine, mine, mine!" making the tune sound more like it's being sung by a bratty three-year-old clutching a Jesus doll.

In what feels more like a Catholic style of songwriting, the traditional "His Banner over Me Is Love" has a whopping 14 verses, none of which has the same meter as the previous one (think "I Am the Bread of Life" by Suzanne Toolan, RSM).

As with most hymnals published after the 60s, the Gaithers are highly present: "There's Something About That Name", "Jesus, We Just Want to Thank You", "Let's Just Praise the Lord" (complete with verses, something I've never seen any other book with this tune do), "The Family of God" (oddly, missing its verses), "Because He Lives", "He Touched Me", and "Something Beautiful". Meanwhile, Ralph Carmichael appears with "The Savior Is Waiting", "Reach Out to Jesus", "We Are More Than Conquerors", and "He's Everything to Me". Andraé Crouch, who died shortly before I wrote this post, also got in with "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power", "Through It All" (in its complete form), and a personal favorite, "My Tribute" (also, thankfully, in its complete form).

Anne Ortlund's "Praise God for the Body" has to explain the term "Body" as indicative of "the fellowship of believers", a usage that I would assume most Christians to be familiar with. (Explaining "Shalom", on the other hand, is less egregious. As is the suggestion of making the tune SSA for choral use.)

"Down from His Glory" (William E. Booth-Clibborn / Eduardo di Capua) is a solid post-Christmas text bridging birth and death — both manger and cross are mentioned, something I don't often see in newer texts.

Dallas Holm's "Rise Again" seems to be an early example of a more syncopated, "pop song"-feeling tune that is better suited for a solo recording than congregational use. At least all the notes start on the beat, instead of tying over from the previous measure!

Old stuff

Traditional fare is included. "To God Be the Glory"? Check. "How Great Thou Art"? Check. "O God, Our Help in Ages Past?" Check. "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"? Check. And that's just the first 100 pages or so.

Some slightly lesser-known pieces include "I Sing The Almighty Power of God", "Brethren We Have come to Worship" (as often as I see the tune "Holy Manna" show up, I'm surprised at how rarely it's matched to these words), "I Am His and He Is Mine" (Wade Robinson and James Mountain), "There Is a Green Hill Far Away", etc.

As with many hymnals, the two variations of "Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed" (the original and "At the Cross") are not on consecutive pages for some bizarre reason. However, this one comes closest, as only one other tune (William Bradbury's insufferably monotone "'Tis Midnight, and on Olive's Brow") separates them.

Another rarity is "All Nature's Works His Praise Declare" by Henry Ware the Younger (melody: "Bethlehem" by Gottfried Fink), which I have never encountered elsewhere.

Interestingly, two different traditional texts are set to the melody of "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore", but neither is that text: one is "Glory Be to God on High", and the other is "Christ Was Born in Bethlehem". Similarly, the tune for "Kum Ba Yah" has "Someone's lonely, Lord, give Him (friends/peace/love/faith/care)", which is still credited as being "Traditional" words.

The abridged "Adeste Fideles", which consists of repeating various phrases such as "We'll praise His name forever, Christ the Lord" to the refrain of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" is present, as is of course the full version of that same tune.

John Cawood's "Almighty God, Thy Word Is Cast" is set to the tune "Belmont", a far better fit than the childish yet dissonant tune by Jane Marshall that it received in The Hymnal 1982.

"O Love, How Deep" has some text alterations, and is set to "Rockingham Old", which I personally find a better tune than the more common "Deo Gracias".

While I have seen "Here O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face" to many tunes, "Morecambe" ("Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart") is a first. Likewise, seeing Georg Weissel's "Lift Up Your Heads" to Jean Baptiste Calkin's "Waltham", the most familiar tune for "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" (and yes, this is one of the few hymnals I own with that text in it).

Anna Ölander's "If I Gained the World", set to a Swedish melody that alternates between 2/4 and 3/4 (unusual for traditional tunes), is a fairly well-written expansion of Luke 9:25 and the theme of "gaining the world but losing the Savior".

While I have no problem with "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" by Haldor Lillenas, I feel that the decision to put the melody in the bass/tenor lines on the chorus will be confusing to many congregations, who are conditioned to look at the treble clef for melodies. (In fact, this very same confusion is why I am now relegated to using that only as an offertory at one church…)

Oddly, some tunes are in lower keys than the norm, including tunes I have never seen with the key lowered before. "Go to Dark Gethsemane" is in D instead of E-flat; "Rejoice, the Lord Is King!" and "He Leadeth Me" in D-flat instead of D; "I'll Fly Away" (of all tunes!) and "Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me" in A-flat instead of B-flat, "It Is Well with My Soul" in C instead of D-flat; "Living for Jesus" in E-flat instead of F, and "Make Me a Blessing" in B-flat instead of C. Going higher, "The Love of God" is in D and not D-flat.

