I'm posting this quickly today; I didn't think we'd be making our choir practice this evening, and now it looks like it might be possible after all. So as we gather up our music and glance over the sheet for this week, I see that our Processional Hymn is one that I really do enjoy:
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter every trembling heart.
Come, almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.
Finish then thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be;
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee:
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.
The lyrics to this song were written by Charles Wesley, and I noticed as I copied them to paste here that there are a few differences in the version I have in our Catholic hymnal; alas, I don't have time to post them and try to uncover the reasons for the changes.
Still, the song is vastly better than many of the more modern hymns available to us, and certainly the musical setting most often used in Catholic parishes (the one at the link) is majestic and glorious, transcending the mundane and everyday and putting the congregation in the proper frame of worship right from the start!
What a change from last week, when, sadly, we had to sing "Gather Us In." Uggh. If I never have to sing that dreck again it will be too soon--but unfortunately I've learned that the selection of songs can be pressured by the pastor's preferences (and some pastors are more musical than others, shall we say), the perceived need to tie the songs in to the readings, and even from complaining from parishioners, some of whom have--pardon me for saying it--execrable taste in sacred music. There's nothing quite like singing one of those ugly modern pieces and then being told after Mass something like "Oh, I'm so glad you sang that song! It's one of my favorites--I wish you'd sing things like that more often. The old stuff is nice, but I really like 'Gather Us In' and 'Be Not Afraid' and 'I am the Bread of Life,' don't you?"
And we hear that more than you'd think.
So the lesson is, if you do like the traditional hymns, tell the music director/choir director/choir members as often as possible. Positive feedback about the dignified, traditional music is the only weapon we have when others in the parish complain about the "old stuff" and wonder audibly if anyone likes that music anymore.