More Latin, O Joy!

In the NPM top-25, two hymns placed in the top 25 that were essentially the same. Instead of seeding them both, I merged “Tantum Ergo” into “Pange Lingua.” Yes, I know, I could have used the hymn tune version of “Tantum Ergo” that oftren stands alone for Eucharistic Benediction.

“Joy To the World” might be the number three Christmas song. I would place it behind “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” both of which received higher seeds. Musicians and editors seem to favor it a bit more than that. No other Christmas song appeared in more 20th century hymnals. The Isaac Watts text originated in the early 18th century. They say it’s based on Psalm 98, but you be the judge. The music we know came later. About a century later, and is attributed to Lowell Mason, and perhaps with a few threads of Handel in there.

In the other corner is one of the most well-known chants in contemporary Catholic repertoire, a Holy Thursday tradition that doesn’t seem to have disappeared at all, or even faded since Vatican II. The Thomas Aquinas original text is suggestive of an even older piece, a sequence used for adoration of the Cross on Good Friday. Thomas’ composition was written for Corpus Christi observances in the 13th century. But I guess the lure of Triduum was a little too strong. To which choice will you be lured here?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to More Latin, O Joy!

  1. Liam says:

    So, does your Joy to The World refer to thorns and the Curse…?

    The Boston Camerata did an interesting arrangement by Joel Cohen back in 1993, treating it in American shape note style by doubling the tenor an octave above and vice versa – here’s a snippet:

    http://www.allmusic.com/song/joy-to-the-world-theme-by-handel-t3045403

    As for Pange Lingua, the connection back from Corpus Christi to the Triduum makes perfect sense when one realizes that the liturgy Aquinas wrote for was merely an echo feast anyway. I would venture that Pange Lingua is tied with Salve Regina as the most enduring chant for people in the pews, as it were; I’ve yet to encounter a congregation that does not sing it fairly fully when offered.

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