Additions and omissions

Josiah Conder's "The Lord Is King!" is "freely adapted" (yes, the book says exactly that) into a newish text by Norman Johnson, set to "All Is Well" by Charles Dingley. This is one that seems like "change for the sake of change".

According to, every hymnal in their catalog that uses Julia C. Cory's "We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer" sets it to "Kremser", aka "We Gather Together". Not this hymnal — in its place is "Adeste Fideles", and it scans just as poorly as you think.

"At the Name of Jesus", most often set to a sturdy Ralph Vaughan Williams tune, is instead set to a slightly abridged "Hermas" by Frances Havergal ("Golden Harps Are Sounding", "On Our Way Rejoicing").

Another odd mismatch of tune to text is "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending", set not to the beautiful "Helmsley" nor to "Regent Square" (a good tune when used for "Angels from the Realms of Glory", but one that strips the character from this text)… but rather "Praise My Soul" by John Goss! Yet another is "If You Will Only Let God Guide You", set not to Georg Neumark's sturdy minor-key tune, but to an overly chipper Swedish melody titled "Celebration".

As is the case with at least one other "modern" hymnal (Sing Joyfully), "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" is set not to the beautiful St. Columba, but rather to the over-simple "Dominus Regit Me".

While some hymnals use only the first or second verses of Doris Akers' "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" (perhaps due to the "weak and bound and cannot enter in" line), this one uses all three.

As mentioned above, "The Family of God" has only its refrain. Aren't Gaither songs meant to have easily singable verses? Another more modern tune that's missing its verses is "Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying", which is also in F instead of the usual E-flat. Also pared down to chorus only is Esther Kerr Rusthoi's "When We See Christ". On the other hand, this hymnal is the only one I've seen that does have verses for John Stallings' "Learning to Lean".

"Be Thou My Vision" has the "Riches I heed not" verse, which some books (such as United Methodist Hymnal) omit, as well as a verse I have never seen before ("Be Thou my shield and my sword for the fight").

"Hark, the Glad Sound" is cut down to only two verses, the last ("Our glad hosannas…") changed from future tense to present. That's still less of a cut than "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence", which is down to only one verse!

Also in the Christmas section, "What Child Is This?" has the rarely-seen "Nails, spear shall pierce him through" and "Raise, raise the song on high" lines, where nearly every other book instead repeats "This, this is Christ the King". And only one page later, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" has the rarely-seen fourth verse ("Come, Desire of Nations, come…"). I can understand the omission of the latter, as it seems far less Christmas-y than its previous verses. Also, as I grew up Methodist, terms such as "woman's conquering seed", "serpent's head", and "Second Adam" seem foreign to me. (How often can someone grow up Methodist and claim that as making them less familiar with a Charles Wesley text?)

Many texts are surprisingly unabridged. Some hymnals omit the last verse of "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" ("Mortals, join the mighty chorus…"), but not this one. On the other hand, the last verse of "The Church's One Foundation" is MIA.

While many hymnals cut down "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus" so as to fit it to "Bunessan" ("Morning Has Broken"), this book instead leaves the full text intact and sets it to "Ebenezer". Interestingly, "Take My Life and Let It Be" is set to the shorter "Hendon" tune, but arranged in such a way that all of the words are still intact.

Oddly, this book cuts the refrain from William G. Tomer's melody to "God Be with You Till We Meet Again". The fact that I have seen this done so often makes me wonder if the refrain was not originally part of the tune as written.

"Sweet Hour of Prayer", in addition to being in C instead of D, has the second verse snipped out. Also,"Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name" by John Ellerton is cut to only two verses (the second being "Grant us Thy peace upon our homeward way"), an odd cut that I have never encountered before.

The hymnal includes two markings on many tunes: an arrowhead in the middle of tunes with five or more verses for easier navigation, and an asterisk where an Amen may be appropriate. I found this out only by reading the very last page; when I first encountered an asterisk at the end, I dismissed it as a typo. Perhaps these symbols would have been better explained in the front than the very back? Or even better, by simply writing in the "Amen"s where the editors see fit?

