hymns

For other meanings see hymn (disambiguation)


A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a god or other religiously significant figure. The word hymn derives from Greek ὕμνος hymnos "a song of praise", which itself is derived from the Proto-Indo-European stem *sh2em- "to sing" and is related to Hittite išḫamai "he sings" and Sanskrit sāman "song".[1]

A writer of hymns is known as a hymnist or hymnodist, and the practice of singing hymns is called hymnody; the same word is used for the collectivity of hymns belonging to a particular denomination or period (e.g. "nineteenth century Methodist hymnody" would mean the body of hymns written and/or used by Methodists in the nineteenth century). A collection of hymns is called a hymnal. These may or may not include music. A student of hymnody is called a "hymnologist", and the scholarly or scientific study of hymns, hymnists and hymnody is hymnology.

Strictly speaking a hymn consists of words only, and the music to which a hymn may be sung is a hymn tune. For example, the hymn "Amazing Grace" is sung to the hymn tune NEW BRITAIN, and "Rock of Ages" is sung to TOPLADY. Many hymns are sung to several different hymn tunes; for example, "Lo! he comes, with clouds descending" is often sung to both HELMSLEY and ST. THOMAS. (It is a conventional practice to spell names of hymn tunes in capital letters, in small caps, or in italics, so as to differentiate them from hymn titles.)

Ancient hymns include the Great Hymn to the Aten, composed by the pharaoh Akhenaten, and the Vedas, a collection of hymns in the tradition of Hinduism. The Western tradition of hymnody begins with the Homeric Hymns, a collection of ancient Greek hymns, the oldest of which were written in the 7th century BC in praise of the gods of Greek mythology.

Christian tradition

Christian hymnody, originally modeled on the Psalms of David and other poetic passages ("canticles") in the scriptures, is generally directed as praise and worship to God. Many refer to Jesus either directly or indirectly.

Christian Hymns are often written with special or seasonal themes and these are used on holy days such as Christmas, Easter and the Feast of All Saints, or during particular seasons such as Advent and Lent. Others are used to instill reverence to the Bible or celebrate Christian practices such as the eucharist or baptism. Some hymns praise or address individual saints, particularly the Blessed Virgin Mary; such hymns are particularly prevalent in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and to some extent "High Church" Anglicanism.

It is interesting to note that in most Evangelical churches, traditional songs are classified as hymns while more contemporary worship songs are not considered hymns. The reason for this distinction is unclear, but according to some it is due to the radical shift of style and devotional thinking that began with the Jesus movement and Jesus music.

Accompaniment

Since the very earliest times, Christianity has incorporated the singing of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (Matthew 26:30; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; James 5:13; cf. Revelation 5:8-10; 14:1-5), either in private devotions, by the congregation or by a selected choir, often using various forms of accompaniment. In ancient and medieval times, stringed instruments such as the harp, lyre and lute were used with psalms and hymns. Modern hymnody accompanied on normal scales by a piano and/or organ ranging up to the symphony orchestra, share many elements with classical music, much of which had religious themes. Contemporary Christian worship, such as with Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism may include the use of electric guitars and the drum kit. Other Christian denominations, notably the Church of Christ (non-instrumental) and certain Reformed churches such as the Free Church of Scotland (Presbyterian), believe that the use of instruments in worship was only for the period before Christ came into the world, and adhere to a cappella congregational singing of hymns.

The development of Christian hymnody

Thomas Aquinas, in the introduction to his commentary on the Psalms, defined the Christian hymn thus: "Hymnus est laus Dei cum cantico; canticum autem exultatio mentis de aeternis habita, prorumpens in vocem." ("A hymn is the praise of God with song; a song is the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice.")

Since there is a lack of musical notation in early writings, the actual musical forms in the early church can only be surmised. During the Middle Ages a rich hymnody developed in the form of Gregorian chant or plainsong. This type was sung in unison, in one of eight Church modes, and most often by monastic choirs. While they were written originally in Latin, many have been translated. A familiar hymn of this type is the 11th century plainsong Divinum Mysterium, (although the words Of the Father's Love Begotten date back to around the 4th century), that is a common part of church Christmas repertoires in the English language.

The Protestant Reformation produced a burst of hymn writing and congregational singing. Martin Luther is notable not only as a reformer, but as the author of many hymns including Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) which is sung today even in Roman Catholicism. Luther and his followers often used their hymns, or chorales, to teach tenets of the faith to worshipers. The earlier English writers tended to paraphrase biblical text, particularly Psalms; Isaac Watts followed this tradition, but is also credited as having written the first English hymn which was not a direct paraphrase of Scripture. Later writers took even more freedom, some included allegory and metaphor in their texts. Four part harmony also became the norm, rather than unison singing.

Charles Wesley's hymns spread Methodist theology, not only within Methodism, but in most Protestant churches. He developed a new focus - expressing one's personal feelings in the relationship with God as well as the simple worship seen in older hymns. Wesley wrote:
Where shall my wondering soul begin?
How shall I all to heaven aspire?
A slave redeemed from death and sin,
A brand plucked from eternal fire,
How shall I equal triumphs raise,
Or sing my great deliverer's praise.


Wesley's contribution, along with the Second Great Awakening in America led to a new style called gospel, and a new explosion of sacred music writing with Fanny Crosby, Ira D. Sankey, and others who produced testimonial music for revivals, camp meetings and evangelistic crusades.

African-Americans developed a rich hymnody from spirituals during times of slavery to the modern, lively black gospel style.

The Methodist Revival of the eighteenth century created an explosion of hymnwriting in Welsh, which continued into the first half of the nineteenth century. The most prominent names among Welsh hymn-writers are William Williams Pantycelyn and Ann Griffiths. The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed an explosion of hymntune composition and choir singing in Wales.

Some Christians today are using Christian lyrics in the rock music style although this often leads to some controversy between older and younger congregants. This is not new; the Christian pop music style began in the late 1960s and became very popular during the 1970s, as young hymnists sought ways in which to make the music of their religion relevant for their generation.

This long tradition has resulted in a rich lode of hymns. Some modern churches include within hymnody, the traditional hymn (usually addressed to God), praise choruses (often sung scripture texts) and gospel (expressions of one's personal experience of God). This distinction is not perfectly clear; and purists remove the second two types from the classification as hymns. It is a matter of debate, even sometimes within a single congregation, often between revivalist and traditionalist movements.

Well-known hymnists and hymns

Some Christian hymnists and their better-known hymns are: Christian hymns, especially in more recent centuries, were often written in four-part vocal harmony. Today, except for choirs, more musically inclined congregations, and a cappella congregations, hymns are typically sung in unison. In some cases complementary full settings for organ are also published, in others, organists and other accompanists are expected to mentally transcribe the four-part vocal score for their instrument of choice.

Hymn meters

Following Isaac Watts it has been common for English hymnody to use a conventionally named poetic meters to pair lyrics with melodies. The intention is that any words of a particular meter can be used with a tune of the same meter. The numbers in the following sections indicate the number of syllables per line in a tune, for example, 8.7.8.7 means that the first and third lines have 8 syllables, and the second and fourth lines have 7 syllables. Numeric specifications such as 8.7.8.7 or 87.87 (same thing) are often used in addition to the names below. The names below have an implied poetic foot, whereas numeric specifications don't, although some hymnals and psalm books differentiate, eg. "87.87" (which normally has Trochaic feet) and "87.87 (Iambic)" (which obviously has iambic feet).

Those used the most often are:
  • C.M. - Common Meter; a quatrain (four-line stanza) with alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, which rhymes in the second and fourth lines and sometimes in the first and third (8/6/8/6); also called Ballad Meter.
  • C.P.M. - Common Particular Meter; a six-line stanza of which the first, second, fourth and fifth lines are iambic tetrameter, and the third and sixth lines are iambic trimeter (8/8/6/8/8/6).
  • D. - Doubled; indicates an eight-line stanza instead of four, as in C.M.D. or D.C.M. - Common Meter Doubled or Doubled Common Meter, (8/6/8/6/8/6/8/6).
  • H.M. - Hallelujah Meter; a six-line stanza of which the first four lines are trimeter and the last two are tetrameter, which rhymes most often in the second and fourth lines and the fifth and sixth lines (6/6/6/6/8/8).
  • L.M. - Long Meter; a quatrain in iambic tetrameter, which rhymes in the second and fourth lines and often in the first and third (8/8/8/8).
  • L.P.M. - Long Particular Meter; a six-line stanza of iambic tetrameter (8/8/8/8/8/8).
  • M.T. (or 12s.) - Meter Twelves; a quatrain in anapestic hexameter (12/12/12/12).
  • P.M. - may stand for Psalm Meter (more commonly known as 8s.7s), Particular Meter, or Peculiar Meter (each indicating poetry with its own peculiar, non-standard, meter).
  • S.M. - Short Meter; iambic lines in the first, second, and fourth are in trimeter, and the third in tetrameter, which rhymes in the second and fourth lines and sometimes in the first and third (6/6/8/6).
  • S.P.M. - Short Particular Meter; a six-line stanza of which the first, second, fourth and fifth lines are iambic trimeter, and the third and sixth lines are iambic tertameter (6/6/8/6/6/8).
  • 8s. - Eights; used to distinguish an eight syllable quatrain that does not contain the iambic stress pattern characteristic of Long Meter (8/8/8/8).
  • 8s.7s. - Eights and sevens; a trochaic quatrain with alternating lines of four feet and three and one-half feet, which rhymes in the second and fourth lines and sometimes in the first and third (8/7/8/7); also called Psalm Meter.
  • 7s.6s. - Sevens and sixes; a quatrain with alternating lines of three and one-half feet and three feet, which rhymes in the second and fourth lines and sometimes in the first and third (7/6/7/6).

