The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #93597   Message #1803301
Posted By: Wilfried Schaum
07-Aug-06 - 06:21 AM
Thread Name: What makes a good hymn?
Subject: RE: What makes a good hymn?
Some years ago the hymnal of my church was revised extensively. Some old hymns were rejected, a lot of new ones were added, ans some from foreign countries, just for straining after effect.

Comparing them it seems to me:
The real runners are the old songs of the reformation, by M. Luther himself and his companions. They are written in a real folkie way: a clear and simple syntax, without any distortions of speech. They transmit the message clearly. The cries for help to God are in an earnest and hopeful language, too.

Only the best poets of the following centuries were represented, too; and there are only a few from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century. Especially the prosecution by the Nazis brought some fine and moving hymns.

The tunes are fewer, many are shared by a couple of hymns. There is a remarkable correspondence between the simplicity of the tunes and the words. Some of them were from secular origins and hit the folk charts in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The newer songs from the end of the last century are easily recognized by their missing message and their shallow sentimentality. The tunes are considered modern when some syncopes are injected, and the responsibles thought to attract younger people by such hymns. The only effect is that not more young people are coming to the services, and some older members are staying away.

The songs from abroad depend of the quality of the translation and the singability of their tunes.

Gimme that old time religion - but not sung by an elderly German parish but by a real good gospel choir from the South.