Page 44 - Church Music Quarterly June 2019
P. 44

At my present church we sing about 260 hymns each year and one of my objectives is that, apart from Christmastide and one or two other Sundays, we only sing any hymn once, except for the communion hymn as there aren’t enough of them. My sources of suggestions for any particular Sunday are:
„ The Lectionary
„ Sunday by Sunday (RSCM) with suggestions for each Sunday and other special services
„ The index at the back of the music edition of Ancient & Modern New Standard Edition
„ The hymns we sang on the corresponding Sunday three years ago.
I read with interest the letter from Rex Latter (CMQ, March 2018) regarding Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Sine Nomine, and I am in complete agreement with him. This great tune should be left as the composer wrote it. I am happy to say that the current hymnal used in the Anglican Church of Canada keeps the original version (Common Praise, 1998, #276). Unfortunately, in Emynau’r Llan (1997), the Welsh language hymnal of the Church in Wales, and presumably in some English hymnals, the ‘dissonant’ notes in measures 5 and 6 have been ‘eliminated’, and many organists may now be playing from corrupted texts.
My mother sang in Vaughan Williams’s choir, and I was told that he definitely wanted all the notes in any of his pieces to be played or sung as he wrote them. There is no good reason to disagree with him.
Keith Davies Jones, St George’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg, Canada
There is also the matter of deciding on the actual hymns, and here my principles are:
„ The Introit, an introduction providing a welcome and a good sing. „ The Gradual, something specifically related to the theme of the service and usually more reflective at this point. This is often a shorter hymn.
„ The Offertory, generally fairly long to give the president time to prepare for the communion. Either a hymn related to the theme of the service, or one in preparation for the communion. „ The Communion, a reflective hymn, generally fairly short, sung when the choir has returned to their places.
For a joint or benefice service with a larger congregation I might have two. „ Post Communion, a final hymn to
a well-known tune for a good sing and
I do agree with John Smith of the Towcester deanery. My church purchased copies of Hymns Old and New sometime after 1997, replacing our English Hymnals (sadly, in my view!). As John says, many hymns have been transposed down.
Why? One friend made the comment that he goes to church to be uplifted, and bringing the hymns down doesn’t help. Worse still, perhaps, the words of many hymns have been altered to expunge references to ‘man’ and ‘soldiers’. The worst is in ‘The Lord will come and not be slow’, words by John Milton, where the second verse has been turned into doggerel.
Fortunately, our copies of HON have now been replaced by a new version of Hymns Ancient & Modern. A great improvement! Juliet Chaplin, Cheam
a tune that people can hum on their way home, but also to say something summarizing the service.
The nitty-gritty of all this is a workbook on Microsoft Excel. It
has several worksheets, one for the hymn numbers and special notes
(e.g. Remembrance Sunday) and another for the first line of every hymn, psalm and anthem. Another is for lists of the hymns for that Sunday set out for cutting up in slips for the choir. The result is that I only need to enter the hymn numbers on one line of the worksheet and occasionally a note of a change of tune on the hymn list worksheet. I thus have a complete list of all the hymns, psalms and anthems since I started.
Philip Bowcock, Organist of All Saints, Dunsden
I was interested to see Mr Smith’s letter (CMQ, March 2019) concerning Kevin Mayhew’s recent One Family publication. Like you,
I wonder if the compilers considered the likely compass of the average congregational singer. The average must be B flat below middle C, and D or maybe E flat an octave and a half above. I would have expected the publishers to set the tunes in a key to fit within that range rather than
a seemingly arbitrary tone and a half down. I would certainly make an appropriate allowance for a high tessitura, in ‘Hark, the herald angels sing’, for example.
Another reason I wonder about the usefulness of this book is that several churches now have electronic organs with a transposing facility in semitone notches. I’d also like to think that those of us playing instruments without such a facility would be capable of transposing to a friendlier key. I did this at the church where I play until I was rumbled by the altos! Charles Pipe-Wolferstan

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