Continuing Home

The ongoing saga of a Continuing Anglican church home, as seen by a member of the laity.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hymns Ancient and Modern

The turnout for the Schola Cantorum was exceedingly low yesterday -- for whatever the reasons (and I know they were several), I was the only one there! I didn't really know what to do, whether to let Fr. Daniel relax or to absorb what looked like the interesting material he'd prepared. I chose the latter, and I'd have to say to the rest of the Schola: You missed a wonderful opportunity for education!

My voice/nose/throat wasn't in great shape, but this session took more the form of a lecture/presentation. (And any errors are mine; my notes were sketchy.) Fr. Daniel went over Hymn #82, in the hymns for Passiontide, and noted that this is the only hymn "with Scripture" (subtitles) in the Hymnal today, focusing on the final words of the Passion, drawing on Matthew, Luke and John.

It did in fact look different from other hymns in its presentation, but Fr. Daniel said it wasn't always such -- and that in fact in "Hymns Ancient and Modern," which goes back to 1861 (in Church of England?), all the hymns were such. This was the earliest hymnal -- with music? He noted the creation of a text-only hymnal in 1789, 27 hymns total, alongside the new Book of Common Prayer for the American church.

I wonder a little... in losing the Scriptural elements to the hymns did we lose something good, if non-essential? It's been pointed out in other Internet-related forums that in our services and our lectionary we get pretty good coverage of the Bible through the church year, but I'll leave it to others for the comparisons.

(I keep thinking of what we sang in the transitions of the Stations of The Cross with Fr. David -- it was different but in some way, to me, very similar. On the other hand some other hymns are not based on Scripture --thinking of an earlier posting about Hymn 262-- Missions, evangelism and the Great Commission, another topic entirely.)

And from there Fr. Daniel explored the music, pointing out the use of intervals for great emotional expression. It's easy to lose me when you venture into this realm; although I can read music as a result of learning to play a few musical instruments (enough so that it doesn't matter whether you classify the Great Highland Bagpipe as a musical instrument or not!), I never really had any music theory.

Maybe I could have used the extra hour asleep yesterday morning, but this was well worth having given that hour up. Thank you very much, Fr. Daniel!!


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