Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Decoding a Hymn Revisited

When you look at a hymn in a hymnal, do you ever wonder what some of the items on that page mean?  What is "CM", "LM", or "87 87"?  What is "St. Stephen" or "Winchester New"?  I'm going to revisit that right now.

First thing to know that in modern music, there are "lyrics" and "music".  In hymnody, the "lyrics" and "music" are referred to as "text" and "tune", respectively.  Also, in hymnody, in most cases, the author or source of the text is different from the composer or source of the tune.  "Source" is defined as a book or other collection of music that a particular text or tune was first known to be published in.

Some hymnals are more detailed than others in hymn credits.  A good reason for that is as hymnals are updated, more information may be found about certain hymns.  In some cases, information may even be corrected in future editions.

Let's take a look at our two hymnals that are in use at Sacred Heart, the red hymnal, Worship, and the maroon hymnal, The Hymnal.  The edition of Worship we use was published in 1986, while The Hymnal, although formally titled The Hymnal 1940, was published around 1943 and has addenda as recent as 1981.  Here you will see two contrasting presentation of hymn credits.  Let's look at an Advent hymn that I can safely say almost everyone is familiar with: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

In Worship (red), the number and title are on top, and all the credits are on the bottom.  Very user-friendly to the average congregant.  In O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, #357, you will find this at the bottom of the hymn:
Text: Veni, veni, Emmanuel, Latin, 9th c.; Tr. by John M. Neale, 1818-1866, alt.
Tune: VENI, VENI, EMMANUEL, LM with refrain; Mode I; Adapt. by Thomas     Helmore, 1811-1890; Acc. by Richard Proulx, b. 1937, © 1975 GIA Publications, Inc.
In the text line, you first see "Veni, Veni, Emmanuel".  That is the original Latin from which "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is translated.  It's known source is that it was originally in Latin (duh!) and dates back to the 9th century.  John M. Neale (full name John Mason Neale), was the translator (thus the "Tr."), and the years following his name is his life span.  The abbreviation "alt." indicates that this is an altered form of Neale's translation.  Usually the alterations are made by the hymnal's editor(s).  In this case, sadly, the words "thee", "thou", and "thy" have been removed.  This is a dumbing-down of a really good hymn, and such will be discussed in a future post.

In the tune line, the words "VENI, VENI, EMMANUEL" in all capital letters (some hymnals use italics in place of capitals, the italics being my personal preference when presenting manuscript) is the actual title of the tune.  "LM with refrain" is the poetic meter (I will discuss this further down in this post).  This tune, being chant, is set to "Mode I", one of eight modes given to chant melodies (in most cases Gregorian chant).  Thomas Helmore (again, the dates following indicate his life span) adapted the chant tune to a more metrical form that appears in some hymnals, but not in this one.  Nonetheless, he was still credited here.  Richard Proulx, many of his works published by GIA Publications in Chicago, Illinois, wrote the organ accompaniment provided in the organ edition of this hymnal (the edition in the pew contains only melody and text).  Proulx's accompaniment is copyrighted by GIA.  In terms of lifespan, as of the printing of the Worship hymnal, Proulx was born in 1937 ("b. 1937").  He has since died, and his lifespan is reflected in future hymnals (1937-2010).

Now, let's look at the same hymn (#2) in our maroon hymnal, The Hymnal.  Keeping in mind that the maroon hymnal is 43 years older than the Worship hymnal, you will see what I mean by a difference not only in the presentation of the credits, but the actual credits themselves.

First, let's look at the top of the page.  The Hymnal does not use hymn titles.  Underneath the heading "Advent" is the numbers "88.88.88".  That's the poetic meter, and (as I'll explain further down) is just as accurate as the "LM with refrain" presented in Worship.  At top left, you see "VENI EMMANUEL", again in all caps.  OK, they shortened the tune name by one "Veni".  At top right is the tune source.  Again, you see that Thomas Helmore adapted the tune ("Melody adapted from plainsong, Mode I by Thomas Helmore, 1854") ("plainsong", "chant", same thing, pretty much).  Notice that instead of the composer's lifespan, you see the actual year Helmore made the adaptation.

Now, let's look at the bottom of the second page, after the hymn is finished.  Here is the text sources.  Though the text translation is that of John Mason Neale (in its unaltered form), that's not what it says here.  You have "Hymnal Version, based on Latin, c. 9th cent.; St. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, pub. Cologne, 1710".  Hymnal Version is used for a number of hymn texts in the maroon hymnal, meaning that it was the version hand picked for the hymnal by its editors.  Note that it states here that the text was "based on" the Latin, and not "translated from" the Latin.  Also, according to this, five stanzas (1, 3, 4, 5, and 6) were first published in Cologne, Germany, in 1710.

