Hymns and Hymnals, I: Historical Developments
HYMNS AND HYMNALS, I: HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENTS
Until the Reformation, melodies of the Latin hymn predominated in Christian worship. The vernacular hymn has been used in worship since the Reformation in both the Catholic and the Protestant tradition. This article traces the history and development of Latin hymnody, Catholic vernacular hymnody in Europe, Protestant hymnody in Europe since the Reformation, Protestant hymnody in the U.S., and Catholic vernacular hymnody in the U.S. until the Second Vatican Council. For developments after Vatican II, see hymns and hymnals, ii: vatican ii and beyond.
Latin Hymnody. The music of Latin hymnody may be divided into three periods: the formative phase from the 4th to the 8th century; the period of florescence in the Middle Ages, from the Carolingian period to the end of the Renaissance; and the decline during the baroque, classical, and romantic periods.
Earliest Western Hymnody. Although it is certain that the early Christians used Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col 3.16) derived from the Jewish worship in the synagogue, knowledge of the music of these hymns can be only conjectural. With regard to hymn melodies prior to the 9th century, the date of the first MSS with musical
notation, any assertion must be based on the deduction or assumption that the melodies are older than the MSS in which they are first recorded.
Perhaps the greatest, as well as the most popular, Christian hymn of all ages is the te deum. Unlike other Office hymns, the Te Deum is written in rhythmic prose. Textually as well as musically it is composed of three distinct parts. The first, in praise of the Holy Trinity, consists of 15 verses with an alternation of two melodic elements, which are initially stated with the words Te Dominum confitemur and Te aeternum Patrem. The second part is in praise of Our Lord as Redeemer; thus, at the words Tu Rex gloriae, Christe appears a new melodic formula retained through verse 23 (the Aeterna fac cum Sanctis ), which in earlier times marked the end of the hymn. The antiquity of the melodies of these first two sections cannot be doubted. The third part, of later accretion, consists of an old series of verses drawn from the Psalms [27 (28).9; 144 (145).2; 122 (123).3; 32 (33).22; 30 (31).2]. Since the Middle Ages the Te Deum has inspired a number of polyphonic and free compositions. It has also been frequently translated as a strophic vernacular hymn. Notable among these is the forceful version in English by the Paulist Clarence walworth, "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name," a translation of the German Grosser Gott, wir loben Dich. Both are commonly sung to a melody from Allgemeines katholisches Gesangbuch (Vienna 1774).
Influence of the Ambrosian Hymn. The strophic Latin hymn as it is known today came into being in the 4th century. It may safely be stated that important hymn writers of the period, such as St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (340–397), were acquainted with and influenced by the hymns of the Eastern Churches. From a textual point of view it is generally believed that the impetus occasioning early hymnody came as a result of the Arian heresy, whose proponents used popular songs to promulgate their false teaching. Responding in kind, Ambrose and his followers wrote and used hymns to stir up and inspire the faithful to withstand the Church's enemies. In view of the Arian heresy, it is understandable that the tradition of closing each hymn with a doxology was already firmly established in these earliest Latin hymns, for example in the following (from Ambrose, Splendor Paternae gloriae ):
Deo Patri sit gloria, Ejusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito, Nunc et per omne saeculum.
It can therefore be assumed that the text and the melodies of the Ambrosian hymns had immediate congregational appeal, for they were written with congregational participation in mind. First, they were written in simple Latin, which would have been readily understood by the common people, not in Greek, the language of the learned. Second, the hymns drew liberally from scriptural sources and stressed orthodox faith and pious living. Finally, the simple meter selected (iambic dimeter) could be rendered easily by a congregation and must have added to the hymns' effectiveness. Although St. hilary of poitiers (c. 310–366) also wrote hymns against the Arians and earned for himself the title Malleus Arianum (hammer of the Arians), the authenticated fragments of his hymns never enjoyed the same kind of popularity because they lack congregational appeal.
The number of authentic Ambrosian hymns is still a matter of conjecture. (see hymnology.) Not all are in liturgical use, but the following three were found in the Tridentine Roman Breviary: Aeterna rerum conditor (Sunday at Lauds), Splendor paternae gloriae (Monday at Lauds), and Aeterna Christi munera (Common of Apostles and Evangelists). Another authentic hymn from the pen of St. Ambrose is Veni redemptor gentium. Though not in Roman usage, it survived in the Sarum (see sarum use) and other rites. It is important because of its subsequent translation into German as Nun komm der Heiden Heiland. The tremendous influence of the Ambrosian hymns on the music of hymns in later centuries has been noted by M. Britt:
The Breviary hymns written in iambics outnumber all other verse forms combined. Iambic meter has always been popular. It is closer to prose than any other kind of verse, and it thus gives a poet an opportunity to give expression to his thoughts in a form which will appeal both to the learned and the unlearned. St. Ambrose understood this well, as did the long line of his imitators, many of whose hymns have found their way into the liturgy. [The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal (rev. ed. New York 1948) xxvii.]
