Author Topic: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?  (Read 6115 times)

RayToy

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ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« on: April 30, 2011, 12:39:24 AM »
   I recently saw this performance on you tube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLLMzr3PFgk

    This Carrie Underwood/Vince Gill  performance of "How Great Thou Art" sort of encapsulated a growing pet peeve I have had with LBW, and perhaps even more with ELW.  It's a small thing, but it was a tipping point.  She uses the lyrics "rolling thunder" as opposed to the original lyrics now in the ELW "mighty thunder."  I understand that George Beverly Shea was the first to use the phrase "rolling thunder" in a Billy Graham crusade, and that later Elvis Presley used that same phrase.  The fact that the original lyrics are in the hymnal does not change the fact that the popular culture uses different words.

    Many threads ago, we discussed the change in lyrics of "All Creatures of our God and King" to "All Creatures worship God most high."  I understand that linguistically, the second hymn is actually a more accurate translation of the source language text of the first.  No matter, as an English speaker who has experience singing in multiple languages, I still think of the second hymn as a different hymn using the same tune.  For me, (and I am not alone), "All Creatures of Our God and King" was taken out of ELW.

    Now, to forestall the notion that I am bashing the ELW just because I am resistant to change, I want to point out that LBW had similar issues, specifically in the Christmas section.  I understand that the powers that be did not want to alienate women by all of the masculine language.  The problem is that the only place I hear the inclusive language versions of familiar Christmas hymns is in mainline churches.  Whether it's Christmas concerts, or the radio, or television, the fact is that I never hear these new formulations.

     Now, to sort of hypothesize the rationale, I suspect that planners of these hymnals genuinely wanted to be inclusive.  Use of masculine pronouns or masculine images found in such words as "king", or "lord", or "soldier" may indeed be sufficiently offensive to women that droves of them may have never entered churches because of their use.  At the same time, if the point is to be inclusive, is it really inclusive to be singing songs that nobody else is singing?


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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2011, 12:52:56 AM »
She uses the lyrics "rolling thunder" as opposed to the original lyrics now in the ELW "mighty thunder." 

Uh, original lyrics now in the ELW!?? Original lyrics are in Swedish.

Text: , Mönsterås-Tidningen, 1886.

Musik: Svensk folk mel o di, San nings vitt net, 1891.

O store Gud, när jag den värld beskådar,
Som du har skapat med ditt allmaktsord,
Hur där din visdom leder livets trådar,
Och alla väsen mättas vid ditt bord.

Kör

Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:
O store Gud! O store Gud!
Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:
O store Gud! O store Gud!

När sommarvinden susar över fälten,
När blommor dofta invid källans rand,
När trastar drilla i de gröna tälten,
Vid furuskogens tysta, dunkla rand;

Kör

När jag i bibeln skådar alla under,
Som Herren gjort se’n förste Adams tid,
Hur nådefull Han varit alla stunder,
Och hjälpt sitt folk ur livets synd och strid;

Kör

När slutligt alla tidens höljen falla,
Uti åskådning byter sig min tro,
Och evighetens klara klockor kalla,
Min frälsta ande till dess sabbatsro;

Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:
Tack store Gud! Tack store Gud!
Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:
Tack store Gud! Tack store Gud!
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2011, 07:24:55 AM »
Not that I like the hymn at all... it is one I really dislike, but I think I recall reading that some hymns uses a different texts because the permission could not be gained for the better known ones or it was at a much greater cost (How Great the Cost) financially than the one used in LBW...   is this perhaps the case with this hymn?   Harvey Mozolak
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Terry W Culler

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2011, 12:40:06 PM »
If you want to see a hymnal that ruins hymns look at the UCC's New Century Hymnal.  Any time our Lord is referred as King He is called Sovereign.  Singing their hymns can get your tongue wrapped around your eye teeth pretty easily.  Frankly, a lot of the changes are really about somebody's pet peeve of the week or their ideological views.  I like hymns were the letters alt. do not appear.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2011, 12:50:09 PM »
Not that I like the hymn at all... it is one I really dislike, but I think I recall reading that some hymns uses a different texts because the permission could not be gained for the better known ones or it was at a much greater cost (How Great the Cost) financially than the one used in LBW...   is this perhaps the case with this hymn?   Harvey Mozolak

I remember reading the results of polls about people's favorite and least liked hymns and "How Great Thou Art" was number 1 on both lists.

When people have complained (mostly online -- very seldom in congregations) about texts in ELW, I point to The Century Hymnal and state, "It could be worse."
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2011, 02:13:18 PM »
As for the text of "How Great Thou Art," the first printing of LBW has "all the works thy hand hath made, ... I hear the mighty thunder..."

My first personal LBW is the fourth printing, by which the text has been altered to read "all the *worlds thy hand... I hear the *rolling thunder..." with the asterisk pointing to a note on the bottom of the page "Author's original words are "works and "mighty."  It appears that way in my 18th printing, too.

The asterisked "author" refers to Stuart Hine, whose text (still under copyright) is a translation of a Russian text, which is a translation of a German rendition of the original Swedish hymn.  As Marilyn Kay Stulken wrote in the Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, "It has lost much of the original in the process and, except for a few lines, may well be considered a new text."

