Thursday, June 09, 2016

Let Us Break Bread Together: The Music and Celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Part 11

By Robin G. Jordan

After the Service. The practice of singing a hymn after the Blessing is traceable to Elizabeth I’s authorization of the singing of a metrical psalm before and after the services in the 1559 Book of Common Prayer. Before that time the singing of a hymn after the communion service was unknown.

The end of the communion service, like its beginning and the Offertory, is one of the three places in that service, which accumulates the liturgical equivalent of clutter. The rubric of the 1928 Prayer Book before the Blessing is “crystal clear.”  The priest, or the bishop if present, is to let the people “depart with this Blessing” (p. 84). The people are directed to kneel for the Blessing—a late medieval practice. (In the early Church the deacon would have directed the people to bow their heads for the Blessing.) The Blessing is the sending out of the people and marks the conclusion of the service. Everything that follows the Blessing is not a part of the service. Of all the things that are done after the service—the saying of various prayers, the reading of the first fourteen verses of the Gospel of John, and the ceremonial extinguishing of the candles, only the ablutions and the singing of a hymn have the color of liturgical authorization. Everything else is a part of clutter that has accumulated at the end of the service in a particular church. It is superfluous.

If a special prayer is needed, it should be said within the communion service itself. In their discussion of the 1928 Holy Communion Service in The American Prayer Book: Its Origins and Principles (1937), Edward Lambe Parson and Bayard Hale Jones note:
“The desire for special ‘votive’ intercessions (hitherto met by interpolating collects after the Collect of the day or before the Blessing) was provided for by permitting special prayers after the Creed or at announcement time, and special Biddings prefixed to the General Intercession.”
They go onto to write:
“The present Prayer Book has some entirely new and really organic provisions for the use of special intercessions.  But though the rubrics are perfectly clear, they do not seem so far to have been very well understood in practice.  On p. 71, the direction after the rubric on Notices, Here, or immediately after the Creed, shall be said the Bidding Prayer, or other authorized prayers and intercessions, plainly means that any desired special prayers should be used at the reading desk at announcement time at a principal service where there are formal Notices before the Sermon; but that they may be read at the altar directly following the Creed at a “low celebration”.  But on p. 74, Here the Priest may ask the secret intercessions of the congregation for any who have desired the prayers of the Church, certainly indicates special Biddings – not interpolated Collects – prefixed to the Bidding of the General Intercession.”
They further note:
“It may be mentioned that the use of the Bidding Prayer is hardly desirable at a celebration of the Communion, for it constitutes an absolute duplication of the substance of the General Intercession which follows so closely in our rite.  The Bidding Prayer may however be admirably employed in connection with the ‘Ante-Communion.’ [We may note that the use of a Collect or Invocation before sermons is a survival of the traditional use of the Bidding Prayer at that point before the Reformation.]”
With perhaps the exception of a final hymn, which exception is open to question, nothing should be allowed to keep the people from departing. The service has concluded. They have been dismissed. Ite missa est! The Mass is over! After they have sung the last stanza of the final hymn, they are free to depart. Indeed they are free to depart after they give their assent to the words of the Blessing with their Amen.

The rubric that provides for a hymn before or after any office in the 1928 Prayer Book is permissive. It does not require the singing of hymn before the communion service or after it. The hymn may be sung only occasionally or omitted altogether. It is not essential. As Marion J. Hatchett points out in Commentary on the American Prayer Book (1981) the use of any text after the Blessing makes the text of the Blessing seem less important or valuable.

A postlude may follow the service. If the hymn has been omitted, the ministers may depart during this music. The ceremonial exit of the ministers may be organized in the same way as their entrance. The ministers may prefer to depart informally after the ablutions. The ministers may also depart in silence.

