Proposed Texts for Revised Hymnal Submitted

Episcopal News Service. July 23, 1982 [82166]

NEW YORK (DPS, July 23) -- When they meet in New Orleans Sept. 5-15, deputies and bishops at the 67th General Convention of the Episcopal Church will be faced with legislation for the first revision of the Church's hymnal in 42 years. The Proposed Texts for the Hymnal 1982 as submitted ... by the Standing Commission on Church Music, mailed to deputies and bishops in May, culminates more than a decade of work by musicians, scholars and writers, both lay and ordained, from a broad cross section of the Episcopal Church.

In recent years the Commission has produced several collections of hymnody which have been published by the Church Hymnal Corporation in a "Church Hymnal Series," as supplements to the Hymnal 1940. An earlier collection, More Hymns and Spiritual Songs, was published by Walton Music Corporation, under the Commission's aegis.

The 1979 General Convention directed the Commission to "present to the 1982 Convention a collection of hymn texts for an enriched and updated Hymnal," and the 12-member Commission and its consultants have spent the past three years preparing the recommended collection of 599 texts.

Proposed Texts includes 337 of the 600 texts from the Hymnal 1940; 10 texts from More Hymns and Spiritual Songs; 96 from Hymns III (Church Hymnal Series III); 9 from Songs for Celebration (Church Hymnal Series IV); and 147 texts which, with the exception of a few restorations from the 1916 hymnal, have never appeared in an official Episcopal hymnal or supplement.

The 599 texts actually comprise 595 hymns, with several texts paired into single hymns. Among these are the Pange lingua ("Now, my tongue, the mystery telling") and Tantum ergo ("Therefore we, before him bending"), which appear as a single hymn; and "From heaven high I come to you," which combines two Christmas carols from the Hymnal 1940.

In the foreword to its report, the Commission outlines ten philosophical precepts which guided its work. Heading the list is the importance of the Hymnal as a companion to the Book of Common Prayer: "A new edition of the Hymnal should support the Book of Common Prayer (1979) with its expanded lectionary, its revised calendar (which includes additional feasts and new emphases), its renewed emphasis upon Holy Baptism as a public rite, its enrichment of the Daily Office, the Proper Liturgies for Special Days, the rites for Holy Eucharist, the Pastoral Offices, and the Episcopal Services.

Other criteria for revision include the importance of retaining "classic texts and music" while presenting a "prophetic vision that will speak to the Church of the future as well as the Church of today"; seeing the Hymnal as a "practical book of theology for the people of God"; maintaining a collection which is historically comprehensive; presenting texts that "wherever possible use inclusive language which affirms the participation of all in the Body of Christ, the Church; clarifying obscure or archaic language, except for "classic texts which are firmly established in the worship of the Church and are deeply rooted in the spiritual life of its people; recognizing the ecumenical ramifications of the Hymnal, which draws "upon the entire Christian heritage"; including musical settings for "the performer with average skills" and metrical settings of many canticles and Psalms presenting "various musical possibilities for tunes used more than once"; and the inclusion of "a variety of styles which represent the best expressive artistic creativity of musicians."

While much of the Commission's philosophy deals with "words and music that are singable, and in arrangements that are within the technical grasp of keyboard players of average skills," the General Convention will, in fact, deal only with the words. Under canon law, Convention is responsible for approving the texts and authorizing their use in the Episcopal Church. By resolution the Convention may then vest the Standing Commission on Church Music with authority to prepare musical editions for publication by the Church Hymnal Corporation.

The contents of Proposed Texts parallel the order of services in the 1979 Prayer Book, beginning with the Daily Office, followed by the Church Calendar, Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Commitment to Christian Service, Marriage, Thanksgiving for a Child, Ministration to the Sick, Burial of the Dead, Ordination, and Consecration of a Church.

Next comes a section of General Hymns which includes texts about the Persons of the Trinity, the Church and its Mission, the Kingdom of God, the Church Triumphant, and Holy Scripture.

Sections on Personal Religion, Rounds and Canons, and National Songs conclude the collection.

Hymns from the Daily Office include such popular Hymnal 1940 texts as "Christ, whose glory fills the skies," "O gladsome Light, O Grace," and "All praise to thee, my God, this night." This section has been arranged to correspond to the Prayer Book order of Morning Prayer, Order for Noonday, Order for Evening, Evening Prayer, and Compline. The addition of several traditional Latin office hymns, in new translations, expands the possibilities for general congregational use while providing hymnody for Religious communities and other groups who observe the seven canonical prayer hours of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers, and Compline.

