Showing posts from May, 2019

Risen, Ascended, Glorified

The Seventh Sunday of Easter
June 2, 2019

Today's hymns recall the Feast of the Ascension, celebrated this past Thursday on the 40th Day of Easter. Our hymnal places Ascension hymns at the end of the "Easter" section, but references to the Ascension are also found throughout The Hymnal 1982. For example, "Alleluia! sing to Jesus" (Hymn 460) specifically refers to the Ascension in the second stanza.

Our entrance hymn is "Hail the day that sees him rise" (Hymn 214), a joyful Easter hymn celebrating Christ's Ascension. Hear a recording: Hail the day that sees him rise

Exuberant joy is expressed through an "alleluia" at the end of every line. The text by Charles Wesley was first published in 1739 in England. The "alleluias" were added in the mid-19th century. Over the centuries, editors have abbreviated the hymn (which originally had 10 stanzas) and changed significant portions of the original language. 

The tune, Llanfair, is quintesse…

Come, Ye Faithful

The Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 26, 2019

We continue our exploration of Easter hymns with two selections this week: "Come, ye faithful, raise the strain" and "The day of resurrection." These two hymns share many similarities. Both were written by St. John of Damascus, a Syrian monk and priest, in the eighth century. Both were originally written in Greek and translated into English by John Mason Neale. Both translations first appeared in Hymns of the Eastern Church, published in London in 1862.

Both hymns utilize imagery from the Old Testament. "Come, ye faithful" is based on "The Song of Moses," a canticle found in Exodus 15. "The day of resurrection" refers to "the Passover of gladness, the Passover of God." 

These hymn texts are paired with joyful tunes from different eras of music history. "Come, ye faithful" is set to two different tunes in our hymnal. The tune we are singing today, Gaudeamus pariter, is a joyful Ren…

Alleluia, Alleluia

The Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 19, 2019

As we continue the Easter Feast, Praying Twice is focusing on Easter hymns. This week, we are singing one of the modern Easter hymns in The Hymnal 1982, "Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord" (Alleluia No. 1). The words and music were written by Donald Fishel (b. 1950) when he was a college student. Listen to a recording: Alleluia No. 1

Fishel remains active as a composer and flute instructor. He currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Hymnologist C. Michael Hawn writes:

In the years following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), Roman Catholic composers contributed many new songs for congregational use in a variety of musical styles. The folk song style of the 1960s and 1970s became very popular because of its fresh sound to parishioners of this era, the accessibility of the guitar and the singability of the tunes, especially for those unaccustomed to singing in the liturgy.

(History of Hymns: https://www.umcdiscipleship.o…


The Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 12, 2019

During the Great Fifty Days of Easter, my articles in Praying Twice are focusing on Easter hymns. Today's entrance hymn is "The strife is o'er, the battle done," set to the tune Victory. One of the most popular Easter hymns, this pairing of text and tune was first published in England in 1861. It first appeared in an Episcopal hymnal in 1892. 

Hear a recording: The strife is o'er.

The original, anonymous Latin text appears in a publication from 1695; it is believed to be older. The music was adapted from a Magnificat by the great Italian Renaissance composer, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. William H. Monk, who adapted the music, composed the distinctive "Alleluias" that begin and end the hymn.

The tune conveys a stately grandeur appropriate for the Easter feast. The opening and closing alleluias form a fanfare, joyfully proclaiming Christ's resurrection. Every stanza concludes with a jubilant alleluia as well, …

Welcome, Happy Morning!

The Third Sunday of Easter
May 5, 2019

As our celebration of the Great Fifty Days of Easter continues, we enjoy singing the wide variety of Easter hymns found in The Hymnal 1982. Today's entrance hymn - "Welcome, happy morning!" - is a favorite among many Episcopalians. Hear a recording: Welcome, happy morning!

The original Latin text dates from the sixth century and is drawn from a 114-line poem by Venantius Fortunatus. A popular hymn in the Middle Ages, it was translated into German in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is mentioned in correspondence between Archbishop Cranmer and King Henry VIII, and it was the first Latin hymn translated into English for church use. The translation we use today was created by John Ellerton in the 19th century.

The tune, Fortunatus, is named for the author of the text. The music was composed specifically for Ellerton's translation by Sir Arthur S. Sullivan. He published this combination of text and tune in an English hymnal which he edit…