Okay, we’ve had tons of fun exploring the Joe Carter’s list of the 10 Worst Hymns. And it’s been pretty contentious in that thread–surprisingly so.
Now, let’s be more positive. One of Deacon Greg’s readers wondered why we can’t talk about the “10 Best Hymns”:
Why not highlight the good instead of the bad? With that in mind, below is a random and totally subjective list, in no particular order, of my personal favorites: 10 relatively new hymns (from the post-Vatican II era) that I particularly like. Feel free to add your own.
Laudate Dominum by Christopher Walker – a grand processional hymn that never fails to raise the hairs on the back of my neck.
Go Up to the Altar of God by James Chepponis – see above
The Breaking of the Bread by Michael Ward – one of the most beautiful, deeply personal Eucharistic hymns. I even heard this once at a wedding.
Shepherd Me, O God by Marty Haugen – a growing favorite at funerals, this one haunts me long after I’ve heard it.
Christ Be Our Light by Bernadette Farrell – a lilting waltz that could have been written by Richard Rodgers, this may be one of the most purely singable hymns of the post-Vatican II era.
The Summons by John Bell – you hear this a lot during Lent, and it was reprised just last week at our parish, to tie in with the gospel about the sending of the 72.
His list is, as he notes, completely subjective and contains older and newer hymns. It must be noted that Deacon Greg’s church is fortunate enough to have a professional-quality choir and organist, so they’re able to do some of the glorious stuff that many of us haven’t heard in a long time, if at all. But I think it’s might be better to break a list up into “classic” hymns and “modern” otherwise I suspect the lists will quickly become repetitious.
My faves will not surprise anyone, and I’ll begin by agreeing with Deacon Greg that John Bell’s The Summons is a very stirring piece. Prayerfully sung, it challenged me and moved me to tears, and was actually part of the reason I ended up doing In the Arena. How odd to remember that, now. So, you’ll see, I don’t hate all modern hymns!
My Own Totally Subjective Lists, in No Particular Order:
We Will Rise Again: “We will walk and not grow weary, for our God will be our strength, and we will fly, like the Eagle, we will rise again…” played at my mother’s funeral, all of my brother’s funerals; my brother D had been in a wheelchair for over 30 years before his death; it was joyful promise.
Praise to the Lord: Loved it as a kid, and as an adult. Fun to sing, too.
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence: Haunting and lovely
How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace: Humblefests!
The Church’s One Foundation and Sing of Mary (from my childhood, sweet memories)
The King of Love My Shepherd Is: Ah, it’s the Celt in me. Shivers me timbers.
Be Not Afraid: Very moving at my cousin’s ordination, where so few were ordained, it sort of emphasized all of the challenges he and the church faced.
As the Night Begins: by Gregory Norbert (Weston Priory) meant to sing us into Vespers
The Lord Bless You and Keep You; (Sang it once in a Methodist church, and loved it)
Behold, the Lamb of God: “Jesus, Jesus, is the Lamb of God”
In This Place: quiet and pretty
All You Works of God; Relentlessly cheerful and fun to hear kids sing
Life is Christ: Fr. Bob Smith, little known, nice harmonies
Praise the Name of the Lord; Fr. James Miller, also little known, the whole of psalm 117, sung sweetly
The older hymns, I wish I could say I knew more of them. But I like these:
Were you there?: Old Spirituals give me goosebumps and have such a quietening affect, don’t they?
Immaculate Mary: Ave! Ave! Ave Maria! It’s full of “childlike faith”
O Sacred Head
Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
O Most Holy Trinity, Undivided Unity
All Glory, Laud and Honor
Dona Nobis Pacem
Vene Creator Spiritus
Ave Verum Corupus (both the Mozart and the Byrd)
Pange Lingua (Sing, my tongue)
O Salutaris Hostia
Ubi Caritas (also like the modern-day version, infused with African chant)
And, it’s not a hymn, but the Litany of Saints–the traditional one–in Latin or English, never fails to move.
So, how about it; shall we be upbeat, today? What are your faves?
UPDATE: One hymn I forgot to mention, but which I love–even though it is so peculiar to England–is “Jerusalem”