Trendy and trendy: the great comeback of the old hymns!

They are old, but they look good. Shunned, rejected, outdated in many churches, the old hymns - whether they come from "On the Wings of Faith", "In the Presence of the Lord" or other collections - are nevertheless treasures to be rediscovered.

Éwritten at a time when the literacy rate was not what it is today in Western countries, they alone constituted true preaching. They speak of redemption, forgiveness, love, without obscuring subjects such as sin, death, hell. They bear witness to lived, tragic or happy situations. They openly proclaim the Gospel or highlight biblical texts.

And the exercise is much trickier than you think Very often, they were written in English and then “adapted” into French, and not just “translated”. It makes a difference. Because an adaptation takes into account elements that a translation does not allow: the fluidity and musicality of the words, the rhythm of the sentences, the rhyme, the historical and cultural references of the speakers of the target language ... A French-speaking person will know how to appropriate the song as if it had been written from the start in his language. And the exercise is much trickier than you think. When they were written by a French-speaking author, these songs reveal all the more their anchoring in the local heritage.

Over the years, certain turns of phrase have aged - this is characteristic of a language that evolves. And for lack of having been able to adapt the codes according to the times, many hymns were on the way to sinking into oblivion. When we know the meteoric growth of evangelical churches - in France and in other countries - over the past 70 years, the temptation is great to offer new communities only new songs, which obscure the rich past on which they are however well founded, sometimes without even suspecting it.

So what to do with these songs that were originally composed for the organ, when the organ is deserted in the halls of worship?

Sebastian Demrey and Jimmy Lahaie found the formula

Sebastian Demrey and Jimmy Lahaie have found the formula. Since 2010, with their look of ideal sons-in-law, their newsboy caps, their suspenders and checked shirts, they have been working to restore these buried treasures - some of which date back to the early days of the Reformation - in a more contemporary version that gives the great emphasis on guitar, drums, double bass, sometimes violin or piano. In doing so, they have been able to reconcile the generations to allow the youngest to benefit from texts of remarkable depth and literary quality.

After 4 albums - Héritage, Héritage 2, Héritage 3, and Héritage Christmas Songs - this month of May 2017 sees the arrival the new Heritage 4 component. Antithesis of the surrounding culture, Héritage is to music what wooden toys or restored antique furniture are to decoration. It is the advent of vintage with a Protestant and evangelical sauce, which bears a deep respect for the old while being firmly anchored in the present time. A welcome rehabilitation of texts and compositions which still have so much to contribute today.

Pascal Portoukalian

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