Friday, December 28, 2007

Mammon or God

I tell a lie. I do have time to make one more blog post in 2007.

And now for the hard truth. It has weighed more and more on my soul over the past several years. The truth is that Protestant Christianity - and in this instance I include Lutheranism - needs another Reformation for basically the same reason that Catholic Christianity needed reforming in Martin Luther's time. I quote the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24 (Luke 16:13 is almost identical): "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

It would be radically simple, but probably not unfair, to say that a profit motive lay at the bottom of the abuses that Luther set out to correct when he famously tacked his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door. It would be ditto ditto ditto to say that not just the cynical practices of the church in Luther's time, but also a goodly part of the doctrinal system that had been developed to sustain those practices, could be traced back to the question of how to keep the church solvent...and even beyond that, how the church could be used to satisfy men's greed and lust for power.

Just as John the Baptist offended people who lived in soft clothing, Luther offended churchmen who had extravagant debts to repay - debts for financing the rebuilding of St. Paul's, or the buying of an archbishopric - and he ultimately threatened the power of princes who depended on the church to keep their people loyal to the God-given crown. By attacking the teaching that "when a coin in the coffer clings, a soul out of purgatory springs," Luther threatened to topple an entire pentitential system - what with indulgences, and masses for the dead, and pilgrimages, and relics, and monastic foundations, and all sorts of lucrative ways the church could dispense grace - that had made the Catholic Church the richest and most powerful institution in Europe. Men had been burned for much less.

But Luther, by a miracle of God, got away with it and led a significant portion of Europe away from the Pope's allegiance. Luther's great rediscovery of the Gospel meant that Christians, for the first time in centuries, could have God's grace and forgiveness unconditionally - freely - no strings attached. Other Reformers and Reformation movements may have merely replaced one set of rules and conditions with another, one tyranny with another. But Lutheranism's distinctiveness has always been the total assurance of God's grace and pardon, promised and given as an unreserved gift. This was true in the early 20th century when Dr. J. M. Reu answered the question "What is Lutheranism?" with one word: assurance. And it was true more recently when a lapsed Catholic of my (slight) acquaintance went shopping for a new church, and kept finding nothing but different sets of rules...until he came to the Lutheran church.

It distresses me to see Lutherans turning from this unique freedom of the Gospel. It alarms me to see Lutherans today rushing to become indistinguishable from other Protestants who merely live under a different set of rules. It perplexes me to see liberal Lutherans subjecting the saving doctrine of Christ to gospel-reductionist criticism, using an alleged "freedom of the gospel" to reduce the faith once again to a mere set of rules - albeit new ones. And it agonizes me to see conservative Lutherans petrifying their doctrine into a system of theological rules, adherence to which in minute detail is held as an acid test of faithfulness. Lutheranism is a vital and unique thing. Its message is too exciting to be sleepily recited by dwindling groups of true believers. Its utterly unique and earthshaking message should be, must be, and can be brought to the attention of every discouraged, frustrated, and disillusioned Catholic, Protestant, and none-of-the-above in the world: "In the stead and by the command of God, whose gave His Son to die for your sins and raised Him from the dead again, I forgive you all your sins."

You don't have to pay me anything. You don't have to remember every sin. You don't have to fulfill any condition whatsoever, before or after I pronounce these words. You don't even have to wait until the next business-day for this forgiveness to "clear your account." Right now, as I speak to you these words, God in His heaven forgives you. Not one sin is left unforgiven. This forgiveness isn't taken back the moment you sin again. This forgiveness isn't held in escrow until you render to God the appropriate sacrifice of faith, or prayer, or praise, or devotion, or money, or obedience, or anything. You can even walk away unbelieving, and reject the forgiveness God has given to you through me - but He has given it all the same, as He swore to the first apostles of His message: "Whose-so-ever sins you forgive, they are forgiven."

