Hymns ancient and modern, and the music editorship of Willian Henry Monk
Hymns Ancient and Modern--a product of Tractarian efforts for the development of Catholic ecclesiological expression in the Church of England--established numerous melodies deriving from late medieval plainchant as standards of English hymnody. Published during a period of heightened interest in historic liturgical practices and romantic idealization of the past, the hymnal was a comprehensive collection of both contemporary Victorian hymns and musical selections traditional to the Roman Church. In order to ensure that all content of the hymn-book was equally suitable for congregational performance, the adopted plainchant melodies were modernized by the music editor, William Henry Monk (ca. 1823-1889), through the addition of four-part organ accompaniments. By drawing from the repertory of the Catholic Church and adapting selections to make them suitable for congregational singing in the spirit of Protestant inclusiveness, the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern assembled a collaborative work that served as a musical response to the philosophical maxim via media that was emphasized in the Tracts for the Times (1831-1841). The objective of this study is to examine the theological, political, and social factors that coincided in England to allow the conception of Hymns Ancient and Modern and to analyze three hymn tunes exemplary of Monk’s editorial style. The purpose of this method is provide historical context for the outstanding success of the Victorian hymnal and the consequential prevalence of Monk’s plainchant settings.