Hymn of the Week: The God Whom Earth and Sea and Sky (EISENACH)
Hymn Title: The God Whom Earth and Sea and Sky
Tune Name: EISENACH
Meter: LM (88 88)
As we are coming up on the Feast of the Assumption (a holy day of obligation... unless your diocese habitually lifts the obligation for feasts that fall on a Monday or Saturday, lest people have to attend Mass two days in a row), it's time to reach into your Marian Hymn Box. Oh, what have we here? A hymn to our Blessed Mother that isn't Hail Holy Queen or Immaculate Mary? Sign me up!
The trick to using Marian hymns in the Mass* is to make sure that at least some of the time, they are addressed to God. If the antiphon for which you are substituting a hymn is addressed to Mary, you may use a hymn addressed to Mary. Otherwise, you want one like this one, which concludes:
This is not out of any disrespect to Mary, of course! But if you were at a wedding, and found that all the speeches and toasts were to the Mother of the Groom, you'd think that something was off. And if she had a shred of humility, so would she. Mary points us to Jesus. That is her function, and she does it to perfection. Every reflection on Mary in the Mass must also be a reflection on the Godhead.
If your space is uncarpeted or for some other reason especially reverberate, this one sounds grand in parts, since the space will require you to take it at a slower tempo. However, if there is no acoustic reason to slow it down, it may be better to sing it in unison, as the harmonies unfold a little quickly for voices. When singing in parts, make sure to drill the tenors and basses well on the third line where they sing in parallel thirds - parallel thirds for any length of time can't be sloppy!
As a personal side note, for whatever strange reasons, I have had many architects in my choir over the years. They love this hymn, for obvious reasons.
*Remember, the recessional hymn takes place after the Mass has ended, so this is not a consideration.