New Hymns: An Open Letter

July 15, 2009 at 12:32 am 4 comments

hymnsuppl_G50778_lgIt’s always momentous when something new is added to a church’s worship materials, especially when the new materials are intended for regular use.  You know what I mean.  No matter what your religious affiliation, there are traditions and ways of doing things that are time-honored and beloved.  For some, having New Things added to the Tried and True represent a bit of a challenge – yes, even Change.  For others, this Change is welcomed with open arms.  But no matter what, that Change is hopefully seen as Progress.

Here is an excellent case in point:  The Christian Science Hymnal was last published in 1932.  Along with several generations of Christian Scientists, I grew up with the hymns in this hymnal, loving them and singing them from day one, continuing through to today.

And then last year in 2008, a brand new Supplement to the Christian Science Hymnal was published.  As a musician and Inspirational singer, this was indeed very momentous for me and very welcome and exciting!

Last fall and winter, I began to receive a lot of requests for comments and thoughts on the new Christian Science Hymnal Supplement.  To answer the emails that came in, I wrote an open letter that I sent to each inquirer, as it seemed to cover most of the bases.  The letter was intended to be shared with anyone and everyone, and so I want to share it here with you too.

I hope that the letter may spark more discussion, answer a few more lingering questions, and hopefully encourage anyone who has been wanting to make use of the New Supplement in their own church.

Over the last year and a half, I have been very involved in learning, researching, singing, teaching and presenting many of the hymns for the first time.  Like other musicians out in the field, I have had the opportunity to teach workshops, lead hymn sings and introduce these hymns to people of all ages: young children, teenagers, 20 and 30-somethings all the way to the ninety-nine set!  I also have had the opportunity to teach these hymns to those who are Christian Scientists and to those who are not.

It has been my overwhelming experience that people from all walks of life have really enjoyed learning and singing the new hymns.  I’ve witnessed folks singing, swaying and clapping hands to the livelier hymns during church services, which is pretty neat, indeed!  I have also experienced the sacredness of some of the hymns that bring out a more intimate, holy expression in all of us.  In each case, the hymns have done that unifying thing – they have brought out that indescribable quality of togetherness that we experience when we are singing as one voice in a worshiping, joyful or prayerful — but always unified body.

[Excellent Example:  Check out the joy pouring out of folks all around the globe as we all sang the South African hymn “Siyahamba” or “We Are Walking In The Light of God.”  This is a global hymn that’s been around since the 1950s and it is now Hymn 460 in the New Supplement!]

So back to the letter: To answer the email inquiries, I conducted my own statistical research into the Supplement and shared my findings in the letter.  Additionally, I double-checked my facts with the folks in the Hymn Supplement Department at the Christian Science Publishing Society.  They affirmed the facts I found and also gave me a couple of additional interesting ideas to include.

I hope this open letter will help those who still have questions and inspire others to discover and explore the gems of the New Supplement.

Here’s the letter:

January 30, 2009

Dear Friends,

The Christian Science Hymnal Supplement is the first blossoming of new hymns to be published since 1932.  The Supplement was created to enhance and expand our spiritual music sung by the congregations in Christian Science Churches.  The Supplement and any subsequent Supplements are truly meant to expand — but not replace — our beloved Christian Science Hymnal.

Imagine the excitement of publishing the Christian Science Hymnal in 1932 — of publishing not only traditional, beloved hymns that had been passed down through the generations, but also the joy of being able to sing brand new hymns inspired specifically for our church services by musicians, spiritual thinkers and poets of the day!

We now have that same opportunity today.  Among the many goals to be met in this first Hymnal Supplement was the intention to include traditional hymn forms, well known hymn lyrics with fresh settings, new and contemporary hymns, international hymns and finally music that expresses youthful joy in contemporary harmonies, rhythms and timeless spiritual ideas.

The Hymnal Supplement met this goal in this compact compilation of hymns.  Included are traditional tunes and texts, brand new original hymns written by Christian Science composers and spiritual thinkers of today – as well as beautiful hymns with lyrics based on Biblical ideas that come from other Christian traditions.  Taken as a whole, the Christian Science Hymnal Supplement is a beautiful mixed bouquet of hymns of all kinds, each hymn bearing a different fragrance and color – but each one a prayer in song.

Here are some statistics worth mentioning:

•    There are 33 hymns in the new Supplement.