Other Metrical Hymns. Another important hymn writer of the early period was Aurelius Clemens pruden tius (348–413). Seven of his hymns were used in the Tridentine Breviary. These, however, are all centos of hymns from his Liber Cathemerinon, a great poetic work containing hymns for the daily hours and feasts of the year. Of particular note are the cento O sola magnarum urbium (for Lauds on Epiphany and its octave) and the Christmas hymn Corde natus ex parentis, which has become very popular among English-speaking Christians because of John Mason Neale's translation, "Of the Father's Love Begotten." It is unlikely that the present melodies for these hymns are as old as the texts. The same is true of the beautiful Christmas hymn A solis ortus cardine by Caelius Sedulius (fl.450), which has assured its author a place among the great hymn writers of antiquity. It is an alphabetic acrostic in which each strophe begins with successive letters of the Latin alphabet. In liturgical usage the hymn has been divided, the first part being used at Lauds from Christmas to the eve of the Epiphany, and the second for Matins and Vespers for Epiphany and its octave. The use of an acrostic points to an influence from Byzantium, where such acrostics are common. Also of note is Venantius fortunatus (530–609), a native of Treviso who became bishop of Poitiers. His best-known hymns are Vexilla Regis prodeunt (traditionally sung for Vespers from Passion Sunday to the Wednesday of Holy Week) and Pange, lingua, gloriosi Lauream, which has a considerably wider usage. It is sung on Good Friday at the Veneration of the Cross. It has been said that Fortunatus as a poet is one of the last of the Latin classicists. The truth of this statement may be seen in the meter of the Pange, lingua, which is trochaic tetrameter instead of the popular iambic dimeter. Music historians have assumed that these hymns give some idea of the style of Gallican chant; they are among the few remnants that survived the Carolingian attempts at suppression of it.
Although Rome was slow to adopt the hymn, it became the task of the monasteries to preserve and further develop the hymnody of the Latin Church. The establishment of the canonical hours in the Benedictine Rule helped foster the use of hymns of the Ambrosian type along with the singing of the Psalter. Latin hymns gradually developed into cycles for the entire Church year. They commemorated the great feasts of the year, as well as the feasts of the saints. The pope and doctor of the Church whose name was given to the music of the Church in the West should certainly not be overlooked, even though scholars disagree on the number of hymns that might be attributed to him. As abbot of the Benedictine monastery of St. Andrew, which he founded in Rome, St. Gregory the Great (540–604) certainly must have had more than a passing interest in the Office hymn. At least fourteen hymns are attributed to him. Of these, mention should be made of Nocte surgentes vigilemus omnes (historically sung at Matins on the fourth and subsequent Sundays after Pentecost), its companion hymn Ecce jam noctis tenuatur (for Lauds during the same period), and the great hymn for Vespers on Sunday Lucis Creator optime. The melodies of these hymns were among the most popular in the Middle Ages. In popularity they rivaled only the Veni, Creator Spiritus, which is generally, but probably erroneously, ascribed to Rabanus Maurus (776–856). With perhaps the exception of the Te Deum, this hymn of invocation to the Holy Spirit has had wider use for liturgical and extraliturgical functions than any other.
Two hymns may serve as examples of a difficult musical problem upon which scholars are not in agreement: Ut queant laxis in Sapphic meter and Gloria, laus et honor in elegiac meter. There is disagreement concerning the relationship between the poetic meter of the text and the rhythm of the music in these and similar Carolingian attempts at classic meter. Most scholars fail to see how the metrics of the texts are reflected in the music. The Ut queant laxis (traditionally assigned to the Vespers of feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist) is attributed to Paul the Deacon (d. 799) of Monte Cassino; Goria, laus et honor (Palm Sunday processional hymn) is attributed to Theodulph, Bishop of Orleans (760–821). The former acquired great popularity in providing the basis for the system of solemnization because the first syllable of each line of the first stanza begins on successively rising pitches; ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la.
Hymn and Sequence. With the rise of the sequence the composition of new hymns seemed less necessary. In the Sequence the medieval composer found opportunity for emotional and musical expression and for experimentation with new meters and forms. It is not surprising that it is more and more difficult in the late Middle Ages to differentiate between hymns and Sequences. The great Sequence authors and writers in general were also the great hymn writers. They include Abelhard and Bernard of Clairvaux (1091–1153) who is credited with one of the most popular of hymns, Jesu, dulcis memoria. Thomas Aquinas (1227–74) contributed to the repertoire by writing hymns for the Office of Corpus Christi and the famous Sequence Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem. The music for these, and the famous Sequences of Adam of Saint-Victor (d. 1192), was not newly composed, but the melodies were, almost without exception, adaptations of existing pieces. The distinction between Sequence and hymn eventually became one of function only.
