Macho Hymnody

Jimmy Mac sent this link for top ten macho hymns for men, from Sorted, a Brit faith magazine for men.

1. Onward Christian Soldiers
2. And Can it Be
3. Guide Me O Thy Great Redeemer (a real man would substitute Jehovah! For Redeemer, though)
4. All People That On Earth Do Dwell
5. Be Thou My Vision
6. How Great Thou Art
7. Amazing Grace
8. In Christ Alone
9. Eternal Father, Strong to Save (aka The Navy Hymn)
10. Our God Reigns

No plainsong, no GIA/OCP. #5 and #6 kind of surprise me.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to Macho Hymnody

  1. Martin Barry says:

    When I’m not directing a cathedral choir, I have a share in directing a choir inside a men’s prison somewhere in the UK. The repertoire is a mix of sacred and secular, and I guess it mainly qualifies as ‘macho’ – there are things I know the choir members will take to, and other things that just won’t. I can testify to the popularity of 3 and 7 on the list, but on the other hand, the one time we tried 4, nobody seemed to like it.

    The others we haven’t tried, so I can guess I can conduct a controlled experiment and report back. ;-)

    Macho doesn’t necessarily mean solemn – other favourites in the ‘sacred’ repertoire are Darlene Zschech’s Shout to the Lord and a whole raft of spirituals, the most popular of which is Over my head I hear music in the air. Sometimes it’s a surprise what does and doesn’t seem to appeal.

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    I was shocked … shocked, I say! …. that there isn’t one Marian hymn in the whole bunch.

  3. Liam says:

    I find this unsurprising in the least. Traditional hymnody within the Anglican-Methodist traditional hymnody has had a dominance in the UK, while there is no such dominant tradition in the US, and as a result contemporary hymnody has made greater inroads in the US than in the US as best I can nearly tell. We may share a common tongue, but the US has way more Lutherans, Moravians, peace churches Southern Baptists, non-denominational churches, Mormons, et et. – we are not only a Christ-haunted nation (to borrow Flannery O’Connor’s description of the American South), but a church-haunted nation. England, Wales and Scotland have established churches and Everyone Else.

  4. Interesting – cause “And can it be” was one of the favorite hymns of one of my roommates (female) in grad school and I personally love “Be Thou My Vision” and have never particularly thought of it as masculine or feminine per se.

    It just always seemed personal. You know “Heart of my own heart” and all that.

  5. Liam says:

    I particularly like Be Thou My Vision to the alternative tune (Desrocquettes) that became familiar through the Pius X Hymnal, by J.H. Desrocquettes, in 1953. Ted Marier composed a lovely alternative SATB choral setting to match that tune.

    At St Paul’s in Cambridge, that setting is bookended with another chestnut: Spirit Seeking Light and Beauty (tune: Domnach Trionide, 8787D (trochaic), also popularized in the Piux X Hymnal; today more commonly known with the text, Those Who Love and Those Who Labor). The text is public domain, and was written by Sr Janet Stuart (d. 1914):

    Spirit seeking light and beauty,
    Heart that longest for thy rest,
    Soul that asketh understanding,
    Only thus can ye be blest.
    Thro’ the vastness of creation
    Tho’ your restless thought may roam,
    God is all that you can long for,
    God is all his creatures home.

    Taste and see him, feel and hear him,
    Hope and grasp his unseen hand;
    Tho’ the darkness seem to hide him,
    Faith and love can understand.
    God, who lovest all thy creatures,
    All our hearts are known to thee;
    Lead us thro’ the land of shadows
    To thy blest eternity.

    To this, Ted Marier inserted a choral middle verse (same tune, different counterpoint) with a text from the Meissen Breviary as translated by the ubiquitous JM Neale in the 19th century:

    Jesus, we thy name adoring,
    Long to see thee as thou art,
    And thy clemency imploring,
    Hold it closely in our heart.
    That, hereafter, upward soaring,
    We in heav’n may have a part:
    Jesus, we thy name adoring,
    Long to see thee as thou art.

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