•    The numbering of the hymns in the Supplement is a continuation of the numbering system in the 1932 Hymnal.  The Christian Science Hymnal ends with hymn #429.  The Hymnal Supplement begins with hymn #430.

•    7 hymns are new settings to 5 poems by Mary Baker Eddy:
Blest Christmas Morn:  432, 433
Brood O’re Us:  434, 435
It matters not what be thy lot:  447
Saw ye my Saviour?  Heard ye the glad sound?:  454
Shepherd, show me how to go:  456

•    6 more hymns are also new settings to hymn lyrics from the 1932 Christian Science Hymnal:
Come Gracious Spirit, heavenly Love – Lyrics: Simon Browne:  436
Father, we Thy loving children – Lyrics: Violet Hay (a C.S. teacher):  438
Glorious things of Thee are spoken – Lyrics: John Newton:  440
Here, O God, Thy healing presence —  Lyrics: Maria Louise Baum:  442
O sometimes gleams upon our sight – Lyrics: John Greenleaf Whittier:  451
Take My life and let it be – Lyrics: Frances R. Havergal:  457

•    6 hymns contain new lyrics written by Christian Science practitioners and teachers
Fenella Bennetts:  Though I may speak with moving words:  458
Rosemary Cobham:  Home is the consciosness of good:  443
Peter J. Henniker–Heaton:  O Thou unchanging Truth:  452
Peter J. Henniker–Heaton:  We cannot turn away from God:  461
Susan Mack:  I awake each morn to a brand new day:  445
Susan Mack:  When my heart is lost in sorrow:  462

•    18 hymns were composed by Christian Scientists who are music professionals, many of whom have recordings available in Christian Science Reading Rooms:
Peter. B. Allen:  434, 442, 451, 453
Fenella Bennetts:  432, 457
Andrew D. Brewis:  436, 447
Desiree Goyette:  444,454, 460 (additional music)
Susan Mack:  445, 452, 462
Scott Martin & Joy Tessman:  438
Kevin McCarter:  461
Robert Rockabrand:  433, 456

•    Of those 18 new hymns, 9 hymns contain new lyrics written by Christian Scientists – some practitioners and teachers and writers published in the Christian Science periodicals:
Peter. B. Allen:  453
Fenella Bennetts:  458
Rosemary Cobham:  443
Desiree Goyette:  444, 460 (additional lyrics)
Peter J. Henniker–Heaton:  452,461
Susan Mack:  445, 462

•    8 hymn are based on traditional American, English, German, Scottish, Jamaican and South African tunes and lyrics:
Halle halle hallelujah:  441
We are walking in the light of God (Siyahamba):  460
Amazing Grace:  431
Brood O’re Us (Brother James’ Air):  435
Lo! They that follow after good (Geistliche Kirchengesang, 1632):  448
My life flows on in endless song:  449
Home is the consciousness of good:  443
Though I may speak with moving words:  458

•    3 hymns contain contemporary syncopated rhythms:
Halle halle hallelujah:  441
We are walking in the light of God (Siyahamba):  460
Father, we Thy loving children:  438

•    11 hymns come from other Christian hymnals and music collections, following the example of the 1932 hymnal, which includes music and lyrics from other Christian traditions:
To God compose a song of joy:  459
Amazing Grace:  431
I will bless the Lord:  446
Halle halle hallelujah:  441
Seek ye first the kingdom of God:  455
My life flows on in endless song:  449
All my hope on God is founded:  430
Glorious things of Thee are spoken:  440
O house of God, built on a firm foundation:  450
Feed My lambs, tend my sheep:  439
We are walking in the light of God (Siyahamba):  460

In summary, the range of musical styles varies from folk tunes, contemporary ballads and up-tempo hymns, to traditional church hymnody and new-composed hymns following traditional hymn forms.  Great music from the past and beautiful new music of the present were included.

Clearly, the hymns are full of universal spiritual ideas including praise for God, Biblically based lyrics, spiritual poetry written by Christian Scientists of today and past generations, as well as a poem from the great John Greenleaf Whittier (whose lyrics also appear in the Christian Science Hymnal).  Finally, Mary Baker Eddy’s beloved poems are represented by no less than seven brand new settings.

The Christian Science Hymnal Supplement provides fresh opportunities for all of us, — Christian Scientists everywhere — to sing our healing faith in beautiful new ways.

