Two hymns for the Ascension of the Lord

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.)

5 thoughts on “Two hymns for the Ascension of the Lord”

  1. Do you have an image of the original page from the Uzhorod Pisennik.
    It always seems easier to sing the melody with the fifth note in the first measure C, as C# only for that note returning to C on the eigth note of the measure.
    Would like to compare the original melody from the source if possible.

    1. There is a link in the blog post to the Uzhorod Pisennik; the index is at the back. If you go to the main page for the Hymnal Project and click on any of the Slavonic hymns, it should take you to a page that has sources and page numbers of each one I’ve found.

      Sadly, the Pisennik does NOT have music; sometimes the name of the melody is given, but generally you are just supposed to know how it goes : ) I have had better luck with later collections of Christmas carols (Kolady). And if you want to see all the sources I’ve collected so far, they are here:

      Send more if you have them!

      1. So..The melody is in oral tradition but not written anywhere. at least that we know of?
        As i stated in my OP it does seem easier to sing it as i mentioned and seems (flat) singing the second C in the phrase as C rather than C#. I was hoping there might have been a written arrangement from the 1913 era.

        1. The melody is written down in the Papp Duchovni Pisni on page 33, without the C#. The raised C is a prostopinije idiom, but in other places it is simply a Westernization of an earlier modal melody; one of the distinctions between Galician and Subcarpathian chant is that we tend to raise the seventh. But in this case, I would leave it alone.

  2. It would be nice to hear recordings of these for Ascension. I don’t know where to find recordings.

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