Sunday, November 22, 2015

Quick Summaries for November 2015: Hymns, Chants, and Spiritual Songs


Anslie, John, composer. English Proper Chants (Melody Edition). Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2015. 230 Pages. Paper. $24.95. (L)

Anslie, John, composer. English Proper Chants (Accompaniment Edition). Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2015. 229 Pages. Spiral. $29.95. (L)

Rowthorn, Jeffry and Russell Schulz-Widmar, Compilers and Editors. Sing of the World Made New: Hymns of Justice, Peace and Christian Responsibility. Carol Stream, IL/Chicago: Hope Publishing Company/GIA Publications, 2014. 297 Pages. Spiral. $18.95. (H)

Schalk, Carl. Sing with All the Saints: Twenty-one New Hymns and Carols for Congregation, Choir, and Accompaniment. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2014. 59 Pages. Staple. $12.00. (H)

Jones, Jacque B. Songs Unchanged, Yet Ever-Changing: 50 Hymn Texts. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2014. 128 Pages Spiral. $19.95. (H)

Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
of releases that cross our desk.

These are reviews for when you don't have all day 

to decide whether a resource is worth
your time, money, storage space, or trouble.


 +/ Possibly useful to liturgical, confessional Lutheran congregations, English Proper Chants provides Entrance Antiphons and Communion Antiphons for each liturgical proper for Mass in the Roman Missal. LCMS cantors, pastors, or choirs could sing the simple yet sublime antiphons to bookend Psalms used as the Introit, Gradual, or Offertory of the Day. Intended for the Three-Year Lectionary, they could be adapted for the Historic One Year Lectionary. Accompaniment is available and beautiful, yet optional.  This is an intentional "adaptation of Gregorian chant for use with English texts..."

/ I found more to appreciate than I expected to in Sing of the World Made New: Hymns of Justice, Peace and Christian Responsibility. Six sections make up the spiral-bound collection: Creator and Creation, Peace and Reconciliation, Justice and Human Need, Dignity and Diversity, Commitment and Service, Hope and Expectation. I was familiar with a few Taize titles that I could/would use, a beloved (yet difficult in so many ways) text/tune "Weary of All Trumpeting," the familiar "Hail to the Lord's Anointed," "God of Grace and God of Glory," "For the Fruit of All Creation," "For All the Faithful Women," "When Israel Was in Egypt's Land," and "How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord." The hymns I have cited above are currently in Lutheran Service Book or one of its predecessor hymnals or supplements. Some were included in the current LCMS hymnal because of their confession of the core of the Christian faith: Jesus Christ and the Gospel. This collection may yet yield a few tunes or texts that wear well and fill gaps in current hymnals, but many are far too mainline progressive or politically correct for my taste.

- /  Songs Unchanged, Yet Ever-Changing: 50 Hymn Texts by Jacque B. Jones includes strong hymns on historic, Biblical Christian themes like "I Am the Bringer of Living Water,"  "Peace of God Beyond our Knowing," and an unique hymn about Peter from his denials of Christ to restoration by Christ, "Seeking Warmth from Charcoal Blazing." Such hymns are in the same collection as others celebrating the ordination of women in the United Methodist Church (102-3), "celebrating religious diversity and encouraging interfaith communications" (24-5), and an overall sensitivity to "social justice issues" (4, passim).     

+ GIA is to be commended for publishing the hymns and carols of Carl Schalk. The latest collection, Sing with All the Saints, features 21 hymns and carols with texts by Herbert Brokering, William Cowper, Timothy Dudley-Smith, Paul Gerhardt, John Mason Neale, David Rogner, and Jaroslav Vajda, among many others.  Schalk succeeds as a hymn tune composer because of his memorable melodies that strike the right balance between pleasing predictability and Brokering-like singable surprise. My favorite was the Gerhardt text, "Commit Thy Way, Confiding," set to Schalk's WEST SEATTLE. Pick up a set for your choir!


Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

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