A Few Hymns For The Hours

At this week’s peer ministry training retreat, the students had the experience of daily Mass, plus the hinge hours, Vespers and Lauds, as well as Compline. There’s a significant small group of students who pray the Office regularly. I kept pretty much to the psalms as assigned from Christian Prayer, but I had to make a few substitutions for my young psalmists and their ability to learn new settings.

About the choice of hymns for Evening and Morning Prayer… I explained to my charges that hymns for morning and evening prayer should take their character from the time of day, or the liturgical season, or something significant about the “local” calendar. In this instance, it would be their retreat experience. Given all that, their choices were interesting:

  • Thursday Vespers, “Day Is Done”
  • Friday Lauds, “In Christ Alone”
  • Friday Vespers, “The Summons”
  • Saturday Lauds, “This Day God Gives Me”

Along with the French, the Welsh have a passel of terrific melodies. “Day Is Done” is not in the Eucharistic repertoire of our parish, but the students had no problem picking it up. The AABA format is so easy to sing, especially when the melody is so attractive.

“In Christ Alone” may be a P&W favorite, but it’s not really one of mine. However, in the context of the morning, it seemed quite good. In fact, I found myself able to pray, even as I was making up the chords to the melody line.

One of the students had a birthday, and the psalmist knew the young woman’s favorite song was John Bell’s text to that great tune. So that gesture of affection was okay with me.

Saturday morning, one of my staff colleagues chose the metrical text of St Patrick’s Breastplate, a nod to her Irish heritage.

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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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2 Responses to A Few Hymns For The Hours

  1. Mary says:

    I like the principle that ” hymns for morning and evening prayer should take their character from the time of day, or the liturgical season, or something significant about the “local” calendar” – does it come from a particular document, or simply applied common sense?

    A hymn that my previous parish liked for evening prayer is Marty Haugen’s “God of Day and God of Darkness”.

  2. Todd says:

    Hi Mary,

    It comes from common sense mainly. I try to keep my eyes on good hymn texts, what will work that’s suggestive of morning and evening without hitting people over the head with it.

    I like the tune to Beach Spring. Marty’s arrangement of it really suits for evening, in my perspective.

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