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April 17, 2011 Q & A

What are "alt." and "mod." in the Trinity Hymnal?

Question

In the Trinity Hymnal at the bottom-left corner of a hymn (underneath the author's name and date) there is sometimes "alt." and sometimes "mod." and sometimes both with a semicolon in between. What do each of these abbreviations mean?

Answer

The answer to your question is given by two paragraphs of information in the middle of page 11 in the revised Trinity Hymnal. Basically, "alt." indicates a change in content, often when the original text was deemed theologically defective (e.g., suggesting a universal atonement), whereas "mod." indicates a modernization of word forms (e.g., "you" for "thee"). If any language of a hymn was modernized, it was done for the entire hymn, or not at all. It was not done if archaic words were part of the rhyming scheme (e.g., "see" and "thee" rhyme, but not "see" and "you") or if modernization would upset the rhythm.

 

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