Talk:Hymn

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The Hymn article[edit]

I see this article starts again with the original ambiguous definition: "A hymn is a type of song...." Note the ambiguity for a lay person. A song is music. The definition quotes usage from another era, when "song" was defined as a text to be sung. So I must yield, give up, and leave you all to do your thing as you see fit. Your definition leads to an incorrect interpretation. 24.7.251.127 (talk) 17:14, 19 June 2010 (UTC)hymnlover 6-19-10


See also Chorale[edit]

see also Chorale seems the best way to cope with it. seglea 21:49, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Is Johann Gerhardt aka 'Paul'?[edit]

That's how he's listed in my hymnal. Is this an alias or an error? Left it as is because I don't know. Quill 07:10, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Isaac Watts[edit]

The article presently has a line to the effect that "early English hymnists such as Isaac Watts tended to paraphrase Psalms, while later writers took more liberties". True enough, except that I had read (CyberHymnal, linked in article, IIRC) that Watts wrote the first English hymn which wasn't a paraphrase of Scripture. Thus, the problem is that it's so nearly true that it's a shame to lose the sentence, but it's not true enough to stay as is.

Anyone got any bright ideas? Wooster 17:40, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I take your point, although I think the word 'tended' mitigates this somewhat. It's not that what is written is 'nearly' true; it is true, it just doesn't give Watts enough credit. Wait a sec; one bright idea coming up....See what you think. Quill 00:43, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Love it. I will slip the word direct in "a paraphrase", just to make doubly sure that we clarify that Watts' hymns drew on Scripture, but not all of them were paraphrases. After all, it's almost a matter of definition that (Christian) hymns draw on Biblical truth for their inspiration and material, but aren't necessarily paraphrases. Wooster 14:54, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Oh, I don't know about that last--I've heard some pretty inane hymns in my time  ;) Cheers Quill 22:15, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
If we don't have one yet, we do need an article about the several metrical psalters. Theodore Beza and Clement Marot made an excellent one in French, which was so good that their psalms still being sung. Sternhold and Hopkins, whom you've justly never heard of, made an absolute dog's breakfast of the English one, so theirs is almost entirely forgotten; the last remnant is the hymn tune Old 100th. Later improvers like Nahum Tate tried to do better, but by then the moment had passed, and as a result English congregations sing hymns with original lyrics. Smerdis of Tlön 15:30, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Of the Father's Love Begotten[edit]

I looked up the abovenamed hymn in my hymnal ("We Celebrate", World Library Publications), where it is said to date from the 11th century. Current article text puts it in the 13th. A minor detail, to be sure, and I have no evidence other than the one hymnal (the other hymnal I have doesn't include that hymn). Any ideas? (Blahedo 21:18, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC))

Good catch. The Hymnal, 1982 (Episcopal) also dates the music, Divinum Mysterium, from the 11th Century. I'm changing it. Quill 22:52, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)

oh u make me want to shout out the father's love begotten to i wish u joy go to norad tracking santa it's a great site to track santa on cristmas

Monotheist bias?[edit]

I'm asking first, as such things can raise hackles, but shouldn't the word "God" in the opening sentence be lowercased and directed to deity? --Thesquire 04:27, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

No. --DThomsen8 (talk) 21:48, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Eastern Orthodoxy?[edit]

The current article seems to assume a Catholic context (and the Protestant outgrowth of that tradition). There are also quite a few Eastern Orthodox hymns, and a rich tradition developed during the same time period (Byzantine Empire / Middle Ages). I don't know enough details about the history or musicology to add anything useful, but hopefully someone does... --Delirium 06:16, 17 September 2005 (UTC)

I don't know enough to help, but I know you're right. And even in the Western tradition, the absence of any mention of e.g. Ambrose is a major lacuna. --Haruo 10:24, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

The Wesleys often composed hymns while riding between preachments on horseback ???????[edit]

Anybody with more knowledge want to comment on or delete this sentence?

The reason I ask, is that the anonymous user who added it was found to be vandalising other sites...User:Camillus McElhinney

The sentence seems odd and is unsourced. I'll delete it; if a source is found, a user may restore it. KHM03 12:46, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Because the hymn is a poem (and not the music to sing it to), the Wesleys (Charles, mainly) could ride along and think through the words of his new hymn. I dare say he could even get his pad of paper out and jot it down.... User:hymnlover —Preceding undated comment added 20:18, 8 December 2009 (UTC).

List of Hymns?[edit]

Should there be articles for List of (denomination) hymns or commonly used hymn books/collections?