If you're not a Lutheran, you will probably be shocked by what I just said. Even many "Lutherans" will be shocked. But that is the radical Lutheran difference. No one else has this. No one in the world! And to give up any article of the Lutheran faith is to give up this unique treasure. There would be no point in being Lutheran. There would be no point in being Protestant, or even Christian, without this "absolute absolution" that only Lutherans possess. There is no other way to confound the devil and the powers of sin in our flesh. Really, there isn't. Show me anything like it, anywhere outside Lutheranism, and I will show you another set of rules which, if you trace them back to their purest motive, lead to a bank account.

Godzilla rampaging through the streets of Tokyo could do unspeakable damage. The spaceships from the movie Independence Day, shooting fireballs at major population centers, could do an appalling amount of damage. James Bond always seems to be up against a villain who thinks wiping out an entire hemisphere, more or less, would be a small price to pay to bring about peace on earth. But none of these disasters takes place in real life. No tragedy on this scale has ever really happened. But to put out the light of what makes Lutheranism distinctive would be even worse. It would be the end of the one "sure and steadfast hope" (Hebrews 6:19) that can yet be given to mankind - and the one and only religion that offers something (everything!) for nothing.

This danger hangs over the Lutheran church as our Synod, and others like it around the world, considers adopting strategies and structures for financial success. We are beginning to measure success by the numbers of people coming to worship, rather than by the Word of God being sown. We are beginning to validate the Means of Grace and the ministry of our pastors by whether they bring in X number of people. We have begun to seek people to save our church, rather than looking for people for our church to save. We have begun to measure a congregation's missionary zeal in terms of capital growth and financial success. And to hit these new targets, we have enlisted consulting firms, borrowed strategies from other denominations (regardless of their theological underpinnings) and from secular businesses (whose theological underpinnings are hard to assess). We have opened the Pandora's box of policy-based governance, CEO pastors, congregations hiring and firing ministers based on their ability to bring in money and members, and tests of doctrinal correctness that have no relevance to God's Word or the forgiveness of sins.

We are, in short, becoming like everyone else. We are becoming another church that attaches strings - conditions - to the grace of God. We are becoming another temple that serves mammon rather than God. We are becoming another idiosyncratic sect with its own set of rules that generally apply in areas where the Lutheran church has not customarily preoccupied itself - whereas, in the essentials that Lutherans have historically suffered, gone to prison, fought wars, and even died to defend, everyone now "does what is right in his own eyes."

I frankly don't give a rip whether the Lutheran Church has a hierarchical structure (bishops, archbishops, apostolic succession, and the lot), or a congregational polity (voters' assemblies, church councils, lay representatives at synodical conventions, etc.). This is not relevant to the Gospel, and the Word of God is indifferent on the matter. But the Carver Model, policy-based governance, CEO pastors, etc., etc., is an evil of Godzilla-like proportions, threatening the very soul of Lutheranism - and the salvation of mankind. If we move in this direction, I declare to you that we are doomed, and very possibly damned.

In saying this I might join John the Baptist and Martin Luther in the company of those who have touched their contemporary church where it hurts: the bottom line. I don't care. I would sooner lose my church pension plan & health insurance than my soul. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not currently on the Plan, since I'm not serving a parish.) I would sooner live on the street, go around on foot, live on hand-outs and preach the Word of God, than have a marble mansion, a stretch limo, and a private plane while serving the idol Mammon. And I would sooner belong to a small, struggling, spiritually tried and tested Lutheran Church where God's living and lively message of total assurance and free forgiveness is proclaimed, than in a thriving spiritual franchise that sells today's new and improved indulgences to the latest generation of spiritual dupes.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

National Treasure 2

As of the end of this workday, I am on vacation! I celebrated by going to see a movie, the first in a while. It really is astonishing how much Hollywood has done lately to break me of my decade-long, movie-a-week habit. But I finally saw a title I wanted to see: National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

This film is the sequel to, duh, National Treasure, starring Nicolas Cage as a conspiracy theorist hyphen treasure hunter, the nummy Diane Krueger as his wife, Jon Voigt and Helen Mirren as his parents, Bruce Greenwood as the President of the U.S. (again), and Ed Harris as the bad guy. It's all the same kinds of fun as the first movie, and pointless to describe, so I'll just say "a good time was had by all" and leave it at that. The only reason to bring up the word "Oscar" when discussing this movie is to lament how Greenwood was robbed of the one he deserved for playing JFK in Fourteen Days.

