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.

History Of The Apostles' Creed Intention And Setting facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail