Sunday, June 04, 2006

The lack of Greek headings

I noticed this morning again, looking at hymn 421 "O King Enthroned on High", that the NEH doesn't give the Greek for the first line of hymns translated from the Greek, as the EH used to do.

It does for Latin, but not for Greek. Not for Syriac either, nor Slavonic, nor Irish, nor Welsh. Since the Welsh wouldn't involve a funny script, it's presumably not for reasons of typesetting. So why?

Dumbing down? They don't see why we want to know? Well I can tell you there are lots of reasons why one might need to know, and the lack of an index of the original first lines of translated hymns is a real indication of the failure on the part of the NEH editors to understand what things might matter in searching for a particular hymn in a hymn book. Since the EH had one, presumably they consciously chose not to have one, just to make things less helpful?

1 comment:

Cuddly Tiger said...

The lack of an index of the original first lines of translated hymns was one of the first things that made me growl about NEH. It's a serious omission in a volume intended to be a successor to the English Hymnal, but the Seven Gents don't seem to have considered this. As a curious vestige of the tradition they unworthily inherit, they do give the incipits of the sources are at the head of the texts for Latin originals, for the one translation from French and sometimes for German (thus Wachet auf is in, but not Nun danket alle Gott). But indeed, there's no Greek, or anything else even mildly exotic. And they don't even get the Latin right all the time, as Catherine has noted in a previous post here.

On the other hand, the typesetters working on the old EH a century ago found no difficulty employing a Gaelic fount for Atomriug indiu – St Patrick's so-called Breastplate, the single translation from Old Irish – nor a Cyrillic one for the Russian contakion; nor were they afraid to grapple with Syriac for the two hymns from the Liturgy of Malabar (the Syriac was, however, transliterated in the revision of 1933). And the great German chorales were fittingly announced in a fine gothic Fraktur.

I've written the missing incipits into my own copy of NEH, and made piecemeal annotations to some of the copies at LSM. That much-needed index should be compiled; it would hardly be an enormous task, and perhaps the result (or a link to it) could be posted here as a useful respurce for all who care about such things?

ct /////:<