Decline. From the 16th century onward, Latin hymnody was on the decline. One of the chief reasons advanced is the fact that Latin ceased to be a "mother tongue," even among religious orders. Another reason is that the Renaissance passion for classical purity overemphasized form to the detriment of thought and content. C. Blume depicted the situation in these words: "The humanists abominated the rhythmical poetry of the Middle Ages from an exaggerated enthusiasm for ancient classical forms and meters. Hymnody then received its death blow as, on the revision of the Breviary under Pope Urban VIII (1568–1644), the medieval rhythmical hymns were forced into more classical forms by means of socalled corrections." Hundreds of "corrections" were made by Urban and a commission of scholars appointed by him. Fortunately, the Breviaries of some monastic orders, e.g., the Benedictine, did not adopt the changes. Although the texts of some of the ancient hymns were changed, the melodies remained the same. In several chant MSS of the Renaissance the hymns are in measured notation; they were sung in a style different from that of the remaining chant repertory. Yet, even the period of decline of the Latin hymn, from the Renaissance to the present, is not completely devoid of pieces of poetic and musical inspiration. Notwithstanding the fact that it is not in liturgical usage, there is no hymn more beloved by all Christians than the Christmas Adeste Fideles, ascribed to John Francis Wade (1711–86). Father Charles Coffin (1676–1749), Rector of the University of Paris, was among those commissioned to revise the Paris Breviary of 1736. The revision included a number of his Latin hymns, of which two Advent hymns are remarkable: Jordanis oras praevia and Instantis adventum Dei.
Vernacular Hymnody. Medieval vernacular hymnody had its roots in the development of the trope and Sequence. The use of the vernacular was to serve as an aid in comprehending the Latin of the chant. Many of the Latin farced tropes were written to the various melodies of the Kyrie eleison. The hymns derived from this source were called Kirleis or Leis. A good example of this type of hymn is Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist (13th century) with its kyrieleis refrain. Another, from a later period, is the chorale Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit … Eleison eleison, derived from the Kyrie fons bonitatis.
The vernacular hymns derived from the Sequences were called Leich. The following example will serve to show the relation between the vernacular strophe and the Latin Sequence from which it was derived:
Ave Maria Klarer Meerstern zum Licht der Heidenschaft aus Gottesgnaden aufgegangen.
Ave praeclara maris stella in lucem gentium Maria divinitus orta.
The 13th-century Christ ist erstanden is another example of a vernacular Sequence hymn. It is derived from the Easter Sequence Victimae paschali laudes. Both the Leis and the Leich are found in Germany as early as the 9th century.
The development of polyphony also gave impetus to the development of vernacular hymnody. The harmonic structure of the laudi (Italy), the cantigas (Spain), the cantique (France), and Lieder (Germany) was, however, more of a conservative type than that of the essentially intricate contrapuntal style of the Mass and motet of that era. Hymns of this type are found in the repertory of the trouvères and minnesingers alongside their secular airs.
Throughout this development vernacular hymns were restricted to extra-and nonliturgical devotions and functions, especially in France and Italy. In Germany, however, possibly because of the influence of the Lutheran vernacular service, vernacular hymns invaded the domain of the Catholic liturgy after the 16th century. By 1605 the Cantual of Mainz allowed the use of German hymns for the Proper of the Mass. Later in the same century this was expanded to include portions of the Ordinary. Such Masses were called Singmessen. The widespread use of chorales by the Lutherans in Germany precipitated a further demand for congregational singing among Catholics. In response to this need, the first Catholic hymnbook with German text appeared in Leipzig in 1537. This was Michael Vehe's Ein New Gesangbuechlein geystlicher Lieder. Other such collections appeared soon after, among them Johann Leisentritt's Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen, which went through three editions between 1567 and 1584. A 17th-century collection of importance was David Gregor Corner's Gottweiher Gesangbuch of 1625. Under the impact of the baroque concertato style, Singmessen were expanded to include the choir and instruments, as well as congregational singing. Ignaz Holzbauer (1711–83), for example, composed German Masses of this type. The Singmesse continued to find favor in Germany throughout the 18th century. Its popularity caused an ever-widening separation from the liturgy, and it became one of the objects of reform by the 19th-century caecilian movement.
While the chief objective of the Caecilianverein was to raise the standards of German Catholic church music in general, it attempted also to restore order in the use of the vernacular hymn. There were two aspects to hymn reform. The first was the historic restriction of vernacular hymns to extraliturgical services and devotions. The second was the elimination of secular and rationalistic influences. The most lasting result of this reform was a renewed interest in the older Latin hymns.
