Author Topic: Hymns and poetry  (Read 2558 times)

RDPreus

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2019, 10:16:15 AM »
At my mother's funeral, a number of the grandchildren formed a choir to sing Thee I Love With All My Heart.

http://christforus.org/Sermons/Content/2017/Lord%20Thee%20I%20Love%20With%20All%20My%20Heart.mp3

GalRevRedux

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2019, 10:38:15 AM »
Lord Thee I Love with all My Heart, most especially verse 3...

Lord, let at last Thine angels come,
To Abram's bosom bear me home,
That I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep
My body safe in peaceful sleep
Until Thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me
That these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, Thy glorious face,
My Savior and my Fount of grace,
Lord Jesus Christ,
My prayer attend, my prayer attend,
And I will praise Thee without end.

I have designated this for my funeral. The Paul Manz setting reduces me to tears.

While they are rather pedestrian choices, I also favor
I Want To Walk As A Child of the Light
Will You Come and follow Me
Thine the Amen
Of the Fathers Love begotten


I will cut myself off here... I could go on and on...

Donna
A pastor of the North American Lutheran Church.

Mark Brown

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2019, 11:43:17 AM »
Poetry CAN BE affective.  It can also be lots of other stuff, including reflective, descriptive, narrative and so forth.

One thing that could be done is to remove the text from the musical staffs and read it both aloud and silently.  Much of the hymnal's poetry is pretty nursery rhyme-ish using theological terms.  The difficulty of understanding or appreciating  all the allusions, several meanings and nuances in first reading that one finds in much verse is almost never found in hymns.  The doctrinaire does not allow too much variation or deviation or privatization  of thought.  Think of the many hymns rejected for hymnals not because they are not deeply religious or similar in their ability to be loosely called verse but because they have some doctrinal weakness or deviation.  In fact the psalms are (and they are often difficult aren't they) more readily described as poems.  I do not think you would find any poetry class using Christian hymnody as examples of good verse.

But Harvey, isn't this exactly the problem with let's just call it the modernists?  It isn't the lack of rhyme and meter.  It isn't the abandonment of classical references.  It isn't even the crass politics of much of it.  Poetry that fails to be affective in some way just fails as poetry.  And that goes doubly for what might be called sacred verse.  Reflection, narrative, description, those are all things put to use by a poet of sacred verse.  Engaging the pathos in an attempt to share the experience of God - either transcendent or the immanent God who has come near.

For example, take a couple by A. E. Stallings from her most recent book LIKE.  Not sacred verse, but often closer than much that might go by the description.  (I'm putting links here from other places.) Autumn Pruning (http://towerjournal.com/fall_2017/poetry/index.php) and Dyeing Easter Eggs (https://www.everseradio.com/dyeing-the-easter-eggs-by-a-e-stallings/).  Both of them are reflections.  Both are rooted in the everyday-ness of family life.  But both of them are so much more because of the affection they bring up.  "You call yourself a gardener" is a killer line and a wonderful law and gospel meditation for any father, physical or spiritual.  The second one is also description, but it is in the description of difference: American Mother/Greek Children, Pastel Easter/Crimson Easter, The careless washing/a careful preservative? - that builds the affection that allows sight of death approaching and hope of resurrection.

Anyway.  Yeah, most hymnody isn't great poetry.  But I'd question our ability to recognize it.  We are too much the critic, putting ourselves in the magesteiral position, which in modern technocracy doesn't allow one to be moved.  As if the use of affection is disqualifying instead of meets minimum requirements.



peter_speckhard

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2019, 12:06:47 PM »
Poetry CAN BE affective.  It can also be lots of other stuff, including reflective, descriptive, narrative and so forth.

One thing that could be done is to remove the text from the musical staffs and read it both aloud and silently.  Much of the hymnal's poetry is pretty nursery rhyme-ish using theological terms.  The difficulty of understanding or appreciating  all the allusions, several meanings and nuances in first reading that one finds in much verse is almost never found in hymns.  The doctrinaire does not allow too much variation or deviation or privatization  of thought.  Think of the many hymns rejected for hymnals not because they are not deeply religious or similar in their ability to be loosely called verse but because they have some doctrinal weakness or deviation.  In fact the psalms are (and they are often difficult aren't they) more readily described as poems.  I do not think you would find any poetry class using Christian hymnody as examples of good verse.

But Harvey, isn't this exactly the problem with let's just call it the modernists?  It isn't the lack of rhyme and meter.  It isn't the abandonment of classical references.  It isn't even the crass politics of much of it.  Poetry that fails to be affective in some way just fails as poetry.  And that goes doubly for what might be called sacred verse.  Reflection, narrative, description, those are all things put to use by a poet of sacred verse.  Engaging the pathos in an attempt to share the experience of God - either transcendent or the immanent God who has come near.