Proposed Texts contains 19 metrical settings of Prayer Book invitatories, anthems, and canticles, and 36 metrical Psalms or hymns based on Psalms. Among the new metrical canticle settings is an expanded version of "Holy God, we praise thy Name". Only three stanzas of Ignaz Franz's 18th century text, a partial paraphrase of the Te Deum, appeared in the Hymnal 1940. The Commission is recommending the restoration of Franz's fourth stanza ("Lo, the apostolic train"), as well as three new stanzas by F. Bland Tucker. The seven-stanza version now makes a complete metrical setting of the Te Deum. Tucker, 87, was a member of the Commission which gathered material for the Hymnal 1940.

Hymns for Advent have been grouped by their thematic appropriateness to the scripture readings appointed for the four Sundays in this season. All eleven Advent hymns from the Hymnal 1940 have been retained, and nine new texts have been added. For example, suggested hymns for the First Sunday of Advent include "Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding" (Hymnal #9), "Sleepers, wake! A voice astounds us" (a new translation of "Wake, awake for night is flying" -- Hymnal #3), and a 16th century text, new to Episcopal hymnody, by Johann Roh, which begins: "Once he came in blessing,/all our ills redressing;/ came in likeness lowly,/Son of God most holy;/bore the cross to save us,/ hope and freedom gave us."

Other additions to complement the Prayer Book calendar and lectionary include four texts for the Baptism of Christ (the First Sunday after the Epiphany), more hymns for the fifty-day season of Easter, at least one hymn for every "red letter" holy Day, and hymns appropriate for the Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

The two baptismal hymns from the Hymnal 1940, which assume that the catechumens are infants ("Now these children come to thee/ as thou biddest in thy saying,/ 'Let the little ones be given/ unto me; of such is heaven"') have not been included in Proposed Texts. They have been replaced by six texts which are appropriate for both adults and children and focus on baptism as a salvific rite of entrance into the Body of Christ.

For example, a 17th century text by Thomas Hansen Kingo begins: "All who believe and are baptized/ shall see the Lord's salvation;/ baptized into the death of Christ,/ each is a new creation."

A contemporary hymn by Michael Saward (b. 1932) says that Christians are "Baptized in water,/ sealed by the Spirit,/ cleansed by the blood of Christ our King:/ heirs of salvation,/ trusting his promise,/ faithfully now God's praise we sing."

There are 39 eucharistic hymns in Proposed Texts, a significant increase from the 24 listed in the Hymnal 1940. Among the new texts recommended for inclusion is a Charles Wesley hymn which begins "Glory, love, and praise, and honor/ for our food/ now bestowed/ render we the Donor."

The popular John Henry Hopkins text, "Come with us, O blessed Jesus" (#211 in the Hymnal 1940), has been lengthened with two new stanzas by the Rev. Charles P. Price, professor at the Virginia Theological Seminary and chairman of the Commission's theological committee.

About half of the 337 texts from the Hymnal 1940 which are recommended for retention are included without change in Proposed Texts. Among these are such well-known hymns as "Come, thou long-expected Jesus," "O little town of Bethlehem," "Silent night, holy night," "Jesus Christ is risen today," "Let all mortal flesh keep silence," "In the cross of Christ I glory," "When I survey the wondrous cross," "Alleluia! sing to Jesus," "Crown him with many crowns," "Glorious things of thee are spoken," "Christ is made the sure foundation," "O God, our help in ages past," and "A mighty fortress is our God."

Some textual alterations in well-known hymns have been made to enhance their singability. In "O come, all ye faithful," for example, the Hymnal 1940 version of stanza two reads: "God of God,/ Light of light,/ Lo! he abhors not the Virgin's womb:/ Very God,/begotten, not created." The Commission recommends: "God from God,/ Light from light eternal,/ lo! he abhors not the Virgin's womb:/ only-begotten/ Son of God the Father." Alec Wyton, coordinator for hymnal revision, comments that the addition of syllables will remove awkward couplings of words to music.

For the same reason, the recommended change at the end of stanza three reads: "Glory to God,/ glory in the highest," rather than "Glory to God/ in the highest." Wyton also said that the stanza two use of "from" rather than "of" brings the text into conformity with the new translation of the Nicene Creed in the 1979 Prayer Book.

Among the changes to make language more inclusive are: "gladly raising" instead of "all men raising" in stanza three of "We three kings of Orient are"; "and we with all creation/ in chorus make reply" for "and mortal men, and all things/ created make reply" in stanza two of "All glory, laud, and honor"; "mankind to deliver, manhood didst put on" instead of "manhood to deliver, manhood didst put on" in stanza four of "Welcome, happy morning"; "Joy, the best that any knoweth," for "Joy, the sweetest man e'er knoweth" in stanza two of "Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness"; and "Christians, this Lord Jesus" for "Brothers, this Lord Jesus" in the final stanza of "At the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow."

In the Hymnal 1940 the last stanza of "In Christ there is no East or West" reads: "Join hands, then, brothers of the faith,/ whate'er your race may be!/ Who serves my Father as a son/ is surely kin to me." The suggested recasting is: "Join hands, disciples of the faith,/ whate'er your race may be!/ Who serves my Father as his child/ is surely kin to me."

