Tag Archives: church music

40 Days Until Easter/ The glory of these forty days


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pV2BqrLNhU

 

With forty days left I thought I might take a closer look at some of the hymns in the Presbyterian Church in Canada Book of Praise.  #192 is the hymn The glory of these forty days.  If you don’t have our book of praise handy you can hear this at the above youtube link.

Sung to the minor tune Erhalt Uns, Herr 8888LM this is different from some Lenten music in that it is hangs on to the Glory of Easter while much music can be downright depressing.

Page Update


The Sunday Hymn page has been updated to include October 30 and November 6, along with All Saints Day.

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Fifteen


Fifteenth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #54

My song forever shall record

Psalm 89
St. Petersburg
Paraphrase: Psalter 1912
Music: Dmitri Stepanovich Bortnyanski (1751-1825)
 
 

 My song forever shall record
the tender mercies of thte Lord;
thy faithfulness will I proclaim,
and every age shall know thy name.
I sing of mercies that endure,
forever builded firm and sure.

Almighty God, thy lofty throne
has justice for its cornerstone,
and shining bright efore thy face
are truth and love and boundless grace.
The heavens shall join in glad accord
to praise thy wondrous works, O Lord.

The swelling sea obeys thy will;
its angry waves my voice can still;
the heavens and earth,|by right divine,
the world and all therein are thine;
the whole creation’s wondrous frame
proclaims its Maker”s glorious name.

With blessing is the nation crowned
whose people know the joyful sound;
they in the light, O Lord, shall live,
the light thy face and favour give.
Their fame and might to thee belong,
for in thy favour they are strong. 

I really like this hymn.  It is new to me, that is it hasn’t been used at my church or at least not often, but I think it deserves to be used more often.  The lyrics are nicely paraphrased into singable poetry which match the phrase lengths and rhyme nicely.

The melody is lovely and lilting and has a nice little switch-up at the end of the second phrase to transition into the third which is different.  It ends up being A A’ B in form.  The harmony parts are interesting to sing and add to the overall appeal of the piece.

 

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Fourteen


Fourteenth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #51

There where the judges gather

Psalm 82
Munich
Paraphrase: Henry Zylstra (1909-1956)
Music: Neuvermehrtes Gesangbuch 1963; arr Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
 
 
 

There where the judges gather, a greater takes the seat;
“How long,” God asks the judges, “will you pronounce deceit?
How long show special favour to those of ill repute?
How long neglect the orphan, the poor and desitute?

Deal justly with the needy; protect the powerless;
deliver the afflicted from those who would oppress,
but you are surely blinded; you do not understand:
therefore foundations totter; injustice rocks the land.”

God speaks: “I named you rulers, to serve the Most High God,
but you shall die as mortals and perish by my rod.”
Arise, O God, in judgement, your sovereignty make known,
for yours are all the nations: the peoples are your own.

I don’t really like the flow of the lyrics for this hymn.  The Psalm itself is far easier to follow and is not divided into even length stanzas which fits better with the meaning. 

Munich is a good tune, though not very familiar in my church.  Another suggestion given is St. Theodulph (214, 115) which is quite familiar.

 

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Thirteen


Thirteenth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #47

Remember not, O God

Psalm 79
Southwell (Daman)
Paraphrase: Psalter 1912
Music: Daman’s Psalter 1579
 
 
 

Remember not, O God,
the sins of long ago;
in tender mercy visit us,
distressed and humbled low.

O Lord, our Saviour, help,
and glorify your name;
deliver us from all our sins
and take away our shame

Then, safe within your fold,
we will exalt your name;
our thankful hearts with songs of joy
your goodness will proclaim.

The poetry of this is quite nice.  I read it aloud and the flow is great. It basically sums up two stanzas of detailed lists of sins of the nations, nineteen lines of poetry, down into one line, “Remember not, O God, the sins of long ago;”  The full Psalm is a lot more raw than the paraphrase.

Southwell, the tune, is short and simple.  In a minor key and very stepwise it is not hard to sing.  The rhythm provides some interest with the dotted rhythm in the third phrase which breaks up the square feeling from the other three phrases.  I would be inclined to ignore the half-note value for the first word of each verse and just have a quarter-note pick-up which then matches the other phrases.

