Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 27

Thread: Hymn Verse Skipping

  1. #1
    Senior Member hreichgott's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    western Massachusetts, US
    Posts
    1,001
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Hymn Verse Skipping

    Has anyone encountered the practice of skipping verses in hymns if there are more than 3 or 4 verses?

    It has always bothered me, and I do not understand the reasons. Thankfully the church where I work was happy to end this practice when I asked politely. So I did not need to become a raving lunatic!
    But I'm not exactly sure... why.

    The obvious answer is "too many verses takes too long." But most hymn verses are something like 10-20 seconds long, so even a 6-verse hymn isn't going to take more than 2 minutes or so. The truly long hymns are the slow late 19th/early 20th c. gospel weepers that have long verses and a long refrain after every verse.... but nobody ever skips verses on those because there are only about 3 verses usually.

    Maybe it psychologically feels like the hymn is going on forever when people's eyes have to keep going back to the top of the page? (instead of... to the next page, as you do for a long refrain?)
    ...and what would be bad about a hymn going on forever? Better that than announcements or many other spoken portions of the service going on forever...

    Or are the verse skippers just people who don't like congregational singing?

    (Wow! This is the first time I have begun a thread about an issue on which I have extremely dogmatic opinions.
    Good thing this is the politics and religion area.
    Just don't get me started on the scale fingerings...)
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

  2. Likes Taggart, david johnson, Ingélou and 2 others liked this post
  3. #2
    Senior Member Celloman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    1,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Hreichgott, this bothers me too! Some hymns are designed so that the verses naturally progress. (For example: "Original Sin" to "grace" to "heaven".) If one of these verses is left out, the hymn may not seem as complete or make sense.

  4. Likes david johnson, Taggart, Ingélou and 3 others liked this post
  5. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    arkansas/missouri
    Posts
    1,428
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Verse skipping has been around for many years. The most common is to use 1st, 2nd, and last verse. I've seen a hymnal that presents most songs edited into a 3-verse format. I believe in the book's case it was done to include more selections w/o increasing the publishing expense.
    I do it on occasion as I direct the singing at church.

  6. Likes Taggart, Ingélou, hreichgott liked this post
  7. #4
    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Yorkshire (ex-Glasgow)
    Posts
    4,248
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    It depends on how you see the purpose of hymn singing and how it fits into the service.

    For example, we use the Pange Lingua Gloriosi on Maundy Thursday for the translation of the Eucharist to the altar of repose - it's a slow procession but only use 4 verses - the other two verses starting Tantum Ergo Sacramentum (which is also used as a separate hymn) are sung at the altar of repose during the incensing of the Blessed Sacrament. That's a typical pattern also for an entrance hymn - 3-4 verses to process on and 1 or 2 verses to incense the altar. You can do it with between 4 and 6 verses depending on the hymn and then on with the rest of the service. The other uses are during the offertory where you have a collection and then bring the gifts up. You can either curtail the hymn to continue the service aloud or continue the service sotto voce during the singing - the rubrics allow both. Different churches and priests have different traditions. Similarly during communion, you can sing a hymn and then continue. The most common place for truncation is at the end, where the priest usually waits at the door so that there is a shorter processional period and a need for a shorter hymn. A competent organist will choose suitable hymns by length, but sometimes for specific feasts there are going to be specific hymns to be used and if they are too long, they will need truncating.

    In non-conformist churches there is a greater emphasis on the Word of God than in Catholic and Anglican churches where the emphasis is more on the liturgy, so there is, perhaps, more emphasis on hymns and their words.

    There is also the point that some verses may be dropped because of political correctness, for example the third verse of All Things Bright and Beautiful:

    The rich man in his castle,
    The poor man at his gate,
    God made them high and lowly,
    And ordered their estate.

    Not to say what is done to some hymns to make them more "acceptable" to modern ears.
    Last edited by Taggart; Sep-30-2013 at 09:29.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

  8. #5
    Senior Member hreichgott's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    western Massachusetts, US
    Posts
    1,001
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Wow, Taggart, I've never heard that verse before!
    The "poor man at his gate" sounds immediately like Dives...
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

  9. Likes Taggart, Ingélou liked this post
  10. #6
    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Yorkshire (ex-Glasgow)
    Posts
    4,248
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    See wiki for the full lyrics including a Canadian version, and a specific note on verse 3. I think you're quite right to name Dives and Lazarus as a possible source.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

  11. Likes hreichgott, Ingélou liked this post
  12. #7
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Southwestern USA
    Posts
    4,896
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    In my church (Lutheran), we never drop any verses ... with one exception ... there is a lenten hymn with 23 verses - we break them down into 3 to 5 verse 'sets' for each weekend service during Lent ... otherwise, we sing them all for continuity sake.

    In the RC parish I used to play, they would chop verses out like crazy ... only enough verses to get clergy from one point to another, and that was all she wrote - used to drive me insane. I did work once with a priest who absolutely loved the organ and hymn singing and we would do all the verses all the time.

