About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“In spite of what it is currently called, the music of these songs is not modern: this musical style is not new, but has been played in the most profane places and surroundings (cabarets, music halls, often for more or less lascivious dances with foreign names). The people are led on to rock or swing. They all feel an urge to dance about. That sort of “body language” is certainly alien to our Western culture, unfavorable to contemplation and its origins are rather suspect. Most of the time our congregations, which already find it hard not to confuse the crochets and the quavers in a 6/8 bar, do not respect the rhythm; then one no longer feels like dancing, but with the rhythm gone to pieces, the habitual poorness of the melodic line becomes all the more noticeable.”
— Unnamed choirmaster (Northern France) circa 1986

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Horrible Hymn Rhymes
published 25 May 2017 by Jeff Ostrowski

AM CURRENTLY ASSISTING with an awesome Roman Catholic hymnal project—The Saint Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal—and excessively predictable rhyme has turned out to be a very common cause for the exclusion of certain hymn texts. If I can easily guess which rhyme a poet is about to use, he’s doing something wrong. Monsignor Francis P. Schmitt agrees with me, and expresses my complaint very well:

5141 MOAN


The Memorare is a beautiful prayer:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that
anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help,
or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my mother;
to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

St. Gregory Hymnal (which in my humble opinion is nowhere near as excellent as Knox’s New Westminster Hymnal) translated the red part as:

Remember, Holy Mary,
'Twas never heard or known,
That any one who sought thee,
Or made to thee his moan…

It does technically make sense, but is neither elegant nor inspired.

I will have much more to say about hymns in the coming months. Stay tuned!