 

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Twelve


Twelfth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #39

O God of mercy, God of grace

Psalm 66
Dix
Paraphrase, Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)
Music: Conrad Kocher (1786-1872)
Arrangement: William Henry Monk (1823-1889)
public domain
 
 
God of mercy, God of grace,
show the brightness of your face.
Shine upon us, Saviour, shine;
fill your world with light divine,
and your saving health extend
unto earth’s remotest end.

Let the people praise you, Lord;
be by all that live adored.
Let the nations shout and sing
glory to their gracious King;
at your feet their tribute pay,
and your holy will obey.

Let the people praise you, Lord;
earth shall then its fruits afford.
Unto us your blessing give;
we to you devoted live,
all below and all above,
one in joy and light and love.

This is the first of the hymns to which I can give wholehearted recommendation for use in services.  The paraphrase is good.  It fits nicely with the musical phrases.  It is only three verses which makes it good to use when time is an issue in your service.  I assume that part of the reason it is so well-known is that it is such  a positive prayer which can fit almost any circumstance and not only when Psalm 66 is in the lectionary readings for the day.

In my area at least, this is a very well-known melody and arrangement. It is not difficult to sing and the ABABCD phrase structure gives both continuity and variety.  Overall, a great piece of music!

 

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Eleven


Eleventh in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #37

O God, thou art my God alone

Psalm 63
Wainwright
Paraphrase, James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Music: Richard Wainwright (1758-1825)
public domain
 
O God, thou art my God alone;
early to thee my soul shall cry,
a pilgrim in a land unknown,
a thirsty land whose springs are dry.

Yet through this rough and thorny maze
I follow hard on thee, my God;
thy hand unseen upholds my ways;
I safely tread where thou hast trod.

Thee in the watches of the night
when I remember on my bed,
thy presence makes the darkness light;
thy guardian wings are round my head.

Better than life itself, thy love,
dearer than all beside to me,
for whom have I in heaven above,
or what on earth, compared with thee?

Praise with my heart, my mind, my voice,
for all thy mercy I will give;
my soul shall still in God rejoice;
my tongue shall bless the while I live.

The paraphrase is good.  It fits nicely with the musical phrases and for the most part uses syntax which makes the meaning of the verses clear.  I particularly like the third and fifth verses.

The tune for this hymn is not well known in my congregation, but is not difficult to sing and fairly pleasant.  There are also some interesting bits in the parts which makes it more fun for the choir.

 

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise #9


 

Hymn #9

How blest are they, who, fearing God

Psalm 19
St. Andrew
Paraphrase, Scottish Psalter 1650 
Music: William Tans’ur’s New Harmony of Zion 1764
 
God’s law is perfect and converts
the soul in sin that lies:
God’s testimony is most sure
and makes the simple wise.
 
The statutes of the Lord are right
and do rejoice the heart:
the Lord’s command is pure, and doth
light to the eyes impart.
 
Unspotted is the fear of God
and ever doth endure;
the judgements of the Lord are true
together, right and sure.
 
They more than gold, yea much fine gold,
to be desired are
than honey, honey from the comb
that droppeth, sweeter far.
 
Moreover, they thy servants warn
how they their life should frame:
a great reward provided is
for them that keep the same.

If you recall, in my last Praise Notes I mentioned that I am not a fan of hymns in which the paraphrase needs to twist around to match the tune.  Hymn #9 has one verse which does this.  If you don’t take time to puzzle it out, this verse is just a series of words to a pretty tune.   The meaning is that God’s laws are desired more than fine gold and sweeter than honey from the comb.  All this twisting of sentence structure was done to retain a rhyme scheme.  I personally would have preferred that it not rhyme and make some sense.  I believe this sort of thing is a large part of the reason people feel that the traditional hymns of the Christian church are outdated and boring.

 

As for the music, William Tans’ur wrote a pleasant lilting melody.  The harmonies are pleasant, although the alto part does spend most of the time on one of three notes.  The bass and tenor lines are a bit more interesting to sing.  All together a good piece of music which only appears once in the book as the prescribed melody.  Another of his pieces, Bangor,  comes up elswhere in the Book of Praise at #s 6, 232 and 751 and won’t be part of my series as the lyrics for all three are still under copyright.  It is a lovely composition, written in a minor key.