Monday, May 4, 2015

Hymns and hymn tunes for Christian Prayer

Lay people who pray the Liturgy of the Hours at home often find the hymns that open each hour to be troublesome and confusing.

I'll deal with confusing first.

 You notice that the hymn for, say, today's Morning Prayer is  one thing at, but two different selections at; that in volume II of the four-volume set it is still something else; and that in the Christian Prayer breviary you are free to choose one of any 11 Easter hymns in the guide.
Which kind of makes you wonder how "official" these hymn choices are when they differ so widely among the various breviaries, both print and digital.

The answer: not very official at all. If you wanted to, you could choose a different Easter season hymn whether it appears in your breivary or not. My Easter hymn of choice is the sequence from the Mass of Easter Sunday, "Christians Praise the Pascal Victim" , so I sing it nearly every morning from Easter until Ascension.

Now for troublesome. What happens when you don't know the hymn? There are several options:
1. Just read the lyrics as if you were reading a poem. There's no strict requirement to sing it.
2. Substitute another hymn that you do know.
3. You really want to sing the hymn that appears in your breviar? Then look it up on one of the very helpful blogs:

Breviary Hymns, where the ever helpful Kevin Shaw  tells you about the history of each hymn in a separate post and then links you to a YouTube video performance of it.

Christian Prayer Hymns, where the equally helpful "Jim" give you a single page of links for every single hymn in the Christian Prayer breviary.

These two guys have done a tremendous work for the musically challenged among us.