Thursday, 26 March 2009

Hymnbook Horrors...

It's getting close to the end of term, and I'm shattered. I knew that, if I went home after school this evening, I wouldn't have the energy to go out for Rosary and Benediction, so I drove to the chip shop nearest the church, bought a portion of chips, doused them in plenty of salt and vinegar, and ate them while parked in the church car-park. I was then able to spend some time in the church catching up on praying the Office before the Rosary started.

The only disadvantage is that my car now smells strongly of vinegar.

I really love the Rosary and Benediction devotions at Blackfen. It starts off with Exposition accompanied by the hymn O salutaris hostia. The Rosary is prayed simply, without frills (or long-winded meditations) but we also pray the preparatory prayers for the Holy Father, then, after the Rosary we have a hymn to Our Lady, and the Litany of Loreto (chanted in Latin.)

The Tantum ergo follows, and then the actual Benediction. We pray the Divine Praises in reparation for blasphemies, and the Blessed Sacrament is reposed in the tabernacle while we sing another hymn... (on Saturdays we have Adoremus in aeternum, but Thursday's hymn varies.) Finally, we move over to the Lady Altar, recite a few prayers to Our Lady (such as the Memorare) and then end with four verses of Immaculate Mary.

I've posted before about the ghastly hymn book we have - it has changed many of the words of popular hymns and carols in order to be more inclusive. If I know the original words, I will sing them... loudly... and I have quite a powerful voice. I am also aided and abetted in this enterprise by Fr. Tim.

My only problem is that, not having been brought up with traditional Catholic hymns and devotions, I don't always know what the words are supposed to be. I got a bit of a shock this evening when, during the second verse of "Jesu, the very thought of thee," I became aware that Fr. Tim was singing something very different from the version in the book... Caught off guard, knowing what he was up to, but totally unable to guess what the correct words might be, I almost choked in my efforts not to laugh...

When I got home, I looked up the hymn. The hymn book has the following text:

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the mind recall,
A sweeter sound than thy blest name,
O Saviour of us all.

The correct words (which I will do my best to sing from now on...) are actually as follows...

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Jesu’s Name,
The Saviour of mankind.

Grrrrrr. Time to burn those hymn books and print our own, I think!

8 comments:

Patricius said...

Well said! I have come across worse examples. For instance, in "Hark the herald angels sing" the line "Born to raise us from the earth" in place of "Born to raise the sons of earth" which replaces the notions of sonship/inheritance and St Paul's earthly/heavenly man with a pretty weak and pointless levitation. (Not terribly bright these Bowdlerisers)

Fr said...

I print out the (usually out of copyright) 'real' version whenever possible on newsletters and 'participation' sheets. I refuse to replace the rather shabby hymn books here with new ones until someone publishes one with unadulterated hymnody. Perhaps some wealthy traddy laity and like-minded PPs might consider funding such a publication containing only 'real' hymns? I am sure there would be a market.

The wretched publishers and (male) hymn butchers should be subjected to the the same fate as the hymns they tamper with - emasculated.


Speaking of conflicting hymn versions being sung simultaneously, "Soul of My Saviour" has a line 'Wash me with water flowing from thy side', yet some people in a parish I served in had picked up the alternative wording of '...gushing from thy side'. A combination of the two versions being sung simultaneously sounded like 'flushing from thy side' which always caused me to think unedifying thoughts. I was glad to be appointed to a 'flowing' parish!

E.F. (p.e.) said...

Some years ago a then Bishop of Hexham & Newcastle tried to get the matter of hymn books discussed by the Bishops' Conference. He rightly considered that many of the hymns in use in Catholic churches were heretical.
The then secretary general of the conference, now a bishop, would not allow the matter to be placed on the agenda.

MrJ said...

Blackfen had 'The Parish Hymn Book' for many years; however it has long been out of print by the time it was replaced in the parish by one of the modern softback hymnals.

A reprinted and selectively expanded PHB would be a real advance. The original had some extensive sections, particularly of Marian and Passiontide hymns, that are much reduced in most modern hymnals.

gemoftheocean said...

"... wouldn't have the energy to go out for Rosary and Benediction, so I drove to the chip shop nearest the church, bought a portion of chips, doused them in plenty of salt and vinegar, and ate them while parked in the church car-park. I was then able to spend some time in the church catching up on praying the Office before the Rosary started.


The only disadvantage is that my car now smells strongly of vinegar."

You say this like it's a bad thing. [okay, I confess,I had an entire bag of salt&vinegar chips and a container of sour cream last night -- it's the swimming. ;-D]

RE: the hymns... I hate that crap too. I especially hate it when they take well known songs and screw around with the entire verses, making some insipid hash up. I also sing the original words, and if it's too different, then that's too **** bad.

truthfinder said...

I was a Protestant as a child, but I remember your second (correct) version as the one in our hymnbooks then. I can only say that the altered hymns irritate me enough to make me stop singing when I encounter one. Much of the reason for my becoming Catholic has to do with the wonderful theology in those ancient (unaltered)hymns!

Stitchwort said...

I can not sing, and generally just mouth the words. However, I've been around long enough to remember the original words for many of these perversions, and I have been known, on occasion, to come out quite loudly and clearly on certain phrases.

And if Fr. Tim does it too, I guess I'm in good company.

Ben Trovato said...

I do the same with the ICEL translations:

I believe...
...for our good and the good of all his Holy Church.

..and so on.

(But then I genuflect at the 'And was made man', so there's probably no hope for me...)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...