Monday, July 20, 2009

New music

There are a variety of good times and manners to introduce new hymns, just as there are numerous poor occasions for new music. This Sunday, unfortunately, we may have stumbled across the very worst of all possible moments to introduce a new hymn: as the closing hymn at 11:20 on a sunny, summer day, with no announcement to explain the cryptic note in the bulletin about verses one and two.

The most unfortunate part is that I think the hymn in question, "Hail Thee, Festival Day!" will be a great addition to our congregation's repertoire. It has a great march tempo, an easily learnable refrain, and appropriate texts for various festivals and holidays. Plus, it falls under my axiom that any hymn title with an exclamation point must be fun and uplifting to sing.

If I have a problem with the hymn, it is the overly complicated nature of verses one and two. Very few of the hymns in the ELW have proper verses that differ based on the season or holiday, and they are always confusing when they get scheduled. Next time we sing this hymn (or any other hymn with similar structure), we will be sure to make an announcement to help the congregation find the correct text.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear people's reactions. A couple of people after the service said that the tune itself was quite nice. I've been humming it to myself while doing some yardwork this morning. Since the hymn is officially for Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost, it will likely be some time before we sing it again. When we do, we'll try to do a better job of reintroducing the music!


  1. It sounded like we we singing in different tongues! I think by the end of the hymn, each of the verses had been sung, just not at the same time! It was fun singing the refrain together. No matter how we started out yesterday morning - in joy, peace, worry, or sadness - we all hailed the festival day together!

  2. Rev. Robert FerroJuly 21, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    The fact that the odd and even numbered verses had different tunes didn't help matters. We seemed to get the Refrain down, but still struggled with the verses. According to my records, we have sung it before, but it still seemed like a "new hymn'. I, too, was singing/whistling the Refrain all day Sunday, but for the life of me I couldn't remember how the verses went. Maybe in the future we could have the choir/soloists sing some of the verses and have everybody join in on the rousing Refrain.