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Friday, October 7, 2011 Hymn Research

I've spent most of my "creative hours" this week doing hymn research. In Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual, I adapted at least three different hymns for use as songs, some of which you may have noticed, some you may have not. The idea behind the use of hymns is that the Sanctafi, an order steeped in ancient Christian tradition, have retained many of the oldest hymns for use in their worship, though their copies may be fragmented or distorted in some way as a result of the world wide banning of religious texts.

Since the Sanctafi, and of course Brother Saolos, will again play a very significant role in the story, I'm again looking to the past for forgotten nuggets that will fit with the themes I'm exploring in Spirit Blade 3. Although I've had requests for specific hymns from a few listeners, I'm actually aiming to resurrect obscure material. The less familiar, the better.

I have three hymnals I've been using. A Methodist hymnal (not much use, as it sticks to mostly the "popular" tunes), a Presbyterian hymnal (which has a few obscure ones with text that holds a wonderfully high or "big" view of God), and lastly an old Lutheran hymnal.

The Lutheran hymnal may be my favorite. It was the book that I pulled the verses of "Death Come Quickly" from, and most of the verse melody, too. There are a lot of interesting tunes and texts in that hymnal that, because of their language, the specificity of their use, or the complexity of melody or meter, have not become "popular hymns". There are some wonderfully dark melodies in minor, or that otherwise have the feel of a monastery.

As I go through each hymnal I've been making note of the hymns that have potential to fit my needs. I should be done with that first "scan" early next week, at which point I'll start trying them out and narrowing them down to make my selections.

Although some of the effort has been monotonous, I've also really enjoyed scanning some of the wonderful words that even many traditional churches never see in their corporate worship times.

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