Another note of interest from the back page is the fact that two variations exist: early printings had "They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love" at #136 instead of "Praise God for the Body", and a different arrangement of "There Is a Balm in Gilead" at #349. The former is swapped out in later printings such as mine "due to circumstances beyond our control", and the latter due to "a challenge regarding the copyright status". I have never before seen a hymnal have to make alterations in later printings for the sake of copyright, but I would not be surprised if it has happened before.


Many readings are included in the back of the hymnal. The first few are typical responsive readings of the Psalms and other topically relevant verses, to be read by the leader and congregation in alternating fashion. After it are affirmations of faith and prayers, which start off with the usual: creeds, themed prayers, short responsive readings.

But where the resource section gets interesting is about halfway through the "other worship resources" section. Here, the prayers give way to increasingly florid devotionals from various sources. Billy Sunday offers one that calls Jesus' name "more inspiring than Caesar's, more musical than Beethoven's, more eloquent than Demosthenes', more patient than Lincoln's". Charles Wickman, meanwhile, pontificates on how "I am startled by an atomic explosion 250 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. I am impressed when scientists develop instruments so powerful they can pick up the sound of galaxies in collision 270 million light years away. I am amazed to see a laser beam cut through a diamond as if it were paper." There is also Paul Harvey's stark "If I Were the Devil" (from a 1964 essay by Paul Harvey which, at least according to this book, he read on his News and Comment in 1966), which contains phrases that seem a bit questionable for church use, such as "In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you", "I would get the courts to do what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography", "I'd make the…symbol of Christmas a bottle", and finally, in Harvey's twist-ending fashion, "If I were the devil, I'd just keep right on doing what he's doing." While his pointed words on worldly corruption deserve attention (I will in no way attempt to vouch for their accuracy then or now), this and some of the other more reflective essays seem like they should not be in a hymnal, but rather in a devotional publication of some sort. I honestly can't imagine any congregation reading any of these, as poignant as some of them may be.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Majesty Hymns (1997)

Majesty Hymns (1997) is a non-denominational hymnal that follows the formula of so many others before it: familiar standby tunes such as "The Old Rugged Cross", a handful of older material such as "A Mighty Fortress", more contemporary pieces, and several original compositions. That said, it is probably one of the most schizophrenic hymnals I've ever seen. According to the preface, over 100 ministers were soliited to aid in selection of the tunes, giving a likely explanation for the book's outright random selection of tunes.


It starts off strongly with "Rejoice, the Lord Is King" and "Come, Christians, Join to Sing". But only three pages in, the hymnal's first problem manifests itself: namely, that any descant is given a separate number from the hymn to which it belongs. Such an arrangement is only asking for confusion if one is not paying close attention and/or can't read music.

Also problematic is the fact that different melodies for the same hymn are never on consecutive pages. For instance, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" set to "Nettleton" is on page 7, but the lesser-known "Warrenton", which also eliminates the second half of each verse in favor of "I am bound for the kingdom, will you go to glory with me? Hallelujah, praise the Lord!", is at page 11. "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" to "Coronation" is at 12 (and its descant at 13), while "Diadem" is all the way over at 30! Similarly, "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" to "Azmon" is 5, while "Lyngham" is at 15. (On the other hand, the fact that this book even includes "Lyngham" in the first place is commendable.) Perhaps the most egregious is "My Jesus, I Love Thee"; the familiar melody "Gordon" is at 160, while a new melody by Gypsy Smith is way back at 19! The biggest gap by far is the two versions of "Come, We that Love the Lord": an original melody at 53, and Robert Lowry's "Marching to Zion" all the way at 313!

Also, "Amazing Grace" appears in usual form at 147, and again at 154 with the words padded out to Long Meter by way of Frank Garlock, and shoehorned into "Gift of Love"/"O Waly Waly". Again, confusing stuff if you're not paying attention or can't read music.

There is a section of medleys, none nearly as good as those in The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration. The first one stitches together "Glory, Hallelujah" by Norah Burne; an original tune by Gordon Brattle titled "Be This My Joy Today"; Bentley Ackley's "Joy in Serving Jesus", and Stuart Dauermann's "The Trees of the Field", which does not at all fit with the others! (And lightweight as it is, that last one's at least fun to sing.)

Oddly, despite the number of short choruses throughout the book, there is another "choruses" section in the back. Some, such as "Obedience" (see below), are significantly longer than just a chorus.

"Thine Be the Glory" is in the "Praise and Adoration" section and not the usual Easter section. And oddly, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (only 3 verses here) is at the end of the Christmas section, not the beginning. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's also the only Advent material in this whole book.)

Another oddity is the use of short verses as page fillers if a tune uses only half of a page, such as the first stanza of "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds" right under "His Name Is Wonderful".