(I may be too late answering this; the above comment is undated.) The hymn-book seems to exist: List of hymnals. There is also a 'Category:Hymnals'. The proposed 'List of (denomination) hymns' sound like one of those things that would grow and grow and... and the more it grew, I suspect the less value it would have. Feline Hymnic (talk) 20:42, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

"Hymn" in Aramaic[edit]

Jesus spoke to the masses in Aramaic, as nearly all Biblical scholars agree. Some discussion has been generated on this regarding hymn and the Aramaic word for faith. Factually, the first four letters of the word for faith in Aramaic are phonetically h-y-m-n. Reference and citation: the last word in Matthew 6:30 of the Peshitta --66.69.219.9 17:35, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

I am appalled at your poor grasp of comparative linguistics. The Greek word υμνος means a 'song of praise'; the Aramaic word ܗܝܡܢܘܬܐ means 'faith'. The Aramaic root ܐܡܢ is the source of the latter word. No word derived from that root in any variety of Aramaic means 'song of praise', and the Greek word has a sufficiently lengthy history within that language (as demonstrated by the citations in Liddell-Scott that I gave you) that it is not considered a borrowed word. THe last word of Mt6.30 in the Peshitta is ܗܝܡܢܘܬܐ and it means 'faith': it is not supporting evidence for this word meaning 'hymn'. Would you so easily link the Aramaic word for 'son' and the English word for a place for a drink just because they are both pronounced 'bar'? I hope you wouldn't, but that has the same strength as your argument. Now, show me documentary evidence for the use of an Aramaic word of the root ܐܡܢ to mean 'song of praise', or give up on this one. — Gareth Hughes 17:41, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
And I am appalled that someone so clearly belligerent, petulant and puerile can possibly serve as an Administrator. Being so emotional, you cannot reason well...that's just a biological fact. So, please, calm yourself. And I say again...slowly, as you clearly do not process information well: phonetically, the first four letters in the Aramaic for faith are h-y-m-n. Reference and citation: the last word in Matthew 6:30 of the Peshitta. --66.69.219.9 17:45, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Part of the job of an admin is to deal with addition of spurious information in articles. As an Aramaic linguist, I am in good position to tell what good Aramaic scholarship is — this isn't it. You have thrown together two different words in different languages and scripts that sound alike and said they are related. I have proven to you that is not true by reference to Greek and Aramaic dictionaries (Liddell-Scott, Davidson and Payne-Smith). You have thrown at me a Bible verse that says that the Aramaic word for 'faith' means 'faith', and makes no reference to hymns. The Aramaic word is spelled he-yudh-mim-nun-waw-taw-alaph, the Greek word is spelled upsilon-mu-nu-omicron-sigma — they might sound a little alike but there is no evidence anywhere that they are related. — Gareth Hughes 17:54, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't genuflect quickly for self-described experts. And I am using the Aramaic Peshitta, a source document, not a derived-source document such as a dictionary, for my discussion. The first four letters in the Aramaic language for faith are Hē-Yōdh-Mīm-Nūn ... i.e., phonetically "h-y-m-n". --66.69.219.9 17:57, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
To summarise, this user is attempting to convince us that the Aramaic word ܗܝܡܢܘܬܐ haimānuthā, which means 'faith' and does appear as the last word of Mt6.30 (which only proves that it is te Aramaic word for 'faith'), is etymologically linked to the Greek word υμνος hymnos, meaning 'song of praise' or 'hymn'. The user's reasoning for this is that both are spelled (if transliterated into out alphabet if you please) 'h-y-m-n...'. Now, anyone with a knowledge of comparative linguistics would see that this is nothing other than a coincidence (and not a very good one) until the evidence supporting a link between the Greek and Aramaic words can be found. You can see an online entry for the Greek word in Liddell-Scott, which shows a lengthy purely Greek history to the word. Although I cannot point you to online sources, I can refer to copies of Davidson's and Payne-Smith's Aramaic dictionaries from my own bookshelf that show the clear derivision of the Aramaic word from the triliteral root 'MN. The Greek sources never relate the Greek word to meanings of 'faith' or derivision from Aramaic, and the Aramaic sources show that word is never used to mean anything like 'song praise' and do not mention it being borrowed into Greek or vice versa. This is clear evidence that there is no connexion between these two words. When asked for evidence, the user has only repeated that the last word of Mt6.30 supports this (how?) and the two are spelled the same way (in the Latin alphabet though). Please reject this amateurish speculation thoroughly. — Gareth Hughes 21:16, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

