November 6, 2009

Time for “Hooker Hymn”

I was reminded Tuesday that The Episcopal Church celebrates sixteenth-century theologian Richard Hooker on November 3. Alas, this is a feast we seldom celebrate, even though Anglicanism might have been markedly different had there never been a Richard Hooker.

The reminder came in the form of an e-mail request from a priest who wanted to use my hymn “Authorities” at that day’s chapel service at an Episcopal school. (Children attending Episcopal schools with chapel services get to celebrate more people on our church calendar than do ordinary Episcopalians.) I was delighted to give my permission.

I mention this incident mostly because it prompted me to realize that another occasion is fast approaching on which “Authorities” would be an appropriate hymn to sing, and perhaps some readers can work it into Sunday services on November 15, 2009. The collect for that day is
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
My own church has often sung “O Christ, the Word Incarnate” (Hymn 632, in the “Holy Scripture” section of The Hymnal 1982) with Proper 28, though I find the text to be something of a muddle. As I explain on my Web page about “Authorities,” I wrote the hymn to celebrate tradition and reason, in addition to Scripture. This brings Anglican balance to the matter of authority within the Church and explains the special connection of the hymn to Richard Hooker. In this time of upheaval in the Anglican world, emphasizing that balance as often as possible is particularly important.

I paired my text with “Munich,” the usual tune for “O Christ, the Word Incarnate,” but I have recommended “Ellacombe” and “Llangloffan” as alternatives. The schoolchildren, I was told, would sing the hymn to “Morning Light,” the usual tune for “Stand Up, Stand Up, for Jesus,” a hymn with which they were already familiar.

If you want to use “Authorities,” please write me for permission. (See e-mail link at right.) Unless you’re planning to use the hymn on a network television special, I cannot imagine my not granting royalty-free permission. I do like to track use of the hymn, however.

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