It's Christmas time. And what better time to take a look at the Christmas hymns in The Hymnal 1982? In particular, we will be looking at the less commonly sung hymns in the Christmas section. You may wish to begin with part 1 of this series.
We're using a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the least popular and 10 being the most popular. (On this scale, we cranked it up to 11 for hymns which are unbelievably popular.) Here we look at hymns that score highly, starting with 10's, then 9's, then 8's.
It may seem a little counterintuitive to continue with more of the most popular Christmas hymns in the Hymnal in a study of the most uncommon Christmas hymns, but I think this will help weed out all the ones we know, and maybe we'll even learn a thing or two along the way.
It may seem strange to talk about something as folksy as a Christmas hymn as being "designed" but these next four hymns all score a 10 in large part because of the symmetry of their respective tunes.
This hymn does require the congregation to sing in Latin, but they seem more than happy to oblige.
I call this "diva syndrome": holding the high notes for longer than authorized. The congregation usually shows symptoms in spades here. But note that the Hymnal makes no provision for this, and I think it is contrary to the nimble spirit of the tune. (The excellent and elegant treatment of the tune by the editors of the New Oxford Book of Carols stands as a counter example to this.)
Another point must be made about this "Christmas" hymn. In the Hymnal 1940 it was not included in the Christmas section, but numbered among the General Hymns. Furthermore, it was not sung to the familiar tune ANTIOCH but to RICHMOND (think the Advent Hymn 72: "Hark the glad sound! the Savior comes" or the Easter Hymn 212 "Awake, arise, lift up your voice").
How remarkable then that this hymn enjoys such popularity at present. This hymnal is only the first to include the popular tune and text pairing. It achieved wide popularity in other denominations and in the secular Christmas milieu in the middle of the last century when other denominational hymnals paired it with ANTIOCH.
The next grouping of hymns all have a certain sweetness about them, some cloyingly so.
The Hymnal 1982 Companion goes so far as to say: "In the experience for many Americans this hymn has acquired such an affectionate association with Christmas that its repeated performance is an essential part of the celebration of the season." In their eyes, we may have ranked it too low. The tune simply oozes mid nineteenth century sappiness.
The setting of this hymn to the alternative tune, FOREST GREEN, is only slightly less popular in America, we'll wager (see below).
But it should also be noted that FOREST GREEN is not exclusively a Christmas tune. It appears twice more in the '82 Hymnal with more general texts.
The New Oxford Book of Carols notes: "with lines of 22.214.171.124. syllables . . . by far the widest number of tunes could be drawn upon. Indeed, no other hymn has been sung to so many tunes and settings. ... It would be good if the near-hegemony now enjoyed by the excellent tune [WINCHESTER OLD] could give way to a little of the earlier diversity."
One final note: in The Hymnal 1940, which provides two tune choices under the same hymn number, the Second Tune given for this hymn is CAROL. This is a fascinating appearance of the tune which is now fully associated with "It came upon the midnight clear".
The page you're reading is part of Sinden.org
©MMXVII Sinden.org: a site for fun and prophet
Looking for Carol Spreadsheets?
Hungry? Try the Liturgical Guide to Altoids Consumption
Thirsty? Try the Tibia Liquida
The Eric Harding Thiman Fan Page: The greatest composer you've never even heard of.
Questions? Problems? email the sexton.
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise
Book of Common Prayer
The Daily Office
The Lectionary Page
Ship of Fools
The Sub-Dean's Stall
Vested Interest - Trinity Church in the City of Boston
Andrew Kotylo - Concert Organist
Bonnie Whiting, percussion
conjectural navel gazing: jesus in lint form
Friday Night Organ Pump
Halbert Gober Organs, Inc.
in time of daffodils
Joby Bell, organist
Musings of a Synesthete
My Life as Style, Condition, Commodity.
Nathan Medley, Countertenor
Notes on Music & Liturgy
The Parker Quartet
Roof Crashers & Hem Grabbers
That Which We Have Heard & Known
This Side of Lost
Zachary Wadsworth | composer
Advent (Medfield MA)
All Saints, Ashmont (Boston MA)
All Saints (Indianapolis IN)
Atonement (Bronx NY)
Broadway UMC (Indianapolis IN)
Cathedral of All Saints (Albany NY)
Christ Church (Bronxville NY)
Christ Church (Madison IN)
Christ Church (New Haven CT)
Christ Church Cathedral (Indianapolis IN)
Christ's Church (Rye NY)
Church of St. Stephen (Hamden CT)
Congregational (Belmont CA)
Coventry Cathedral (UK)
First UMC (Lancaster SC)
Gloria Dei ELCA (Iowa City IA)
Immanuel Lutheran (St Paul MN)
Immanuel Lutheran (Webster NY)
John Knox PCUSA (Houston TX)
St Andrew (Marblehead MA)
St Andrew's, Oregon Hill (Richmond VA)
St Bartholomew the Great, (London, England)
St James's (Lake Delaware NY)
St James's (Richmond VA)
St James Cathedral (Chicago IL)
St Mary's Cathedral (Memphis TN)
St Matthew and St Timothy (NYC)
St Paul's (Cleveland Heights OH)
St Paul's (Indianapolis IN)
St Paul's Cathedral (Buffalo NY)
St Paul's, K Street (Washington DC)
St Peter's (Lakewood OH)
St Peter's ELCA (NYC)
St Stephen's (Richmond VA
St Thomas (New Haven CT)
St Thomas ELCA (Bloomington IN)
Second PCUSA (Indianapolis IN)
Towson Presbyterian Church (MD)
Tremont Temple Baptist (Boston MA)
Trinity (Indianapolis IN)
Trinity on the Green (New Haven CT)
Yes, but they're not the kind you buy on Wheel of Fortune.
the owner of a bower at Bucklesfordberry?
Full daintily it is dight.
interested in touch lamps?
And fountain pens.