To summarize, this abusive administrator has refused my numerous requests that he please get another admin involved in this fairly straightforward discussion. There are multiple instances of what I'm referring to as being factual in the Aramaic Peshitta, but for reasons that at the moment would only be speculation on my part this administrator both neither takes the evidence into account nor gets someone more emotionally calm to help adjudicate the matter. It's all very sad. --66.69.219.9 22:36, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

It is not my job to get another admin involved. If you want it, ask for one. As for my emotional state, it is purely the result of your stubbornness in presenting empty speculation as fact. — Gareth Hughes 22:39, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Again, I am quoting from source documents...there is no speculation. So please refrain from such pejoratives, as your stance is clearly subjective, not objective. --66.69.219.9 22:45, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Etymology[edit]

My etymological dictionary suggests υμεν hymen as a possibly related word. This is also conjected by the Online Etymological Dictionary. Check [1] for an Indo-European etymology of hymen, with a reconstructed root *syū-, which makes it related to सूत्र sūtra. How nice. --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 22:18, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Having read the text more carefully, I must admit that the second website I mentioned does not support the suggestion that hymnos is a cognate of hymen. However I still find the idea that it comes from Aramaic very hard to imagine. --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 22:28, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Seriously, why? Aramaic substantially pre-dates Latin. --66.69.219.9 22:33, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Last comment by 66.69.219.9 doesn't make sense. The etymologies, of course, do not mention Aramaic. The link is more in the direction of hymen and that it is a pure IE word. — Gareth Hughes 22:42, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Last comment by uninvited guest doesn't make sense, as he is referring to Greek, and I am citing Aramaic. --66.69.219.9 22:44, 8 July 2006 (UTC)


<Smile> I have additional proof for you -- there are only 3 words in the entire Aramaic New Testament in which the text string "h-y-m-n" appears: "faith", "belief" and..."hymnalist." The Aramaic word for "hymnalist" in the Greek is "Eunuch" (which also makes a great deal more sense of Matthew 19:12). You can read the Peshitta and see for yourself.

So...please restore the Hymn article per these discussions. I'll otherwise do so tomorrow. Sleep well. --66.69.219.9 02:20, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots by Calvert Watkins does not suggest a connection between hymn and hymen (and it's difficult to see what semantic connection there could be between a word for "song" and word for "thin skin, membrane"). Rather, while hymen and sutra are both from *syū- "to sew" (and thus related to both sew and suture), Watkins suggests hymn is from the Proto-Indo-European stem *sh2em- "to sing" and is related to Hittite ishamai "he sings" and Sanskrit sāman "hymn, song". Neither word is even remotely connected to Aramaic. User:Angr 07:16, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Ḥ M N

The root {ḥ-m-n} (Ar. ح م ن) exists in Arabic. It refers to a type of folk poetry (for singing) in Southern regions of the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen) known as Ḥumaynī Poetry الشعر الحُميني. It is possible that this type of poetry and singing - among other things - spread to Andalucia (also known as Al-Andalus) during the Arab conquest of Spain. But if historical records refer to the existence of the term in Europe before the Arab conquest, then it is possible that this Semitic word was introduced there through other (possibly Mediterranean) contacts. (For the latter assumption see: http://www.yewriters.org/hikmah24121.html).9abdulla 18:28, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Now I can quote from that article: ويشير إلى التوافق بين لفظة الحميني ولفظة "هيمن" بالإنجليزية . ويلاحظ ومعه كل الحق أن التحوير غالباً ما يرافق النقل من لغة لأخرى .ويستطرد للربط بين اليونان والحضارة المعينية والحرف الفينيقي المحور عن خط المسند الحميري.

"…The fact that there is a phonetic similarity between HYMN and the Arabic word can be explained in the light of the transfer of words from one language to another. It is possible that the term was taken from the Ma'inian to Phoenician to Greek through the Himyarite orthography". 9abdulla

Well-known hymnists and hymns[edit]

I separated out the list of well-known hymnists and hymns from "The development of Christian hymnody" in the outline, though it does leave the following paragraph about four-part harmony and organ accompaniments glaringly dangling.