Enjoy the adventure!

With love,
Julia Wade
Soloist
The Mother Church

cd_letssing_G50773_lgP.S.  There is a brand new CD called “Let’s Sing!” with recordings of all 33 hymns in the new Supplement –just now available in the Reading Rooms and online at www.spirituality.com.  This CD will be an invaluable learning tool for anyone wishing to become acquainted with music of the new Supplement. (Performed by Desiree Goyette and Friends)

SuppAccompCD_lgAND…
Peter B. Allen has recorded beautiful accompaniment tracks for each of the 33 hymns in his CD also available in the Reading Rooms and at www.spirituality.com.

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Entry filed under: church music, Have I Got A Song For You!, inspirational Music, Inspirational Poetry, inspirational Sheet Music, Sheet Music. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Have I Got A Song For You! — Part 1 A New Day at WatchFireMusic.com

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Suzi  |  August 15, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Thank you, Julia, for stating so eloquently how many excellent reasons we have to welcome and love the new Hymnal Supplement. Your letter, like the hymns themselves, touches the heart with inspiration and joy.

    From my buoyed heart to yours,
    Suzi

    Reply
  • 2. Mary Lou Gustafson  |  September 6, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Julia – Frank (our soloist) and I have been going over ” Julia’s List” and have a question. We would like to do Lo a Rose and O Come, O Come Emanuel as a medly. We have the Mark Hayes arrangement of Lo a Rose, but what arrangement of O Come, O Come did you use and by chance is it available for us to purchase from WF?

    Right now I am busy arranging a hymn sing based quite a bit on the hymn sing over Annual Meeting weekend. This has been an expensive summer for the Palm Desert Church what with some very extensive a/c problems. Being that way, I decided to take the bull by the horns and ask fellow members if they wouldn’t like to give a gift of one or two Hymnal Supplements to the church. The response was wonderful and then a woman walked up to me this a.m. and out of the blue said she wanted to buy the church 20 copies. Yipee, we are on our way. I really want to have it before the Christmas holidays.

    I have to tell you once more how helpful “Julia’s List” has been. Frank and I discussed today how we could incorporate some of our own comments on pieces not included on your list but that we enjoy using. Thanks again. Mary Lou

    Reply
    • 3. juliawade  |  September 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Mary Lou,

      Thanks so much for all of your questions and comments above. When I first sang “O Come O Come Emanuel” at The Mother Church, I used a hymn version, probably from cyberhymnal.org (it just recently changed its name to Net Hymnal). That is a great site to find public domain hymns and carols to use for your church services, and you can adapt those into a medley with your musicians.

      My performance of the “O Come O Come Emanuel” (which was part of a medley) lay the groundwork for me to record it later as part of the opening medley,”The Coming” on my CD, Story For The Ages. For the recording, we created a fully realized new arrangement of the song. That has not yet been transcribed to sheet music. We do have it on the list, and I will see what we can do to speed along the process to get that done.

      In the meantime, check out cyberhymnal.org — or any number of carol books or Christmas song books for solo singers. You will easily find the song in both carol and solo form in many publications. Try googling “O Come Emanual sheet music” — you will find a lot right at your fingertips.

      Also, what great news about the progress of your church obtaining enough copies of the new Hymnal Supplement! Bravo to you, your church and the woman who spontaneously donated those 20 copies. That really is “love reflecting love” and church in action!

      Mary Lou, I am so happy that “Julia’s List” is proving to be a helpful resource for you and your church. We are grateful for all of the good feedback.

      Finally, if you and Frank would like to write up your own comments on songs that you have enjoyed performing in your church, I would be happy to post those here on this blog to share with other readers. Eventually, you will be able to post your comments also on watchfiremusic.com. We are working on creating a community bulletin board for just this purpose. In the meantime, please submit your song comments here to the blogsite, and we will edit, format and post them in the appropriate place. I would love to keep the conversation going on musical repertoire.

      Thank you again, Mary Lou.
      Julia

      Reply
  • 4. nancypihl  |  October 8, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Julia, Just found your blog. My first attempt at doing this. Please send specifics on time you would be available to come and do a hymn sing for our church in the Sunday School. We could probably ask the other Tucson and Green Valley churches to join us as well. I think your letter and willingness to come would spur interest.
    Need the cost of your coming with an accompanist. I think this would need to take place sometime next year. Love Nancy

    Reply

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