Reader Voices: Unfamiliar words from familiar hymns

By John Hasek

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Dec. 11 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

Some words of hymns may be unfamiliar. Here is a list of definitions of some of them.

John Clark, Deseret News archive

If you are like me, you may sometimes wonder what you are saying when you sing those once, no doubt but now, seldom used words like "dross," "verdure" and "felicity" as found in the hymn book. You may contemplate the word for a few beats after it has been sung, or perhaps inversely proportionate to the interest generated by the next speaker, you may contemplate the word still further, even writing it down to be looked up later in the dictionary. But then likely the concern fades away until it is brought up again when next the song is sung.

You may shrug off that you are using an unknown word and the problem rests until the next singing of the song. But again, when the hymn is announced and the singing commences, you have the uncomfortable concern that you are again about to sing — at the top of you voice, and with great feeling, a word like "buckler," and that other than from its context in the song, you haven't a clue as to what you are saying.

Let me introduce you to the "Hasek Glossary of Unfamiliar Words from Familiar Hymns." With it you will be able to set back with the secure knowledge that you know what you are singing about. So my dear friends, "be not disconsolate," "gird up you loins" and "head for the nearest sultry glebe."

Glossary of some unfamiliar words from familiar hymns

Word (Hymn No.): Definition

Balm (70): Aromatic ointment

Buckler (250): A method of protection, small shield

Diadem (272): A crown worn by royalty

Disconsolate (115): Hopelessly sad; gloomy

Dross (272): Waste product, worthless, commonplace, trivial

Efficacious (149): Capable of producing a desired result

Effulgent (116): Shining brilliantly

Felicity (147): Great happiness

Fervid (103): Fiery, enthusiastic, energetic

Gird (30): Fasten or secure, to prepare oneself for action

Glebe (109): Land, earth

Laud (246): To give praise

Legates (262): Official representation

Naught (17): Nothing, of no value

Psaltery (72): Stringed musical instrument

Refulgent (14): Shining radiantly

Tempestuous (104): Stormy

Verdure (42): Fresh, flourishing condition

Yore (21): Time long past

John Hasek lives in Nauvoo, Ill.

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