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Writing Our Own Hymns

Post  AgathonZante on Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:23 pm

When we write our own hymns for our own practice, is there a certain kind of structure to follow or do we simply write out the hymn we have come up with?
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Re: Writing Our Own Hymns

Post  Erodius on Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:29 pm

You do not have to compose anything. The traditional hymns, whether the Homeric or the Orphic, are considered to be sacred due to their antiquity and their authors. 

But you can compose prayers, of course, to reflect your own specific requests and situations. They do not have to be in poetic verse, but formal hymns, of whatever sort, are customarily always in metrical verse. Dactylic meter is associated with hymns. Greek and Latin favored hexametric dactylic lines, while the natural rhythm of the English language lends itself better, aesthetically, to tetrameter, generally speaking. 

Structurally, a hymn or prayer begins by invoking the attention of the deity, then referencing the relevant titles of that deity in terms of your situation, then making your request, and giving one's thanks. In certain situations, one would also indicate what one will do in response if one's prayer is fulfilled. These vows (vota) are serious commitments though, and must be followed through if you make such a vow. It is considered a serious offense to the Gods to break a vow. 

Start by reading the traditional hymns, you wll get a feel from them of how to formulate a prayer.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Writing Our Own Hymns

Post  AgathonZante on Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:38 pm

Thank you. I do recite traditional Homeric hymns at my daily and evening devotions. I've been worshiping for 4 years, but just recently decided to follow the traditional path.
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Re: Writing Our Own Hymns

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:38 pm

It is actually an extremely interesting hermeneutic question.  Writing a hymn in English, in Western modernity, to Gods who do not die, or age, or suffer within the strictures of time or language the way we do.  I feel if I myself were to try to write such a thing, I would first have to study poetics a lot more rigorously, grasp and make use of assonance, alliteration, rhythm, etc., all the necessary ingredients to charge language with meaning.

Then one might consider some simple poems written to the Gods in English and other living languages.  I would cite Keats here.  Holderlin.  Probably the only two Romantics for whom the Gods were not simply an expedient bric-a-brac to spice up their aesthetic libidos.

Then one would come down to questions of form.  One would desire to express in a fresh voice the formulas and expressive mechanisms of the languages of antiquity.  It may also bring one to the conclusion that form is an extension of content, and lead one on a quest for a new poetics.

You want a hymn?  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1n-DQonQhs

Here is a great hymn (by a great modern composer and mystic), without words, all in one pitch, but with varying microtones (very Platonist!).
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Re: Writing Our Own Hymns

Post  Erodius on Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:58 pm

Taylor's English translation of the Hymns is used liturgically by anglophone Orphic sodalicia, and is a good example of formal, florid English poetry, and usually follows good iambic pentamer — an esteemed poetic meter in the English language, associated with Shakespearean works.

But when I do write hymns and verse prayers, I find myself usually doing so in Latin (less often in Greek, my Greek is not so good). So many things are simply better said in Latin, and I feel myself thinking that my thoughts and occasional requests are more easily and accurate so conveyed. I think there is something to be said for the notion in the field of linguistic academia that suggests that there is a relationship between one's language and how one perceives the world, and that knowing a language well, in and of itself, is a foundation toward understanding the common-mind of the culture out of which it comes.

Besides, Classical languages are quite semantically efficient, especially compared with most modern languages. Conveying the same semantic idea in Latin versus, say, English, or even a modern romance language, is much more compact. You can say much, much more, with far fewer words. Finally, things that have to be described in English, like Classical religious terminology and jargon, simply have their own native words.

Would you rather say:

Numine Iovis popanisque me foco oblatis, fiat.

or,

Let it come to pass by means of/the intercession of the divine power emanated from Jove and by the religious offering wafers that have been put into the altar fire by me.

Or even such subtleties as the verb for 'to worship' or 'to pray' being passive in their forms, or the complexities of translating 'colere' and all its derivations.

You want a hymn?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1n-DQonQhs

Beautiful.

There is little so soulwrenching, and solemn, and so aesthetically holy to me as the music of the duduk of Armenia:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWty6Aq7UbI
I own that whole album.

The only other close for me is Corsican chant:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTx2KF8sqh4

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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The Orphic Way: www.hellenicgods.org
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Re: Writing Our Own Hymns

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:57 pm

Erodius wrote:
Besides, Classical languages are quite semantically efficient, especially compared with most modern languages. Conveying the same semantic idea in Latin versus, say, English, or even a modern romance language, is much more compact. You can say much, much more, with far fewer words. Finally, things that have to be described in English, like Classical religious terminology and jargon, simply have their own native words.

Yes, the loss of declensions in English is yet another thing to be blamed on the Norman Invasion. Thus we speak another boring analytic language (which the reason-loving Anglo-Saxon world adores for its simplicity), rather than a truly philosophical or poetic language.

Erodius wrote:
There is little so soulwrenching, and solemn, and so aesthetically holy to me as the music of the duduk of Armenia

Are you sure we are not the same person, conscious of different personalities at different moments, listening to the same music and reading the same books? The duduk has a reedy timbre that adds a sort of distance and yearning between the melody itself and the sonority the instrument produces. As if the music is being mediated by some impersonal force (I think it's beautiful that in India, they still have a separate god/divine being for even what we would consider the most insignificant drums; each instrument has its daemon, as it were).. Some of Djivan Gasparyan's solo stuff isn't bad in this department...
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Re: Writing Our Own Hymns

Post  Erodius on Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:28 pm

Are you sure we are not the same person, conscious of different personalities at different moments, listening to the same music and reading the same books?

I'm not so sure, really. I've rarely ever run into anyone whose consciousness functions so much like my own.

The duduk has a reedy timbre that adds a sort of distance and yearning between the melody itself and the sonority the instrument produces. As if the music is being mediated by some impersonal force (I think it's beautiful that in India, they still have a separate god/divine being for even what we would consider the most insignificant drums; each instrument has its daemon, as it were).. Some of Djivan Gasparyan's solo stuff isn't bad in this department...

I think the duduk has, by whatever act of Fate and the Mind of Jove, inborn in it a spark of the God-as-sound that Pythagoras preached and through which Orpheus the Prophet could teach even animals, and soften the heart of the embittered bride of Pluto. It can, like few other instruments, teach truth without words and ennoble the heart.

Though I'd have to say the same is true of Classical Indian ragas, whose scales are even designated to the seirae of deities. Holy Mother India has not forgotten Dharma, as has the rest of the world.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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The Orphic Way: www.hellenicgods.org
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