Sunday, September 29, 2019

Why, O Why???

Finally, I decided to break down and post something here that's not merely a music list.

This weekend, we sang hymns relating to angels.  One of them related particularly to St. Michael the Archangel.  Another related to Michael and his cohorts Raphael and Gabriel.  This was because this day (September 29 as I write this post) is also the feast of the Archangels SS. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael (or in the Extraordinary Form, St. Michael the Archangel, or in the Anglican calendar, St. Michael and All Angels).

Our recessional hymn has seen its way into some (not many) Catholic hymnals.  That is Ye Holy Angels Bright, set to the tune "Darwall's 148th" (widely known with Rejoice, the Lord is King).

Our hymn after Communion (call it a meditation hymn, hymn of praise, hymn after Communion, whatever), was a nice little 2-verse hymn based on the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel (link to the text in the hymn author's own blog) sung to the tune "Madrid" (widely known with Come, Christians, Join to Sing).

The other two hymns, the entrance and offertory, came from obvious Catholic sources.  Yet I've not seen either one in any Catholic hymnal past or present.  We had to delve into the Hymnal 1940 to get these gems.  These beautiful texts should be in many Catholic hymnals.

The entrance hymn was Christ, the Fair Glory of the Holy Angels, which is a translation of Christe Sanctorum Decus Angelorum by Rabanus Maurus - yes, the same Rabanus Maurus that gave us Veni, Creator Spiritus, from which the familiar Come, Holy Ghost (that's Come, Holy Ghost and not that insipid One Spirit, One Church, which has infested many an OCP hymnal for the last two to three decades) is translated.  The tune is the very rousing Coelites Plaudant.

The offertory hymn was Hark, Hark, My Soul! Angelic Songs Are Swelling authored by Fr. Frederick Faber, the Catholic priest who is most widely known for Faith of Our Fathers (not that goofy "A Living Faith" which has infested every GIA hymnal since the 1997 RitualSong) and There's a Wideness in God's Mercy, set to the tune "Pilgrims" by Henry Smart (who is best known for his tune "Regent Square", most commonly associated with the Christmas carol Angels from the Realms of Glory).

WHY, OH WHY are these two hymns of high quality in both text and tune not in any Catholic hymnals?  Instead we get One Spirit, One Church, A Living Faith, All Are Welcome, Here Me Is, Lord, Eagle's Claws, and One Fred, One Barney.  Enough said... for now!

(Side note regarding Father Faber: over a decade ago, when I was working for the iPadre, I chose both Faith of Our Fathers and There's a Wideness one Sunday when after Mass, a former organist of the neighboring Fall River diocese approached me and asked me, "Hey Brian, what's with all the Protestant hymns, Faith of Our Fathers?"  Yes, this was a Catholic organist who posed that question to me.  I tried my damnedest to keep a straight "professional" face, if there is such a thing, while explaining to her that Faith of Our Fathers was written by a Catholic priest.  I afterward slipped into my van and laughed my head off, sounding like the Joker in the 60's TV series version of Batman.)

Quod scripsi, scripsi!

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