Protestant Hymnody. Two distinct types of hymns developed at the time of the Reformation: the great body of German vernacular chorales fostered by the Lutheran reformers, and the French metrical Psalms developed by Calvin and his associates (see psalters, metrical). The distinction between them is more than one of language. It is primarily one of divergent theological approaches to worship.
German Chants. Martin Luther's (1483–1546) practice was to retain all of the Catholic liturgy that in his opinion was not contrary to the Scriptures. This permitted retention of the Ordinary of the Mass together with its great repertory of music, whether chant or polyphony, as well as some of the musical Propers, the ancient pericopes, and many of the Collects. In the Calvinistic concept of worship, only what was specified in the Scriptures and was in use in the primitive Church could be used in worship—in other words, the Psalter, the Canticles, and the Decalogue. While the shape of the Lutheran liturgy retained most of the traditional musical elements of the Mass, these still had to be sung by trained choristers, and they were still in Latin. They were never discarded, and the excellent musical standards of the Kantorei have been maintained down to the present. It was necessary, however, to find suitable hymns for the congregation. As previously indicated, some popular German hymns were already in use, but the greater number of congregational hymns had to grow out of the experience and ability of the reformers.
In general, the chorale may be divided into four classes: (1) Hymns that were translated directly from Latin hymns and whose melodies were preserved with slight alterations, e.g., Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist, translated from Veni, Creator Spiritus; Christum wir sollen loben schon, translated from Sedulius's A solis ortus cardine. (2) Vernacular hymns based on parts of the Latin Ordinary; Kyrie: Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, which makes use of the melody of the Kyrie fons bonitatis and is a partial translation by an unknown writer of the fons bonitatis trope; Gloria: Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr, a metrical paraphrase of the Gloria by Nikolaus Decius (?–1541), who adapted the melody from that of the Paschal Gloria (see Mass I in the Liber Usualis); Credo: Wir glauben all' en einen Gott, a metrical paraphrase of the nicene creed by Luther, who adapted the melody from Credo IV; Sanctus: Jesaia dem Propheten, das geschah' (also called the German Sanctus), which paraphrases the vision of the Prophet Isaiah (Is 6.1–4) and was adapted by Luther from the melody of the Sanctus of Mass XVII (Liber Usualis); Agnus: O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, by Nikolaus Decius, who adapted the melody of the Agnus of Mass IX. (3) Metrical versions or paraphrases of Psalms and canticles; e.g., Psalm 129 (130) De Profundis: Aus tiefer Noth by Luther; the melody has a strong Phrygian character but cannot be traced to any Gregorian source; Nunc Dimittis: Mit Fried' und Freud', also by Luther; the melody is in the Dorian mode but it cannot be traced; Te Deum: Herr, Gott, dich loben wir, adapted by Luther from the ancient simple tone. (4) Hymns that are original in text and melody. These became more numerous with the passage of time and eventually formed the great bulk of the German chorale. Among the important hymn and tune writers were Paul Speratus, Johann Walter, Ludwig Helmbold, Nicholas Selnecker, Philipp Nicolai, Johann Franck, Paul Gerhardt, Johann Freylinghausen, and Erdmann Neumeister.
The chorale is of the greatest musical significance because of its use as a vehicle for choral and instrumental compositions. The climax of its importance is seen in the works of J. S. bach. For him the chorale was at the very center of the Passions, the church cantatas, and the great part of his organ pieces.
French Psalters. English hymnody was in part influenced by the French metrical psalters. John Calvin (1509–64), because he considered only the Scriptures suitable vehicles for congregational singing, literally fettered his followers to the Psalter for centuries. In 1538, during his exile in Strassburg, Calvin heard the congregational singing of Psalms and hymns in German, set to melodies by Matthias Greiter. The singing impressed him greatly, paving the way for a whole new series of French Psalters, beginning with the Strasbourg Psalter of 1539 and culminating in the first complete Geneva Psalter of 1562. The literary task of translation and versification was principally that of Clément Marot (c. 1497–1544) and, after his death, Théodore de Bèze (1519–1605), although Calvin supplied some of the earlier ones. The principal musical editor of these Psalters was Louis Bourgeois (c. 1510–61), who gave final form to approximately 85 melodies of the completed Psalter. While Calvin was opposed to polyphony, and insisted that the Psalms be sung in unison, nevertheless part settings using as many as six voices appeared in the hymns of Bourgeois himself. More important musically are those of Claude goudimel (?–1572).
