Spiritual songs > Hymns of the Liturgical Year > Palm Sunday

Rejoice today

Current version

Here is the version in the Byzantine Catholic Hymnal (2007), slightly cleaned up for capitalization and measure divisions:

Boh predvicnyj

This English setting of Radujsja zilo is a well-known hymn for Palm Sunday. The English translation and setting are by cantors Nicholas Kalvin, Michael Zaretsky, and Jerry Jumba, and Monsignor Alexis Mikalik.

The prophecies of Zachariah and Zephaniah (in Slavonic, Zacharija and Sophonia) are read at Vespers of Palm Sunday, and describe the coming of the Lord into Jerusalem: "a just Savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, a colt, the foal of an ass."

This setting is actually a translation of verses 1 and 5 of the original Slavonic hymn, but the assignment of syllables to notes varies enough between the two verses that is is usually written out without verse markings. This may explain why the line “to proclaim the Master”, which would be repeated in the Slavonic original, is not repeated here.

Discussion

Like O Son of David, This hymn is well-known and widely sung. There are issues with both text and music.

Text

Zechariah now proclaims, Zephaniah joins with him to proclaim the Master.

The verb "proclaims" usually takes an object; "Zephaniah proclaims" by itself is incomplete. The second part completes the thought, but repeats the verb:

Zechariah now proclaims, <and> Zephaniah joins with him to proclaim, the Master.

I would be open to leaving it as is, but it is awkward.

Enter now Jerusalem, the Redeemer of the world.

It is now clear whether this is a statement about what Jesus is doing, in a poetic reversal (Like "Comes now the king of glory") in which case it would be:

Enters now Jerusalem, the Redeemer of the world.

or if it is addressing Jesus and telling him to enter Jerusalem, in which case it might better be:

Enter now Jerusalem, O Redeemer of the world.

On the whole I would lean toward the latter and being clearer and easier to sing. I think this one should be fixed somehow.

Music

Most of the hymn is in 4/4 time, and the setting in Hymns for Great Lent uses a triplet to fit the extra syllable at "Master" (on four notes, the last being a half note), and "highest" (again, four notes with the last being longer).

We very seldom use triplets in our singing, and so even if we use them here, cantors are unlikely to sing them as written in most cases. We could either have them in a single measure of 5/4, or change the first note of each measure to a half note. This would bring it closer to the way we sing the Cherubic Hymn to the same melody.

Since the hymn only has one verse, slowing down the cadences should not be a problem.

The other possible solution is the one used in Father Papp's version: rewriting all the measures to be of varying lengths. The danger here is that, seeing "Hosanna" at the start of a measure, cantors will accent the word on HO, and we will end up with something like this.

-- Cantor Greg Puhak submitted some suggestions for resolving the text problems, and I chose to adopt them. here is the result:

We still could adopt the longer notes marked in blue above.

What do you think?

Thoughts or suggestions?

Please leave a comment on this blog entry: Songs for Palm Sunday.