Sunday, March 6, 2016

Amazing Grace

What are the words?
GIA can't seem to make up their minds!

It's not very often we sing Amazing Grace at our parish, especially on Sundays.  It's one of the few more "popular hymns" I don't mind using every now and then.  Of course, the Gospel reading of today (IV Lent, Year C, as I write this) tells that the "prodigal son" "was lost, but has been found".  So, I once was lost, but now am found, seems kosher.

But what about the line of hymn text before that?

The most popular opening line in most hymnals, even Catholic hymnals, is (with very little doubt) Amazing grace! how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  A smaller chunk of worship aids use Amazing grace! how sweet the sound that saved and set me free.  But what do you do when a particular hymnal uses both?

Now, I'm not referring to a hymnal that has both texts at the same time (e.g., the second text below the first, probably in parentheses, italics, or both). First of all, you have to consider the source: Worship - Third Edition (one of two hymnals at our parish), published by GIA Publications, which (as many readers of the former incarnation of this blog may remember) can't seem to make up their minds as to hymn texts.  I'm referring to when two editions of the same exact hymnal have contrasting texts.  I discovered this while singing this with my two other singers at the 5:00 PM Mass last night.  The pew edition had the saved a wretch like me line, while the choir edition had the saved and set me free line.  So, before the 9:00 AM Mass this morning, I checked the pew book, and sure enough, wretch like me.  Since that's what the people downstairs in the pews are singing, I instructed the singers to sing that text from then on.

And here's a funnier note: As I combed through the copies of Worship - Third Edition that were in the choir loft, both pew and choir editions, plus the landscape organ edition and the spiral guitar edition, I noticed that all the pew books upstairs, plus the organ and guitar editions,  had the wretch like me line.  All the copies of the choir edition had the set me free line - except one!  I happened to stumble on one copy of the choir edition that had the wretch like me line.  How the hell did that happen?

BTW, so you know, they were all the original 1986 editions of the hymnal, not the 1998 updated edition that came with the Lectionary changes of that time.  The 1998 update has the wretch like me line, at least in the pew edition that I have a copy of here in the scriptorium.  I also have the 1986 original pew edition, which has set me free.  I also have a pew edition and a choir edition of RitualSong, also by GIA, published in 1997.  That seemed to be more consistent - wretch like me in both copies.

Just picture this (another hymn now): There are four editions of Worship - the original Worship (1971), Worship II (1975), Worship - Third Edition (Worship III would have been too easy, 1986), and Worship - Fourth Edition (2011).  Read this post, and go to my reference to On Jordan's Bank (Worship IV, #392) and how the second verse differs with each edition.

The folks at GIA just can't seem to make up their minds!


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