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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“The Church, no doubt, has always kept, and wishes still to maintain everywhere, the language of her Liturgy; and, before the sad and violent changes of the sixteenth century, this eloquent and effective symbol of unity of faith and communion of the faithful was, as you know, cherished in England not less than elsewhere. But this has never been regarded by the Holy See as incompatible with the use of popular hymns in the language of each country. Such hymns, moreover, are useful to familiarize the people with the great truths of faith, and to keep alive their devotion.”
— LEO XIII, POPE (8 June 1898)

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When Hymn Names Don’t Match
published 28 January 2019 by Jeff Ostrowski

OR FIVE LONG YEARS, we sorted thousands of hymn tunes into “meter sets” as preparation for the Brébeuf Hymnal. The end result was about 4,500 files, meaning I can instantly pull up and compare all the various texts (and harmonizations) for any hymn. When one begins to study hymnody, one quickly discovers that multiple names are often assigned to the same tune. Even worse, many of the (pre-1950) Catholic hymnals omitted tune names altogether! In particular, in America after the Great War, many hymnal editors changed “German sounding” tune names, causing great confusion. 1

We often encounter hymn tune names that are “shared”—and not in a good way. I am talking about hymns like WALTHAM, which refers to one melody in Hymns Ancient and Modern (#324) and a totally different melody in the New English Hymnal and a totally different one in the Episcopal 1940 Hymnal (#259). The same is true for WELLS, which refers to one melody in the New Westminster Hymnal but a completely different melody in the New English Hymnal. There are many more examples: FULDA, ST GEORGE, ST BERNARD (cf. Hymns Ancient and Modern #188), and so forth.

If someone calls a hymn by a different name, don’t be too hasty to reprimand, because frequently there is no “correct” name for the tune. However, we can all agree that calling the same tune by multiple names in the same hymnal is unacceptable. George Ratcliffe Woodward has a good reputation when it comes to hymns, but look what he did here:

85571-ALTERNATE-Als-Christus-Mit-Seiner-Lehr-HYMN


Now look what he called the tune in another section of the same hymnal:

85572-Als-Christus-Mit-Seiner-Lehr-HYMN


For the record, here’s how the Brébeuf Hymnal harmonizes it:

85570-Maker-Of-The-Starry-Sphere

Carefully examine these two melodies (“BOYCE” and “HALTON HOLGATE”):

90369 HALTON HOLGATE BOYCE


Look at the bass line, if you don’t see it.

HALTON HOLGATE is also called “SHARON” and JERSEY.

Perhaps the worst offender is “ICH BEGEHR NICHT MEHR,” which has a billion different names (including St. Leonard) and is used with different meters. Needless to say, there are numerous variants, with different passing tones, etc.

Here are some opinions I have vis-à-vis hymn tune names:

Unhelpful & Unspecific Names:
Easter Hymn
Epiphany
Lovely
Nature
National Hymn
Shepherds in the field
Veni Sancte Spiritus
French Carol
Sunrise
Harvest
Italian Hymn
Gloria
Truth from Above
Psalm 6
Simple Chant
Weird Looking Names:
Praises
Bow Church
Duke Street
Farley Castle
Monkland
Strength and stay
Pilgrims
Metzler’s Redhead No. 66
Redhead No. 46
Unprepossessing or Inelegant Names:
Oswald’s Tree
Toplady
Marching
Knickerbocker
Geronimo
Little Cornard
Pike
Old Bath
Batty
My Dancing Day
Stars of Ice
Long is our Winter
Hard to Pronounce Names:
Hyfrydol
Khanta Zagun Guziek
Lux Eoi
Edgbaston
Gerrans
Wallet Will Ich
Wir Pflügen
Ins Feld Geh
St Aëlred
Trochrague
Cwm Rhondda

Do you agree?



NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:

1   For more on this subject, Google “Germanophobia.”