Four Christmas Songs

Here are the first four spiritual songs for Christmas that we are considering as part of the Hymnal Project.  Click on the link for the status and discussion page for each one, and see what you think:

Please post your thoughts and suggestions by leaving a comment below!

O who loves Nicholas the saintly?

The next spiritual song for the hymnal project is the popular hymn to our holy father Nicholas, bishop and wonderworker:

O who loves Nicholas the saintly?

Follow this link for the current state of the discussion, covering the Slavonic text, a few possible tweaks the the English, a new verse, and possible harmonizations.  Add your thoughts using the comment block below!

(I will admit that the commenting mechanism not working out QUITE as well as I had hoped.  I am considering the option of having weekly working sessions, using a phone/web conference.  If so, they will be on Thursday evenings.)

Also – now is a really good time to add your suggestions for any additional Christmas hymns we should work on.

Hymnal Project: Spiritual Songs for the Nativity of the Lord

Please add your suggestions to the blog entry for the Nativity hymns, or send me a note at Thanks!


O Father Nicholas

In the work on the hymnal project so far, we have considered:

  • a liturgical refrain turned into a spiritual song (“Come, O Jesus”)
  • an old (1970’s) paraliturgical hymn (“The Ancient Prophecies”), which required some work and benefited greatly from collaborative input
  • a more recent paraliturgical hymn (“Truly, Zion’s People”)

All three of these were in English, and for the time of the St. Phillip’s Fast (November 15-December 24).

Next, I’d like to take a look at our first hymn which has both Rusyn Slavonic and English Versions: the first of our two hymns to the bishop and wonder-worker Nicholas, archbishop of Myra in Lycia, whose feast is December 6.

This hymn was included in both the 1978 Divine Liturgies book and the MCI Byzantine Catholic Hymnal – but as you’ll see in the article, it has some issues to resolve before I can consider it in final form.

Read the following web page (which ends up covering quite a few topics, including two other hymns) and post your comments and questions here!

O Father Nicholas

Truly, Zion’s People

Here is another hymn for the Philippian Fast – this one by J. Michael Thompson, the founding director of the Metropolitan Cantor Institute.

This piece comes from a larger collection containing hymns for each Sunday of the liturgical year, as well as weekday and feast-day hymns.

QUESTION: would you rather see “new songs” such as these included in a comprehensive hymnal, or should there be separate books for “old” and “new” hymns?

Spiritual Song: Come, O Jesus

Here is the FIRST discussion item for the Hymnal Project:

Come, O Jesus

Follow this link to see what we have to say about this hymn, and contribute to the article by leaving your comments here.

The basic format for each of these articles will be:

  • Introduction
  • Current version (if there is one)
  • Original language text, if there is one
  • English language text, with discussion
  • Melody or melodies, with discussion
  • Do we include in the hymnal?

This format may evolve, of course.  That, too,is open for discussion here!

Guidelines for a New Hymnal

In order to arrive at your destination, you first have to decide what it IS. With that in mind, I’d like to propose some general guidelines for the content of a new hymnal for the Byzantine Catholic Church in the US.

  • It should contain all the hymns routinely sung in our churches, in both English and (where appropriate) the original languages such as Rusyn and Hungarian, with suitable pronunciation helps, and literal translations (though these may be made available separately rather than in the hymnal itself).
  • Hymns in English should be singable, correctly accented, and accord with our theology and spirituality.
  • All text and music should be properly credited where the originator(s) can be identified.
  • The hymnal should be organized in such a way that it is easy to locate desired hymns.

In addition:

  • When a hymn has several verses, there should be regular: that is, slurs should occur in particular places, and accents should not move from one verse to the next.
  • When the same melody is used for several different hymns, the same basic form of the melody should be used.
  • Notated music should be clear: in particular, any harmonization should be in a supplement rather than in the main hymnal.

Please post your thoughts and suggestions below!