As we have seen, the Blessing serves as the dismissal in the 1928 Communion Service. Lionel Dakers points out in Choosing—and Using—Hymns that to sing a hymn after the dismissal is to backtrack. The people have been dismissed to go forth into the world and the singing of a hymn delays the process. On the other hand, if the prelude is begun immediately after the dismissal—the Blessing in the 1928 Communion Service—the sending out of the people is “made more real, even dramatic” and the people are, as it were, are propelled on their way.

A traditional Anglican church is not any less traditional if a hymn is not sung after the Blessing and the ministers depart during the postlude or in silence. The tradition of singing a hymn after the communion service goes back 456 years, to the 1559 Injunctions of Queen Elizabeth I. The tradition of not singing a hymn after the communion service goes back as far as the fourth century if not earlier.

Most of the more recent Anglican service books have withdrawn permission to sing a hymn after the dismissal. They make provision for a hymn somewhere between the communion of the people and the conclusion of the service. This ensures that the communion service moves to a swift conclusion as did celebrations of Holy Communion during the early centuries of the Christian Church. Their faith invigorated and strengthened by the sacrament, the people of God are sent out into the world without needless delay, there to serve Christ.

This kind of movement is eminently possible after the communion of the people in the 1928 Communion Service once all the clutter after the Blessing is pruned away. The rubrics make provision for a hymn after the Post-Communion Prayer—the Gloria in excelsis or a “proper hymn.” The prelude may be begun after the Blessing. The ministers may exit in the same way as they entered—with cross and torchbearers. The people may depart after the ministers depart. The priest is at the back of the sanctuary and may greet people as they depart. He may direct newcomers to the parish hall or its equivalent for the coffee hour. The servers take the cross and the torches to the sacristy and one of them unobtrusively extinguishes the candles. The servers can be instructed to use a side aisle when they go to the sacristy from the back of the sanctuary.

One of the advantages of ending the service in this manner is that people with bad knees are not forced to kneel and people with bad backs to crouch for extended periods of time.

In a small church, indeed in a church of any size, it makes good sense to maintain a high degree of flexibility about how many hymns will used in a particular service, where they will be used, and when. In regards to the number of hymns that should be used in a service, Lionel Dakers makes this important point:
“In reality, the sum total of hymns is surely of far less relevance than the right choice for the right occasion. This is what makes the lasting impression and increases the memorability of any church service.”
Whether the final hymn is sung after the Post-Communion Prayer, the preferred practice, or after the Blessing from force of custom, it should be fairly short, should sum up the service, and send the people out into the world in no uncertain way.

Here is a sampling of hymns that work well as a final hymn and whose tunes are listed in the Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH-100 CP’s Master Index:

All who would valiant be ST. DUNSTAN'S, MONK’S GATE

All you works of God bless the Lord! LINDSTEAD


This hymn was originally published in William Hurn’s Psalms & Hymns (1813).

1 Arise, O God, and shine
In all Thy saving might,
And prosper each design
To spread Thy glorious light;
Let healing streams of mercy flow
That all the earth Thy truth may know.

2 Bring distant nations near
To sing Thy glorious praise;
Let every people hear
And learn Thy holy ways.
Reign, mighty God, assert Thy cause
And govern by Thy righteous laws.

3 Put forth Thy glorious power
That Gentiles all may see
And earth present her store
In converts born to Thee.
God, our own God, His Church will bless
And fill the world with righteousness.

4 To God, the only Wise,
The one immortal King,
Let hallelujahs rise
From every living thing;
Let all that breathe, on every coast
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

“Arise, O God, and shine” may also be sung after the Post-Communion Prayer and before the Blessing.

If the hymn is sung to RHOSYMEDRE, the last line of each verse is repeated.

Be thou my vision SLANE

Blessed be the God of Israel FOREST GREEN, KINGSFOLD

FOREST GREEN may be sung as a round or a canon, normally at a distance of one or two measures and a space of one octave.

