Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Trinity Sunday!

I was thankful this week for Trinity Sunday, because after the unfortunate torpor of Pentecost, the hymns celebrating the Trinity are some of my favorites. Since so many hymns include a trinitarian last verse (thanks to the Latin poets of the early Middle Ages, like Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, author of "Of the Father's Love Begotten"), there are many to choose from.

We sang "Holy, Holy, Holy," the last verse of "Now Thank We All Our God," "Praise Ye the Triune God," and I played "Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart," "Of the Father's Love Begotten," a setting of "Holy, Holy, Holy," and one of "Ave colenda trinitas." After the service, no fewer than 6 people commented on how much they enjoyed Sunday's music!

I was mulling over whether I played better because I like the hymns better, or if they're just better hymns, and, I think the latter. With so many to choose from, and so many with great theological statements (well, I like "Praise Ye the Triune God" for its Victorian feel), and so many with rousing tunes, it seems like a better corpus for congregational singing.

So, is the church comfortable with the Trinity, but not the Holy Spirit? It seems that the musicians are, since there are so few Holy Spirit hymns but so many Trinitarian. Or, perhaps it's only the church now that is in that situation. It seems like you can't have one without the other, though. Many of the Trinitarian hymns are old, too, so maybe we're not addressing either. The newest hymn in our service was "Praise Ye the Triune God," written in 1858 (not counting the Dennis Jernigan special music provided by my lovely wife). Maybe the rousing music for them has lasted better than the calmer music of the Holy Spirit hymns.

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