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:
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!