Original stuff

Among the original composers, Ron Hamilton is the most prominent. His melodies are not overly inspired, but he at least understands that it's okay to have more than three chords in a song, so points there. On the other hand, his lyrics are almost unflinchingly light, with uninspired titles such as "Worthy of Praise" (the title itself appears three times in the refrain!), "O Magnify the Lord" (ditto), "Worship the Lord" (six times). He does, however, get points for "Conquering Lion, yet suff'ring lamb" in "Worship the Lord". Hamilton also waters down Psalm 23 for "The Lord Is My Shepherd", which has to repeat the entire first half (up to "beside the still waters") just to get to two verses. Hamilton also swipes the entire first half of the first verse of "Jesus Loves Me", without attribution, and tacks on "He shed His blood on the cross of Calvary / There He gave His life for me" just to create a simple round. Hamilton's nadir is probably "Daniel", a childlishly simple text that can be whipped through in 30 seconds tops (entire first verse: "Daniel, Daniel, Daniel took his stand / I will be like Daniel and follow God's command").

On the other hand, Hamilton has a few decent texts. "How Majestic Is Thy Name" fares a little better with such phrases as "What is man that Thou thinkest of him who is so unworthy of thy love?", and "Born to Die" offers "O'er the place where He lay / Fell a shadow cold and gray / Of a cross that would humble a King". Likewise, "Calvary's Blood" has "I desperately searched for release from my pain / But found that man's wisdom was useless and vain / Is there not a power that can break every chain?". So Hamilton is not terrible, although he needs to come up with better titles — his "Nothing but the Blood" and the more familiar Robert Lowry tune are only two pages apart for added confusion.

Mac Lynch's "Make Me a Stranger", about shunning earthly treasures, could do with less repetition of "heavenly treasures" (present in both verses) and "make me a stranger" (twice in the verse, again in the chorus). His "Where's the Way" also mentions "war" in the chorus, which seems jarring in the otherwise middling verses about finding the way.

Frank Garlock, one of the other prominent writers in this book (and its editor), alters a great deal of William Dix's "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus" (e.g. "Hear the songs of all the Christians thunder like a mighty flood") and sets it to his own melody. He also adds a second verse to Harry Bollback's "Ring the Bells", which still seems too "new" for such an alteration. Likewise, he alters "Without Him I would be nothing"; a Thomas Chisholm text ("Once I lived for self alone") so obscure that I can't figure out what it originally was; and Ralph Waldo Emerson's "A Nation's Strength" (into "God Give Us Good Men").

Garlock also has fully original texts, such as a chorus called "God Is Holy" that sounds a lot like Jimmy Owens' "Holy, Holy", even if it claims to be adapted from a Swedish melody. He also cribs Ralph Carmichael's "He's Everything to Me" slightly for the melody and text ("Nor can I count the stars that float in space") of "The God of the Impossible", and comes up with campfire-level repetition such as "He's so great and I'm so small / Jesus holds me lest I fall / He's the ruler over all / He's so great and I'm so small." He also offers unsubstantial praise choruses such as "I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus", the title of which is nearly the entire first line. Likewise, "Trust" is nothing but "Trust in the Lord / Lean on His Word" sung twice, and that's it. Other Garlock and Hamilton pieces are merely unremarkable, although Hamilton gets points for frequent uses of modulation in his melodies (mostly minor-to-major).

Several other texts are set to new melodies entirely, such as Fanny Crosby's "All the Way" (new melody by Mac Lynch), "At the Name of Jesus" (new melody by Shelly Hamilton), "Gentle Mary Laid Her Child" (the few times I've seen this, it's been set to "Good King Wenceslas"; here, it's a new melody by Ron Hamilton), "O Happy Day" (new melody by Ron Jones, whose melody is, quote, "used by kind permission"), "Give of Your Best to the Master" (new melody by Joan Pinkston).

Perhaps the worst original text is "Obedience" by Mike and Ruth Greene, which includes thuddingly awful writing such as "Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe", and even worse, a chorus that spells out the word "obedience"!


There are also a great deal of alterations to familiar texts, such as:

"O How I Love Jesus" has its title changed to "O How I Love the Savior's Name" ("…the sweetest name on Earth", the newly-chopped-up chorus ends) in order to be shoehorned to a new melody by W. H. Rudd.

Others have both the traditional melody and a new one. "Take Time to Be Holy" is set to the usual "Holiness" by George Stebbins, and a new melody by Shelly Hamilton a few pages prior. "I Love to Tell the Story" gets its usual melody, plus a new one written by Shelly Hamilton. "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" appears at 243 with "Hamburg" as the melody, and again at 249, not with "Rockingham Old" (the second most common melody for that text), but a new tune by Dwight Gustafson!

"Take My Life and Let It Be" appears unabridged with a melody by William Jude (an older melody, as it's not copyrighted) at 378, oddly under the title "Consecration Hymn", and in abridged form to "Hendon" at 400. (Why do so many versions abridge this text?)

Both melodies for "Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It" are present: William Kirkpatrick and A.L. Butler. Considering how new Butler's melody is, I'm surprised that I haven't found any books yet that use only it.

"The King of Love My Shepherd Is" ends up with not a newly composed melody, but rather "Shelley" by Harry Rowe Shelley, a monotonous melody I have never encountered before.

The large number of alterations in this hymnal is a degree beyond the other alterations I've usually seen, such as removing references to "men" or "mankind" in the name of gender equality (I, personally, am of the belief that terms such as "mankind" refer to both men and women), or the removal of Trinitarian image from Mormon renditions of certain hymns. In fact, most of the changes here — whether newly-constructed melodies or alterations of existing text into a new text — seem like nothing but change for the sake of change.

Other new stuff

A few praise choruses such as "His Name Is Wonderful", "I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord", "He Is Lord", and "Spirit of the Living God" are also included, but surprisingly, nothing of the slightly newer guard except a couple John Peterson pieces and Ralph Carmichael's "The Savior Is Waiting" and "We Are More Than Conquerors" (no "He's Everything to Me" or "The New 23rd", oddly). No "Shine, Jesus, Shine" or Marty Haugen in this one! There are other traditional ones, though, such as "Great and Mighty" (with a second verse by, you guessed it, Ron Hamilton). I also love how "Seek Ye First" notes that the lyrics are "based on Scripture" — I would certainly hope so!

Older stuff

Oddly, some of the older material is usually executed in less familiar styles. For instance, "Old 100th" for "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow" does not use the alternating half-notes so often associated with it; "St. Thomas" by Aaron Williams (here used for "Come, We That Love the Lord"; see above) does not use the passing notes (measure 6 just goes F-A-C, not F-G-A-B-C or F-G-A-B-C). "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" has the supposedly correct introductory notes of F-D-C instead of the wider known F-D-A.

"The Church's One Foundation" omits the "Though with a scornful wonder" verse, which I have only seen cut from more conservative hymnals previously. Likewise, "In the Bleak Midwinter" is missing the verse about worshipping the Beloved with a kiss. Also, "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" is missing the verse that begins "Thou art giving and forgiving". More baffling is the omission of "The foxes found rest…" (verse 3) from "Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne", a text from which I have never before seen omissions. And hey, I like foxes. They're cute.

"Good Christian Men, Rejoice" keeps the traditional "men", and even the "News! News!" part that most hymnals (outside United Methodist Hymnal) tends to omit.

"Blessed Be the Name" actually appears in full with William Clark's usual lyrics ("All praise to Him who reigns above"), and not the sawed-off bits of Charles Wesley that I've seen some versions use. (As mentioned previously, United Methodist Hymnal dispensed with verses entirely on that.)

Otherwise, the older stuff is mostly unsurprising: "No, Not One!", "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", "The Old Rugged Cross", "At Calvary", etc. However, there are a few welcome additions that I don't see frequently, especially in newer hymnals, such as: "Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart", "Master, the Tempest Is Raging", "Ask Me What Great Thing I Know" ("Hendon"; see above), "Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light", "Whosoever Will", "Is Your All on the Alter", "Dwelling in Beulah Land" (that's near Benzonia, isn't it?), and "Hold the Fort", to name a few. There are also a couple lesser-known melodies included with the familiar ones, such as (as mentioned above) "Lyngham" for "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" and "Geibel" for "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus".

One other surprise is Haldor Lillenas' "The Bible Stands", a sturdy early-20th century piece about, well, the Bible.

Another oddity is Charles Wesley's "Arise, My Soul, Arise", a text that not even the Wesley-heavy Methodist book used (I'm sure comparing this to that book a lot!) set to "Lenox", most often used for "Blow Ye the Trumpet, Blow".

This book is usually good about keeping tunes complete, but glaring exceptions are H.S. Perkins' "Whiter than the Snow", Stuart Hamblen's "It Is No Secret", and Phillip Bliss's "Dare to Be a Daniel", each pared to only their choruses for no discernible reason. In addition, "As the Deer" is hacked down to only its first verse.