Blessed be the God of Israel MERLE’S TUNE, KING’S LYNN, ELLACOMBE

Christ be my leader SLANE


Church of God, elect and glorious ABBOT’S LEIGH, NETTLETON, LUX EOI

This hymn may also be sung as a sequence hymn, offertory hymn, or post-communion hymn.

Crown Him with Many Crowns DIADEMATA

If a shorter version of this hymn is desired, stanzas 1 and 5 may be sung without mutilating the sense of the hymn.

Father, who in Jesus found us QUEM PASTORES

Forth in Thy Name, O Lord, I Go SONG 34, DUKE STREET

Forth in the Peace of Christ LLEDROD, DUKE STREET

God Is Working His Purpose Out PURPOSE

PURPOSE may be sung as a round or a canon, normally at a distance of one or two measures and a space of one octave.

God of mercy, God of grace LUCERNA LAUDONIAE, IMPACT

God, Our Author and Creator NALL AVENUE, PLEADING SAVIOR

Go Forth and Tell! O Church of God NATIONAL HYMN

Go, Tell It on the Mountain GO TELL IT

This hymn is an adaptation of a North American traditional spiritual, published in the Church of Ireland’s Church Hymnal – Fifth Edition (2000). The new text transforms a song that is related to Christ’s birth and which is sung during the Christmas Season into a song related to the Church’s witness and mission and which may be sung throughout the year.

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is Lord.

1O when I was a seeker
I sought both night and day,
I asked the Lord to guide me,
And he showed me the way.

2 He made me a watchman
Upon a city wall,
To tell of his salvation,
That Jesus died for all.

3 Go tell it to your neighbor
In darkness here below;
Go with the words of Jesus,
That all the world may know.


SINE NOMINE may be sung as a round or a canon, normally at a distance of one or two measures and a space of one octave.

He who would valiant be ST. DUNSTAN'S, MONK’S GATE


While this hymn is a trifle long—five stanzas, it works surprisingly well as a final hymn due to the liveliness and rhythmicalness of its tune, which move the hymn forward at a brisk tempo. It is published in a number of hymnals, including Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition, Complete Anglican Hymns Old & New, Hymns Ancient & Modern New Standard, Hymns Old and New: New Anglican, Together in Song: Australian Hymn Book II, and Worship and Rejoice.

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus ASSAM

Jesus, Good Above All Other QUEM PASTORES

Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love CHERAPONI

Jesus our mighty Lord MONKS GATE, ST. DUNSTAN
Jesus shall reign DUKE STREET

Lead On, O King Eternal LANCASHIRE

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms SHOWALTER

Let all creation bless the Lord MIT FREUDEN ZART

Lift High the Cross CRUCIFER

Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing SICILIAN MARINER

Lord, make us servants of your peace DICKINSON COLLEGE [O WALY WALY/THE WATER IS WIDE]

Lord of the Church, We Pray for Our Renewing LONDONERRY AIR #109

Lord, You Give the Great Commission ABBOT'S LEIGH

Now Let Us from This Table Rise DEUS TUORUM MILITUM

Now thank we all our God NUN DANKET

O Breathe on Me O Breath of God ST. COLUMBA

O God of Love, Enable Me ST. PETER


O Zion, Haste, thy mission high fulfilling TIDINGS

Praise the Lord, rise up rejoicing ALLES IST AN GOTTES SEGEN


Savior, like a shepherd lead us SICILIAN MARINER

Send Forth Your Word, O God PROCLAMATION

Sent Forth by God's Blessing ASH GROVE

Shine, Jesus, Shine SHINE


Tell All the World of Jesus FAR OFF LANDS

This hymn may be sung ELLACOMBE, LANCASHIRE, and other suitable 76.76.D tunes
Tell It Out with Gladness HYMN TO JOY

The Spirit Sends Us forth to Serve LAND OF REST, CHESTERFIELD/RICHMOND(Haweis)

LAND OF REST may be sung as a round or a canon, normally at a distance of one or two measures and a space of one octave.

We All Are One in Mission KUOTANE/NYLAND

We turn to Christ anew LEONI

What Wondrous Love Is This WONDROUS LOVE

Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim HANOVER, LYONS, PADERBORN

Ye that know the Lord is gracious HYFRYDOL

The tune of the postlude “should ideally derive from that hymn or text that best sums up the service.” The postlude, like the prelude, may also be used to familiarize the people with a new tune intended for use in the future. Whatever tune is selected for the postlude, the full range of instrumental settings of the digital hymnal player should be considered in playing it.

Conclusion. A small church’s monthly celebration of Holy Communion should be its brightest service of the month. It should not resemble a weekday Eucharist celebrated in a chapel without hymns, service music, or a sermon. The music of the worshiping assembly, even a small one, is not just hymns. It is also the Kyrie, the Sanctus, the Great Amen, and the Gloria or some other suitable hymn of praise.

Most small church congregations are able to learn at least one setting of these liturgical songs. If they are not able to master a setting of the Gloria in excelsis, they generally are able to learn to sing one or more suitable hymns of praise in its place.

The settings for each liturgical song may come from a wide variety of sources. The most important consideration is that the congregation is able to master a particular setting. The Anglican and Lutheran Churches have long traditions of composing and using metrical versions of the Gloria. Kyrie, Sanctus, Lord’s Prayer, and Agnes Dei and in the case of the Anglican Church even the Decalogue. The Lutheran chorale Mass is composed entirely of chorales—service music as well as hymns. There is no rule—written or unwritten—that a congregation must learn and sing non-metrical settings.

One of the advantages of a small church congregation adding several metrical settings of the Prayer Book canticles to its repertoire for use in services of Morning Prayer is that these settings may also be used as hymns at celebrations of Holy Communion. A metrical setting of the Venite such as “O come and sing to God the Lord” or a metrical version of the Jubilate Deo such as “All people that on earth do dwell” may be used as an introit hymn. We have already seen that the metrical Te Deum laudamus, “Holy God, we praise your name,” in its shorter version, may be used as a sequence hymn. In its longer version as well as its shorter version it may be used in place of the Gloria after the Post-Communion Prayer.

It is extremely important to identify what hymns and hymn tunes a small church congregation knows. This enables worship planners to determine the extent of the congregation’s repertoire and its strengths and weaknesses. It also permits worship planners to evaluate the usefulness of the hymns and hymn tunes in the congregation’s repertoire. A list should be made of the hymns and hymn tunes familiar to the congregation and then the hymns sorted by how they may be used in Sunday morning worship. Having a list of familiar hymn tunes enables worship planners to introduce new hymns by using hymn tunes of the same meter that the congregation knows and which fit the rhythm and mood of the hymn. It also enables worship planners to be more deliberate in introducing new hymn tunes to the congregation. A congregation’s repertoire of hymns, hymn tunes, and service music should never be allowed to develop by happenstance, which unfortunately is too often the case. Any additions should be carefully planned. New hymns and new hymn tunes should be selected with their accessibility and liturgical usefulness the first considerations.

Sunday morning is not about picking and singing the congregation’s favorite hymns. This does not mean that favorite hymns do not get sung but that they must take second place to the musical needs of the particular service on Sunday morning. They are sung when they are suited to a particular place in the service on a particular Sunday or occasion. They should be balanced with less familiar and hence less popular hymns and hymn tunes as well as new hymns and hymn tunes.

Hymns and hymn tunes become congregational favorites due to a large extent to three factors—musical attractiveness, accessibility, and repetition. While the first two factors are important, repetition is the most important factor. If new and unfamiliar hymns and hymn tunes are to join the congregation’s list of favorite hymns and hymn tunes, they must be repeated over and over again and at every opportunity. For this reason I tried to select a hymn that could be used at more than one place in the service or a hymn tune that could be used with more than one hymn when I chose a new hymn or hymn tune to teach the congregation at St. Michael’s.

To broach a sensitive subject, small church congregations are notorious for their proclivity to resist change. This tendency can be both a strength and a weakness. When they resist any reinterpretation of the clear teaching of the Scriptures and any dilution of the Gospel or addition to its message, it is a decided strength. When they baulk at making even modest changes in the way they do things in order to ensure their ecclesiastical survival, it is a definite weakness.

Two of the areas where small church congregations are likely to show the most resistance to change is the worship music and where it is used in the worship service. Consequently, any changes in the worship music and where it is used in the worship service must be introduced incrementally with sensitivity to the church’s past history. This may be done in a number of ways.

A good place to start is the service music. If a congregation has in the past sung the Kyrie, Sanctus, Great Amen, and Gloria and no longer uses these familiar settings due to the lack of an accompanist, it may be open to learning new settings if they are not too difficult. The Merbecke Kyrie and the Merbecke Sanctus may already be familiar to members of the congregation of a traditional Anglican church because these two settings have enjoyed wide use, not only in Anglican and Episcopal churches but also churches of other denominations.

If the congregation has not previously sung the Great Amen after the Prayer of Consecration, the history of the practice of singing the Great Amen should be briefly explained to the congregation and then the Danish Amen introduced to them.

The Alleluia before the Gospel should introduced in the same manner as the Great Amen, first an explanation of the history of the practice and then the introduction of the setting itself.

Each setting should be introduced in the order it will be sung on Sunday morning—Kyrie, Alleluia, Sanctus, and Great Amen.

If the Merbecke Kyrie and the Merbecke Sanctus are already familiar to some members of the congregation, the familiarity of the two settings will facilitate the learning of the two unfamiliar settings.

On the other hand, the members of the congregation, if they have attended Disciples of Christ, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist , or Roman Catholic services, may already have been exposed to the setting of the Alleluia and the Great Amen. They may also have heard the Danish Amen in traditional Baptist services. It is published in 39 hymnals, including at least two hymnals used in Baptist churches.

The keyboard accompaniment of “Halle, halle, hallelujah” is on the United Methodist Church’s The Faith We Sing CD Accompaniment Edition. It is a lively traditional Caribbean tune. The Danish Amen is in the Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH-100 CP’s Master Index.

The new service music could be learned and practiced during Lent and then used for the first time during Easter. It may facilitate the learning process to explain to the congregation that one of the reasons that they are being asked to learn and practice new service music is to properly celebrate Easter.

Easter is also not just one Sunday. Easter is an entire season. See Early in the Morning Our Songs Shall Rise: The Music and Conduct of Morning Prayer for ideas for festal Matins on Easter Sunday.

I have given some thought as to how to graciously retire “Thy gospel, Jesus, we believe” from service as a sequence hymn. At the celebration of the Holy Communion on which it is to be retired from that use, a new sequence hymn, “The prophets spoke in days of old,” would be sung as a solo before the Gospel. “Thy gospel, Jesus, we believe” would be introduced it in its new role as a hymn before the Communion, also as a solo. An instrumental version of ST. STEPHEN would be played during Communion, using one of the digital hymnal’s instrumental settings.

The use of the hymn before the Communion would help people understand what the hymn is really saying. We come to the Eucharist, believing the Gospel and trusting Christ. We beseech Christ to work in us through the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, through the grace it imparts, to enable us to live a life worthy of the Gospel, to be doers of the Word and not just hearers.

It might also be wise to use a different setting of the hymn. A number of hymns once sung to ST. STEPHEN are now sung to MORNING SONG. “When a text is linked with a new and less familiar tune,” Lionel Dakers points out, “it serves to make us sit up and think in a new way about the meaning of those words.”

An instrumental version of MORNING SONG could be played during Communion instead of ST. STEPHEN.

I have put together four sample services, using The Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH-100 CP as the hymnal and applying the principles discussed in this paper.