English Hymns and Psalters. Pre-Reformation vernacular hymnody in England consisted mostly of spiritual folksongs and carols. In 1531 Miles Coverdale (1486–1569) attempted to introduce Lutheran chorales into England. His collection, Goostly Psalmes and Spiritual Songes, is generally regarded as the first English hymnbook. All but five of the hymns in this collection were translations from the German. In 1546 Henry VIII prohibited the use of this hymnal.
The most important aspect of Reformation hymnody in England was what Millar Patrick has called "the battle of the Psalters." Early English metrical Psalters, begun by Thomas Sternhold (1500–49) as an attempt to substitute pious and serious songs for the ribald ballads sung by his fellow courtiers, went through a series of turbulent editions. In 1549, the year of his death, Sternhold published 37 of his own Psalter translations. His work was continued by John Hopkins (d. 1570). With the accession of Queen Mary to the English throne, many of the English reformers took refuge in Geneva. As a result, there appeared in 1556 the first Anglo-Genevan Psalter (One and Fiftie Psalmes of Davide in English Metre ), which contained 44 settings by Sternhold and Hopkins plus seven by William Whittingham, Calvin's brother-in-law. This Psalter, together with its second edition of 1558, shows the strong influence of the French Psalters, the melodies having been modeled on those of Bourgeois. After the death of Queen Mary, a first complete English Psalter was published by John Day in 1562, by coincidence the same year as the first complete French Psalter. Today this Psalter is known as the "Old Version." It remained in use until 1696, when the "New Version" of Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady supplanted it. During the intervening century other attempts were made by John Playford, Francis Rous, and Thomas Ravenscroft to supplant the Old Version.
In Scotland, likewise, the Lutheran influence was short-lived with the return of John Knox from Geneva in 1559; he brought with him the Anglo-Genevan Psalter. A new version, based in part on the Anglo-Genevan Psalter, appeared as part of the Book of Common Order in 1564. Much of the work of revision and expansion was done by Robert Pont and John Craig. This was supplanted in 1650 by a final version.
While such men as George Wither (1588–1667), John Cosin (1594–1672), Thomas Ken (1627–1711), Richard Baxter (1615–91), and Joseph Addison (1672–1710) made some attempt to liberate English hymnody from the shackles of metrical psalmody, it was the work of Isaac Watts (1674–1748) that ushered in a new era of English hymns. What he first attempted to do is unfolded in the lengthy title of his 1719 publication, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, and Apply'd to the Christian State and Worship. From this "Christianization" of the Psalms it was just one step to the writing of new and thoroughly original Christian hymns. For this Watts justly deserves the title "Father of English Hymnody." Many of Watts's hymns have become standard among English-speaking peoples of all denominations. Some of the best known are: "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past"; "Before Jehovah's Awful Throne"; "Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun"; "Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove," and "Joy to the World! the Lord Is Come." The new burst of song attracted numerous other hymn writers in imitation, as St. Ambrose's hymns had centuries before. Among the imitators of Watts were Simon Browne (1680–1732) and Philip Doddridge (1702–51). Even as late as 1787, John Rippon (1751–1836) published what was intended to be an appendix to Watts's Psalms and Hymns.
Methodist Hymns. The next stage in the development of the English hymn paralleled the rise of Methodism. In 1735, through a chance meeting with a group of Moravians on their way to America on the same ship with him and his brother Charles, John wesley (1703–91) was introduced to the German pietistic hymns of Count von Zinzendorf and Johann Freylinghausen. Wesley's first hymnbook was printed in America in 1737. It also showed the extraordinary influence of Watts, since half of its 70 hymns were by him. Five more were Wesley's translations of German hymns, probably from the Zinzendorf Herrnhut Gesangbuch. Others were by his father and some by his brother Samuel, but none by Charles. His second hymnal appeared almost immediately after his return to England in 1738.
While Wesley gave the initial impetus to the early hymns of the Methodist Revival, he gradually turned this task over to his brother Charles. Of certain hymns it is difficult to ascertain which of the two is the author. It is said that Charles Wesley wrote some 6,500 hymns, many of which were intended only for the occasion or moment. Many, however, have passed into general Protestant usage and, judged by the highest standards, they are excellent hymns. Among them are the well-known Christmas and Easter hymns, "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" and "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today." "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing," "Jesus, Lover of my Soul," "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus," and "Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies" were composed by him also. Although John Wesley's greatest contribution to English hymnody consisted in masterful translations, especially of German hymns, he wrote also some excellent original hymns, "Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me" and "Thee Will I Love, My Strength, My Tower," among them.
Protestant Hymnody in the U.S. It would be difficult to divorce early American hymnody from that of England. Protestant hymnody in the U.S. also had its roots in metrical psalmody.
