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Liturgy Music
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Liturgy Music Notes


Hymn of Praise vs. Recessional Hymn:    What's the deal?

The Roman Missal states that after the Dismissal of the community, the ministers leave.   Going back to a more ancient tradition in our Church, there is no other action (or sunfg prayer) that takes place.  The community has been sent forth to live out the very action that has been celebrated.  Some liturgical theologian have reminded us that this "Go in peace" is our call to mission--fulfilling our baptism calling."  So the need for a recessional is not necessary.  The sending forth is the gospel mandate.

The hymn of praise and thanksgiving after communion is new to the Roman liturgy.   It origin is found in the Instruction of May 4, 1967: 

    At public masses, when it is judged opportune, before the prayer which follows communion, there can be either a short pause, a time for sacred silence, or psalm or song of praise can be sung or recited.

This song after communion is mentioned also in the "General Instruction of the Roman Missal," no.56 and in "Music in Catholic Worship," no. 72:

    The singing of a psalm or hymn of praise after the distribution of communion is optional. 

Most parishes are in the habit of singing a closing hymn or recessional.  When speaking of such a song, "Music in Catholic Worship" states:

    The recessional song has never been an official part of the rite; hence musicians are free to plan music which provides an appropriate closing to the liturgy.  A song is one possible choice.  However, if the people have sung a song after communion, it may be advisable to use only an instrumental or choral recessional.

Many new patterns and combinations of songs are emerging in eucharistic celebrations.   When new patterns are used, it draws the worshiper's attention, enriches the moment and keeps it from becoming burdensome.  Flexibility is recognized today as an important value in liturgy.  The musician with a sense of artistry and a deep knowledge of the rhythm of the liturgical action will be able to combine the many options into an effective whole.

Gathering Hymns

Gather Us In
By Marty Haugen, b.1952

This hymn is a reflection on what it means to gather to worship.  It is rich in biblical phrases, particularly those that deal with the inclusiveness of God's call and the need to carry our worship over into service and justice.  The first four notes are a recurring trumpet call to action.

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing

As James Johnson was preparing his address for a celebration of Lincoln's birthday in 1900, he wanted to give something else as well.  This song was written to be sung by a chorus of five hundred school children at that event.  He had no plans to publish it, but it spread by word of mouth throughout the South.  In 1921, it was first published as sheet music.  It is now the official song of the NAACP, and it is popularly called the "Black National Anthem."  John Rosamund Johnson, the brother of James Johnson, wrote this tune for use at the same event.

We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer, Creator
Julia Bulkey Cady Cory, 1882-1963.
Source:  Hymns of the Living Church, 1910.

Because the older familiar hymn, "We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing," was too "Old Testament" in its concepts, Mrs. Cory, at the suggestion of J. Archer Gibson, Organist at Birch Presbyterian Church in New City, wrote an entirely new text for the Dutch tune KREMSER and it was first sung there on Thanksgiving Day in 1902.

Once in Royal David's City
Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818-1895
Source: Hymns for Little Children, 1848

Mrs. Alexander, wife of an Irish Anglican bishop, heard some of her godchildren complaining about the dreariness of the Catechism.  So she set to writing hymns (poems) which would explain the various phrases in more interesting style.  This is based on the clause in the Creed, "who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary."  Its popularity has been enhanced by Henry Gauntlett's tune and the superb recording of the Festival of Lessons and Carols from King's College Chapel, Cambridge, with a small boy singing stanza one with no accompaniment as the choir begins its processional.

O come, All Ye Faithful/Adeste Fidelis

"Adeste fidelis" by John F. Wade, ca. 1711-1780.   Translated by Frederick Oakeley, 1802-1880, altered.  "Adeste fidelis" has been found in several manuscripts dating from the mid 18th century, all copied out by Wade.  Dom Jon Stephan cites this evidence in his Adeste Fidelis; A study in its Origin and Development, (Buckfastleigh, England, 1947) when attributing the hymn to Wade.   Oakeley's translation originally began, "Ye faithful, approach ye", but it was altered to its current reading in Fracis H. Murray's Hymnal for use in the English Church (London, 1852).

Adeste Fidelis Irregular with refrain.  John F. Wade, ca. 1711-1786.  Descant with harmonization by David Willcock, b. 1919.  The tune is from the same sources as the hymn.  They came to England through the Portuguese embassy in London, which was noted for its musical tradition in those days.  For this reason it is sometimes called PORTUGUESE HYMN.  The first British source that printed the tune was sample issue of a new journal,  The Harmonic Magazine (London, 1795).  Willcock's harmony is from Carols for Choirs, Vol. 1 (Hatfield, Hertfordshire, 1961).

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

"Es ist ein" Ros' entsprungen, "Speier Getbetbuch, 1599 Translation of stanzas 1-2 by Theodore Baker, 1851-1934.  Stanza 3 from The Hynmal 1940.

This carol appeared in different forms in the late sixteenth century, and it may be older still.  The oldest versions are hymns to Mary, not Christ.  Some of the longer texts relate the whole story of the annunciation and birth of Jesus.  The word Ros' (rose) is sometimes altered to Reis (branch), which extends the allusion to the root of Jesse that is found in the first phrase.  However, the image of the rose is not an uncommon one in the German tradition for either Mary of Jesus.  The oldest known source of this tune is Alte Catholiche Geistliche Kirchengesang (Cologne, 1599).  The tune was probably well known by that date, for its use spread rapidly.  It was published primarily in Roman Catholic sources until the middle of the nineteenth century.    Praetorius wrote this harmonization for his Musae Sionae (1609).   Baumker (v.1#78) and Zahn (#4296) trace the early history of the tune's publication.

  On Jordan's Bank

"Jordanis oras praevia" by Charles Coffin, 1676-1749. Translated by John Chandler, 1806-1876.  Coffin published this hymn in his hymni sacri (Paris, 1736).   It also appeared in the Paris breviary of the same year.   The hymn quickly came into use at lauds in several other French breviaries.   Chandler's translation is from his Hymns of the Primitive Church (London, 1837).  It has been extensively revised throughout its history, including a version made for Hymns Ancient and Modern (London, 1861), which also dropped the original second stanza.  the present version has been altered for archaic language.   Notice that "What star is this" (#407) came from the same sources as this hymn.

Winchester New L.M. Adapted from Musikalisches Hanbuch, Hamburg, 1690.  When it appeared in Musikalisches Handbuch, this tune fit texts of the meters 98 98 88.   There have been many variant forms, Zahn traces them at ##713, 2781, 2821, and 3067.  One interesting variant was in triple meter.   The tune was introduced to England in log meter in Moore's Psalm Singer's Delightful Pocket Companion (Glasgow, 1762).

I Want talc as a Child of Light
Kathleen Thomerson, b.1934.

The hymn and tune were written together in the summer of 1966 as the author was preparing for a trip to visit her family in Houston.  She notes that as she wrote the test, she heard just the melodic line without harmonies.  She worked out the harmonization later.