Baptist Hymnal 1956 #262

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Greg Scheer's picture

Can someone help me out? I'm looking in the tune index and I see that BH1956 #262 lists the tune ADESTE FIDELES with the text "How Firm a Foundation." This tune is usually paired with the text "O Come All Ye Faithful" and I can't figure out how these two would go together. Can someone who owns this hymnal take a look and give me more information? Thanks! Greg


The use of Adeste Fidelis with "How Firm" is an interesting research topic - perhaps one you might want to take up! It appears as the tune in a number of hymnals of the late 19th and into the 20th centuries. In just looking at some hymnals in my collection, to mention a few, it is the tune used with the text in the 1895 Presbyterian Hymnal, The Church Hymnal (Episcopal 1892), The Presbyterian Hymnal, 1874, The Concordia Hymnal (1932), Church Hymns and Services, 1939, The Pilgrim Hymnal (1931, 35, 58, and 63, etc. Carlton Young, in his Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal, hints that it use may have been one where hymnal editors/commmittees may have shown their bias in not using American folk hymn tunes, which were not considered as sophisticated as other composed tunes. Edwin Excell's Coronation Hymns (1910) offers the "Foundation" tune as a second, or alternation tune, to Adeste Fideles.

In my experience the vast majority of hymnals that pair ADESTE FIDELES with "How firm a foundation" actually call the tune PORTUGUESE HYMN. But yes, there are many American hymnals that pair these two. Very few since about 1950, but very many before that time. I'm not sure if it was always out of a bias against American folk tunes so much as ignorance of them. I can't imagine preferring ADESTE FIDELES over FOUNDATION for this text; for that matter, I can't imagine preferring ADESTE FIDELES over MONTGOMERY (a major British tune choice for the text). When I first sent my text "Kiam mortis Jesuo" to Europe, I suggested it be sung to the tune for "How firm a foundation", and as a result its first European publication was paired with MONTGOMERY...

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