Hymns As Poetry

For quite some time I have been using the iBreviary app for my iPad and iPhone to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. While I do miss having my leather bound book in my hand, some of the things I like about it over using the standard book Christian Prayer is that I don’t have to flip around to find where I’m supposed to be, or think about whether it is a feast day. I also don’t have to fiddle with trying to figure out a hymn.

Now I’m pretty musically deficient because I have, unfortunately, very little musical education. I very rarely see the name of the tune when praying and think, “Oh, I know that one.” So I wind up reading the hymn as poetry. But wow, what poetry. Several times recently I have read the hymn and have been so impressed by how these hymns, several hundred years old, encapsulate the faith and give Christian encouragement.

I have no idea how they decide which hymn to use for the day. I also have no idea if these are a proscribed hymns to use for the day or if the iBreviary people choose them, but they are fantastic.  Here is a sample from yesterday’s daytime prayer:


Take up your cross, the Savior said,
If you would my disciple be;
Deny yourself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after me.

Take up your cross, let not its weight
Fill your weak spirit with alarm;
His strength shall bear your spirit up,
Shall brace your heart and nerve your arm.

Take up your cross then in his strength,
And ev’ry danger calmly brave,
To guide you to a better home,
And vict’ry over death and grave.

Take up your cross and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only he who bears the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.

To you, great Lord, the One in three,
All praise for evermore ascend;
O grant us here below to see
The heav’nly life that knows no end.

Tune: Breslau or Winchester New L.M.
Music: (Breslau) As Hymnodus Sacer, 1625, or (Winchester New) Musikalisches Handbuch, Hamburg, 1690
Text: Charles William Everest, 1814-1877, adapted by Anthony G. Petti

Or from yesterday’s evening prayer:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the cross of Christ my God,
The vain delights that charm me most:
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See from his head, his hands, his feet
What grief and love flow mingling down;
Did e’er such Love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were all the realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Tune: Rockingham L.M.
Music: Adapted by Edward Miller, 1731-1807, from A. William’s A Second Supplement to Psalmody in Miniature, Oxford 1780
Text: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748, slightly adapted

And these are just from one day.  What a rich heritage of music we have!  I could complain about the pablum we get at Mass today, but I will refrain. I think what I will start doing is looking these up online and on YouTube to see if I can listen to them. It would be great to hear these wonderful pieces performed by a real serious choir.  Of course, I love them as poetry too.

Picture: The Convent Choir – Jehan Georges Vibert, 1865

7 Quick Takes – Vol. 2

1. You know how you’ll be sitting and reading the newspaper, or a book, and the cat has to come and lay down right on top of your newspaper?

This is the modern version.  He will either come and sit behind the keyboard, blocking the whole monitor, or he will stand like this, or just use this as a pathway to the lap, making sure he brushes his tail right on my face.  He’s learned a few tricks during his 18 years.

2.  This is really creepy: Cremation Jewelry – pendants, rosaries, etc.  You fill it yourself with the ashes of your dead loved ones.

Someone you just met: “Nice to meet you… Hey, interesting necklace”
You: “Yeah, I got my dead husband in here”

3. EWTN now has a YouTube Channel that they unveiled this week. This will be a great resource to watch clips from the EWTN Catholic Network.

4.  This is what sick looks like in our house. 

Homemade Matzo Ball Soup.  Well… the Matzo Balls came from a Matzo Ball mix, but other than that it is all homemade.  My 6 year old came home from school a couple of days ago with a fever and sore throat.  After a night with a high fever (almost 105 for a short time) he spent the day vomiting.  He still has a fever but is up and around, eating and drinking.  My poor hubby has the same thing, but can’t stay home and rest. At least he is not vomiting. He is a freelancer, and when work comes you have to take it.  So he worked until 10:30pm last night, and then had to be at another short job at 4:30am.  Yuck.

5. This video is amazing.  You will never believe what you thought you saw again.  Thanks Patrick Madrid.
Stargate Studios Virtual Backlot Reel 2009

6.  I discovered this blog recently:  Abigail’s Alcove.  I really enjoy it.  Her writing is very profound.

7.  I know very little about music, especially sacred music, but even a music idiot like me knows this Chant video, Old Roman Chant is fantastic.  I find it so beautiful and listening to it really helps me focus for prayer and helps block out distractions for other things I’m doing.  I urge you to listen just once. Be sure to check out the Callixtinus Channel on YouTube for more wonderful chant.

Now, go visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes.