Christian Science Hymnal

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The Christian Science Hymnal is a collection of hymns sanctioned for use in Christian Science services including Sunday services and Wednesday evening testimony meetings, as well as in occasional informal hymn sings. It includes both traditional Christian hymns, traditional hymns with minor adaptations better suiting Christian Science theology, and hymns unique to Christian Science, including seven poems by the denomination's founder Mary Baker Eddy set to various tunes: "Christ, My Refuge", "Christmas Morn", "Communion Hymn", "Feed My Sheep", "Love", "Mother's Evening Prayer", and "Satisfied". Found in the Supplement section are the hymns, "I Need Thee Every Hour", "I'm a Pilgrim and I'm a Stranger", and "Eternity", which were originally included in the Hymnal in accordance with [Mrs. Eddy's] wish."[1]

History[edit]

The first formal hymnal was copyrighted in 1892. It contained 210 hymns, and generally presented two hymns on a single page, in their poetic form, in conjunction with two or three tunes to which either could be sung. Hymns 179-193 are presented individually, interlined with their respective tunes. The layout of the book is described in the Preface:

"The system of arrangement is original and unique. On the pages with the hymns, have been placed standard tunes familiar to every church-goer. Every second tune is by an English or German composer of unquestioned musical ability, and will be found adapted either to chorus-choir, or advanced congregational singing. Every third tune has been composed by Mr. Brackett [note 1] especially for this work;..."[2]

In 1910 the hymnal was revised, and presented the hymns interlined with their tunes, as is common practice in America today. Commonly brown-covered, the 1910 edition was used until the revision of 1932, expanded and with some modifications, the standard through the present day, typically in first blue, then brown cover, with an octagonal emboss of the Original Mother Church tower and Extension dome.

1932 edition[edit]

The hymns in the 1932 edition are primarily alphabetical by first line, some with alternate tune settings, and include information on the author, tune composer, meter, and use by permission. There are 429 hymns/tunes: 297 hymns are presented with different tune settings (241 appeared in the 1910 edition). Alternate tunes setting the same hymn are presented in numerical succession in the main body of the book (a change from the 1910 edition). The final 29 entries are in the Supplement section which was present in the original printing of the 1932 book:

"In a few cases the familiar arrangement of a tune has been placed in the Supplement, and a new arrangement in the body of the book.... The Supplement, which is serially numbered though not alphabetically arranged, includes also hymns and tunes which are more or less locally or nationally rather than internationally serviceable."[3]

Settings of Mrs. Eddy's poems, "Love", and "Satisfied", first appeared with the 1932 edition. More numerous alternate settings of the seven hymns by Mrs. Eddy are provided, as they are chosen often for use in worship services. Index listings include tunes alphabetically, tunes metrically, composers and sources, tempo indications, authors and sources, and first lines.

The 1932 edition of The Christian Science Hymnal is used in Christian Science churches worldwide. It has been translated into numerous languages; the tunes and hymn numbers are maintained, joined to the vernacular versions of the texts. Visitors would be able to sing in their own language, joining with the congregation singing in the other language.

Plans for a new edition[edit]

During the early 1980s, exploratory work was undertaken into a third edition, with many new tunes and texts planned for inclusion, but the project was shelved in 1988. In late 2008, a new supplement containing 33 additional hymns/tunes was published. The Church is preparing another new Supplement for publication.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Organist Lyman F. Brackett of Massachusetts. (1852-1937)

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Christian Science Hymnal. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society. 1910. p. iii. 
  2. ^ Christian Science Hymnal. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society. 1895. p. i. 
  3. ^ Christian Science Hymnal. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society. 1932. p. v.