    KH ♫

  13. Likes Ingélou, Taggart, Celloman and 2 others liked this post
  14. #8
    Banned (Temporarily)
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    16,378
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Charles Wesley wrote many verses to his hymns - up to 20+ sometimes. So what we sing is selection anyway.

  15. Likes Taggart, hreichgott, david johnson liked this post
  16. #9
    Senior Member Turangalîla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Riverdale, New York City
    Posts
    794
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    I agree that verses should never be cut...it is not unlike ignoring repeat signs in classical performance!
    "In my entire career, I sang the way I wanted to six times. The rest of the time I just did the best I could."
    – Beverly Sills

  17. Likes Ingélou, hreichgott, mstar liked this post
  18. #10
    Banned (Temporarily)
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    16,378
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CarterJohnsonPiano View Post
    I agree that verses should never be cut...it is not unlike ignoring repeat signs in classical performance!
    Thankfully I belong to a tradition which is more likely to repeat the verses because we enjoy singing them!

  19. Likes Ingélou, Taggart, hreichgott and 3 others liked this post
  20. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    105
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    In my church(Apostolic Pentecostal) we don't skip hymn verses, which I am glad of. We do the hymns in sort of a Southern gospel style. Most of the songs we do are more contemporary worship songs, but we usually do a hymn on Sunday mornings, sometimes on Sunday nights. Most of the hymns have three(I'll Fly Away, He Set Me Free) or four(Over in the Gloryland, All in Him) verses.
    "Well!"--Jack Benny

  21. Likes Taggart, Ingélou, Celloman and 1 others liked this post
  22. #12
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Yorkshire
    Posts
    5,360
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    36

    Default

    When I was at school, we all liked 'All creatures of our God & King', based on St Francis' Canticles of the Sun, but the verse about Death had an asterisk on and I don't think we ever sang it. It's probably healthier to face up to death, but maybe the teachers were worried that parents would complain?

    What bothers me more than skipping verses is changing or modernising the texts. Who do these people think they are, changing the words of John Milton? I just love his 'Let us with a gladsome mind' with its beautiful archaisms - 'The horned moon to shine by night/ Mid her spangled sisters bright'.

    I developed my love of poetry from these hymns & remember sitting on the swing in our backyard crooning to myself 'His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form/ And dark is his path on the wings of the storm' (from O worship the King). At eight years old, I had no idea what the words meant, but who cares...?
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

  23. Likes Taggart, david johnson, Celloman and 2 others liked this post
  24. #13
    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    1,427
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Our music director and pastor got in a discussion about this which I remember. The music director said the hymn-writer wrote each verse for a reason and none should be cut; whilst the pastor was amenable to cutting away to keep the service shorter. MY opinion is the service should be just as long as it needs to be to praise God.

    There have been other changes along the way made to service to make it shorter. My current pet peeve is queuing up for Communion after just having started to sing the Agnus Dei. This is fine and dandy for all those back-church sitters, but I sit in the front and would really like this quiet moment with my God before I have to get up.
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

  25. Likes Ingélou, Taggart, mstar and 1 others liked this post
  26. #14
    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Yorkshire (ex-Glasgow)
    Posts
    4,248
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunasong View Post
    Our music director and pastor got in a discussion about this which I remember. The music director said the hymn-writer wrote each verse for a reason and none should be cut; whilst the pastor was amenable to cutting away to keep the service shorter. MY opinion is the service should be just as long as it needs to be to praise God.

    There have been other changes along the way made to service to make it shorter. My current pet peeve is queuing up for Communion after just having started to sing the Agnus Dei. This is fine and dandy for all those back-church sitters, but I sit in the front and would really like this quiet moment with my God before I have to get up.
    Trouble with missing out the Domine non sum dignus which gives one a chance to consider one's unworthiness before daring to approach the altar of the Lord.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

  27. Likes Ingélou, Kieran, mstar and 2 others liked this post
  28. #15
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    86
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    In some hymns this is a problem; in others, less so. It is often a problem in Christmas carols, where the story will be incomplete if one skips a verse. A notable exception is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Longfellow originally wrote seven verses for it, but two of them referred specifically to the American Civil War. They have for many years been cut without affecting the sense of the poetry. However, to omit any of the current verses would make the verses which follow difficult to understand. And please, don't try to sing it to any other tune than "Waltham"; no other tune even comes close to fitting the text as well.

    There are some hymns (including "Veni Emmanuel") where certain verses are assigned for certain point in the Advent season. In that case, not singing every verse makes sense. This seems to apply mainly to hymns which are specific to a major season in the liturgical year.

  29. Likes Taggart, Ingélou, hreichgott and 1 others liked this post
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 4
    Last Post: Dec-21-2018, 23:50
  2. Hymn writing?
    By 4/4player in forum Today's Composers
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: Jun-13-2013, 03:01
  3. Hymn from a documentary?
    By DanielL in forum Solved Cases (archive)
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: Aug-16-2010, 02:56
  4. hymn: god preserve thy people
    By Mr Salek in forum Religious Music
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Jan-24-2009, 08:41

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •