Hymns in Periodical Literature

By Grimminger, Daniel Jay | The Hymn, Autumn 2010 | Go to article overview

Hymns in Periodical Literature


Grimminger, Daniel Jay, The Hymn


Experience of hymn singing

Friedhelm Brusniak, "Lieder als 'persönlicher Erinnerungsschatz': Nachdenkliches über Singerfahrungen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart" [Hymns and folksongs as a "personal treasury of memory": Thoughts on the emotional experience of singing in the past and present], Musik und Kirche,no. 3 (May/June 2010): 178-185.

Between church hymns and folk songs there often exist relationships. Friedhelm Brusniak examines one commonality: both these genres are able to form and express social realities and draw people together in a shared experience. He examines active and passive participation concerning singing these kinds of musical pieces at various places and times, from National Church days of German culture to soccer matches. The author draws on the last two hundred years of German history to show how heavily connected culture - at least German culture - is to music. During the Nazi era, hymns and folk songs were interpreted and used as tools of nationalistic indoctrination. This may be why traditional German chorales lost their pride of place to the younger generation, who saw the hymn as somehow outdated. Brusniak points out that, according to a meeting of church musicians that took place in October 1947, the Church and its song were regarded in a more positive way by young Roman Catholics.

It is the shared (sometimes emotional) experience that people have when singing folk songs or hymns that make such music an interesting phenomenon. These experiences collect in our consciousness and form a treasury that people draw upon even when they are not fully aware of what they are doing. Brusniak points to Alzheimer's patients, who often sing hymns even when they cannot remember their own names. He claims that hymns have a "therapeutic potential" in their ability to come back and bring with them the feelings of their past context in the life of the singer.

Just as the Church today struggles with what musical expression best embodies both the needs of today and the teachings of the Church, so the German church in post-war Germany tried to find the music that best fitted its post-war mission (i.e., find its "zeitgenössischen missionarischen Lied" ) . Spiritual folk songs such as "Geh aus, mein Herz, und suche Freud" found a firm and fixed place in German hymnals in much the same way as popular styles and contrafacti seeped into American hymnals.

It is unfortunate that there is no English translation of this article, because it would be of interest to many members of The Hymn Society. For those who can read German, however, this essay is worth tackling in its entirety.

Global hymnody

David W. Music, "Krishna Pal's ? thou, my soul, forget no more' and 'global hymnody' among nineteenth-century Baptists," American Baptist quarterly 28, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 194-207.

David Music documents, in contrast to the widespread criticism concerning the harsh Colonialism of many missionaries, how early British Baptist missionaries to Bengal during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (e.g., William Carey, John Thomas, Joshua Marshman, and William Ward) "encouraged the writing and use of native hymns among the population with which they worked, but also made . . . works available for English-speaking people and churches in their own native lands" (195).

An important instance that the author documents is the hymnody of Krishna Pal, a Bengali carpenter, who had been converted in 1800. Almost immediately after his baptism he started to write hymns (including "The shipwrecked sinner looking to Jesus," "Salvation by the death of Christ," and "O thou, my soul, forget no more"). Music's discussion of "O thou, my soul, forget no more" is the focus of the article. The date of this hymn is uncertain, but its first English appearance in print was November 1820, and it appeared sporadically in the 182Os and '3Os in American hymnals. It gained even more prominence in later hymnals: ". …

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