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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2011, 06:12:57 PM »
As for the text of "How Great Thou Art," the first printing of LBW has "all the works thy hand hath made, ... I hear the mighty thunder..."

My first personal LBW is the fourth printing, by which the text has been altered to read "all the *worlds thy hand... I hear the *rolling thunder..." with the asterisk pointing to a note on the bottom of the page "Author's original words are "works and "mighty."  It appears that way in my 18th printing, too.

The asterisked "author" refers to Stuart Hine, whose text (still under copyright) is a translation of a Russian text, which is a translation of a German rendition of the original Swedish hymn.  As Marilyn Kay Stulken wrote in the Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, "It has lost much of the original in the process and, except for a few lines, may well be considered a new text."

When I ran the Swedish through Google translator, it seemed like a different hymn. (There was no "thunder" in that translation.)

Some additional details from the Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship, by Paul Westermeyer.

The original Swedish version was written in 1885 by Carl G. Boberg, in response to the beauty of nature around him and the ringing of church bells.
Manfred von Glehn made a German translation in 1907.
I. S. Prokhanoff made a Russian translation 20 years later.
Stuart K. Hine was working as a Methodist missionary in the Ukraine learned of the Russian version without knowing the Swedish original. "During a thunderstorm several years later, in the 1930s, when he was a missionary in Ruthenia in eastern Czechoslovakie, he made an English version. He later added two more stanzas largely of his own and then in England in 1948 he added a fourth. (The differences between the hymn as now sung and the original are 'so great that only a few phrases are rightly to be attributed to the Swedish original' [Gealy, Lovelace, and Young, Company to the [1994 Metodist] Hymnal (1970), 323.]" [pp. 742-743]
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

John_Hannah

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2011, 06:34:36 PM »
My Evangelical Covenant neighbor/pastor told me that they sing a different version than the rest of Americn Christianity. I think that the Evangelical Covenant Church is a descendant of the Swedish group the original author was part of.
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Robert Johnson

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2011, 06:55:23 PM »
My Evangelical Covenant neighbor/pastor told me that they sing a different version than the rest of Americn Christianity. I think that the Evangelical Covenant Church is a descendant of the Swedish group the original author was part of.

Yes, I believe that is correct.  I remember hearing it at my grandparents' Swedish Mission Covenant (the old name) church as a child.  By the time I heard it, they had switched to an English version.  It is set to a Swedish folk tune.

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2011, 04:44:03 PM »
I am reminded by this discussion of the movie "Major League" when the Indian fans are debating whether or not the ball that left the park looked "too high" to be a homerun.  Finally another fan sitting with them says, "Who gives a ____ it's gone?"

The LBW has it's numerous problems but it was by far a better product from a traditionalist perspective than ELW.  The most frustrating thing is the incosistency of its translations.  On one hand we want to rewrite a hymn to more accurately reflect the original but at the same time often changes texts to suit the PC crowd.  Oh well, I won't be using it.  To paraphase, "Who cares, it's poorly done but it's won't change."

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2011, 09:15:57 PM »
Why be limited to what's in a particular hymnal? There are music notation programs where one can create one's own combination of lyrics, melody, and arrangement. I use Finale -- one of the more sophisticated programs. Want to use the translation from SBH or an earlier hymnal, find someone who uses such a program and/or project them. Don't like a tune -- or it's one the congregation doesn't know, find another with the same meter.

"Day of Arising" written by Susan Palo Cherwien is based on the Road to Emmaus story. It is in ELW with a tune written for the words by Carl F. Schalk called Raabe. However, Susan originally wrote the words to the tune Bunessan (which was used for "Morning Has Broken"). In a congregation without many singers or music readers, I am more inclined to use Bunessan because they are familiar with that tune.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2011, 10:06:30 PM »
Why be limited to what's in a particular hymnal?


Gee, that's how ELW got approved in the first place.  "It's just another worship resource..."
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2011, 02:03:29 AM »
Why be limited to what's in a particular hymnal?


Gee, that's how ELW got approved in the first place.  "It's just another worship resource..."

As I recall, "primary worship resource" was a phrase used of LBW. Then we could also use This Far By Faith, Worship and Praise, With One Voice, Libro de Liturgia y Cántico that didn't go through the scrutiny of LBW.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2011, 02:05:29 AM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2011, 03:36:54 AM »
Ray, thanks for this thread & your opening observation and question. Such ELW texts & those supposedly inclusive renditions of other protestant, liberal, declining mainlines underscore their fragmented posture relative to the wider, English-speaking members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.  I note the disconnect of such bodies with African-American / spiritual traditions when the so-called "inclusive" texts jettison God the Father & all masculine pronouns for God, ...He, Him, His. The net effect is an ecumenical loss.

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Re: ELW Hymnody: What's the point?
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2011, 09:13:34 AM »
Why be limited to what's in a particular hymnal? There are music notation programs where one can create one's own..."
Ah, a liturgy of one's own. A church of one's own. Liberation.