Early American Hymnody. The Puritans, both orthodox and separatist, brought with them their Psalters. The orthodox adhered to those of Sternhold and Hopkins, and the separatists kept the Ainsworth Psalter printed in Amsterdam in 1612. General dissatisfaction with all of these led to the publication of the first book of any kind printed in the U.S., the bay psalm book (called also the New England Version) printed at Cambridge, Mass., by Stephen Day in 1640. It was not long, however, before the influence of Isaac Watts began to be felt in the New World. His Psalms of David appeared in Boston in 1729. This and the publication of his Hymns in 1739 were British imports. A distinctively American hymnody began only with the revision of Watts, attempted by Joel Barlow in 1786 and by Timothy Dwight in 1801. In the American spirit of independence, Dwight, who was president of Yale from 1795 to 1815, showed no inclination to be tied down to mere paraphrases of existent metrical Psalms. Typical of Dwight's hymns is "I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord."
At the same time, the impact of the Wesleys was felt by reason of their mission to the U.S. and the 1737 publication of John Wesley's hymns. From these facts alone it could be predicted that 18th-and 19th-century Protestant hymnody in America would become largely a matter of denominational development.
During the mid-19th century, the gospel song took root in many parts of the U.S. While many had a part in its development, the gospel song is chiefly the work of Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey as part of their evangelistic campaigns, which penetrated even the British Isles. Such gems as "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning," "Almost Persuaded Now to Believe," and "I Love to Tell the Story" almost uprooted established hymnody, especially in the Methodist and Baptist Churches, and perhaps would have done so had the tide not been turned by the hymns that came out of England's Oxford Revival.
The Oxford Movement. The Oxford Revival in England was preceded by a rediscovery of the great Latin hymns of the Breviary. All who worship in the English language are indebted to John Mason Neale (1818–66) for his masterful translations, not only of many Latin, but also of many ancient Greek hymns. There is not a contemporary good Protestant hymnal that does not contain some of his translations. Many Catholic hymnals also include them. The list of his translations is too lengthy for enumeration. His "All Glory, Laud and Honor" was translated from Theodulph's Gloria, laus et honor, and "Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain" was translated from John of Damascus' Ασωμεν, πάντες λαοί. Other translators were Edward Caswall (1814–78), Richard F. Littledale (1833–90), and John Brownlie (1859–1925), the last contributing English versions especially of Greek hymns. Because the Oxford Movement was a spiritual revival based on the liturgical life, it was bound to produce many good hymns and hymn writers. A compromise between the "high church" and evangelical schools had to be achieved. It came about with the publication of Hymns Ancient and Modern, For Use in the Services of the Church (1861). Sir Henry Baker (1821–77) was chairman of the commission that produced this most influential hymnal, which in little more than a century was disseminated in one edition or another to a total of almost 200 million copies. Sir Henry himself contributed what is possibly one of the most sublime hymns based on Psalm 22 (23), "The King of Love My Shepherd Is." Other significant contributors and their hymns were: John Keble (1792–1866), author of "Sun of My Soul"; William Chatterdon Dix (1823–98), writer of the joyful Epiphany hymn "As with Gladness Men of Old"; William Walsham How (1823–97), "For All the Saints Who from Their Labours Rest"; William Whiting (1825–78), "Eternal Father, Strong to Save"; and C. F. Alexander (1825–78), "I Bind unto Myself Today." Musically, too, Hymns Ancient and Modern produced excellent tunes that are still widely used. Coronae, Diademata, St. Crispin, St. George's Windsor, Aurelia, St. Agnes, and Nicaea are but a few of the most representative ones.
Influence of the Spiritual. Another important phase of 19th-century Protestant hymnody in America was the rise of the spiritual. Its development paralleled the increasing dissent from the established Protestant denominations at the time of the American Revolution and the establishment of splinter sects from these branches. The initial desire for religious freedom, which had motivated some of the early settlers (e.g., the Pilgrims), had slowly but surely crystallized itself into a new authoritarian establishment. The great mass of subsequent settlers chafed under this ecclesiastic authority. Hence at the dawn of the Revolution there was, in addition to a wish for political independence from the crown, a demand for renewed religious liberty as well. Shortly after the close of the War for Independence, itinerant preachers of Baptist and Methodist origin began evangelistic crusades throughout the states, especially in the rural areas. For their enthusiastic type of preaching and worship, the Psalters of the established churches were too staid and dull. Even the hymns of Watts and the Wesleys had to be recast to British and American popular folksongs. Among numerous collections of this type, a notable one was Jeremiah Ingall's Christian Harmony, published in 1805.