Well, there may be another reason to mention "Oscar." Apparently Disney has tired of letting Pixar get all the animated-short statues. I'm not sure if their new Goofy sketch on "How to Set Up Your Home Theater System" is exactly a shoo-in, but at least it shows that they're still in the animated-short business.

But even more exciting than that were the trailers I saw, trumpeting the advent of two upcoming kiddie-book-adaptation flicks. First, Andrew Adamson's "Chronicles of Narnia" series continues with a take on Prince Caspian, featuring many of the same actors as the jolly good Lion/Witch/Wardrobe picture of a couple years back. Second, anyone who knows the name of Cornelia Funke (hint: not a character on "Arrested Development") will be thrilled to know that a film version of Inkheart is due out next May, with Funke's handpicked star Brendan Frasier as Silvertongue (a bibliophile who is so good at reading aloud that he can actually summon characters from books into reality), Andy Serkis as Capricorn (the villain), Paul Bettany as Dustfinger (a lovable thief), Helen Mirren, and Jim Broadbent. The girl playing Meggie (Silvertongue's daughter) is someone named Eliza Bennett, for whatever it's worth...which will be a lot more next spring, no doubt.

And since I am on vacation, and leaving town for a short while over the New Year's holiday, I will take leave of this blog for now. Let's catch up again next year, when exciting things will be happening - including an interview, right here on A Fort Made of Books, with Erec Rex author Kaza Kingsley. This is her first stop on a two-week "blog tour" (the first such creature I have ever heard of), and I hope you can tune in. If it works out well, this might be the beginning of a nice little sideline, since I happen to know the email address of a few other published authors (ahem - watch out, guys).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Cat Snaps

More or less just to fill up the roll of film I shot on Christmas Eve, I tooks some snaps of my cats this afternoon. If you've been following Sinead's progress, you'll probably appreciate how much she has grown - and how funny her behavior is. I wish I could have captured her swatting at the monitor with her paw, which she is doing as I write this. She almost went wild when I photoshopped a picture of Tyrone. Seeing him trapped inside the flat-screen monitor seemed to unnerve her!

Sinead looking thoughtful
Sinead looking sexy
Sinead looking dumb
Sinead, coquette
Tyrone: virtuously staying off my desk

By the way, today was a gorgeous day in St. Louis. I took a 2-hour walk up and down Hampton Avenue, enjoying the mild temperature, the pure fresh air, the bright sunlight and the clear, blue sky, scarred only by a few jet trails. I felt like reaching out to embrace the sky and kiss its blue face. It was very invigorating, and I managed it all wearing denim shorts, tube socks rolled down to my ankles, sneakers, a polo shirt, and a light nylon jacket that actually, toward the end, made me sweat a little. It was a day to appreciate the beauty in life, even in the form of bare trees, which even without leaves show a wonderful grace and complexity of shape. People were out walking dogs. A few businesses were open - a cafe here, a drugstore there. Now and then I met a total stranger on the sidewalk and said "Merry Christmas," and with a look of mild shock they said "Merry Christmas" back. How could anyone not be happy on such a beautiful Christmas day? Thanks be to God!

Christmas Eve Snaps

Below are some snaps I took of my church on Christmas Eve, before the first of two "Lessons and Carols" services that we followed up with a Divine Service this morning. Too bad I never got a picture of myself with my long-sleeved black dress shirt and my purple-and-gold "music" tie! I did, however, get a nice shot of the choir in their holiday best...but I think I may save that one for the church newsletter.

It was a musical extravaganza, with 13 hymns at each service on Christmas Eve (including two sung only by the choir, and several others accompanied by the choir). As for Christmas Day, the choir had a bona fide anthem ("Gentle Mary Laid Her Child"), Pastor sang an aria out of Bach's Christmas oratorio ("Now again upon Thy birthday"), and I sang another ("Grosser Herr und starker Koenig"). The congregation got to sing 3 hymns and hear tons of Christmas-related chorale preludes. So anyone who went away not knowing it was Christmas should have his or her ears checked!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Music for the Holidays

A blessed Christmas to one and all. May your Christmas be a spirit-reviving celebration of our Lord and Savior's nativity. Setting secular "holiday greetings" and commercial jingles aside, may the angels of Christmas brighten your night with the joyful tidings that God has become flesh for you, the Almighty has become weak for you, the Lord of all has become poor for you. The little child tightly bound in strips of cloth and laid in a rude manger has become your Liberty and your Rest from sin, the terrors of death, and the anguish of hell.

On such a night as this, take notice of the wonderful gift of music . . . and what is done with it, whether to raise up the name of Jesus or to push it down and out of the way. Let us have no "Santa Claus is coming to town" songs with their chilling rhetoric of being judged for our works, no "I'll be home for Christmasses" with their "if the fates allow" sentiments, not even "It came upon the midnight clear" hymns that spin platitudes about peace on earth that have nothing to do with our peace with God in Christ Jesus.

Here are the alternatives I would suggest: first, the magnificent CD "Praetorius Mass for Christmas Morning" from Archiv, with the Gabrieli Consort & Players directed by Paul McCreesh - an awesome reenactment of a 17th-century Lutheran nativity celebration, with some of the most powerful singing I have ever heard. Second, as an alternative to the usual Handel's Messiah (which, after all, is only partly related to Christmas), why not try Bach's equally scintillating Christmas Oratorio, which is all Christmas. Yes, it's in German; but the world that celebrates Christmas is much bigger than the bit that loves Handel's Messiah because it happens to speak English. Besides, the liner notes will provide a translation that you can follow track-by-track.

If you don't have these pieces this year, think about buying them in time for next Christmas...and if you listen to them early enough, you may suddenly discover the perfect gift for many people on your Christmas list!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Computer Cat

Sinead has developed a bizarre attachment to my computer - particulary when I am working on it. She stretches out on my desk, between the monitor and the MIDI keystation, a space that seems "just right" for her current size.

For the most part, she stays below the bottom of my screen, except she keeps turning her head to look up at what's going on up there. As I type this, she seems to be following the text with her eyes. Now and then, she decides to get more involved and bats at the screen with her forepaw.

It makes me laugh...until she decides to stand up and stretch on the keystation and block my view of what I'm typing. I have picked her up and set her on the floor about 20 times today, but she doesn't stay down for long.

If ever a cat could read, Sinead is showing signs of being the one. It's all appearance, of course (but cats are good at that). She's really just following the moving point - where text is being added, or the cursor. But I'm afraid if she keeps this up, reading from within inches of the screen, her eyes will soon go bad. I'll have to get reading glasses for the poor mite!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Henry Smart

Henry Thomas Smart (1813-1879) was a London organist and editor of several Presbyterian hymnals. Though he also wrote an opera, an oratorio, and a secular cantata that were all successful in their day, he is now mainly remembered by church musicians, particularly for his tune Regent Square. Wikipedia claims that his setting of the Evening Service has enjoyed a recent revival. Smart came from a musical family; his father (also named Henry) was a noted violinist. His uncle George Thomas Smart (1776-1867), a composer, conductor, organist, and personal friend of Beethoven and Weber, also composed a hymn tune (Wiltshire) which is in some Lutheran books; it is also his only tune that Cyberhymnal has. As for Henry Jr., Cyberhymnal acknowledges 18 of his hymn tunes as having some historic significance. At least 13 tunes by Smart appeared in 20th-century Lutheran hymnals.

The irony of this tune is that it is vastly underused, while at the same time 20th-century Lutheran hymnals paired it with six different hymns. To put it another way, it is a well-loved tune in a few circles, but unknown in others. It deserves to cultivated and made familiar to every Lutheran congregation. With a noble, sweeping melody that oddly reminds me of a theme from a Schumann symphony, Smart's Bethany is impossible to confuse with Lowell Mason's tune of the same name (Think "Nearer, my God, to Thee").

But it is also hard to forget, hooking its barbs on the memory so that, since I attended a church whose hymnal paired it with "What a Friend with Jesus" and "I will sing my Maker's praises," my mind has linked this tune to both texts - in spite of the popularity of pairing Converse with the one and my own preference for singing the other to Sollt' ich meinem Gott. The other texts paired with Bethany include "God the Father, Son, and Spirit"; "Praise the Rock of our salvation"; "Holy Father, Thou hast taught me"; and "Winter reigns o'er many a region." If you like Galilean, I think you will love this tune.

This tune has reared its head only twice in Anglophone Lutheranism: an early-20th-century American book and a late-century Australian one, each time paired with Henry Downton's mission hymn, "Lord, her watch Thy church is keeping." My first impression was that the tune's obscurity was unsurprising; but after playing and singing through it a few times, I realized it is a key example of everything Henry Smart's hymn tunes have going for them. Key, I say, because of its very obscurity; with neither sentimental attachment nor hostile associations to get in the way, one can objectively assess the fine line this tune walks. Typical of Henry Smart hymns, it avoids the opposite but equally tempting ditches of shmaltzy subjectivity and pomp(ous ass) and circumstance. As modest in its dignity as in its emotiveness, it simply gives the text a beautiful space in which to create its own kind of beauty. And in that it deserves the appreciation of hymn-singing Lutherans.

The Service Book & Hymnal of 1958 brought this tune (also known as Smart) to bear on Henry Alford's hymn "Forward! be our watchword." This hymn in metre visualizes the march of the church's pilgrim army, following Jesus to the promised land of heaven. In other words, it is typical pietism, and boring at that. I'm sad to say Smart erred structurally in trying to jam three of Alford's stanzas into each repeat of his tune. The tune's effectiveness dissipates as the ear begs to know when, or if, it is going to end. Also, because it consists of twelve phrases in through-composed succession, it will elude the grasp of the congregation trying to learn it, sing it, and remember it.

Again, SBH is the lone Lutheran hymnal to use this tune, pairing with John Keble's hymn "Lord, in Thy name Thy servants plead." This is a hymn that goes right to the heart of farmers and country folk, with lines such as "The former and the latter rain, The summer sun and air, The green ear and the golden grain, All Thine, are ours by prayer." I am amazed at how little-known this tune is. When there are so many CM-metre hymn tunes that are boring, arbitrary, and same-sounding, here is one that goes its own way, and an interesting and unpretentiously lovely way to boot.

"For the beauty of the earth"; "God of mercy, God of grace"; and "What our Father does is well" have all gone to this lovely tune. I am especially pleased with the part-writing (see, for example, SBH hymn 444). Today's hymn arrangements tend to be ungrateful to part-singers, and many of yesteryear encourage part-singing to an excessive degree, either by leaving the melody exposed during "grand unison" phrases or by including imitative passages. Heathlands, on the other hand, is put together with transparency and grace, the inner voices shining through the melody like rays of light through a stained-glass window.

This tune is fairly well-utilized among 20th-century Lutheran hymnals. It has paired up with such texts as "Hasten the time appointed"; "Lead on, O King eternal"; "Rejoice, rejoice, believers"; and especially "The day of resurrection." Its popularity is no mystery. In spite of its relatively wide melodic range, it is a brilliant tune, built for fast absorption by the memory and radiant with joyous energy.

The Common Service Book sets Christopher Wordsworth's evening hymn "The day is gently sinking to its close" to this tune. Unusual among the Wordsworth hymns I know, this text suffers from the Romantic bent to prolix bloviation. In a similar way, Smart's tune deviates from his norm, sounding like one of the poorer tunes by Barnby or Sullivan: sugary, theatrical, and soloistic. As pretty as it sounds, it does not have the character of congregational song.

I have previously remarked on Frederick Faber's hymn "Hark! Hark, my soul! Angelic songs are swelling," as paired with Joseph Barnby's tune Angels of Jesus. I hardly need to add anything to those comments except that Pilgrims would have to be a much better tune to redeem Faber's text. Together with Angelic Songs by James Walch (which was actually set to a different text, "O Zion, haste, your mission high fulfilling," in all five Lutheran hymnals that used it), this hymn is the cause of three worthless tunes being inflicted on Anglophone Lutheranism - besides the untold damage the words themselves have done to Lutherans' thinking and spirituality.

Regent Square
In England, this tune is a bigamist, wedded about equally to the hymns "Angels from the realms of glory" and "Light's abode, celestial salem." In Anglophone Lutheranism, however, the first pairing is universally recognized, while the second appears in only one hymnal. Nevertheless, Regent Square has moved on from bigamy to promiscuity, consorting with each of the following hymns in at least one Anglophone Lutheran hymnal of the last century: "Christ, Thou art the sure Foundation"; "Jesus took the babes and blessed them"; "Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing"; "One Thy light, Thy temple filling"; "Precious Word of God from heaven"; "Saints of God, the dawn is brightening"; "Savior, like a Shepherd lead us"; "Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle"; "Speed Thy servants, Savior, speed them"; and "Zion stands by hills surrounded." Whew!

What more needs to be said? To use a phrase I have used before, this tune is Smart's "bid for immortality." Inseparable from "Angels, from the realms of glory" and yet, at the same time, willing to step out with any other text that comes a-wooin', it has both the staying power of a favorite Christmas carol and the versatility of a go-to tune. The fact that it this isn't Smart's only masterpiece is beside the point. This tune alone guarantees that his works will endure for many ages to come. The rest is gravy!

Rex Gloriæ
Here is a big dollop of the just-mentioned "gravy." At least seven Lutheran hymnals in the 20th century joined this powerful, noble tune to the Ascension hymn, "See, the Conqueror mounts in triumph." One of the great formative moments in my thinking as an organist was hearing Michael Holman of Fort Wayne's historic Zion Lutheran Church play this hymn on or around Ascension day. When I, as a church organist, want to achieve a grandiose effect, I punch Holman's rendition of "See, the Conqueror" into my mental iPod.

Nevertheless, like Regent Square, this hymn isn't a one-hit wonder. It brings the same memorable effect to "God has spoken by His prophets"; "Hail, Thou Source of every blessing"; "Lord, Thy glory fills the heavens"; "Rise, Thou Light of Gentile nations"; "Son of God, eternal Savior"; and "Through the night of doubt and sorrow."

St. Leonard
Henry Hiles has a tune by the same name, in CMD metre. The tune St. Leonard's by A. Cyril Barham-Gould (mind the apostrophe-ess) only adds to the confusion over this tune by Henry Smart. I wish I could say two of them are crap, but actually they're all nice tunes. The one by Smart is, once again, as attractive as a Common Metre tune can be and more interesting than most are. CSB pairs it with the hymn "O for a faith that will not shrink."

St. Pancras
Not to be confused with St. Pancreas, a non-existent tune suggesting a really grisly side of the cult of holy relics, this tune (without an e) is named after a church where Smart played the organ. CSB pairs it (the tune, not the organ) with "Come Thou now, and be among us," a hymn for the dedication of a church sanctuary translated by John M. Neale from the 11th-century Latin. It's a nice enough tune, though its structure does very little to aid one in learning it quickly. Once again, the part-writing is quite lovely, without giving an impression of being written for the choir rather than the congregation.

Found in four 20th-century Lutheran hymnals, this tune for "Stars of the morning, so gloriously bright" provides a strong, and strongly contrasting, alternative to O quanta qualia. It's the kind of melody that would sound really cool on your church's carillon system, or in a solo arrangement with the melody on a trumpet stop. Jubilant and dignified at the same time, I reckon it would work well with a lot of hymns.

Bonus: George T. Smart's tune Wiltshire.
This tune shares its opening notes and its overall style with Joseph Haydn's tune Brownell, though it lacks the latter tune's depth. Nevertheless, Wiltshire is the better choice for use in congregational song. SBH pairs this tune with the hymn "Through all the changing scenes of life," Tate & Brady's paraphrase of Psalm 34.

Conclusion: Thirteen tunes by Henry Smart and one by his Uncle George have been plucked out of the English Protestant tradition and adapted to Lutheran use. With only a few exceptions, these are excellent choices, well-adapted as vehicles for Lutheran hymnody. Smart's music rarely strays into subjectivity on the one hand or stiff ceremoniality on the other, but effortlessly holds a middle course of modest charm, a distinctive wit, and sparkling energy. It may be worthwhile - it may even be "smart" - to seek out other works by this composer.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Richard Redhead

Richard Redhead (1820-1901) was another leading musical figure in the Oxford Movement (doesn't he look like one?). He co-edited a Gregorian Psalter and wrote many other works, including dozens of hymn tunes, with the aim of steering the Anglican church back toward Catholicism. Perhaps this has a sinister ring to Lutherans who have no interest in going back to Catholicism; but musically, the tunes are innocent little things with no harm in them whatever. By an interesting coincidence, Cyberhymnal has seven of Redhead's tunes, and so does Anglophone Lutheranism - though the two lists aren't identical. Also, the well-known tune Orientis partibus, now known to come from a 13th century French source, was long attributed to Redhead and designated as Redhead No. 45.

This sweet, graceful tune went with the Christmas hymn "Hark, what mean those holy voices" in the old Lutheran Hymnary. Actually, LHy put a repeat sign at the end of it and stretched it to fit 8-line stanzas, though I have seen this hymn elsewhere in 4-line format. Such a lovely, well-written thing deserves to be revived, just as it is.

Here is Mr. Redhead's bid for immortality. What hymnal doesn't pair this tune with "Go to dark Gethsemane"? Plus, various hymnals (bunches of them, in some cases) have made use of it with such hymns as "Bread of heaven, on Thee we feed"; "Chief of sinners though I be"; "Rock of Ages, cleft for me"; and "Throned upon the awful tree." It's no wonder; this tune is simply a marvel of profundity clothed in simplicity, moving in its pathos without a drop of sentimentality. It is also known as Petra and Redhead No. 76.

Laus Deo
Australian Lutherans have Charles Wesley's Advent hymn "Come, Thou long-expected Jesus" to this tune. I thought it sounded a bit plain at first, but as I sang through the hymn it really grew on me. If your congregation is versatile enough to pick up on a few unexpected turns of melody, they may find this tune more likeable and easier to sing than the tune currently en vogue for Wesley's hymn, namely Jefferson. Another title for this tune is Redhead No. 46.

Also known as Redhead No. 66, Metzler's Redhead, or simply Redhead, this is a relatively bland drop in the ocean of Common Metre (CM) tunes. At one time or another it has served the following hymns: "All that I was, my sin, my guilt"; "O Christ, our Hope, our heart's Desire"; "O Christ, whom we may love and know"; and "O Thou, from whom all goodness flows." None of these pairings was very widespread, and only one Lutheran hymnal used the tune more than once (the Common Service Book used it three times). One tends to forget this tune five minutes after hearing it, so it should be no surprise that hymnal compilers of the last fifty years have forgotten it as well.

The Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book gave this tune to the hymn "We lift our hearts to Thee." Apart from that, it hasn't shown up on the Lutheran radar. This is a pity, for it is a lovely tune that exudes a gentle confidence. It would be nice to have it heard more often. I reckon one thing holding it back is confusion over the many tunes known as Redhead or similar. Vanity of vanities!

Redhead No. 47
Lutherans have sung at least four hymns to this tune: "Chief of sinners though I be"; "Come, my soul, thy suit prepare"; "Now the shades of night are gone"; and "When our heads are bowed with woe." The last-named pairing holds a slight edge over the others, since two Lutheran hymnals have it. But all these hymnals came out early in the 20th century. It is not hard to understand why this tune's popularity faded: it was quite pale to begin with, carrying the simplicity of Gethsemane one step further, to the point of sounding dull, derivative, and weak.

