2 December 2019

Deeply wailing

I expect that the superb Wesleyan hymn Lo! He comes with clouds descending is now being wheeled out for Advent in Anglican churches ... indeed, it is a fine hymn; magnificently superior to a lot of what one gets in Novus Ordo Catholic churches.

The recent C of E Report on relations between Christians and Jews enters a caveat. Might it encourage anti-semitism?

Those who set at nought and sold him,
Pierced and nailed him to the tree,
Deeply wailing
Shall the true Messiah see.

I can set these fears at rest.

Anglicans and Protestants pay no attention whatsoever to the words of hymns. It's the tunes they like. That is why they often nag their clergy for services along the lines of Hymns of Praise rather than that boring Holy Communion Service. It is why they talk about their 'favourite hymns'.

I bet there isn't a worshipper in England who would ever have thiught that the 'Deep Wailing' is scheduled to be done by Jews.

I advise the C of E to watch it. You''ll get into no end of trouble if you start assuming that your pew-fodder pays any attention to, or might be influenced by, the actual words of all your finest hymns.

That's not what Post-Christian Folk Protestantism is all about!


John Nolan said...

'The Catholic Hymn Book', 1998, (aka Paddy Russill's Book since it was compiled at the London Oratory) has this fine hymn which is also sung in Catholic churches.

Hymn-singing was frowned upon by the Anglican establishment in the first half of the nineteenth century, since it was associated with Dissenters - Newman had a stand-off with the bishops when he suggested English versions of the Office hymns be sung as part of the (Anglican) liturgy.

The tradition of vernacular hymnody in both the Anglican and Catholic Churches dates from the second half of the nineteenth century.

Denys said...

Many choristers seem convinced it is a nautical allusion and not in the least anti-Semitic: "deep sea whaling"

E sapelion said...

"Anglicans and Protestants pay no attention whatsoever to the words of hymns. It's the tunes they like."
Two points Father. 1/ In my, admittedly limited, experience of Methodists this is not true of their ministers. I have heard them vigourously declaim the first two verses of a hymn before the organ/piano strikes up.
2/ I wonder whether Catholics in the pews are any more attentive to the words.

Frederick Jones said...

The late Fr Royle, Vicar 0f St Matthew, Westminster, used to tell the story of an Anglican service at the battlefront during the First World War where the congregation sang "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken" to the tune Deutschland Uber Alles. A Frenchman was surprised and said "The English they are mad, they are singing the German national anthem."

motuproprio said...

There is certainly a lot of unreconstructed Protestant theology in many of the hymns found in ‘popular’ Catholic hymn books e.g. ‘To God be the glory’ and ‘Rock of ages’.

Alan said...

The story about the "German national anthem" is apocryphal. The tune in question is called Austrian Hymn or Austria in hymnbooks because it was the tune of the Austrian national anthem. The word of "Das Lied der Deutschen" were set to it, but the latter only became the German national anthem under the Weimar Republic.

The first couple of verses, originally written when Germany did not exist as a nation state, expressed the not unreasonable wish for a state embracing all ethnic Germans ("von der Maas bis an die Memel, von der Etsch bis an den Belt" - genders not guaranteed!), but post-Adolf they seemed irredeemably irredentist (ouch! sorry!) and were dropped.

PM said...

Sheridan Gilley had a wonderful line about Newman's critique of the Bishop not Oxford's charge: that the bishop would have been astounded that someone had taken any notice of it.