Wednesday, November 06, 2019

New English Hymns for the Liturgy of the Hours

We recently received the following information from the Internantional Commission on English in the Liturgy, regarding some new versions of the hymns for the Liturgy of the Hours.

“In the Liturgia Horarum, hymns are an integral part of the celebration of the Hours, marking the sanctification of time. Each hymn is proper to a liturgical hour, observing the progression of the day and frequently drawing the mind to the creation of the world, the redemption of humanity, the struggle to overcome evil, and the glory that awaits the faithful. Spanning over 1600 years, the 294 hymns represent a recovery of a corpus of poetry of theological intensity that has yet to appear in its entirety in the official liturgical book in English. From Saint Ambrose (4th c.) and Prudentius (5th c.), to the twentieth century, this treasure trove of poetic genius of the Western Church is now being made available to the English-speaking world.

Effort has been made to capture as much of the meaning and theological content of the Latin hymns, while at the same time, respecting both natural English idiom of expression and the meter of the Latin original. In rendering the fullest sense of the Latin text, rhyme has been avoided. This is because inversion of syntax, often necessary to maintain the rhyme, creates a text that is complex. There has also been a consideration of the fact that many who pray the hours alone will be reading rather than singing the hymns.

By following the meter of the Latin hymn, these English translations permit the use of the chant melodies proper to each hymn in its Latin version. The hymns can equally be sung to metrical hymn tunes. In these videos, we present a small selection of the hymns, sung to both chant and metrical melodies, some in unison and others in harmony.”

Since the dedication of the Lateran Basilica will be celebrated at the end of this week, here one sample of the project, an English version of the hymn “Urbs Jerusalem Beata” for the dedication of a church.

The following link goes to a YouTube playlist with 10 of the new hymns:

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