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.

INTRO

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.

OBSERVATIONS ON INDIVIDUAL HYMNS


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 hymnary.org 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 10.8.10.8 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.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

"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.

1 comment:

  1. "Rejoice in the Lord" was the official hymnal of the Reformed Church in America until 2013, when "Lift Up Your Hearts" took up that designation. Most RCA congregations used hymnals other than "Rejoice," however.

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