In the foreword, the Commission says that several Hymnal 1940 texts on mission themes have been recommended for deletion because they have "begun to sound uncomfortably imperialistic." Among these is Rudyard Kipling's "God of our fathers, known of old," with its references to "lesser breeds without the lay" and the "heathen heart that puts her trust/ in reeking tube and iron shard."

Among the new mission hymns which the Commission is proposing is a text by Jeffrey Rowthorn (b. 1934) which begins: "Lord, you give the great commission:/ 'Heal the sick and preach the word.'/ Lest the Church neglect its mission/ and the Gospel go unheard,/ help us witness to your purpose/ with renewed integrity;/ with the Spirit's gifts empower us/ for the work of ministry."

All texts from the Hymnal 1940 and its supplements, as well as new texts, were reviewed by the Commission's theological and text committees. According to the foreword, "Only texts which have been judged theologically sound are being recommended for inclusion." Two texts which "have gained popular currency because of their association with excellent tunes" have been recommended for deletion on grounds of fallacious theology.

"Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways" has been deleted because of its Pelagian content. Pelagian theology, condemned as a heresy by the Church in the fifth century, contends that the initial and fundamental steps towards salvation are made by human effort, apart from the assistance of divine grace. According to the Rev. Marion Hatchett, chairman of the text committee, the hymn's reference to an "inner God" (conscience), and phrases such as "would man but wake from out his haunted sleep,/ earth might fair..." render it theologically unsound. "The first line," Hatchett said, "is a superb statement about the need to repent. But the text falls apart theologically after that."

James Russell Lowell's "Once to every man and nation" has been recommended for deletion on the grounds that its basic premise denies the fact that God repeatedly forgives his people and gives them more than one opportunity to amend their lives. Hatchett also cited "extraordinarily ambivalent and misleading" phrases such as "some great cause, God's new Messiah" and "time makes ancient good uncouth" as reasons for deleting the text.

The foreword states that in these and other instances, the "splendid tunes will be retained for use with other texts, thereby maintaining our singing tradition."

Neo-Platonic references to the flesh/spirit duality of human nature have also been expunged. In some cases -- as with "Angels and ministers, spirits of grace" (#122 in the Hymnal 1940) -- the entire text has been deleted. References to human beings as "Dumb, in the life of the body confined" and longing to "soar as the birds from the mesh,/ freed from the weakness and wonder of flesh" caused the Commission to deem the hymn theologically unsound.

Hymn 225 ("God of the living, in whose eyes unveiled") -- which mentions the immortality of the soul, but not the resurrection of the body ("from this our world of flesh set free") -- is also not included in Proposed Texts.

The contents grouping of Proposed Texts does not include a section of hymns for children. The foreword says that the Commission wishes to "encourage rich and creative use of the Hymnal and will include an index of materials suitable for use with children" to replace the Hymns for Children section in the Hymnal 1940. Some texts from that section, such as "I sing a song of the saints of God," have been recommended for deletion, while others have been moved to the General and Christmas. section of Proposed Texts to facilitate their wider use.

In "Once in royal David's city," for example, some textual references to children in Cecil F. Alexander's five-stanza poem have been recast and a sixth stanza by James Waring McCrady (b. 1938) has been added: "We, like Mary, rest confounded/ that a stable should display/ heaven's Word, the world's creator,/ cradled there on Christmas Day,/ yet this child, our Lord and brother,/ brought us love for one another." The revised and expanded text now appears in the Christmas section.

The Commission was aided in the massive task of textual evaluation and review by a network of diocesan reader consultants. Each diocesan bishop was asked to appoint at least two consultants, including a church musician, to evaluate the Commission's recommendations before Proposed Texts was printed. A total of 206 reader consultants read the manuscript and sent comments and suggestions to the Commission.

In thanking the consultants in the foreword to Proposed Texts, the Commission says that "their comments had a strong impact on the final content and form of the texts presented in this report to the Convention. Some texts being considered for deletion were restored, and certain textual alterations suggested by consultants proved to be more felicitous than those originally proposed."

Open hearings on Proposed Texts, at which deputies, bishops and visitors to Convention are invited to speak, are tentatively scheduled to begin on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 5, in New Orleans. In addition, the joint legislative committee, which includes members of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, will conduct open committee meetings during the first week of Convention. Official legislative action by both houses is expected sometime during the first week of the ten-day Convention.

Unlike the Book of Common Prayer, which requires action by two successive General Convention, hymn texts are authorized for use in the Episcopal Church by a single Convention.

According to Raymond Glover, general editor of the Hymnal, if Convention accepts Proposed Texts it will take the Commission another three years to prepare music editions. Clover said he foresees publication of pew and accompaniment editions by the Church Hymnal Corporation late in 1985.