In time, even these spirituals proved to be too severe in style, and the texts and tunes were gradually lightened and simplified. This took place at the same time as the emergence of camp meeting revivals in the mid-19th century. Both were part of a missionary effort among the African Americans undertaken by Baptists and Methodists. They, together with some Presbyterians, showed more of an interest in Christianizing the slaves than did the established denominations. A people for whom English was little more than a foreign language could hardly be expected to take to the severe hymnody of the established churches. Hence the spiritual folksongs of the Nonconformists appealed to the slaves, and over time they became a part of the African American musical idiom. An examination of numerous tunes and lyrics of Black Spirituals reveals a striking similarity to the spiritual folksongs of the camp meeting evangelists.
20th-century Protestant Hymnody. Accordingly, at the dawn of the 20th century, the hymnody of the established English-speaking Protestant denominations shows an understandable dichotomy. There are, on the one hand, the substantial hymnals containing metrical Psalms, the hymns of Watts and the Wesleys, Latin and Greek translations by Neale and others, and hymns drawn from Hymns Ancient and Modern. On the other hand, there are also hundreds of collections of gospel songs, spirituals, and so-called choruses. As a rule, the former were used at the regular services of worship, the latter at revivals and youth meetings.
Catholic Vernacular Hymnody in the U.S. Catholic vernacular hymnody in America in its incipient stages reflected the cosmopolitan quality characterized by the nation itself. Through the activities of the missionaries and early settlers, practically every European nation indirectly transplanted its own heritage of religious song to the young nation. The adoption of these hymns, or at least of their stylistic traits, is an integral part of the history of hymnody in America from the first years of colonization until the 20th century.
Missionary Efforts. Manuscripts found in the Franciscan missions of the southwestern U.S. contain a number of hymn tunes in the style of the Spanish folk hymn with texts in Spanish. The earliest published collection in America, however, the Psalmodia Christiana compiled by Fray Bernadino de Sahagun, consists of hymns in the language of the Aztecs sung to Native American melodies. The melodies, unfortunately, were never recorded. French Jesuit missionaries, active in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. at about the same period of the 17th century, adapted the Huron language to Gregorian chant melodies and to French cantiques. Many of these can be found in Catholic hymnals compiled for the Native Americans, the earliest of which dates from 1847. Because both melody and words were preserved, the Christmas hymn Jesous Ahatonnia, composed by Jean de Brebeuf, SJ, and adapted to a 16th-century Breton noel tune, may be considered the earliest of extant vernacular American hymns. (see liturgical music, history of.)
The hardships experienced by the early English colonists in the practice of their religion may account in part for the substantial lack of evidence concerning Catholic church music until the last quarter of the 18th century. It was not until 1787 that the first printed collection containing Catholic hymn tunes was published in the U.S. This Compilation of the Litanies and Vespers Hymns and Anthems as They Are Sung in the Catholic Church was published by John Aitken in Philadelphia and contains almost as much Anglican music as music for the Catholic service. The book is significant for its inclusion of traditional chant hymns and several German chorales.
19th-Century Hymnals. Catholic hymn publications in the 19th century include Anthems, Hymns Usually Sung at the Catholick Church, edited by Rev. John Cheverus at Boston in 1800; Morning and Evening Service of the Catholic Church, Comprising a Choice Collection of Gregorian and Other Masses, Litanies, Psalms, Sacred Hymns, Anthems, Versicles and Motetts, compiled by G. Garbett (New York 1840); and Catholic Melodies, edited by Rev. James Horner (Baltimore 1845). English influence in late 19th-century hymnals resulted in publications of poor taste, which often featured adaptations of secular music. The more unscrupulous compilers even adapted themes of popular instrumental and operatic music of famous composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn. German Catholic immigrants of the mid-19th century were provided with a publication of the hymns they knew in the 1858 collection of B. H.F. Hellebusch entitled Katholisches Gesang und Gebetbuch: Eine Auswahl der vorzüglichsten Chorüle und Kirchenlieder. Unfortunately, many of the German Catholic chorales and folk hymns introduced in America through this publication were presented in the decadent rhythmic style then prevalent in Germany. Many other tunes of inferior quality also were included. A higher musical standard was maintained in other German Catholic hymn collections of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and these became basic material for many subsequent Catholic hymnals with English texts, of which the following are representative: Laudate pueri, compiled by Sisters of Notre Dame (Cleveland, Ohio 1886, 1903); Psallite, compiled by Alexander Roesler, SJ (St. Louis 1901,1909); Laudate, compiled by Rev. Joseph Hohe (Kansas City 1909); Hosanna, compiled by Ludwig Bonvin, SJ (St. Louis 1910); Cantate, compiled by John Singenberger (New York 1912); and New Hymn Book for Church and School, compiled by Hans Marx for the Chicago Archdiocese (New York 1917). Many of these hymnals represented the reforming efforts of members of the American Caecilian Society. Characteristic of the American-Caecilian style of hymn writing were the use of slightly florid rhythms within a common meter, and melodies of a diatonic nature with a judicious use of skips.
