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.

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