Saturday, December 20, 2008


That is both, "OK" and "the end."

Neither are exactly accurate, and yet both are apt: this morning I have finished the season-long work of properly dividing hymn texts into their singing syllables. From that work on each hymn, a document was sent to be dropped into the music, already engraved. This is a task which, were it not done by 2009, I had promised to drink poison. Now free of that pressure, or threat, what does this actually mean?

What it does not mean:
  • it does not mean that my work on the College Church hymnal is done - it is perhaps (hopefully) the last major piece to which I personally need to give a lot of concentrated time.
  • it does not mean that even this piece is actually 100% complete - I have a dozen or so hymns with particular questions that require some research before sending them on: tune suggestions, text emendations, attributions to check, etc.
  • it does not mean that we will be singing out of a new hymnal at College Church for Epiphany or even Easter!

What it does mean:

  • we are in sight of a 2009 completion and publication for the hymnal
  • we see even more clearly where there are gaps, holes, weaknesses in the collection; this will require a few forays back into the selection process
  • there is a ton of work still to be done, and I'm sure I don't know the half of it, such as - more engraving, all the copyright permissions, indexing (themes, first lines, titles, tunes, etc.), massive proof-reading of the hymn pages, checking and double checking attributions and credits ... you get the idea

And so it goes. This has been the most productive year for this long, tedious, frankly dispiriting project. I have held things up more than moved them along. But I have been encouraged, humbled, and amazed by the ongoing volunteer work that this year has produced

  • the hymn pages, with music, words, information, scripture reference, and category labels (Thank you, Ed!)
  • an extensive - and I mean extensive - scripture allusion index; so full of information that we cannot practically include it all in the hymnal proper - suggesting an online or digital "companion" for those who will use it (Thank you, Harry!)

So, yes, today this project is fine, and in a sense, Fine. End of the movement, but not the symphony. A good place to stop and enjoy Christmas.

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