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Hymns In The Daily Services

We are about to explain how Hymns are attached to Lessons for purposes
of worship. It will be well therefore to consider what a Hymn is, and
how we arrived at the present arrangement. We will defer to the
chapter on Anthems the consideration of those Hymns that may be
described as Prayers set to music. Many Psalms may be described in
this way, and in the Commination the 51st Psalm is used as a Prayer
(see the Rubric there). But if our intention be Praise, most of those
Prayer-psalms lend themselves to Praise, and are so used in this
Service before the Lessons, as we have just seen. In like manner
metrical Hymns are to be found in our Hymn-books which are in their
plain sense prayers rather than praises.

In the Day Hour Services we find metrical Hymns--at Lauds, Vespers and
Compline after the Bible "Chapter," and, at the other Services, before
the Psalms. They were in Latin, and some of them have been translated
and are known to us in our Hymn-books.

Of the Office Hymns well known in modern Hymn-books, Now that the
daylight fills the sky is a good example.

We have, moreover, in the Prayer Book itself, two translations of the
Hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus formerly sung at Lauds throughout Whitsun

The longer form of it, more a paraphrase than a translation, appeared
in the Ordination Services in 1550; the shorter translation, which is
so well known, in a Book of Devotions made by John Cosin in 1627, where
are found also translations of other Day Hour Hymns, the book being
designed from the Breviary.

When in 1661 Cosin had become Bishop of Durham and was taking a leading
part in the last revision of the Prayer-Book, his translation of Veni,
Creator Spiritus was placed before the older paraphrase in the
Ordination Services.

It is interesting to compare the Day Hour Hymns with the translations
which are to be found in Hymn-books.

In Hymns Ancient and Modern, the following examples are found:--1, 9,
10, 11, 14, 15, 38, 45, 47, 55, 75, 85, 87, 88, 90, 95, 96, 97, 125,
128, 144, 152, 153, 156, 157, 158, 430, 483, 509, 622. The renderings
are not equally close; but they give a good idea of the place in
worship which they occupied in the Day Hours. They will be found to
dwell on the thoughts of praise to God called forth (a) by the
sunshine and the beauties of nature, (b) by the work of the Holy
Spirit. When the Hymn followed the Capitulum, a Canticle came next.
The Capitulum, or Little Chapter, was one or two verses from the Bible
specially {62} chosen for the day; and the Hymn was directly connected
in subject with it.

Thus, at Lauds on Whitsunday, the Capitulum was, When the Day of
Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place
(Acts ii. 1), and the Hymn which followed immediately was Come, Holy
Ghost (H. A. and M. 157); and Benedictus, which came next, had an
Antiphon, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, &c. (S. John xx. 22, 23).

These beautiful combinations show us that the Canticle after a Lesson
is designed to respond to the message of the Lesson, and to make with
it an act of Praise. We must dismiss from our minds all idea that our
Services were put together in a zigzag fashion, introducing something
different as soon as any Psalm or Lesson has been said. The
Service-makers valued variety of expression and method within
reasonable limits; but the Service itself proceeds from point to point
in a regulated progress. When the metrical Hymns were struck out, the
Canticles and the Lessons were left united together.

Next: The Canticles

Previous: Justin Martyr

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