Program #0420 for Tuesday, November 20, 2012: Our Favorite Church Hymns

November 20, 2012

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Our favorite church hymns

Our favorite church hymns

Summary of today’s show: Everyone has favorite church hymns and a reason why they moves us, whether from a cherished childhood memory or how they move the spirit to contemplate God, and so on today’s show Scot Landry, Fr. Chris O’Connor, and Rick Heil share with listeners their lists of their top three favorite hymns and count them down like Kasey Kasem.

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor

Today’s topics: Our Favorite Church Hymns

1st segment: Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor greeted all listeners. Scot noted that Fr. Chris has just been inducted into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. They discussed that the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre have the right to ride a horse into any church in the world, although they don’t know where it came from. Fr. Chris said it started in the Crusades to protect the tomb of Christ and they continue that work today, providing funding and assistance to protect the religious site there, but also to bring Muslims and Christians together in the Holy Land for peace. Fr. Chris said about 70 men and women from around New England were inducted into the order in a special ceremony.

Fr. Chris also said that they had the seminary Thanksgiving dinner this week before the seminarians return home to their families. They reflect on God’s goodness and the many ways he blesses their vocations.

Scot noted that tomorrow will see the broadcast of interviews with Cheverus Award winners from this past Sunday. He also noted that Cardinal Seán published his second pastoral letter of 2011 one year ago today on the Sunday Mass participation.

Today, Scot said they’re counting down their favorite church hymns. He said the idea came from a discussion with his 10-year-old son this past weekend about how he’s preparing for Advent at the Archdiocesan Boys Choir School.

Scot encouraged listeners to make their own list of their favorite hymns and email them to us at or post them in the comments on our website or on our Facebook page.

Scot’s favorite church hymn of all time begins. Rick played a clip: O God Beyond All Praising. He first heard this at the Pontifical North American College and later it was the recessional at his wedding. Fr. Chris said that Msgr. James Moroney, the rector of St. John Seminary, said this is his favorite hymn as well. Fr .Chris said one of the Eucharistic Prefaces reminds us that God doesn’t need anything so all we can offer Him is our praise.

O God beyond all praising,
we worship you today
and sing the love amazing
that songs cannot repay;
for we can only wonder
at every gift you send,
at blessings without number
and mercies without end:
we lift our hearts before you
and wait upon your word,
we honor and adore you,
our great and mighty Lord.

Then hear, O gracious Savior,
accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favor
may serve you as our king;
and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
we’II triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty
and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty
our sacrifice of praise.

Fr. Chris said it reminds us to open ourselves to the Lord in both our Easter Sundays and Good Fridays. Now to one of his favorites: The Litany of Saints from the Youth Rally in New York with Pope Benedict in 2008.

“Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven,
God the Son, our redeemer,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, One God
Holy Mary Mother of God,
Saint Joseph, Spouse of Mary,
Saints Peter, Paul and Holy apostles,
Saint Isaac Jogues and Holy Martyrs,

Saint Patrick, Bishops and Priests,
Saints Dominic and Catherine,
Saints Francis and Claire,
Saint Theresa of Jesus,
Saint Peter Claver,
Saint Juan Diego,
Saint Rose of Lima,
Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys,

Saint Thérèse of Lesieux,
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton,
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini,
Saint John Neumann,
Saint Teresa Benedicta,
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha,
Blessed Edmund Rice,
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta,

Lord, show us your kindness
Draw young people to serve you,
in priesthood,
and religious life.
Inspire the people of our world
with respect for human life
that there may be an end
to the culture of death.

Guide and protect
the dioceses of Baltimore,
Boston, Louisville, New York,
Philadelphia and all your Church.
Keep our Holy Father,
our Bishops and all clergy,
in faithful service
to your Church.”

Fr. Chris said it reminds us that the Church is not just the Church we see and touch, but also the spiritual reality of the holy and blessed ones who intercede for us. Scot said when this is prayed during ordination, the men are prostrate before the altar as the people pray for them. Fr. Chris noted that most of the saints in this specific litany are saints from the Americas. He said the litany often changes the names of the saints prayed for to include, perhaps the patron saints of the men preparing for ordination or the patron saints of a religious order of the like. Scot said the various litanies have basically the same lyrics. Fr. Chris said he picked this one for the peaceful music.

Rick makes his first choice: Exsultet. This version was chanted by Fr. Jonathan Gaspar of the Office of Divine Worship for the Archdiocese. Rick said he chose it because Fr. Jonathan sang it on the show a couple of years ago and it stuck with him for 3 months afterward. Scot said when music moves you, it’s usually a five sense experience. The first time he heard it at the Easter vigil, seeing the church in darkness except candlelight, smelling the incense and lilies. Taking it all in, the sense of darkness and joy that Christ has conquered death.

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!
Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all comers of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.
Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

(Therefore, dearest friends,
standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,
invoke with me, I ask you,
the mercy of God almighty,
that he, who has been pleased to number me,
though unworthy, among the Levites,
may pour into me his light unshadowed,
that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises).

(V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.)
V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We lift them up to the Lord.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is right and just.

It is truly right and just,
with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out his own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,
whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the first section of the Exsultet

They then discussed the difference between hymns and other music. Fr. Chris said hymns are usually music that everyone sings and this is music sung only by the deacon or priest or cantor and it’s a very difficult piece of music.

The next song from Scot is Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Scot said the first time he heard this experienced well he was in the choir of the Pontifical North American College during the Liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica for the ordination of deacons. He talked about how the song built up from silence to a triumphal Alleluia. Rick said he also chose this hymn because he loved a Gustav Holst arrangement of this hymn.

Next for Fr. Chris is the Taize chant Veni, Sancte Spiritus. He said it almost sounds like breathing in the rhythm. It translates as “Come Holy Spirit.”

Fr. Chris said the chant is sung in successive different languages and it symbolizes Pentecost and how the Apostles were enabled to speak in many tongues. It also reminds us of the universality of the Catholic faith. Scot said it’s a simple hymn to sing along to and to pray for a long time as it’s sung. You don’t need a hymnal, singing experience, or a singing voice. Everyone can participate in it. Fr. Chris talked about how the Holy Spirit is sometimes spoken of as the breath of God and how the hymn invokes the sense of breathing.

Rick’s second hymn is Cantate Domino. He said it’s one verse that’s repeated over and over with slight changes.

Sing to the Lord a new song:
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord and bless his name:
proclaim his salvation every day without end.
Tell his glory among the nations:
in every land tell his marvelous deeds.

Cantate Domino canticum novum:
cantate Domino omnis terra,
Cantate Domino et benedicite nomini ejus:
annuntiate de die in diem salutare ejus.
Annuntiate inter gentes gloriam ejus:
in omnibus populis mirabilia ejus.

Rick said he tends to like happy music, that have a lot of harmonic movement. It’s joyous praising. The words aren’t ambiguous and there’s not a lot of hidden meaning. He said as he was learning Latin in high school after having learned this, he began to appreciate it more. He encouraged others to learn the meaning of the Latin words. Fr. Chris said they do a fair bit of Latin at the seminary. He has a strong belief we should know what we’re singing, saying, and praying and is always grateful to see the English translation. The Latin helps us to transcend the here and now. Scot said there’s something about the use of language to bring our minds to God and to bring heaven to earth.

Scot’s third hymn is All People That on Earth Do Dwell, also sometimes called the Old One Hundredth. Direct link to the version heard on air.

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Scot said he loves big organ hymns, but loves all types of music too. But no other instrument cranks as hard as the organ on this song and you can sing as hard as you’d like. He said the interlude before the last verse makes him joyful. Fr. Chris said it’s based on Psalm 100. Rick said the first time he’d heard this song on a big organ was it was played on the giant organ at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Fr. Chris said the next is a Christmas hymn and it will be jumping the gun a bit to hear it now: O Holy Night.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Scot said it’s his favorite Christmas hymn as well. He and Fr. Chris said they broke the rules by playing it before Thanksgiving. Fr. Chris said it was a French poem written by a layman at the request of this priest. Scot said it’s the kind of hymn that can be sung by both men and women equally. Fr. Chris said his Christmas Eve tradition when he leaves his sister’s home as he drives through Brighton is to play this song very loudly.

Scot repeated his request for listeners to send their list of three to

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