For example, take a couple by A. E. Stallings from her most recent book LIKE.  Not sacred verse, but often closer than much that might go by the description.  (I'm putting links here from other places.) Autumn Pruning (http://towerjournal.com/fall_2017/poetry/index.php) and Dyeing Easter Eggs (https://www.everseradio.com/dyeing-the-easter-eggs-by-a-e-stallings/).  Both of them are reflections.  Both are rooted in the everyday-ness of family life.  But both of them are so much more because of the affection they bring up.  "You call yourself a gardener" is a killer line and a wonderful law and gospel meditation for any father, physical or spiritual.  The second one is also description, but it is in the description of difference: American Mother/Greek Children, Pastel Easter/Crimson Easter, The careless washing/a careful preservative? - that builds the affection that allows sight of death approaching and hope of resurrection.

Anyway.  Yeah, most hymnody isn't great poetry.  But I'd question our ability to recognize it.  We are too much the critic, putting ourselves in the magesteiral position, which in modern technocracy doesn't allow one to be moved.  As if the use of affection is disqualifying instead of meets minimum requirements.
Those Stallings poems are fantastic! I'd never read any of them. Thanks for posting them.

Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2019, 02:03:11 PM »
Mark I assume you mean to use affection in very broad manner.  When used in hymnody it is often used in a very narrow manner.  Here is my list of favorite poets:
Hopkins, Donne, Eliot, Vaughan, Herbert, Auden, MacLeish, Rilke, Herrick, Lewis (very limited obviously), Luci Shaw, RS Thomas, Geo MacDonald, Blake, Merton, Geoffrey Hill,Kenyon, MS Roberts, RS Thomas, Donald Hall, Roethke, Dickey, Wilber, Emily Dickinson, Updike, Comings Borchert, Poe, Nemerov, Frost, Pinsky, Milosz, Hazo, Kooser, and Brodsky.   
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Pr. Luke Zimmerman

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2019, 01:05:18 PM »
Interesting thread to read!

I'd find my answers primarily in the English hymnody tradition: the end product of authors writing in their and our own language. The examples listed by Richard Johnson above are hard to top:
"My Song Is Love Unknown" - Samuel Crossman
"Wilt Thou Forgive That Sin" - John Donne

Some other English hymns that come to mind:
"Drop, Drop, Slow Tears" - Phineas Fletcher
"The Son of God Goes Forth to War" - Reginald Heber
"King of Glory, King of Peace" - George Herbert
"For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest" - William How
"Lead, Kindly Light" - John Henry Newman
"See the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph" - Christopher Wordsworth

That said, the translations of Lutheran chorales listed in some answers are outstanding examples, as they are the result of two poets. The ability of translators to take a fine poem in one language and make it anywhere near as good in another language is a skill worth full praise! "Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart" is a great example of that. I'd also add "Awake, My Heart, with Gladness" by Paul Gerhardt and translated by John Kelly. 


 
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Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church -- Mechanicsburg, PA

Eileen Smith

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2019, 05:38:50 PM »
To those of you who shared your love of, "My Song is Love Unknown" I wonder how you feel about the hymn tune.  I learned it to "Love Unknown" and must admit I felt it so well supported the words.  When I came into the ELCA we sang it from LBW with the tune, "Rhosymedre."   After a little more than 20 years in the ELCA I still am not accustomed to Rhosymedre for this specific hymn - it just doesn't carry the words as well.

Richard Johnson

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2019, 05:54:04 PM »
To those of you who shared your love of, "My Song is Love Unknown" I wonder how you feel about the hymn tune.  I learned it to "Love Unknown" and must admit I felt it so well supported the words.  When I came into the ELCA we sang it from LBW with the tune, "Rhosymedre."   After a little more than 20 years in the ELCA I still am not accustomed to Rhosymedre for this specific hymn - it just doesn't carry the words as well.

I agree, though I think Rhosymedre is easier for congregations to sing. I also have a sentimental attraction to Rhosymedre as the Vaughn Williams organ prelude based on it was played at our wedding these 41 years ago. I mentioned this one time to our late organist, and after that, every year on the Sunday nearest our anniversary he would play it.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Jim Butler

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2019, 06:12:02 PM »
To those of you who shared your love of, "My Song is Love Unknown" I wonder how you feel about the hymn tune.  I learned it to "Love Unknown" and must admit I felt it so well supported the words.  When I came into the ELCA we sang it from LBW with the tune, "Rhosymedre."   After a little more than 20 years in the ELCA I still am not accustomed to Rhosymedre for this specific hymn - it just doesn't carry the words as well.

Lutheran Service Book uses "Love Unknown" as the tune.

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Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Hymns and poetry
« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2019, 07:43:26 PM »
like a number of other possible couplings... you can use both tunes... perhaps first and last stanza one and the internal stanzas the other... organists can do wonderful things with the transitions or modulations... not sure of the appropriate musical terminology.
Harvey S. Mozolak
my poetry blog is listed below:

http://lineandletterlettuce.blogspot.com