France and England exerted the second influence on 19th-century American Catholic hymnody. French borrowings were evident particularly in the Catholic Youth's Hymnbook, edited by the Brothers of the Christian Schools (Montreal 1871; New York 1885). Many of the tunes in the collection were French cantique tunes of a degenerate type; a few were representative of better French tradition; while a third group were original tunes in the style of the cantique. Many were traditionally associated with certain religious events and devotions. Mid-19th-century English tradition was superimposed on the French tradition in the following collections: Laudis corona (New York 1885) and St. Basil's Hymnal (Toronto 1889; 5th ed. New York 1896). These and others, such as The Crown Hymnal (Boston 1911), De La Salle Hymnal (New York 1913), Gloria Hymnal (New York 1933), and American Catholic Hymnal (New York 1913), reflected the traditions of the 19th century. Typical of the style of this tradition is the dancelike 3/4 and 6/8 meters with melodies of a triadic outline that feature also melodic intervals of a sixth. Harmonically, the progressions are frequently static or else chromatic.
The best traditions of Germany, France, and England were represented in the best Catholic hymnal published in America in the 19th century, namely, the Roman Hymnal, compiled and arranged by J. B. Young, SJ (New York 1884). This collection included many Gregorian chant melodies, as well as some original American tunes.
20th-Century Hymnals. Early 20th-century hymnals of a cosmopolitan character included Hymns for the Ecclesiastical Year, compiled by Alphonsus Dress (1908); Parish Hymnal, compiled by Joseph Otten (1915); and Manual of Catholic Hymns, compiled by B. Dieringer and J. Pierron (1916). Many English Catholic hymn tunes were contained in Choir Manual, compiled by G. Burton (1914); A Treasury of Catholic Song, compiled by Sidney Hurlbut (New York 1915); and Standard Catholic Hymnal, compiled by James A. Reilly (Boston 1921). Three hymnals in the early decades of the 20th century included traditional Protestant hymn tunes: St. Mark's Hymnal (1910), Oregon Catholic Hymnal (1912), and St. Francis Hymnal and Choir Manual (1912). A few other significant hymnals of the same period were Holy Cross Hymnal (1915) with original texts and music by Cardinal William O'Connell; Catholic Education Series Hymnal, compiled by Justine Ward (Washington 1918); Catholic Hymns for the People, edited by James M. Rakar (1919); and Catholic Hymnal, compiled by John G. Hacker, SJ (New York 1920). The St. Gregory Hymnal and Catholic Choir Book, edited by N. A. Montani, was the result of interest in the improvement of Catholic hymnody, an aim of the newly formed Society of St. Gregory. Slightly more than half the compositions included are original American tunes, but German, Slovak, Gregorian chant hymns, English, Italian, and French tunes also were represented.
This same interest in the improvement of hymnody was evident in significant publications between 1920 and 1945: St. Mary's Hymnal, edited and compiled by C. A. Zittel (New York 1924); St. Joseph Hymnal, edited by Joseph Wolf (Chicago 1925); Diocesan Hymnal, compiled by Rt. Rev. Joseph schrembs (New York 1928); St. Caecilia Hymnal, compiled and edited by J. Alfred Schehl (New York 1929); Ave Maria Hymnal, compiled and edited by Rev. Joseph Pierron (Milwaukee 1929); Parochial Hymnal, compiled and arranged by Rev. Carlo Rossini (New York 1936); Mt. Mary Hymnal, compiled by Sister M. Gisela, SSND (Boston 1938); Saint Rose Hymnal, compiled by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration (Boston 1940); and Laudate Hymnal and Choir Book, originally compiled by Rev. Joseph Hohe and completely revised by Rev. Herman J. Koch and Rev. Andrew Green, OSB (Boston 1942). Notable hymnals in the 1940s and early 1950s included St. Andrew Hymnal, compiled by Philip Kreckel; Official Holy Name Hymnal, compiled by Rev. J. J. McLarney, OP; Alverno Hymnal and Choir Book, compiled by Sister M. Cherubim, OSF; Gregorian Institute Hymnal, Catholic Hymns, compiled by Rev. John C. Selner, SS; Cantemus Domino, by the Sisters of Marylhurst, Oregon; Pius X Hymnal, compiled and edited by the faculty of the Pius Tenth School of Liturgical Music; Monastery Hymnal, compiled and edited by Achille Bragers; Mediator Dei Hymnal, compiled and edited by Cyr de Brant (pseud. of V. J. Higgenson); and The New Saint Basil Hymnal.
[m. m. hueller/
m. a. bichsel/
e. j. selhorst/eds.]