LHy set the hymn "Lord, as to Thy dear cross we flee" to this tune. In that pairing it is alone and, for the most part, forgotten. On the other hand, LHy joins three other hymnals, including the quite recent Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, in pairing this tune with "O for a faith that will not shrink." This is one of the more fortunate settings of that hymn, which otherwise seems to be wearing a different, nondescript CM tune each time we see it, like the proverbial clotheshorse. Attractive, meaningful, well structured, Wolverhampton deserves a place on the long list of CM tunes one finds in every hymnal's metrical index.

Conclusion: Analysis of Redhead's tunes would be so much simpler if either they all had names that began with Redhead No., as so many of them do, or if none of them did. That quibble aside, this taster of Richard Redhead's exquisite craftsmanship makes one covet a look at whatever book contains all his tunes, sequentially numbered. There may be more melodic treasures waiting to be unearthed. Until then, I think Lutheranism has nothing to fear from these modestly beautiful melodies, save the few that are modest to a fault.

J. B. Calkin

John Baptiste Calkin (1827-1905) was an English organist, choral director, and music educator who was active in both Ireland and England. Cyberhymnal offers little more information than this and a list of 9 of his hymn tunes; five of them have appeared in Anglophone Lutheran hymnals. And although the English version of Wikipedia has never heard of him, a German Wiki page reveals Calkin's main claim to fame: he wrote the music to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's popular lyric "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Isn't that something.

The editors of the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book seemed to have liked Calkin's stuff. The above tune does very little to explain this. Paired with the hymn "Behold the sure Foundation-stone," it is a tangle of awkward intervals that reminds me, once again, of my old schoolmate's phrase "random-note generator." (The same student referred to hip-hop as "shoes-in-the-dryer music." Priceless.)

Some hymnals refer to Felice de Giardini's tune Italian Hymn ("Come, Thou almighty King") as Moscow. The contrast to Calkin's tune by that name couldn't be greater. Where the Italian Moscow dances and skips, the British one sighs and swoons melodramatically. You really haven't heard this tune until you've heard it in harmony. Its unsettlingly overwrought inner voices and tediously static bass line combine to create a shmaltzy, barbershoppy, old-lady-in-kid-glovesy effect. It reminds one of the tune St. Louis, popularly sung to "O little town of Bethlehem" - only without the force of tradition to prevent us from stamping it out. The Common Service Book lends this tune to Horatius Bonar's hymn "I lay my sins on Jesus."

Nox præcessit
ELHB sticks this tune with two hymns, "Lamp of our feet, whereby we trace" and "Lord, while for all mankind we pray." It is about average as Common Metre (CM) tunes go. It starts well, but grows increasingly soppy towards the end. However, I wouldn't rule it out of my "jumbo treasury of hymns." It is, at least, distinctive and memorable.

I have previously alluded to this tune, which the old Lutheran Hymnody places with the hymn "Jesus, Name all names above." This arrangement seems to have been Calkin's intention, since John Mason Neale's hymn is translated from a 9th-century text by Theoctistus of the Studium. Theoctistus is not only the best of several tunes that have been paired to this hymn, but also the best tune by Calkin that I know. Here the composer shows himself fully in control of his form, crafting a well-structured melody with all the seriousness, dignity, ear-catching appeal, and sensitivity befitting a 17th-century chorale.

The Service Book & Hymnal matches this tune to "Fling out the banner! let it float," a hymn by G. W. Doane seemingly bent on transforming the cross into a flag. I wonder whether this came from the same movement as the "pledge to the cross" that brightened so many of our parochial-school days. Another hymn that uses this tune is ELHB's setting of "This day at Thy creating Word," a nice hymn that gives a Biblical rationale for Sunday sabbath observance. The latter hymn recovered from its embarrassing association with this dreadful little tune, which brings to mind comic operas and advertising jingles sooner than worship.

Conclusion: I won't mince words. From a Lutheran perspective, Calkin's contribution to hymnody is almost worthless. Perhaps I could give a fairer assessment if I studied more of his tunes, tunes that have not crossed the pond that divides Anglican from Lutheran hymnody. But of the five examples I have studied, I would give a carrot for only one of them: Theoctistus. If anyone does rifle through Calkin's works for additional resources, he (for all I know, I) should test them rigorously for signs of maudlin theatricality, and use only the ones that come up negative.