Something new from Matt Carver…
Helping my wife take care of our son while she works part-time has taken up a lot of hours that would otherwise (probably) be spent on translating hymns or other frivolous pursuits, but it has also had a side-benefit. I have been availing myself of our afternoon walks for the memorization of core Lutheran hymns, a thing that I had long wanted to do but for which I only found sporadic inspiration. Before these strolls, I had only these hymns fully memorized (except as noted) since my earliest familiarity with them (ca. 2001-2005):
Now, after doing walks at least 3 days a week for a month, I have added these to my repertoire:
This looks like more than it actually is. Most of these hymns are only 3-5 stanzas. "In the Very Midst…," like "God the Father, Be Our Stay," has mostly the same words in each stanza with only a few lines differing. The long ones I did first and took a few days for each one to sink in, with lots of repetition and mnemonic reasoning and attention to alliterations and assonance to help remember. Since then I have alternated singing at least one of these on each walk so that I never forget.
The easiest hymns to memorize for me seem to be those like these first two, with interlocking rhymes (ABAB) and/or irregular line lengths (like "In Peace and Joy…"), while the hardest are those with couplets (AABB etc.) and lines all the same or about the same length; examples of the latter are "That Man a Godly Life…" and "Wilt Thou, O Man…" Perhaps it is the repetitive "Law"-element in these which adds to the difficulty to let them sink in, or perhaps it is the stilted quality in the translation.
This has been an easy and enjoyable way to learn Scripture, doctrine, and readily accessible prayers, as well as to learn "from the masters" so to speak, of English hymn translation. Seeing the possibilities of how things can be expressed clearly in English I expect will really me in future translation projects. Another benefit is that the joyful expectation of learning more hymnody by heart encourages me to stretch my legs when I don't otherwise feel like it.
Here are some I'm planning on learning in the near future, by God's help: