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 Marty Haugen again!

Lots of feminine rhymes that are just masculine ones in disguise?

Yep. (Perhaps ironically, we get other/brother, which is a different kind of "masculine." And the chorus has tomorrow/sorrow. But most of them are the modified kind.

What is the significance of addressing God as "Spirit" in three of the verses and "God" in the other one?

I...think that's just a way to make the syllable count work?
 Happy Easter/Vigil/Triduum!

...In Dust?

This sounds like some kind of weird metaphor for repentance, but I think it's just a consequence of "rearranging all the words to fit the rhyme scheme." So, people are bowing low to Jesus...and hitting hte dust.

Any other nice turns of phrase?

I like verse three: "by the gloom that veiled the skies o'er the dreadful sacrifice." (Appropriate for Good Friday-ish!) No comma, one thought.

No comma?

One of the pronunciation rules for choir is "if there's no punctuation you don't breath," and that might change in the same line verse to verse.

What are the other rules?

Stuff like "if the word 'the' comes before a vowel sound make sure you pronounce it thee." Allomorphs!

Is that a lyrical-themed Animorphs spinoff?

Just a linguistics nerd thing, sorry.

Are you just looking for stuff to fill this post?

Actually the tenor part looks pretty cool. Syncopation in the middle and sixteenth notes (very fast moving) towards the end! But I'm not a tenor so it didn't jump out at me.

Is the tenor part pretty boring?

No, I just said....actually there do seem to be a lot of repeated A's early on, maybe the arranger realized it was getting repetitive and tried to change it up.
Skipped this last time! Might have done this earlier (also might not have), but I was stuck out of town...maybe more on my main blog someday. Or maybe not, I'm vague like that.

Is this the same text as #587?

Yes. Still very good!

Is the melody as good?

I'm gonna say not. 587's intro is cool, this feels a little more standard. This one is in a better key for most instruments to play, so there is that. They're both about the same vocal range, neither should be too difficult.

What about the accompaniment parts?

Neither of them have accompaniment in the standard pew edition, so it's a tie!
Is there a consistent rhyme scheme?

Not really? There are a couple instances of "in some verses it seems like these two words make a feminine rhyme, in other cases they don't, in some it's a stretch (ever/other)."

Teehee, you said feminine rhyme scheme, and it's about marriage, get it?

Yeah, you're clever. The weird one is "Father/woman": they don't even come close to rhyming, we get the unnecessarily male interpretation of God, and the gender assumptions of the married couple! Not that the latter is too surprising, but definitely they could have done better on the rhyme front, you know? Priorities.

Are we really done with another section now?

Yes, and I think I mean it this time!
Is this a "last verse kind of the same as the first"?

I'm gonna say no, despite the Shannon Density lowness; this time the last two lines of the last verse are the same as the first two lines of the first verse.

Is "mission/commission" in verse 1 a consistent rhyme scheme?

No, the other verses don't have it. Just related words showing up.

Afk for a few days!
What is the time signature?

There is none. This is plainsong, which is fancy Latin-ish for "you just chant each note for about the same unit, and maybe the ones at the end of the line longer."

How can you tell the difference?

Well, the normal notes are filled-in ovals, and the longer ones are hollow ovals.

Isn't that also the difference between quarter notes and half notes in normal notation?

Yeah, but they have stems coming out of them, which means "actually there is a fixed length of time for these notes, thanks."
What's the range?

There's no harmonization, just the melody, but it seems to go pretty low for melody-only; low-A to high-D (octave plus a fourth). Then again, maybe it's the wide range that's notable, not how low it is. (Well, it's a problem for some sopranos, I guess.)

Is the imagery particularly morning-esque?

Not really? Sunlight and warmth, but that's...true most of the daytime. I guess the connection is "each day's signs" of God's love, but this could have gone in the "Creation" section easily. (There's a lot of crossover; the index says stuff like "for this topic, see the given range ###-###, but then also all these other random songs.)

The part about "like a mat you roll out land" seems like a nice image of human technology/building in contrast to the natural world stuff. Again, I'm just sort of coming across this now, don't think I know this one at all.

How about the grace note?

Uh, yup, there is one, near the end of the first line. Just an optional/quick note to sing before slurring onto the main note.
Is this actually a metaphor for death?

I'm not sure? We're in the "Sending" section which is mostly hymns for like the end of church services, and the verses are mainly generic requests for God's love and support towards another person/people. But then the refrain is "till we meet at Jesus' feet," which uh, feels a little more ominous than "next week, same time, same place."

What's up with the bass clef?

The men (tenor/bass) have an "echo" type response in the harmonization: "Till we meet (till we meet), till we meet (again)." A little bit like the "evermore (evermore)" from "Guide Me Ever, Great Redeemer."

But this is an American Gospel song?

Sounds like it. Just looking it up, it looks as if the text was written by Jeremiah Rankin, who also wrote, uh, fanfic from the point of view of Aaron Burr's mom...!!
Does this allude to any other hymns?

I assume purposefully? The last phrase is "repeat the sounding joy," which I can't not associate with Joy to the World.

Is there a Trinity format?

It's a little subtle, but it's there. The three verses are addressed to God, Christ, and Gracious Spirit, in that order, but not always in the first line.

Are those the only Proper Nouns?

Not quite--we get capitals for Love twice (Love's victory, Love will welcome), which seems to be also making the point that God Is Love.
 Another version of this song?

Yes. We are really into it. This is just an older translation though, same melody (/rhythm).

What was wrong with that translation, too masculine?

Not really? I think it was just a less accurate translation.

Does this have any good parodies?

For questionable values of "good," and also "parody" because it's pretty sincere, but one of my union labor choir friends rewrote this translation to be about how actually, the union is a mighty fortress, and a bulwark never failing. Spoiler alert: the "one little word [that] shall triumph" is "Solidarity"!
What is the gap between between the music composition and these lyrics?

~300+ years.

Is this the record for this volume?

I doubt it, although now I'm curious.

Any standout rhymes?

We get a lot of edge-case feminine ones that are at least original: "somber/wonder" "gather/rapture," "Calv'ry/vict'ry." Compared to that verse 3 is pretty disappointing.
 Did we just see this melody?

Yes, it's the same one for "Come Ye Faithful, Raise The Strain."

Do you know this song pretty well?

Yes. When I was in grade school-ish, our church choir had a thing where you could memorize one (specific) hymn a month to win a prize at the end of the year. So I did that, of course, since I'm a poetry nerd. I think this was one of them, which was pretty easy because it's only the one verse.

I think for several years we also sang it when children came up to bless the infants after a baptism, which happened a lot.

That's good, right?

For the church, yeah. Young people and families = growing, young membership = good.

For small people having another long segment to stand through and not being able to see all the ritual, less engaging. The first time I helped out as an acolyte holding a book or something up front (7th grade??) it was like "wow, this is actually pretty cool."
When it says "thousand thousand saints," is that referring to a specific scene in the Bible?

I don't think so, I think the apocalyptic writers were more into base 12 stuff.

Is that an allusion to the Lord's Prayer in the last verse?

I think so! "take the pow'r and glory, claim the kingdom" sounds like it, although I hadn't caught that before. (Also a TS Eliot allusion, but that would be anachronistic since this was written in the 1700s.)

Are the "saints" of the first verse the same as the ones in the second?

I'm not sure? The time frame is kind of mixed up, which I guess is to be expected if you're singing about the future coming of Jesus in the present tense.

We don't sing this one a lot, but it's kind of catchy in a staid way.
Is this in "final verse same as the first" territory?

No, though it's close. Don't think that's worth a variant tag yet, but maybe we'll get there.

What festival is this for?

All Saints' Day, November 1. When we honor...all the saints, basically everyone who's served God.

That's kinda different from the Catholic thing where they have litmus tests for who can be a saint and assign a bunch of different days to them, right?

That's probably an oversimplification of Catholic teaching, but yeah. (We do have a more restricted calendar of saints, which is a lot of fairly arbitrary dates for Biblical personages with no specific dates associated to them, and we sometimes mention that in worship if there's nothing better to talk about.)

Was this a major sticking point during the Reformation?

Yeah. All Saints' Day was big in the pre-Reformation church, especially in the area where Martin Luther lived, because it was a great excuse to be like "come see my cathedral and check out all my cool relics!" So, the story goes, he nailed his 95 Theses to the door on October 31 (1517) so everyone would see them the next day. We still observe Reformation Day on October 31.

Doesn't that overlap with Halloween?

Yes. Though since All Saints' Day stems from/overlaps with northern hemisphere autumn commemorations of the dead, it's all kind of the same thing ultimately.