I also removed Arthur Sullivan from the list of well-known hymnists, because his contributions were in the composition of hymn tunes (e.g. St. Gertrude, to which "Onward, Christian soldiers" is sung) rather than in the writing of hymn texts (lyrics), whereas all the other hymnists in the list wrote the lyrics of the hymns listed after them. --Haruo 10:32, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Re: first paragraph ("...following paragraph about four-part harmony and organ accompaniments glaringly dangling"): Higher up the article is a subsection on accompaniment. Perhaps what could be done is a general "Performance" section: the different ways in which different people have "performed" (or "used" or "sung" or ...) hymns at different times. Its starting point might simply be a merger of the current "accompaniment" subsection and that dangling paragraph. Feline Hymnic (talk) 20:48, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Do we need this section at all? If a list of hymns and hymnwriters is deemed important, I suggest that should be a separate "List of..." article; there seems plentiful precedent for this sort of separation within Wikipedia. I propose removing it soon. (Two weeks? A month?) Feline Hymnic (talk) 12:55, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

There being no objections, I've removed that list. (A "List of ..." article can always be created by if there is demand and/or enthusiasm.) Feline Hymnic (talk) 23:43, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Hymn audio samples[edit]

No offense, but the pipe organ audio samples should be removed, and the performer should practice the hymns to perfection and do a few more takes. There's a rather major blunder right at the beginning of "Rock of Ages." —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.101.36.152 (talk) 03:03, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. Also, the samples are of hymns that have their own articles, where they would more appropriately belong. Feline Hymnic (talk) 23:47, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Hymn meters[edit]

The hymn meters section looks somewhat peculiar. Most hymnbooks (at least in the UK) seem to use straightforward number-based meters (e.g. 10.10.10.10) mostly. Just a few appear in letter-form: CM, DCM (or CMD), LM and SM. I've never seen any of the other stated letter forms (PM, HM, etc.) nor the "8s.7s" variety in hymnbooks.

The section also lacks examples.

I would suggest that it could do with a significant re-working, with numeric form taking precedence, and using the lettered form for the common cases (for instance CM: yes, PM: no). Also that examples should be provided.

Is that idea OK? Feline Hymnic (talk) 23:42, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Assuming quietness to be assent, I have begun. In fact, I propose going a stage further and removing the lesser stated forms (PM, HM, etc.) Any reason not to do so? Feline Hymnic (talk) 12:50, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

I haven't been on Wikipedia much over the past couple of years. Noticing the age of this edit, and now removal to a different page, my comments are probably irrelevant. I agree that "standard" denominational hymnals seem to prefer the straightforward number-based meters here in the US as well. But a number of traditions -- Sacred Harp, words-only hymn books of Primitive Baptists, Brethren, et al. -- continue to use the older letter form. The index to the 1991 Sacred Harp gives some examples. http://fasola.org/indexes/1991/?v=meter - Rlvaughn (talk) 06:25, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Interesting point. Although I know the term 'Sacred Harp' I am unfamiliar with its details. Perhaps you should re-open this discussion at Talk:Meter (hymn), mentioning the Sacred Harp connection, and (for example) proposing a section or subsection (in Meter (hymn)) about these other terms and their relation to Sacred Harp. Feline Hymnic (talk) 17:55, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

CM means common meter, which is 8686. LM is long meter, which is 8888. The "D" stands for 'Double"; the English start with the D (DCM) and the Americans end with it (CMD). SM is short meter 6686. PM stands for "Peculiar meter" which indicates some sort of quirk in the regular count of syllables. Meters with just numbers are similar but not the same syllable counts as those with the letter indications. Look at the Meter Index in a hymnal; they're all listed there (so you can switch tunes for your congregation next Sunday....). Detail: the periods within a meter indication stand for the rhyme scheme, although some hymnals just simplify that by putting periods between all of the numbers. hymnlover 12-8-2009

Continuing: When you look at a meter index you will find that the CM, LM, etc., appear in the logical sequence, and list their syllable count at their entry; and they fit in the sequence with the numbered meters in the same index. There's no "title" for the 8-7s and 10-s etc., like there is for 8686 (CM), etc. The point is that CM, SM, LM, etc., indicate a syllable count. I recall that Watts and other early hymn writers used these meters most of the time (maybe that's behind the "Common" of Common Meter). You can see that the shorter meters are at the beginning of indexes. Numbered meters cannot "take precedence" without defeating the normal indexing process. I'm responding to such an old comment, though, that this must have been resolved already. I recall that the Wikipedia article titled "Meters" has it "right." And by the way, I've never seen an HM indication of a meter; where was that found? hymnlover 12-9-2009 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hymnlover (talkcontribs) 04:10, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

Hymns? Christian hymns?[edit]

Possible declaration of interest: I write this from a Christian perspective. But I hope I am following WP:NPOV principles.

The title of the article as it currently stands is 'Hymn'. Almost the entirety of its content is in a section called the 'Christian tradition'. And because it is in a section, we have lost one potential layer of subsectioning. The subsequent sections are also Christian. The only significant non-Christian parts are two (out of four) paragraphs in the opening section.

