Random Service Music Note

Don’t ask me why I’m standing here on a rainy Saturday morning flipping through Galley’s The Ceremonies of the Eucharist, a book with which I normally have little to do.

In any case, I am, and I stumbled across this little gem in his discussion of the music for the Ordinary of the Mass:

It is sometimes asserted that Episcopal congregations are required to limit their repertory of music for the ordinary to settings included in the official hymnal. Such an assertion fails to take into account the fact that the only part of the hymnal that is set forth by authority is the words. The Episcopal Church does not legislate in the matter of musical settings. Clergy and musicians, working together, are free to make use of the settings in the hymnal (whether of hymns or of the texts of the ordinary) as are appropriate to particular congregations; and to select, compose, or commission such other settings as may be desired. (p. 49)

How interesting…

One Reply to “Random Service Music Note”

  1. Yes, General Convention has always authorized the texts of hymns and left it to others to choose the tunes. There were, for instance, SIX (count ’em!) different widely used musical editions of The Hymnal 1892. The most popular was that of Dr. Charles Hutchins, published by The Parish Choir, Boston. The Horatio Parker edition was also very widely used, and Trinity, Wall Street of course had its own edition of the hymnal, also used by parishes across the country. My own parish will be using music from the “Hutchins Hymnal” several times this year as we celebrate our centennial and attempt to recreate the liturgies as they were done here in 1910.

    Some of the musical editions of The Hymnal 1892 contained a great deal of service music; others included very little, leaving it up to individual parishes to use whatever settings they wanted. Dr. Hutchins included many congregational settings of the canticles and the Communion Service in his hymnal, but also published the companion “Chant and Service Book,” which was approximately 300 pages of additional material, including more elaborate choir arrangements.

    Oddly enough, The Hymnal 1916, 1940 and 1982 are all rather sparse editions, compared to what was available in 1892!

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