So, you can see the big difference in how the facts of a hymn are presented, as well as what facts are presented, from hymnal to hymnal.  But there is one more thing I would like to discuss, and I promised this twice in preceding paragraphs: meter - poetic meter, to be exact.

"88.88.88", as presented in the maroon hymnal, is the number of syllables in each line of verse, in this case, including the refrain.  Each of the six lines has eight syllables, and, as you see by the periods after each "88", the lines are grouped in pairs, as the poetry here dictates.  Some hymnals use a space instead of a period to separate the grouped lines.

In the Worship hymnal, you see "LM with refrain".  There are six types of meters that are not often given by number, but by abbreviations: SM, SMD, CM, CMD, LM, and LMD.  "LM" indicates that each verse has eight syllables per line and that it has a refrain, without giving the meter of the refrain.  Here's a primer on those abbreviations.

"SM" stands for "Short Meter", and it seems to be exactly that - short.  Presented in numbers, that would be "66 86", meaning the first pair lines are six syllables each, followed by a pair of lines that are eight syllables and six syllables, respectively.  A familiar example of such meter is Blest Are the Pure in Heart (#418 in the maroon hymnal).  "SMD" is "Short Meter Double" (a "D" added to any meter means "double").  In numbers, that would be "66 86 66 86" or "66 86 D".  It's like having two short meter verses in one.  Familiar example: Crown Him with Many Crowns (#352 in the maroon hymnal or #496 in Worship).

"CM" stands for "Common Meter".  In numbers, that's "86 86", two pairs of lines of eight and six syllables, respectively.  Familiar example: Lord, Who throughout these Forty Days (#59 in the maroon hymnal or #417 in Worship).  "CMD" is "Common Meter Double".  Again, it's like having two common meter verses in one.  Familiar example: Your Hands, O Lord, in Days of Old (#750 in Worship).

"LM" stands for "Long Meter", or in numbers, "88 88" - two pairs of eight-syllable lines.  A perfect example is the Advent hymn, On Jordan's Bank (#10 in the maroon hymnal or #356 in Worship), which we will be singing for the Second and Third Sundays of Advent.  The "LMD" ("Long Meter Double") is rarely used, but definitely does exist.  The Lorica (or "Breastplate") of St. Patrick, I Bind unto Myself This Day" (#268 in the maroon hymnal) uses such meter.

Some hymn meters include the words "with Refrain" (like O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, as presented in Worship).  Some include the words "with Alleluias" (like Jesus Christ Is Ris'n Today and Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones).  On occasion, you will also find the word "Irregular".  Irregular meters are those in which no two verses have the same set number of syllables.  Our National Anthem (#142 in the maroon hymnal or #761 in Worship) is one such example.  Christmas carols, well-known ones, have irregular meters: O Come, All Ye Faithful, The First Noel, and Silent Night being the most popular examples.  The first two are actually "Irregular with Refrain".

One of the most popular reasons for having the poetic meter listed for each hymn is that many tunes are interchangeable.  You could sing Lord, Who throughout these Forty Days to the same tune as Shepherd of Souls, Refresh and Bless, and vice versa, not that I'd want to.  You could sing Alleluia! Sing to Jesus to the same tune as Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.  The "Metrical Index" in the back of both hymnals categorize each tune name by meter, giving the musician options if he/she ever wanted to change the tune to a hymn.  Some hymns, as you may know, appear in the hymnal to more than one tune already (in both hynmals).

Finally, I want to mention one more item of note: the difference in many tune names between our two hymnals.  I'm not talking different tunes, but the same tune, just under different names.  Many tunes, not all, known by their German titles appeared under alternate names (usually in English or in Latin, or maybe the name of a German or Austrian city) in the maroon hymnal.  Remember, that particular hymnal was conceived in 1940 and published in 1943, during World War II.  So, for Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, you'll see the tune listed as Lobe den Herren in the Worship hymnal (#547), and simply Praise to the Lord in the maroon hymnal (#279).  Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones is given the tune name Lasst uns Erfreuen (German) in Worship (#707), while the maroon hymnal (#599) uses the name Vigiles et Sancti (Latin) for that same tune.

Have I satisfied some curiosities yet? ;)

Quod scripsi, scripsi!

PS: "Quod scripsi, scripsi!" is the Latin for "What I have written, I have written".  In St. John's rendition of Our Lord's Passion and Death, Pilate wrote on the Cross of Christ, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (INRI - "Iesus Nazorenus, Rex Iudeorum", not "In Rhode Island").  Anyways, the chief priests and scribes told Pilate to write instead, "He said 'I am the King of the Jews'".  Pilate's response, "Quod scripsi, scripsi!"  ("What I have written, I have written!")