Take Note

 

When you pick up the Glory To God hymnal next Sunday, you not only have in your hands the tunes and words of the hymns we will be singing. You also have access to an information about the hymns, the tunes and words, when each was composed or written, or from what source it is derived, its official name and metrical layout of the hymn. (More about that later.) Also at the bottom of the page, your hymnal has a sentence or two about the hymn, its origin or use. So, for instance, at our February 16th service this year we sang hymn 410, “God is Calling through the Whisper.” At the bottom left side of the page we learn that the text is by Mary Louise Bringle written in 2003. The tune is a Polish carol (no date) and it was harmonized by Wilbur Lee in 1958. On the bottom left of the page we learn the tune name, W ZLOBIE LEZY (its Polish remember and I don’t have the appropriate diacritical marks for Polish). Under the tune name is a series of numbers or some other indication of the metric or syllable layout of the tune. In this case it is 8.7.8.7.8.8.7.7 which indicates the number of syllables for each of the tunes phrases. Why in the world would you want that?! Well because it allows you to know the tune layout so that you can compose new poetry to the same tune. Popular tunes often get numerous poetry written to them. As you can see, below the metric indication is refers you to hymn 128, “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” which has the same tune to the translation of the Polish hymn. A hymn tune that was very popular in the 1990’s and early 2000’s was BEECH SPRING and several hymn texts were put to the tune as well as choral pieces, both sacred and secular. If you look at the back of the hymnal in the Alphabetical Index of Tunes you will see that there are three texts to that tune in our hymnal. Our second hymn that day was #300, “We are One in the Spirit.” The hymnal tells us that Peter Scholites, a parish priest on the South Side of Chicago, wrote the words and music in one day in 1966 because his youth choir needed something to sing. Now that is an interesting note. Above I mentioned the indexes in the hymnal; there are many to help you find a hymn you want. If you are looking for a particular hymn, you probably know the first line so the first stop might be the “First Lines and Common Titles” index. Or say you are looking for a hymn to go with a certain Scripture— the Scriptural Index is what you want. Or you want to know what the Lectionary scripture is, the Lectionary Index has the readings and appropriate hymns to go along. Or are you putting together a service about Forgiveness, then you want the Topical Index. There is more information and tools in the book in your hand. The more you explore the sources and situations in which the hymns came into being, the more meaningful they become.