To do justice all round, might it be worth trying to separate this into two distinct articles:

  1. the concept of hymn, not necessarily Christian; its starting point would paragraphs 1 and 4 of the opening of the current article;
  2. Christian hymns; its starting point would be the bulk of the existing article except for those in the previous point.

(Also, in that opening section the paragraph content about hymn tunes is unnecessary because that topic already has its own hymn tune article. But that's a digression at present.)

Just a thought... Feline Hymnic (talk) 22:06, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Two months having elapsed, I have begun to do this by moving the Christian-specific parts from the general introduction into the "Christian tradition" (and doing some associated tidying). Feline Hymnic (talk) 00:10, 7 February 2008 (UTC)



Perhaps the information which has more to do with "gospel songs" should be exported to a new and separate, but cross-linked, article on "gospel songs." Or maybe the "Hymns" article should be renamed "Religious music" and then sectioned and subsectioned according to religion and genre. Richard David Ramsey 01:01, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Too many external links?[edit]

It seems to me that there are about twenty too many links to other hymn sites. Are these sites trying to use Wikipedia to boost hits or did these links accumulate over time when everyone added their personal favorite hymn site? This isn't an urgent issue, but probably one that should be addressed sometime soon. Hyphessobrycon (talk) 03:53, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. What guiding principles might be reasonable to apply? Feline Hymnic (talk) 00:35, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Danish hymns online[edit]

Just to inform you that the Danish book of hymns is now online. All in Danish, but the melodies of the hyms can be heard either from organ or piano.

Den Danske Salmebog Online. http://www.dendanskesalmebogonline.dk/

With kind regards, Holger Terp editor The Danish peace academy —Preceding unsigned comment added by 83.91.185.61 (talk) 10:08, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

The place to mention it would probably be in the Danish wikipedia. Hope that helps. Feline Hymnic (talk) 16:40, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

recent additions and reversions[edit]

A new editor has recently added a considerable quantity of material. With reluctance, I have had to revert most of it, because: it was uncited and unsourced; it was US-centric; it was written like a tutorial rather than an encyclopaedia. It had also disrupted the flow of the original: the original had been careful to distinguish the general use of the term hymn from the Christian use of the term. I have preserved what I can: a cited definition; although I have moved it to a more appropriate location within the article.

I realise that my reversion of this might act as a discouragement to the new editor. I don't intend it to be thus; indeed, I would encourage their continued involvement, please! But we do need to keep this article structured and encyclopedic. Feline Hymnic (talk) 23:04, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

response to recent additions and reversions[edit]

Dear friend (Feline Hymnic?):

It may be that talking via this avenue will help set up clarification about the definition of the word, "Hymn." It's quite possible you are clear, but I know some are not. Can we discuss it here?

The Internet Oxford Compact Dictionary definition says: song noun 1 a poem or other set of words set to music. 2 singing or vocal music. 3 the musical phrases uttered by some birds, whates, and insects. 4 A poem, especially one in rhymed stanzas.

The American Heritage Dictionary definition (Houghton Mifflin copyright 1969) says: song n. 1. A brief musical composition written or adapted for singing. 2. The act or art of singing. 3. A melodious utterance, such as a bird call. 4. a. Poetry; verse. b. A lyric poem or ballad. (The third edition of the above, copyright 1994, is largely the same.)


My daughter emails me the following two definitions:

Webster's (copyright 2004) says: That which is sung; a lyrical poem adapted to vocal music; poetical composition.

McGraw-Hill Children's Dictionary (copyright 2003) says: A short musical composition for singing; the musical sounds made by certain animals.


A problem can arise when someone looks at a hymnal which presents a text with a tune, and the definition of "Hymn" includes a "song." It's too easy for someone to think that the music is the "hymn" and the text is "lyrics" (see the Wikipedia discussion at Charles Wesley).

No matter how "song" is defined, why not differentiate the two parts of what's on the hymnal page, which will clarify that a hymn is not a musical composition; a hymn is "a poem / set of words which is set to music / a hymn tune"?

What do you think?

re encyclopedic tone: you're right about that, I am sure. Does all Wikipedia have to be encyclopedic? I haven't referenced many articles (yet).

hymnlover 1-4-10 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hymnlover (talkcontribs) 05:02, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Hymnographer[edit]

Hymnographer currently redirects here but isn't mentioned anywhere in the article. Can we maybe include a definition somewhere? Or would a soft redirect to Wiktionary be preferable? – Arms & Hearts (talk) 22:05, 12 September 2012 (UTC)