Modernized language in hymnals


#1

Few things get under my skin quite as effectively as replacing Early Modern English articles in hymnals with contemporary articles.

For example, on Palm Sunday, we sang "All Glory, Laud, and Honor," whose first verse reads, in its original incarnation:

"All Glory, Laud, and Honor, to Thee, Redeemer King."

In our hymnal (OCP, so I suppose this is not terribly surprising), it is written as:

"All Glory, Laud, and Honor, to You, Redeemer King."

Countless other hymns have been polluted by the pedestrian language of our modern age.

I strongly feel that alterations such as this emaciate a given hymn, as it serves to usurp the hymn from its historical context and fails to worship the Great and Mighty God with great and mighty poetry and diction. Perhaps this is why I am so fond of the King James Bible (With the Apocrypha, of course!).

Any thoughts?


#2

While I am a tiny bit bothered when the pronouns are replaced in certain prayers (specifically the Hail Mary), I'm kind of indifferent when it comes to songs.

[quote="MusicFan221, post:1, topic:322045"]

I strongly feel that alterations such as this emaciate a given hymn, as it serves to usurp the hymn from its historical context and fails to worship the Great and Mighty God with great and mighty poetry and diction. Perhaps this is why I am so fond of the King James Bible (With the Apocrypha, of course!).

[/quote]

I disagree. I know that there are some people who think that using English in the first place does all that and, to be fair, grammatically (from an Early Modern standpoint), using "you" does exactly the opposite of "fail[ing] to worship the Great and Mighty God with great and mighty poetry and diction." Technically, "thee" is the singular, informal second-person object pronoun while "you" is the plural and/or formal second-person object pronoun. Saying "you" instead of "thee" is actually more respectful.


#3

Well, God's created universe doesn't remain in a static form. It is ever (beautifully) recreating itself. There is no need to fear change unless it directly contradicts a teaching of our Saviour. And, I'm guessing they didn't speak english in 1st century Palestine.


#4

I am often singing at the top of my lungs only to find that everyone else is singing different words.
In your example the CBW III now says "All glory, praise, and honour ..." As we sing that but once a year it always catches me.

There are two or three old hymns that I know the first few verses off by heart and get caught the same way.:mad:

Even if I disagree with 'gender neutered' language I can at least understand the rationalle behind the change. It often seems that some think the hymns have to be 'new and improved' when they are producing a new hymnal. Grrrrr.


#5

[quote="The_Reginator, post:4, topic:322045"]
I am often singing at the top of my lungs only to find that everyone else is singing different words.
In your example the CBW III now says "All glory, praise, and honour ..." As we sing that but once a year it always catches me.

There are two or three old hymns that I know the first few verses off by heart and get caught the same way.:mad:

Even if I disagree with 'gender neutered' language I can at least understand the rationale behind the change. It often seems that some think the hymns have to be 'new and improved' when they are producing a new hymnal. Grrrrr.

[/quote]

I sing 'laud & thee' on purpose, I just look like I don't know better because I don't bother to pick up the CBW III for that one.;)


#6

As a member of the choir, I don't have the luxury of singing whatever I want, and I am bound to sing what is provided on the worship aids to the assembly. Until such time as we have fully implemented the Lumen Christi Missal, it seems as if I will have to put up with singing OCP stuff.

I had a really graphic vision of this problem when I was at my visiting parish for Christmas. I flew in on a plane, and the only hymnal I brought with me was Adoremus. I think at the time I was aware that the new music director was using 100% from the OCP sources but I did not connect the disposable Music Issue and Today's Missal with the durable Choral Praise edition in my own library. This parish also has Adoremus in the pews, but since the change in director, it has not been used much.

Anyway, there I was with 100% OCP music and no choral arrangements for it, only my Adoremus hymnal. So I set out to adapt each Christmas carol we would sing so that I could use Adoremus for harmony, but sing the correct lyrics. It turned out to be a massive project. I used about two dozen sticky notes which detailed which verses not to use and which words to substitute for other words. (Almost always, Adoremus featured more verses than were offered in Music Issue or Today's Missal.) My friend mentioned my notes with a laugh. I was really tired of it by the time we were done. The only song that OCP didn't mess with was "Silent Night". It is bad enough when they dredge up an obscure hymn and give it new words but in this case, they were taking classic Christmas Carols, like "Good Christian Men/Friends Rejoice" that everyone knows the words to, and mangling them beyond recognition.

And the cat is now out of the bag. There is no putting the toothpaste back in the tube for these word changes. They were wholly unnecessary, and a generation of people will be learning the words in this way rather than in the other way. The old traditional words won't die out, because they will be better preserved (ironically) by secular sources. Babel strikes again.