Media

    Amazing Grace, a common meter hymn from the Library of Congress' John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip; performed by Mr. and Mrs. N.V. Braley on May 5, 1939 at the home of Beal D. Taylor near Medina, Texas


    Amazing Grace, organ solo


    Just as I Am, organ solo


    Rock of Ages, organ solo


    Abide With Me, organ solo


    The German text of Ein' Feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) sung to an arrangement by J. S. Bach.


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References

1. ^ Watkins, Calvert (2000). The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, second edition, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-08250-6. 

See also

External links

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A hymn is a song specifically written as a song of praise, adoration or prayer, see Hymn.

Other hymns:
  • Hymn (poem) - A 7th century Anglo-Saxon poem by Cædmon, the earliest surviving piece of written literature in English.

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A song is a relatively short musical composition. Songs contain vocal parts that are performed with the human voice and generally feature words (lyrics), commonly accompanied by other musical instruments (exceptions would be a cappella and scat songs).
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Prayer is the act of attempting to communicate, commonly with a sequence of words, with a deity or spirit for the purpose of worshiping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing sins, or to express one's thoughts and emotions.
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deity or god is a postulated preternatural or supernatural being, who is always of significant power, worshipped, thought holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, or respected by human beings.
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Greek}}} 
Writing system: Greek alphabet 
Official status
Official language of:  Greece
 Cyprus
 European Union
recognised as minority language in parts of:
 European Union
 Italy
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Regulated by:
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Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) is the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Although the existence of such a language has been accepted by linguists for a long time, there has been debate about many specific
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Hittite}}}
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: hit
ISO 639-3: hit

Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centered on ancient Hattusas (modern Boğazkale) in
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Sanskrit}}}  | style="padding-left: 0.5em;" | Writing system: | colspan="2" style="padding-left: 0.5em;" | Devanāgarī and several other Brāhmī-based scripts  ! colspan="3" style="text-align: center; color: black; background-color: lawngreen;"|Official
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Hymnology is the scholarly study of religious song, or the hymn, in its many aspects, with particular focus on choral and congregational song. It may be more or less clearly distinguished from hymnody, the creation and practice of such song. Hymnologists, such as John D.
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A hymn tune is a musical composition to which a hymn text is sung. Some tunes consist of only the melody, sung in unison or parallel octaves, with or without accompaniment.
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Amazing Grace"

A piper plays "Amazing Grace" on Memorial Day. "Amazing Grace" is often played on bagpipes and in services to honor the deceased.

Music by William Walker
Lyrics by John Newton

Written 1772

Form hymn

"Amazing Grace
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The Great Hymn to the Aten was found in the tomb of Ay, in the rock tombs at Amarna. It is attributed to Pharaoh Akhenaten himself, and gives us a glimpse of the artistic outpouring of the Amarna period.
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Dynasties of Pharaohs
in Ancient Egypt

Predynastic Egypt
Protodynastic Period
Early Dynastic Period
1st 2nd
Old Kingdom
3rd 4th 5th 6th
First Intermediate Period
7th 8th 9th 10th
11th (Thebes only)

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Kanakht-Meryaten
The strong bull, beloved of the Aten

Nebty
name


<hiero>G16</hiero>
<hiero>wr:r-sw-t-i-i-Aa13:Axt:t*pr-i-t:n:ra</hiero> Wernesytemakhetaten
Great of kingship in Akhetaten

Golden
Horus

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Vedas (Sanskrit véda वेद
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Hinduism (known as Hindū Dharma in modern Indian languages[1]
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The thirty-three anonymous Homeric Hymns celebrating individual gods are a collection of ancient Greek hymns, "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same dactylic hexameter as the Iliad and Odyssey and are couched in the same dialect.
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Greek mythology is the body of stories belonging to the Ancient Greeks concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices.
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Books of Ketuvim
Three Poetic Books
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Eucharist (also known as Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, among other names) is a rite or act of worship that most Christians[1] perform in order to fulfill the instruction that they believe Jesus gave his disciples, at his last meal with them before
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