Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Singing the Faith: Day 3

Day 3  The Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation changed church music along with everything else. Monasteries were dissolved and the professional musicians they nurtured were dispersed. Now everyone was encouraged to sing. Martin Luther wrote hymns, often using popular melodies, and composed for the organ. Calvin was more cautious about hymns, and insisted that only Biblical words could be sung. Psalms were put into metrical forms, so that they could be sung to simple, regular tunes. Since most people couldn’t read either music or words, parish clerks “lined out” the hymns, singing a line which the congregation then repeated.
On the Island of Lewis this is still practiced, as it is in some areas of the US. (Clips below)

The hymn below, “All people that on earth do dwell”, is a classic example of a metrical psalm, based on Psalm 24. It is a hymn which brings us into the presence of God together, assuring us that we can come to him confidently because "The Lord our God is good; his mercy is forever sure."  It is usually sung to one of those original Reformation Psalm tunes, “Old Hundredth”, composed by Louis Bourgeois. The words are by William Kethe, who died in 1595, and was a translator of the Genevan Psalter used by Calvinist Protestants.

Old  Hundredth, from the Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter 1628

All people that on earth do dwell,
sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
him serve with fear, his praise forth tell.
Come ye before him and rejoice.

Know that the Lord is God indeed;
without our aid he did us make;
we are his folk; he doth us feed,
and for his sheep he doth us take.

O enter then his gates with praise;
approach with joy his courts unto;
praise, laud, and bless his name always,
for it is seemly so to do.

For why? The Lord our God is good;
his mercy is forever sure;
his truth at all times firmly stood,
and shall from age to age endure.

How do you feel about learning new hymns? Do you prefer to stick to old favourites?

Lining out being used in the Isle of Lewis.

 The technique crossed the Atlantic with early settlers to the US and is still practiced in some places.

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