The publisher

The hymnal was published by Majesty Music, an obscure company out of Greenville, SC. One of the more fascinating aspects of this company is that its founder's daughter's husband, one Ron Hamilton, used the loss of an eye to cancer in 1975 to create the children's character Patch the Pirate as a means of spreading the word to youngsters. 

Majesty has published a second hymnal called Rejoice in 2011, which apparently comprises about 400 hymns out of Majesty Hymns and 200 new ones. The fact that 10 of those new ones are by Keith Getty, certainly one of the better modern writers, is promising. While I was unable to get a copy of Rejoice at the time of writing, I trust that the more questionable pieces such as "Daniel" and "Obedience" did not stay for the new book.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration (1986)

For my introductory week, my next hymnal of choice is The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration, a non-denominational book published by Word Music.

I first encountered this hymnal (link to at my cousin's wedding a few years back , and again at a visit to a church in Hale, Michigan.

It starts of fairly simple, with "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" and "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing", but right away, one noticeable change is the use of Mark Andrews' tune for "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" instead of the more familiar John Goss tune; even more oddly, "Regent Square" (the tune most commonly associated with "Angels from the Realms of Glory") is suggested as an alternate. The praise section continues in relative normalcy, outside the inclusion of Brent Chambers' "Be Exalted, O God", an early and lesser-known entry into praise songs. Speaking of praise songs, there are several of them in here, most of which don't really merit much discussion. For that reason, this review may be considerably shorter than usual.

Names from the 1960s and 1970s are numerous in this book, such as Andraé Crouch, John W. Peterson, Ralph Carmichael, Kurt Kaiser, Twila Paris, and the Gaithers. And yes, the dreary "They'll Know We Our Christians by Our Love". More surprising is "The Battle Belongs to the Lord", which I will forever associate with my last trip to a men's retreat: a four-piece band, with a lead singer/keyboardist who clearly had a sore throat and was hoarsely mumbling his way through this song and some other downright bizarre song that had "battling for God" imagery and even a couple shouts of "semper fi".

Otherwise, the selection of hymns has a great deal of feel-good stuff from the 19th and early 20th centuries, with tunes such as "God Leads Us Along", "The Love of God" (Lehman), "One Day", "The Old Rugged Cross", etc. (Overall the collection is very similar in content to Sing Joyfully, the hymnal currently used at the Baptist church I play for.)

"Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned" (text by Samuel Stennett, tune by Thomas Hastings) is an older one I've not encountered before, but it' an enjoyable one. There's also Cyrus Nusbaum's "His Way with Thee", which to me has a revival feel that I find enjoyable. The selection of older material is otherwise nothing overly special, but sufficiently varied for those who like the "newer" oldies. If you're like me and you like "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms", then you might like most of the 19th- and early 20th-century stuff here. (Okay, they do go a bit older with "Jesus, Priceless Treasure." Points there.)

One unusual tune-text mismatch is "Take Time to Be Holy" shoehorned into Slane, instead of the usual tune by George Stebbins, even if that one is there too. Slane's phrasing just does not fit those words at all. Surprisingly, "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" is set only to "Dominus Regit Me" by John B. Dykes, whereas I would've found "St. Columba" better for the sake of familiarity and flavor.

The lesser-known tune for "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" by Adam Geibel, which I had thought had fallen out of favor decades ago, is included. It's a good four pages from the more familiar George Webb tune, as the latter is in the middle of a medley. (See below for more on the medleys.)

There are also several rounds, including a rewrite of "Dona Nobis Pacem" that also paraphrases Isiah 6:3, Jimmy Owens' "Make a Joyful Noise" and "Clap Your Hands", etc. Another round pads out the verses of "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" to shoehorn them into Tallis's Canon. Yet another is a "paraphrase" of Psalm 139 that outside of the last line ("Lead me, o Lord, in your everlasting way!") is outright plagiarism of J. Edwin Orr's "Cleanse Me". Gerald S. Henderson also inverts Isaac Watts' "Am I a Soldier of the Cross" ("I am a soldier of the cross"), and oddly, it's credited as if the two wrote it, instead of one altering the other. Rounds can be fine at a camp or Sunday school, but I feel that they seem too minimalistic for a congregation.

The "abridged" version of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" is included, where only the refrain is sung ad nauseam to various "traditional" words such as "We'll give Him all the glory". (I hate it when we only do this instead of the full "O Come, All Ye Faithful".)

While I've seen "Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation" set to a couple different tunes, "Regent Square" has never been one that I've seen before.

