“Liber Hymnorum is yet another example of Mr. Matthew Carver’s ability and propensity to deliver to our generation the great, lost treasures of the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s past. Mr. Carver and Emmanuel Press have done the churches and schools of the Church a great service by editing and publishing such a fine volume of hymns.
“The Liber consists of a significant introduction, two sections of hymns, and significant indices for hymn enthusiasts and scholars alike. The introduction details not only the contents and thought behind the volume, but also provides significant information about the hymns and hymn books of the early Lutheran Church. Each hymn comes from the Lutheran books of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Here readers are introduced to the names of Lucas Lossius and Matthäus Ludecus, among others. Liber Hymnorum promises to provide not only a wealth of resources for the scholar of Lutheran hymnody and Latin hymnody, but also a useful volume for the classical schools, choirs, teachers, and pastors of our Church.
“With regards to the hymnal itself, first, there are English hymns for use during the week, the Church Year, for feasts and festivals, and for general and seasonal use. Second, the same hymns are presented in their original Latin texts. The English portion of the hymnal provides the tunes of the hymns in modern music notation. This provides a level of accessibility to these hymns of the Church that has not existed before. Many hymns will be new; however, some popular favorites are represented in this volume (In Dulci Jubilo, “Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word,” “Creator of the Stars of Night,” and “Savior of the Nations Come,” among others). The Liber also exposes the Church to the wide breadth of hymns written for specific times and occasions that have been hidden from the Church’s use for so long.
“In the Latin portion, these hymns are presented in Gregorian notation. Since the same hymns are presented in modern music notation earlier in the hymnal, these tones are now more accessible for the musically inclined. One thing that is lacking is an explanation of neumes – that is, Gregorian notation – or at least references that direct novices towards more material if they are interested. The Brotherhood Prayer Book is referenced in the introduction, and it contains such material. But for use in schools, if pastors and teachers wish to educate on Gregorian notation, a supplement to this hymnal is necessary.
“Finally, the indices provide novices and scholars alike with resources concerning the tones used throughout the hymnal. The indices also contain comprehensive lists of the authors, composers, and sources contained in the book.
“Liber Hymnorum looks to be a volume worthy of any classical Lutheran school, Latin student, music student, Lutheran pastor or musician, or even the avid layperson. What once was inaccessible to most is now available to many in a great and friendly format. The Liber is a useable hymnal with great potential. It is my hope that classical Lutheran schools, church youth and adult choirs, pastors and laity alike will take advantage of this resource in order to better understand and embrace the rich heritage Lutherans have in the Latin hymnody presented in Liber Hymnorum.”
-Rev. Robert W. Paul, Pastor and Headmaster, Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, Roswell, NM; Board Member of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education (CCLE)
*In our next post, Matthew Carver will answer the question, “What resources are there to help learn Gregorian chant?” Like us on Facebook or sign up for email updates on the right sidebar.