A Sunday in Lent

Prelude: BOURBON (Instrumental)
Omit Introit Hymn
Threefold Kyrie: Lord have mercy upon us MERBECKE
Sequence Hymn: My faith looks up to thee OLIVET (Stanzas 1 and 2)
At the Offertory: Take up your cross, the Savior said BOURBON (Solo)
Sanctus: Holy, holy, holy Lord God hosts MERBECKE
Great Amen: Amen DANISH (Sing 3x)
Before the Communion: Let us break bread together on our knees LET US BREAK BREAD
During the Communion: LET US BREAK BREAD (Instrumental)
After the Post-Communion Prayer: Glory be to Jesus CASWALL
Postlude: ST. FLAVIAN

A Sunday of the Great Fifty Days of Easter

Prelude: AVE VIRGO VIRGINUM (Instrumental)
Introit Hymn: He is risen, he is risen UNSER HERRSCHER/NEANDER
Threefold Kyrie: Lord have mercy upon us MERBECKE
Gospel Acclamation: Halle, halle, hallelujah HALLE HALLE
At the Offertory: Now the green blade riseth NOEL NOUVELET (Vocal Ensemble)
Sanctus: Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts MERBECKE
Great Amen: Amen DANISH (Sing 3 x)
Before the Communion: At the Lamb’s high feast we sing SALZBURG (Omit Stanza 2)
During the Communion: ROSEDALE (Instrumental)
After the Post-Communion Prayer: The day of resurrection, tell it out abroad ELLACOMBE
Postlude: VRUECHTEN (Instrumental)

A Sunday in Ordinary Time

Prelude: DARWALL (Instrumental)
Introit Hymn: Ye holy angels bright DARWALL
Threefold Kyrie: Lord have mercy upon us MERBECKE
Gospel Acclamation: Halle, halle, hallelujah HALLE, HALLE
At the Offertory: O WALY WALY (Instrumental)
Sanctus: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts MERBECKE
Great Amen: Amen DANISH (Sing 3 x)
Before Communion: Bread of the world in mercy broken WAYFARING STRANGER (Solo)
During Communion: WAYFARING STRANGER (Instrumental)
After the Post-Communion Prayer: All glory be to God on high MIT FREUDEN ZART
Postlude: SINE NOMINE (Instrumental)

A Sunday in Ordinary Time

Introit Hymn: When morning gilds the skies LAUDES DOMINI
Threefold Kyrie: Lord have mercy upon us MERBECKE
Gospel Acclamation: Halle, halle, hallelujah HALLE, HALLE
At the Offertory: All you works of God bless the Lord LINSTEAD
Sanctus: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts MERBECKE
Great Amen: Amen DANISH (Sing 3 x)
Before Communion: Be known to us in breaking bread DOVE OF PEACE (Vocal ensemble)
During Communion: DOVE OF PEACE (Instrumental)
After the Post-Communion Prayer: From all that dwells below the skies OLD HUNDRETH
Postlude: LINSTEAD (Instrumental)

A final thought. Recruit girls as well as boys to serve as crucifers and torch bearers.

The Roman Catholic Church uses girl servers as well as boy servers. Being a server is no longer viewed as a first step to the priesthood.

The torches may be placed on stands on either side of the Holy Table and serve as lights on Morning Prayer Sundays when it customary to leave the altar lights unlit.

The servers do not need to sit on the chancel platform. They can sit in the front pew. As far as vestments go, all they need is a plain white alb with cincture.

Seeing older children as servers might encourage visitors with older children of their own to give the church a try. At St. Michael’s we involved the older children in the congregation in a variety of ministries. They were ushers, servers, lectors, instrumentalists, gift bearers, and choristers. My oldest niece was a server; her youngest sister followed in her grandmother’s footsteps and sung in the choir. She had a good voice and on occasion we persuaded her to sing a solo. She sung in her school chorus.

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