The Hymnody of ELW

This is a pretty long post, my apologies.
In an effort to get a firm handle on how the use of Evangelical Lutheran Worship will affect the congregation of Saint John, I did a little survey. At our most recent Worship Committee meeting, we selected hymns for All Saints Sunday (Nov. 5th) through the Baptism of our Lord (Jan. 7th) from the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW) and With One Voice (WOV). After the fact, I decided to look and how many of those hymns are in the new hymnal, and whether the translations or arrangements are any different. I thought that this would be an especially good selection of hymns to look at, because these include many people's favorites. (In a later post, I will offer my reflection on the hymns I have looked through).

Of the 77 hymns for that time period, four are not found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW). If the rest of the church year follows this pattern, that works out to meaning that 95% of the hymns that we regularly sing are included in ELW

The four hymns not included are:
1) Lord, Prepare me to be a Sanctuary (not found in either the LBW or WOV)
2)Seek Ye First (WOV 783)
3)Dear Lord and Father (LBW 506)
4)Bind us Together (WOV 748)

Out of the 77 hymns I looked at, these are the 27 differences that I found when looking at the texts and tunes of what is in the LBW/WOV next to what is in ELW. (I will come back later and provide some overall comments on these changes, but I thought this post was long enough for now).


For all the Saints (LBW 174; ELW 422):
Verse 2: “You Were there rock” … “Thou wast their Rock” (and “thou” throughout) Images of warfare retained, images of kingship/lordship retained

One Bread, One Body (WOV 710; ELW 496)
Layout is much easier to read than the WOV layout

Take My Life that I May Be (LBW 406)
Found in 2 different places:
1)ELW 583, in the “Vocation, Ministry” Section
Includes a Spanish translation by Vicente Mendoza (1875-1955)
Music arranged by Mark Sedio (b. 1954)
ELW Refrain = LBW verse 1; ELW v.2 = LBW v. 4;
ELW v.3 = LBW v.3; ELW v.4 = LBW v.5
2) ELW 685 in the “Stewardship” section
same tune, arrangement, and verses as LBW

Let Us Break Bread Together (LBW 212; ELW 471)
In LBW, v.3 is arranged slightly differently than 1 & 2;
in ELW all 3 verses are the same

Let All Things Now Living (LBW 557; ELW 881)
LBW v.2 “His law he enforces: the stars in their courses” ;
ELW v.2 “God rules all the forces: the stars in their courses”

Great is thy Faithfulness (WOV 771; ELW 733)
Text and tune are the same: “Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father”

Come, Ye Thankful People Come (LBW 407; ELW 693
LBW v.1: “Come, you thankful”;
ELW v.1: “Come ye thankful”
Throughout, the text is changed to the archaic 2nd person pronouns (thee, thy, thine, thou)

Amazing Grace (LBW 448; ELW 779)
ELW adds the anonymous (but very well known) 5th stanza “When we’ve been there ten thousand years …”

Now Thank We All Our God (LBW 533/534; ELW 839/840)
Male pronoun (“he”) changed in a few places [“in whom his world rejoices” becomes “in whom this world rejoices”] but the verse “All praise and thanks to God, the Father now be given” remains unchanged.

Praise and Thanksgiving (LBW 409; ELW 689)
LBW v.1: “Praise and thanksgiving, Father we offer for all things living, created good” ;
ELW v.1: “Praise and thanksgiving, God, we would offer for all things living, you have made good”
LBW v.3: “Father, providing food for your children, by your wise guiding teach us to share” ;
ELW v.3: “Father, providing food for your children, by Wisdom’s guiding teach us to share”
LBW v.4: “Where all obey you, no one will hunger; In your love’s sway you nourish the land” ;
ELW v.4: “Where you are reigning, no one will hunger; your love sustaining showers the land.”

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (LBW 328/329; ELW 634)
LBW sets the text to two tunes: Coronation and Miles Lane;
ELW only Coronation (which is the only setting I’ve ever heard a congregation sing)

ELW leaves out what is stanza 2 in the LBW (“Crown him you martyrs of our God, Who from his altar call…”)

At the Name of Jesus (LBW 179; ELW 416)
ELW leaves out LBW v.4 [“Bore it up triumphant with its human light ..]
LBW v.6: “Christians, this Lord Jesus shall return again in his Father’s glory with his angel train …” ;
ELW v.5: “Christians, this Lord Jesus shall return again on the clouds of glory with his angel train …”

Crown Him With Many Crowns (LBW 170; ELW 855)
ELW leaves out LBW v.5 “Crown him the Lord of peace …”

Just as I am (LBW 296; ELW 592)
ELW leaves out LBW verses 2 & 4

Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending (LBW 27; ELW 435)
LBW v.1: “Lo! He comes with clouds descending, once for favored sinners slain … Swell the triumph of his train” ;
ELW v.1: “Lo! He comes with clouds descending, once for our salvation slain ... Join to sing the glad refrain”

ELW v.2 is not in LBW: “Now redemption long expected, comes in solemn splendor near; all the saints this world rejected thrill the trumpet sound to hear: Alleluia … see the day of God appear.”
LBW vv. 2,3 are not in ELW

Break Now the Bread of Life (LBW 235; ELW 515)
ELW leaves out LBW v.4: “Oh Send your Spirit, Lord, now unto me …”

O Come, O Come Emmanuel (LBW 34; ELW 257)
Rather than the LBW’s 5, ELW includes the traditional 8 verses
The layout of the tune is closer to the old processional plainsong arrangement

LBW v.4: “Oh Come blest Dayspring come and cheer our spirits by your advent here …” ;
ELW v.6: O Come, O Dayspring come and cheer; O Sun of justice now draw near …”

Wake, Awake (LBW 31; ELW 436)
The harmony of Wauchet Auf is a slightly different arrangement than that of the LBW
Last part of v.1: LBW “… Prepare yourself to meet the Lord, who light has stirred the waiting guard”
ELW “… Rise and prepare the feast to share; go, meet the bridegroom who draws near”

Last part of v.2: LBW “…We go until the halls we view where you have bid us dine with you” ;
ELW “… Oh, hear the call! Come one, come all, and follow to the banquet hall”

LBW v.3: “Now let all the heav’ns adore you, and saints and angels sing before you. The harps and cymbals all unite. Of one each shining portal, where, dwelling with the choir immortal, we gather round your dazzling light. No eye has seen, no ear has yet been trained to hear. What joy is ours! Crescendos rise; your halls resound; hosannas blend in cosmic sound.” ;
ELW v.3: “Gloria! Let heav’n adore you! Let all the saints and angels sing before you, with harp and cymbals clearest tone. Gates of pearl, twelve portals gleaming, lead us to bliss beyond all dreaming, with angel choirs around your throne.No eye has caught the light, no ear the thund’ring might of such glory.There we will go: what joy we’ll know! There sweet delight will ever flow.”

Go, My Children (WOV 721; ELW 543)
ELW does not have LBW v.4 [“I the Lord will bless and keep you …”]

When Peace like a River (WOV 346; ELW 785)
The tune of ELW is Ville Du Havre instead of It is Well
(ELW adds the traditional refrain, making the meter 118119 & refrain, instead of 118119)

I am So Glad each Christmas Eve (LBW 69; ELW 271)
ELW leaves out LBW v.5 “When mother trims the Christmas tree …”

Away in a Manger (LBW 67; ELW 277/278)
In addition to the LBW setting to the tune Away in a Manger, ELW includes an arrangement to the tune Cradle Song (which I think is a very pretty melody)

O Come, All Ye Faithful (LBW 45; ELW 283)
The translation throughout is the same, but ELW includes the Latin for the refrain (venite adoremus)

The Bells of Christmas (LBW 62; ELW 298)
ELW retains the Charles Porterfield Krauth translation of the LBW, but also provides Grundtvig’s original Danish of the first verse

Children of the Heavenly Father (LBW 475; ELW 781)
ELW retains the same translation as the LBW, but provides the original Swedish of the first verse.

In the Morning when I rise (WOV 777; ELW 770)
ELW has a new arrangement: the melody is the same, but the harmony is different

Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness (LBW 224; ELW 488/489)
ELW 488 is identical to LBW 224.
ELW 489 is a new tune (Canto al Borinquen – L M D & refrain),
leaves out LBW v.2, and includes Spanish translations of the verses.

6 comments:

  1. You are right...it is a long post. You have done your homework well. I had a conversation with some of my "far to the left" friends concerning the new book, and we all agreed that if we chose to criticize it, we have to nit pick.

    Many of the "yours and mine" changes to "thee and thine" are simply changes back to the original text pre-LBW. I am a fan of those changes.

    In "Now Thank We All Our God" the change from "in whom his world rejoices" to "in whom this world rejoices" is a minor change, but one that in a nit picky fashion is not theologically the same.

    It limits those who are praising God to this world, right here, right now, and discounts those saints who have gone before, or perhaps any other world that there my be in God's vast kingdom.

    Like I said....nit picky. Over all, I seem to like the new book.

    Also, we worshipped this week using setting 10. Loved it!

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  2. I don't have the resources to check these things out. But I wondered, while reading your post, whether the comparisons were like comparing a contemporary Bible to the KJV or comparing a contemporary Bible to the "original."

    I've tried to keep up with some of the discussion of the new hymnal, I've read the whole sample book that came out, but I realize I've missed quite a bit about it.

    Are we going back to "original" language, ie the ye and such, so we are closer to the original or to be more clear? Will this language be meaningful to young people?

    Are some of the word changes new translations or changes to translations we are used to? Is there a consistant philosophy in the "new" language?

    Was there an effort to improve the convoluted syntax used in some hymn translations of the past?

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  3. PS,

    There are a number of reasons for changing the text of a hymn from one hymnal to another. Sometimes it gets you closer to the original text ... sometimes not. I will try to answer your questions when I post on my overall impressions of the changes.

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  4. There are some, however, who would suggest that the minor revisions in pronouns and language are only one more step away from traditional notions of God as Father, Lord, King, etc. ELW is just one book, and we know it will not last forever. I think that is why some people fought it tooth and nail.

    All I did was write a letter that addressed a few concerns I had with the RW liturgies (mostly the banality of RW setting 2, which was changed significantly).

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  5. I think inclusive language is bad idea and a problem the feminists need to get over. If you have a problem with addressing God as the Father, then that is a personal problem you need to resolve yourself. Why does the church have to water down theology because of a personal problem that has nothing to do with the church?

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  6. Actually, I have no problem addressing God as Father, and neither does ELW (in my experience and survey of the book). I have no interest in sliding into modalist language for God ...
    That said, inclusive language (not saying "men" when I really mean "people", for example) is extremely important. Further, while I would not want to replace the place of the name Father in addressing God, I think it is also important to use the breadth of language for God employed in Scripture.

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