Our paraliturgical hymn tradition has less material for feasts of the Lord than for the Mother of God and the saints – but that doesn’t mean we should neglect what we do have for these feasts!
Here are two recent additions to the repertoire.
Cantors Ken Dilks and Joe Ferenchik worked up an English translation and setting of Hospod’ vosnesesja, one of two hymns for the Ascension in the Užhorod Pisennik (1913):
For comparison, here is the Slavonic:
Notice that the Slavonic is in strict 2/4 time, while the English setting is reorganized in a chant style, by entire phrases. The longer phrases have the advantage of not splitting words at bar lines, but they can cause the underlying rhythm of the music to be lost if you don’t know the Slavonic.
The bar lines also raise the question of rests or pauses at the end of the first and third phrase, which we would normally insert in singing chant. The pauses work after the first phrase, but if inserted after the third phrase, the words “angel” and “ascension” are broken in the middle.
Here is a different hymn for the Ascension, from the collection of John Kahanick (1914-1998), long-time cantor and choir director across the Metropolia. It has been restored (with added verses) by cantor Joe Durko.
If anyone recognizes the melody as coming from some other source, please let me know! But it is entirely possible that this hymn (like some others, notably for the feast of Saint Michael) is an original composition in English.
Please post your thoughts below!
(You can see all the hymns considered so far at the Hymnal Project page.)