Two Hymns that Never Should Have Been Altered

The text and music on Hymn 459 “Christ is Arisen” was “tweaked” just enough to make it annoying. The words used to read: “So let our song exulting rise, Christ with comfort lights our eyes. Alleluia!” but now reads: “So let our song rise full and free…” What the?? This is not an improvement. Also, it used to say: “All our hopes were ended had Jesus not ascended from the grave triumphantly our never ending life to be. Alleluia.” Now it says: “Were Christ not arisen, then death were still our prison. Now, with Him to life restored We praise the Father of our Lord. Alleluia!” Again: What the…? This is such an unnecessary change. It makes it worse, not better in my opinion. It doesn’t flow well, and it is just plain irksome that the hymn committee chose this altered language.

In addition, the music was altered just enough to be irritating. The chords in LW made the song almost float along. Now it sounds “draggy.” The same is true with Hymn 482, “This Joyful Eastertide.” The words are the same (thankfully) but the musical setting makes it sound more like This “Mournful Eastertide.” The LW chords were much lighter and happier. This is just plain irritating. I have my organist playing the hymns from LW while we sing from the hymnal. And next year, we will be using the text from LW for “Christ is Arisen.” It is unfortunate that alterations like that made it into LSB.

But otherwise it was a great day!

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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3 Responses to Two Hymns that Never Should Have Been Altered

  1. I find myself in agreement with your assessment of “Christ is Arisen” (LSB 459). I wish there was some explanation for the lyrical change. The only thing that makes sense it that the LSB version is a “better” (i.e. more accurate) translation from the original German. But then again, in matters of translation – especially hymns – “better” isn’t always “better.”

    Also, the LW version (LW 10) had the full music for “Christians to the Paschal Victim” as well. LSB 460 lacks the music – which makes it very difficult for congregations to sing. There is plenty of room on LSB page 460 to include the music – but instead, we find only words and a lot of white space on the page. Why?

    I like your idea of reverting back to LW on this one. I generally don’t like to do that – but sometimes the changes are just too much to swallow. I think we may do that for next year as well and just put the words in the bulletin and skip the LSB setting all together.

    My congregation also uses the LW tune for the Advent hymn “Hark! a Thrilling Voice is Sounding” (LSB 345) – which was powerful and dignified in LW. The LSB tune is a sappy 19th century ditty that has emasculated the medieval Latin text. I think our organist would resign if I told her to play the LSB “Barry Manilow” setting.

    One other LSB tune we avoid is the tune for “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart” (LSB 708). Thankfully, LSB fixed the dreadful change in wording from TLH to LW, but the LSB kept the bland LW musical setting. So, we sing the LSB words to the TLH tune.

    I think the rest of LSB hymns we use as-is. Overall, the changes were good, but some of the changes have us (myself, members of the parish, and our organist) scratching our heads.

  2. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    I’m with you on the Advent hymn. Definitely liked the LW version. We didn’t even use that hymn this year because it was a totally unfamiliar setting in LSB. Glad I’m not the only one to lament these changes. And you’re right–there were a lot of good changes. One that I think was weak though was Chad Bird’s hymn “The Infant Priest.” There was nothing wrong with the original version, in fact, I thought it sounded better than what made it into LSB. I just wish they wouldn’t do this unless it were absolutely necessary.

  3. Rev. Jack A. Kozak says:

    I suspect that a lot of these changes, however slight and annoying, have to do with keeping a copyright on hymns that would normally be in the public domain.

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