Saturday, August 04, 2007

Angel harps for ever ringing rest not day nor night

This is the second line of the hymn by Francis Potts that begins "Angel voices ever singing round thy throne of light."

Robin pointed out the day before yesterday that although angel voices sing, it doesn't seem that harps ring. The bells in heaven ring, that's for sure. But do harps ring?

This hymn calls for some emendation. My proposal is "Angel harps for ever pinging..."

Annie says harps don't ping either, but I think they do.


robert said...

Well, I agree with you to a point...and then I don't.

As to the hymn by Francis Pott, I see no reason to make a change. The dictionary says to ring means: to give forth a clear resonant sound. Harps can certainly do that. (And there are no bells in heaven--at least, none mentioned in the Bible.) And before I leave the hymn, today, as I write, is the 100th anniversary of Mr. Pott's death.

Now, as to your broader point, that some editors tinker too much with our traditional hymnody: Yes, there I'm with you. Whether it is because they are anxious to be "politically correct," or because they think they can do better, a lot of this is done. Some of it works, but a lot doesn't. It needs to be done with great care.

Andrea said...

At least you don't have to struggle with what we call "the Hideous Orange Hymn Book" - you would die.

In it, we have "thou who art beyond the farthest mortal eye can SEE, can it be that thou regardest OUR POOR HYMNODY"
it's awful.

Andrea said...

missed a bit!

It then follows:
"yes we know that thou art near us and wilt hear us constantly."


Geoff (it wasn't like that in my day) Adams said...


a bit late to respond (nearly four years late, actually.) Our name for it is the Orange Brick - no fun carrying the full music edition round in procession unless you're a trained weightlifter. The reworking of texts is appalling (and inconsistent - many significant rewrites don't carry the 'alt' warning, and lots of 'alts' indicate only a slight change in punctuation or an elision), and there are a few rewrites by people who simply don't understand the archaic -est, -eth endings, so you see nonsense like this:

we, in wine, Christ's blood partaketh"

But it's the schoolboy howlers in the settings of the music (wrong notes; wrong spelling of accidentals) that have me in fits of inappropriate mirth. The whole hymnal is an appallingly amateurish editorial botch-up.