#7

I can't stand this. It disappointing me more then words can describe. There is no value whatsoever in altering the text of there beautiful inspired poetry. There is no integrity in it either modifying someone elses work, even if they are dead and there is no copyright, it is completely unacceptable in my opinion.
The Catholic Book of worship 3 is a disgrace of a hymnal. I can't even begin. They make every effort possible to get rid of Thees and Thous. Sometimes replacing "eth" with "ing" making terrible grammar. (Like in Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silence) The worst is they get rid of anything referring to God (the Father) as male. Its seems very feminist sometimes and doesn't make any sense.
This kind of art doesn't cost anything, and we cant even have that with out some one ruing it.
At my Church we happen to use an overhead projector, and I happen to print them. What a perfect opurtunity to beable to sing the proper words. But not, some "powerful" "lets be modern about everything" people argue with me about old language and it upsets them and they don't understand what it means. Come on, that's ridiculous. so they have won for now.

And in making the overheads for All Glory Praise (ugh) and Honour, I realized that this public domain song, has a copy right. What give someone the right to slaughter and modify someones elses work and get credit, and paid for it. That disgusts me. Does anyone know what that is. That was in the CBW 3 by the way.


#8

Changing words without permission seems disrespectful to the author.


#9

[quote="jeannetherese, post:8, topic:322045"]
Changing words without permission seems disrespectful to the author.

[/quote]

Many authors are dead or unknown, and many hymns and carols are in the public domain already. Public domain means open season on words, music, harmonies, extra verses, fewer verses, you have it.

One interesting thing that happened to GIA was this. In the Gather hymnal there was a certain edition where the editors decided to use "inclusive language" for some hymns. I believe that both "horizontal" and "vertical" inclusive language was introduced. Unfortunately for GIA, some of those authors were still alive, and complained vociferously that their work was changed without permission. GIA printed an apology in the introduction to their next edition of Gather and changed some of the words back.

It is common practice today, even by orthodox Catholic translators, to attempt to use inclusive language for the "horizontal" uses (those which refer to human beings and not God.) You can see it in the new Roman Missal and the new NAB-RE Bible. "Brethren" may become "Brothers and sisters" (or an option of either one) for example. But to be scrupulously avoided is the "vertical" use of inclusive language: that is, referring to God in neutral or feminine terms. Gather did this kind of thing: instead of "His" they would insert "God's", and I have heard it done liturgically, in another parish, the "Gloria" and other parts of the Mass were peppered with vertical inclusive language. It seemed to be an initiative of the people but condoned by the priests there.

Unfortunately, the standard of Political Correctness marches on, and the prevailing culture is rapidly approaching new milestones here. Catholics are called to be counter-cultural. Let's not give in to trends and fads. The vernacular should be prudently updated to current usage, but never in response to militant feminists or homosexualists.


#10

[quote="CoolKid8900, post:7, topic:322045"]
**At my Church we happen to use an overhead projector, and I happen to print them. **What a perfect opurtunity to beable to sing the proper words. But not, some "powerful" "lets be modern about everything" people argue with me about old language and it upsets them and they don't understand what it means. Come on, that's ridiculous. so they have won for now.

And in making the overheads for All Glory Praise (ugh) and Honour, I realized that this public domain song, has a copy right. What give someone the right to slaughter and modify someones elses work and get credit, and paid for it. That disgusts me. Does anyone know what that is. That was in the CBW 3 by the way.

[/quote]

Do you have a license for that? Because otherwise it's illegal to do that unless the hymns you're using are public domain.


#11

It strikes me as an utterly pointless ideological gymnastics exercise to change pronouns. It would sicken me beyond belief to have to sit in OCP's boardroom debating for hours on end whether or not the words to songs have to be changed. It's not like people don't know what "thee" means.


#12

[quote="Phemie, post:5, topic:322045"]
I sing 'laud & thee' on purpose, I just look like I don't know better because I don't bother to pick up the CBW III for that one.;)

[/quote]

:whistle:


#13

[quote="Gia_B, post:2, topic:322045"]
Technically, "thee" is the singular, informal second-person object pronoun while "you" is the plural and/or formal second-person object pronoun. Saying "you" instead of "thee" is actually more respectful.

[/quote]

When English maintained the formal and informal forms of address, it would have been disrespectful to address, for example, the King of England as "thou." However, God is not just our King but our Father. That is why we speak to Him in the informal form in languages which still retain this distinction.


#14

My favorite hymn is O Sacred Head Surrounded. I hate that they changed the words to that. It needs to be grim and it needs to be about His Crown of Thorns and how "death's pallid hue comes o'er Thee" rather than "no comeliness or beauty". While I don't really mind the second part, it should not replace the first.

Also, when hymns replace brother or brethren with each other it just sounds inane.

Finally, replacing His or Him with Gods or God is way too much. As if we can't call Our Father by a masculine pronoun lest we offend...whom? Honestly.


#15

I disagree. I know that there are some people who think that using English in the first place does all that and, to be fair, grammatically (from an Early Modern standpoint), using "you" does exactly the opposite of "fail[ing] to worship the Great and Mighty God with great and mighty poetry and diction." Technically, "thee" is the singular, informal second-person object pronoun while "you" is the plural and/or formal second-person object pronoun. Saying "you" instead of "thee" is actually more respectful.

Sadly, as has been noted by previous posters, the linguistic cat has been out of the bag since Vatican II for Catholics, and since time immemorial for many Protestants, so we might as well take a cue from the Anglicans and work with tireless alacrity to make sure that our liturgy is not only comprehensible, but beauteous, and reverent. This is a problem that transcends a grammatical mistake in the translation of one hymn.

Well, God's created universe doesn't remain in a static form. It is ever (beautifully) recreating itself. There is no need to fear change unless it directly contradicts a teaching of our Saviour. And, I'm guessing they didn't speak english in 1st century Palestine.

Though the "creative destruction" of God's universe is certainly evident in the realm of physics, it is worth noting that God created man with reason and free will, qualities that allow us to choose objectively terrible, irreverent, and even heretical worship over what is true, beautiful, and proper. Change need not be necessarily feared, but skepticism towards needless innovation and an affection for old, proven ways should not be purposefully ignored, either. Edmund Burke noted that we are a "community of souls," and that society represents a contract between the "dead, the living, and the as of yet unborn" - a transcendental purpose that extends just as much to religious practice as it does to the workings of the state. Attending Mass should be an otherworldly, almost ethereal experience - one that serves to disconnect us from the debased casualness of our world and reconnect us with the ways of our ancestors - in short, to re-acquaint us with the Truth and the venerable methods of its inculcation that have been affirmed by faith and by history.


#16

My favorite hymn is O Sacred Head Surrounded. I hate that they changed the words to that. It needs to be grim and it needs to be about His Crown of Thorns and how "death's pallid hue comes o'er Thee" rather than "no comeliness or beauty". While I don't really mind the second part, it should not replace the first.

I believe that you have accurately and succinctly illustrated a glaring problem in contemporary Catholicism (and Christianity as a whole) - the deliberate expurgation of the grim reality of Christ's suffering for our sins. It does not represent serious theology, but rather, slick, politically correct marketing. I would expect this in happy-clappy evangelical megachurches, but never in a Church so devoted to repentance as ours.


#17

[quote="Elizium23, post:9, topic:322045"]
Many authors are dead or unknown, and many hymns and carols are in the public domain already. Public domain means open season on words, music, harmonies, extra verses, fewer verses, you have it.

[/quote]

That's something I'm not sure about. It seems to happen a lot. Organists vary introductions, change scales, and improvise on chords a lot. I've never heard of any lawsuits brought against that. And this from copyrighted material.


#18

[quote="ProVobis, post:17, topic:322045"]
That's something I'm not sure about. It seems to happen a lot. Organists vary introductions, change scales, and improvise on chords a lot. I've never heard of any lawsuits brought against that. And this from copyrighted material.

[/quote]

I was referring to public domain material that has no licensing restrictions. Anything and everything can be done to them with no legal recourse.

When it comes to copyrighted material, a lot depends on the license agreement. That is often something a third party cannot see. It is a legal contract between the licensor and licensee, and it can allow or deny all kinds of things. I can tell you an example from community chorus. We had sheet music for many Broadway musical plays, and once in a while you could see a disclaimer in the small print. It said that the license to perform the song did not extend to permission to wear costumes, perform choreography, act out scenes, or recite lines from the plays. We observed this strictly and only wore our chorus uniforms. We never had choreography at all.

I can tell you that many forms of improvisation (riffing on chords, making up harmonies) are going to be permitted unless they are expressly denied. Naturally, the Church's liturgical law has to be observed if a piece is part of the Ordinary or Order or Propers of the Mass, and the text must be followed. But, I can also envision private licenses of certain types of music that may prohibit improvisation. I have never seen it with my eyes, and it may be very rare, but it is a possibility. And the incidence of lawsuits based on violating such a license are going to be even more vanishingly rare.


#19

[quote="Phemie, post:10, topic:322045"]
Do you have a license for that? Because otherwise it's illegal to do that unless the hymns you're using are public domain.

[/quote]

If it's copied from printed material, it doesn't matter whether the music itself is in the public domain or not. And if it's sung in the liturgy or in a movie, the author's permission is needed and royalties are generally charged.

That's why it's better (and cheaper) to use something like Jubilate Deo, which the Vatican has allowed to be used free of charge.


#20

[quote="MusicFan221, post:15, topic:322045"]
Sadly, as has been noted by previous posters, the linguistic cat has been out of the bag since Vatican II for Catholics, and since time immemorial for many Protestants, so we might as well take a cue from the Anglicans and work with tireless alacrity to make sure that our liturgy is not only comprehensible, but beauteous, and reverent.

[/quote]

Anglicans and other Protestants hold copyrights on their music and translations too, I believe. That's why the ICEL had to take special care that the translations in the Mass didn't violate any copyright laws. IOW, no plagiarism.


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