What do the two vertical lines mean before the last measure?

In general musical notation: "This is the end of this section, but not of the whole piece." In hymn context: "only sing the part after this after the last verse; otherwise, go right onto the next verse."

How do you tell the difference?

If the thing after the double bar is just "A-a-a-a-a-men," that's a pretty good sign.

Any questionable rhymes?

Honor/forever is out there, but then we get the brazen author/pleasure!
Is the alto part pretty boring?

I'm actually gonna go with no, it moves around a lot. The reason this is a valid question is because there are only eight measures and one of them is the same thing over and over, which is a fairly significant fraction.

Is it appropriately gender-neutral?

Yes; it addresses the Holy Spirit as "like a mother," "like a father," and "friend and lover." The father verse is maybe the cutest, although it doesn't go along with the traditional imagery of God the Creator as a father; instead it says "hoist me up upon your shoulder, let me see the world from high." I don't think that's a particular allusion to anything Biblical, but, dawww.
Does this exhibit a Northern-hemisphere bias?

With the winter and spring themes? Yes.

What about the feminine rhymes?

We get "portal" and "mortal" which is pretty neat--I usually only come across reference to "portals" in a speculative-fiction sense, so even if it's probably just referencing the stone in front of the tomb, it gives me a mental image of Jesus radiantly bursting out. The next verse follows that up with "portal/immortal," however (and it's "tomb's dark portal" both times!) and the novelty wears off a little

What about the feminine imagery?

Spring is apparently the "queen of seasons" (see above).
What's the rhyme scheme?

Good question. The first verse is ABCBC; there are five lines (which in itself is kinda notable, because most of these hymns are more "even"), the second and fourth rhyme, as do the third and fifth. But the next two verses don't have the B rhyme--the second and fourth lines aren't even close it's just 3 and 5. So I can't tell if the early Lent/bent rhyme is deliberate or it just kind of happened. I mean obviously it's deliberate, all the word choices are deliberate, but...you know.

What about the meter?

It's 10 syllables (iambic pentameter), which jumps out at me as a poetry person--common in Shakespeare and successors, not so much in the hymnal. But again, there aren't a lot of things you can fit to a five-line rhythm, so it just kind of is its own thing.
So your choir sang this recently, right?


What did that teach you?

Quite a lot!

First of all, the original title was "Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning," addressing the Star of Bethlehem. This was fairly sexist (and also a weird anthropomorphism, to be fair), so it got changed to "Stars" in both versions. That does make a not-so-creative duplication with "Star of the east," but...the morning doesn't reproduce, you know?

Secondly, there's apparently more than one melody that it's sung to; I'm only familiar with this slow, major arrangement, but the choir anthem was a fast minor piece.

Thirdly, there's another verse that comes before the titular "brightest and best" line...at least in some editions, others don't have it. Noteworthy for the bold rhyme of "Mediator" (in reference to Jesus) and "manger."

Is there a direct answer to the "what shall we give him" question in verse 3?

Yep, verse four says that it's a hopeless idea to bring the suggested gifts, but "the heart's adoration" is most appreciated.

And with that, I think we really are done with the Epiphany section. Like I said, no "We Three Kings," and I think some of the other stuff previously here got moved/dropped.
What's up with the harmonization?

There are some huge intervals in the bass clef. At a couple points, the tenors and basses (higher and lower mens' parts) are singing an octave plus a fifth apart, which is big. But during the start of the third line ("Joyful, all"), the basses, tenors, and altos (lower women's part) are all together on middle C, while the sopranos are an octave higher! Cool unison effect.

What about the lyrics?

It's a classic for a reason! I love "join the triumph of the skies," as if the stars have just won the big game, but the next couple verses are great too. Even my dad, who isn't really the music-reader in our family, listed this as one of his favorite Christmas hymns once.

Any translation issues?

No and yes. It's by Charles Wesley, who was a native English speaker, so there aren't too many divergent versions of the lyrics. But there have been a couple different arrangements/rearrangements, and I'm sometimes thrown for a loop when I hear it on the radio during Christmas song season. One because it's better than a lot of pop Christmas music, but two because it's often a more "masculine" text--"pleased as man with men to dwell," "born to raise the sons of Earth"--then this arrangement. This is one of those times where I'm very used to the way ours flows, including the PC adjustments.

What about the music composer?

That's Felix Mendelssohn, of general classical music fame. (Just me? Fine.)


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