Hymns for the Feast of Joan of Arc / Jehanne D'arc (30 May)

This is a selection of English-language hymns suitable for the feast of St Joan of Arc, which is celebrated on 30 May, or other services about her.

The hymn suggestions below are either directly about Joan, or based on the themes from her life and work.

The list is divided into two parts:   free-use materials that can be freely used with no concerns about copyright (because they are in the public domain), and hymns that may still be copyright depending on the laws in your country.

As well as these, Joan has inspired many contemporary secular song-writers.   One list of the best from the early 21st century is here.  There are many others - but few if any of the songs listen could be used as a hymn.

There are many English-language prayers translated from (sections of) Ditie de Jehanne d'Arc ("Song in Honor of Joan of Arc") by medieval poet Christine de Pizan (1364 – c. 1430) - which is described as a hymn although is not typically sung.  But finding any set to music in the form of hymns that people can sing together (ie not works for soloists) has been challenging.


About St Joan of Arc / Jehanne D'arc

Jehanne D'arc was born in rural France in 1412, during the Hundred Years War.

While she was minding sheep on her parent's farm, she began to hear voices and see visions from God, telling her that she had been chosen to free France from England's rule. Believing, she impersonated a man so that she could join the army, and in 1429 she was sent by Charles VII to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief army. The siege was lifted only nine days later. - and Joan first came to prominence.   This battle would later lead to her being known as The Maid of Orleans. Several further swift victories enabled Charles VII's coronation at as King of France, which boosted French morale and thus paved the way French victory.

In May 1430, Joan was captured by a group of French nobles who were allied with the English. She was hand to the English[ and tried by bishop Pierre Cauchon, who found her guilty of various charges, including heresy and cross-dressing. She was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431.

In 1456, a court authorised by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, found her innocent, and declared Joan to be a martyr.

She was declared a national symbol of France in 1803, beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. Joan of Arc is one of nine secondary patron saints of France, as well as the patron saint of martyrs; prisoners / captives, military personnel / soldiers.

Her story has inspired many artists, musicians, poets and writers, and is depicted in many aspects of popular culture.  Although she is patron of  people ridiculed for their piety, she does not appear to have inspired widespread piety in English-speaking countries.   Instead most of the fascination with her is secular, focusing on her bravery, cross-dressing, and the way she was killed.


Readings

The suggestions here have been used in France, but may not be the official ones for this feast in other countries - many places do not have a set of readings for this feast day.

Introduction:   Exodus 15:1-2 - Sing to the Lord ... the horse and the rider he has thrown into the sea

Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my salvation, Of whom shall I be afraid / Unto thee will I cry, O Lord / Hear, O Lord, the voice of my supplication / Draw me not away together with the wicked

First - Wisdom 8:9-15: A description of wisdom, with strong parallels to Joan's story: ... by the means of her I shall have immortality ...: leave behind me an everlasting memory ... I shall set the people in order ... Terrible kings hearing shall be afraid of me

Gospel Matthew 16:24 - 27: Take up your cross and follow me



Free-use hymns

Joan of Arc They are Calling You

Song of St Joan of Arc - in French - more info here.

Take up your Cross

The Maid of France, With Vision'd Eyes



Hymns and songs which may still be copyright

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God - Scott (Joan  is the "shepherdess on the green")

Praise God For Joan Of Arc - Downing (info here)

Stand Firm (Cameroon traditional - English translator unknown)



Resources for church-music selection



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