Perhaps the most baffling inclusion in this book is the Hallelujah Chorus. Spanning a whopping six pages, does this piece really stand a chance of a decent rendition by a congregation?!

Speaking of congregational confusion: as fun as "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" is, I feel that its decision to relegate the melody to the left hand is confusing to congregations, who are wondering why the stuff in the melody line suddenly isn't matching up. (This actually happened the last time we tried to sing it.) The wide range of Albert Hay Malotte's "The Lord's Prayer" may seem like a stretch for a congregation too, but I have a very small elderly congregation who insisted that we sing it every Sunday, and they pull it off just fine.

Various prayer responses, benedictions, and doxologies close out the hymnnal, logically enough.

New Material

For a non-denominational hymnal by a specific publishing company with its own stable of writers, the book is surprisingly light on original material. One of the few new texts is "Lavish Love, Abundant Beauty" by Peter Ells, set to "Hyfrydol". Lilly Green also offers a somewhat syncopated "Hallowed Be the Name", which has little to say.

One of the more interesting "original" compositions is Linda Lee Johnson, Claire Cloninger, and Tom Fettke's addition of three verses to the traditional chorus "He Is Lord". As often as these short choruses show up, I can't say I've seen someone try to write verses around them before.

Andrew Culverwell's "Come On, Ring Those Bells" is as silly as its title sounds.

"At the Name of Jesus" is set not to the usual Ralph Vaughan Williams melody, but to a new "modern" tune by Ronn Huff.

While "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is included as usual, much later in the "Second Coming" section, it appears again with the newly-written "O Come, Messiah, come again" verse by Vann Trapp, who seems to have never written anything else. (Sing Joyfully just appends this to the existing hymn instead of setting it out separately.)

Margaret Clarkson's "So Send I You" is included twice: the original five verses, and the later "By Grace Made Strong". Instad of setting both to John W. Peterson's tune, as I've so often seen done, the latter is set to a new tune by Kurt Kaiser. Both also suggest Finlandia as an alternate.

Buryl Red's "In Rememberance" is also included. I had thought this was more modern, given its inclusion in the 2000 Faith We Sing, but it turns out to be from 1972.

Danna Harkins' rhyme-less paraphrase of Psalm 42 is present, set to the 4/4 version of O Waly Waly (here misidentified as Appalachian; odd that Michael James stretched it to 4/4 in the same way Hal Hopson did!).

Oddly, "All Things Bright and Beautiful" is ripped from its usual tune, given a couple extra syllables in some lines, and shoeorned into a new tune by Sonny Salbury. The original tune is just fine, as it keeps a constant meter, which this alteration does not.

Various other new texts offer nothing as eye-rolling as "For One Great Peace", as world-concerned as anything by Fred Pratt Green, as clumsy as "To a Maid Engaged to Joseph", as interesting as "God of the sparrow God of the Whale", as polarizing as "Earth and All Stars!", or as rage-inducing in certain circles as anything by Marty Haugen. They're either mediocre to decent, and for that reason alone, probably one of the better hymnals when it comes to originality.

Okay, there is one doozy: "Reach Your Hand" by Kurt Kaiser: "Stretch our arms so very much, that if we try our fingers touch / And when they do, we'll know it's true that you love me and I love you." No mention of God until verse 3.


Perhaps this hymnal's most interesting and useful facet is the fact that several songs are deliberately positioned for use as medleys, using select verses of each. They are enhanced with a reading at the beginning, a piano/organ intro, interludes where key changes are needed, and optional choral endings as well. The medleys are, in order of appearance:

1. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; Praise the Lord! Ye Heavens, Adore Him ("Austria" by Haydn); O Worship the King
2. Glorify Thy Name; How Majestic Is Your Name; Great Is the Lord (see what I said about these two always being back-to-back?)
3. Lead Me, Lord; The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want (Crimond); Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah; O God, Our Help in Ages Past
4. May Jesus Chris Be Praised; Fairest Lord Jesus; Our Great Savior
5. There Is No Name So Sweet on Earth (refrain only); His Name Is Wonderful; There's Something About That Name; Blessed Be the Name
6. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus (Hyfrydol), Joy to the World
7. Angels, from the Realms of Glory; Angels We Have Heard on High; Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
8. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly; How Great Our Joy!: O Come, All Ye Faithful; For Unto Us a Child Is Born (Handel)
9. Beneath the Cross of Jesus; In the Cross of Christ I Glory; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (Hamburg)
10. I Know a Fount; Nothing but the Blood (yes, just two, and since it's D and G, there's no need for even a transition other than a lone D7 chord)
11. Grace Greater Than Our Sin; Amazing Grace; And Can It Be?
12. Alleluia, Alleluia! (Christopher Wordsworth, altered; set to "Ode to Joy"); "Christ Arose"; "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today".
13. O Breath of Life (Joel Blomquist); God of Grace and God of Glory; Rise Up, o Church of God
14. I Love Thee (anonymous text; tune from Ingalls' Christian Harmony — where'd this come from?!); More Love to Thee; My Jesus, I Love Thee
15. O to Be Like Thee!; I Would Be Like Jesus; More About Jesus
16. The Solid Rock (awkwardly, the familiar William Bradbury tune is part of the medley, while the lesser-known setting of it to the tune of the Marines' Hymn comes just before said medley); My Faith Has Found a Resting Place; My Hope Is in the Lord
17. All the Way My Savior Leads Me; He Leadeth Me; Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
18. Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus; Soldiers of Christ, Arise; Onward, Christian Soldiers
19. Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace (Vivian Kretz); It Is Well with My Soul; Like a River Glorious
20. Jesus Is All the World to Me; Now I Belong to Jesus; My Savior's Love; O How He Loves You and Me
21. He the Pearly Gates Will Open; When We All Get to Heaven; When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder
22. Come, Ye Thankful People, Come; For the Beauty of the Earth; We Gather Together

Another medley suggestion is alternating between the two melodies for "Redeemed": one by A. L. Butler, and the more familiar one by William J. Kirkpatrick. Also suggested is taking Carrie Breck's "Face to Face" and merging it with Fanny Crosby's "Saved by Grace" (only a refrain here, but I'm sure there's more to it).

I actually find this an excellent inclusion, as it seems a great way to incorporate several favorites at once, or otherwise imbue greater variety in a service.

Other hymns with optional choral codas (read: "almost always key changes"), but not in medleys:

* How Great Thou Art
* I Sing the Mighty Power of God
* We Will Glorify
* O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
* Alleluia (Jerry Sinclair)
* Hosanna, Loud Hosanna
* Hallelujah, What a Savior!
* Because He Lives
* Jesus Shall Reign
* Crown Him with Many Crowns
* Come, Thou Almighty King
* Faith of Our Fathers
* Take My Life and Let It Be
* Lead On, O King Eternal
* God of Our Fathers

Omissions and additions

One of the few stranger abridgements is taking only the refrain of "Day Is Dying in the West" and titling it "Isaiah 6:3". "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" gets a similar trim, and then has a random introduction tacked back on! "There Is No Name So Sweet on Earth" is trimmed to only its refrain too, but I know this only because the tune name says "refrain only" after it; I've never seen this tune before, and would like to know the rest of it!

Also getting hacked down to its refrain are "The King Is Coming" and "The Family of God", both Gaither tunes. Isn't the whole point of Gaither material that it's easy enough for congregations? The syncopated verses of "Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying" are MIA as well.

Although the rest of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is included as usual, one line from the last verse ("O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray / Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today") is fitted to a new tune by William David Young and titled "A Nativity Prayer". This seems absolutely redundant. Similarly, the last verse of "In the Bleak Midwinter" is isolated and set to a new tune by Don Cason, although in this case, the rest of the corresponding text is (sadly) absent.

"Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light" has a second verse by Joseph Barlowe tacked on, its flow clearly different from the original ("Although the King of Kings is He / He comes in deep humility / His people to deliver / And reign in us forever").

"Our God Reigns" has the usually-omitted verses ("It was our sin and guilt that bruised and wounded Him" and "Meek as a lamb that's led out to the slaughterhouse").

"O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus" is included twice: once in full form which fits it to Ebenezer; and an abridged form that fits it to Bunessan (aka "Morning Has Broken"). I honestly feel no reason for the abridged version to exist, as Ebenezer is a fairly well known tune in its own right.

"The Church's One Foundation" omits the "Though with a scornful wonder" verse, which I always thought was something that only more conservative hymnals do.

Just like the United Methodist Hymnal, only the refrain of Amy Grant's "El Shaddai" is included, and footnoted with translations of the Hebrew. Unlike that book, they do the thuddingly stupid idea of taking just the chorus of "Thy Word" and repeating repeating repeating it in higher and higher keys. (Again, two short verses. The two congregations I've heard sing this over the years had no trouble with that.) Also like the Methodist book, only the first verse of "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" is included, and only the refrain of "Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus" is printed. However, "Fill My Cup, Lord" is complete.

Oddly, despite "My Tribute" being complete, "Through It All" has only the refrain.