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444. Greet Now the Swiftly Changing Year

Text Information
First Line: Greet now the swiftly changing year
Title: Greet Now the Swiftly Changing Year
Translator: Jaroslav J. Vajda (1968, alt.)
Meter: 88 86
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Anniversaries; New Year - Old Year; Creation and Providence (1 more...)
Source: Slovak hymn, 1636
Copyright: Text and harmonization © 1969, Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission.
Tune Information
Harmonizer: Theodore Beck (1969)
Meter: 88 86
Key: g minor
Source: T. Zavorka's Kancional, 1602
Copyright: Text and harmonization © 1969, Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission.

Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Ps. 90
st. 6 = Luke 2:14

The original text of this anonymous Slovak hymn ("Rok novy zase k nam prisel") was found in Tobias Zavorka's Czech hymnal Kancional (1602). A revision of that text was published in 1636 in Juraj Tranovsky's Pisne Duchovni Stare I Move, a Slovak Lutheran hymnal usually known as the Cithara Sanctorum. Jaroslav J. Vajda (b. Lorain, OH, 1919) prepared the English translation in 1968 for the Worship Supplement to The Lutheran Hymnal. This hymn remains very popular for New Year's Day celebrations in every Slovak home and church.

Stanza 1 immediately alerts us that this is a hymn for New Year's Day as we “Rejoice!” and "with thanks embrace another year of grace." Stanzas 2-5 remind us of our blessing in Christ. In stanza 6 we join once more with the Christmas angels in their chorus of glory and peace. Stanza 7 is a prayer for continued blessings in “this new year of grace.”

Born of Czechoslovakian parents, Vajda was educated at Concordia College in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Ordain as a Lutheran pastor in 1944, he served congregations in Pennsylvania and Indiana until 1963. He was editor of the periodicals The Lutheran Beacon (1959-1963) and This Day (1963-1971) and book editor and developer for Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis from 1971 until his retirement in 1986. Working mainly with hymn texts, Vajda served on several Lutheran commissions of worship. A writer of original poetry since his teens, he is the author of They Followed the King (1965) and Follow the King (1977). His translations from Slovak include Bloody Sonnets (1950), Slovak Christmas (1960), An Anthology of Slovak Literature (1977), and contributions to the Lutheran Worship Supplement (1969) and the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). A collection of his hymn texts, carols, and hymn translations was issued as Now the Joyful Celebration (1987); its sequel is So Much to Sing About (1991). Vajda's hymns are included in many modern hymnals, and he was honored as a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada in 1988.

Liturgical Use:
New Year's Day; New Year's Eve watch-night service.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

ROK NOVY, which means "New Year" in Czech, was named by translator Vajda after the first two words of the original text. For historical data about this tune see PHH 283; the setting at 233 is in F minor.

The harmonization here is by Theodore Beck (b. River Forest, IL, 1929). Beck is a graduate of Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois, and earned master's and Ph.D. degrees at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He has taught at Concordia Teachers College in Seward, Nebraska, since 1953. A published composer of organ and choral works, Beck served on the music committee for the Lutheran Worship Supplement (1969).

Sing antiphonally, assigning stanzas to groups within the congregation; for example, assign the first halves of stanzas 1-4 and 6 to antiphonal groups but have the entire congregation sing the second halves and all of stanzas 5 and 7. Accompanists, try taking a quick "breath" at the end of the first couplet in each stanza (just before "Rejoice") and be sure to help congregations phrase the final couplet of each stanza into one long line. Stanza 7 is a prayer; a fuller accompaniment will help highlight the change of address.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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