Chant, Hymns and Crofting in the Orkney Islands

The most fascinating aspect of having a choir site is when people drop you a line to say what they  are doing in their parishes. This is particularly interesting when they are based at the absolute other  end of the  United Kingdom.

Head up to the Orkneys to Ben’s chant blog and prove him wrong that not all his readers hang out at the crofting museum in Hoy.

He has written a interesting article on the relationship between congregational hymns and the proper chants of the Mass and writes about his choice of hymns for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Entrance: ‘O God our help in ages past’. The fourth line of the second stanza (‘and our defence is sure’) is based on a verse of Psalm 47 (‘God is … a sure refuge’); and the Proper Introit Suscepimus consists of other verses from the same Psalm. The connection is, admittedly, quite tenuous in this case.

Offertory: ‘Through all the changing scenes of life’. I could find no hymn corresponding to the Proper Offertory chant Populum humilem, but the Communion chant Gustate et videtedraws its text from Psalm 33. ‘Through all the changing scenes’ is a paraphrase of that hymn. Unfortunately, it is such a loose paraphrase that it fails to preserve the idea of ‘tasting’ the goodness of the Lord. This makes it less suitable as a communion hymn, but it does mean that it can be sung appropriately at the preparation of the gifts.

Communion: ‘All ye who seek a comfort sure’. This hymn is based on Matthew 11.28: ‘Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord.’ This text occurs in the Gospel of the day, and it is offered in the Missal as a Communion verse, as an alternative to Gustate.

Recessional: ‘Sweet heart of Jesus’. As the Roman liturgical tradition does not assign a chant to the departure of the ministers from the sanctuary, I regard this as a ‘wild card’ element of the music. Anything appropriate to the season could fill this slot, and as it was the feast of the Sacred Heart last Friday, I could not resist programming this old Irish favourite.

I also hope to be able to choose our weekly selection of hymns so that they fit with the themes of the Propers but sadly some weeks I just don’t have the time and end up resorting to the back of the hymn book.

I have put a feed of Ben’s blog on the sidebar so you keep up with chanting, crofting and the like…


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