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Peter Clark

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I think its a fantastic modern tune, possibly the greatest of the 20th century.

It probably does take a little more getting used to than some others, but thats because of the ways its written, its different and thats what makes it good.

 

 

IM not very HO there are other tunes that would give it a run for its money as the best from the 20th century. Pantyfedwen is one of them, as is Tydi a Roddaist, which, together with Coe Fen, made it to New English Praise.

 

Love Unknown has my vote for the entire century, but I agree with guilmant that East Acklam takes the cake for late 20th century tunes.

 

(That said, sometimes I can't resist using Ar Hyd y Nos for a good congregational romp!)

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I think I would count Michael as among such tunes, Patrick. Would you (& others) agree? I know it is probably a bit "overused" these days but it is a splendid tune. BTW Wills did an organ piece based on it.

 

It also has a somewhat bizarre descand and re-harmonised last verse, done, I think, by Howells himself.

 

Peter

I agree it is splendid. There is indeed a descant by Howells. I believe he wrote it for some combined choirs event at the Royal Albert Hall around 1970, give or take a year. At least that seems to be when it first came to anyone's notice. I hate to say this about HH, but personally I think it's absolutely horrid and doesn't work at all.

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I agree it is splendid. There is indeed a descant by Howells. I believe he wrote it for some combined choirs event at the Royal Albert Hall around 1970, give or take a year. At least that seems to be when it first came to anyone's notice. I hate to say this about HH, but personally I think it's absolutely horrid and doesn't work at all.

 

Absolutely - it almost ruins a superb tune.

 

I have an organ re-harmonisation which was written by a colleague; this I use in preference every time. It is a stunning 'last verse' arrangement and does all the things which I feel that the descant by HH should do - but does not.

 

East Acklam is pleasant, but for me, it does not have that (hard-to-define-accurately) element, that facet which makes my 'toes clench in my shoes as full Swell comes shining through the G.O. diapasons' *. However, I find that Coe Fen, or even Guiting Power do have this ability.

 

 

 

* To quote (loosely) Gordon Reynolds.

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Absolutely - it almost ruins a superb tune.

 

I have an organ re-harmonisation which was written by a colleague; this I use in preference every time. It is a stunning 'last verse' arrangement and does all the things which I feel that the descant by HH should do - but does not.

 

East Acklam is pleasant, but for me, it does not have that (hard-to-define-accurately) element, that facet which makes my 'toes clench in my shoes as full Swell comes shining through the G.O. diapasons' *. However, I find that Coe Fen, or even Guiting Power do have this ability.

* To quote (loosely) Gordon Reynolds.

 

I think it does have this quality! And there is splendid last verse by FJ himself in the same book. Guiting Power, also very good tune. There's an excellent descant by Barnard himself, but an even better one in the RSCM book we used a few years ago for the local Diocesan Festival.

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Guest Barry Williams

"If we're having 'best late 20th century tune', I'm afraid there's no competition IMHO; East Acklam by Francis Jackson, by a long way, especially if sung to the 'For the fruits of his creation' words. "

 

 

I agree that this is a very fine tune. East Acklam was written in 1957 and was first sung at an Old Choristers of York service in October of that year, to the words 'God that madest earth and heaven' , making a good alternative to Ard hyd y nos.

 

Mr Fred P Green was specifically asked to write a harvest hymn to Dr Jackson's fine tune. The words are useful but by no means outstanding.

 

However, a finer example of a hymn composed to a specific tune is Wesley's Love Divine, which was written for Henry Purcell's Fairest Isle, though few hymn books set it thus, which is, perhaps, a pity.

 

Coe Fen seems to take over so that the words do not predominate, which they should with a hymn. I was once shown how a few discrete alterations to the harmonies improve Coe Fen no end.

 

Does anyone like Derek Williams' San Rocco, which goes well to 'Give us the wings of faith'? (In D flat please and with the bridge passage, not the simplified version!)

 

Barry Williams

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Coe Fen seems to take over so that the words do not predominate, which they should with a hymn.

I think that - bizarely perhaps - it's very rare that words are the most important part in a hymn. It's normally the tune that people remember and enjoy most. I can agree with you in theory but, in practice, it doesn't work this way.

 

Take for example, as an Offertory hymn, the verse "Take my silver and my gold. Not a mite would I withhold." as the singer contemplates how little he/she should donate.

 

Or bits of nonsense one often hears such as "Through gates of pearl streams. In the countless host."

 

"The Lord's my shepherd I'll not want. He makes me down to lie. In pastures green he leadeth me. The quiet waters by.".

 

If the words are sung with thought and understanding, Coe Fen is a marvellous partner to those fine words of John Mason and helps lift them into a higher orbit.

 

It's just a pity that one of my clergy doesn't like "heavenly hymns"! :lol:

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"The Lord's my shepherd I'll not want. He makes me down to lie. In pastures green he leadeth me. The quiet waters by."

This is almost like that old punctuation puzzle:

 

Cesar entered on his head

A helmet on each foot

A sandal in his hand he had

His trusty sword to boot

 

It's just a pity that one of my clergy doesn't like "heavenly hymns"! :lol:

Huh? ;)

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Does anyone like Derek Williams' San Rocco, which goes well to 'Give us the wings of faith'? (In D flat please and with the bridge passage, not the simplified version!)

 

Barry Williams

 

Yes, it is a good tune, although unfortunately we have not used it at the Minster as far as I can remember.

 

Incidentally, Barry, I need to contact you regarding my Fanfare (and anthems) at some point soon.

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Does anyone like Derek Williams' San Rocco, which goes well to 'Give us the wings of faith'? (In D flat please and with the bridge passage, not the simplified version!)

 

Barry Williams

 

Yes, an extremely fine tune Barry though I do not know the version with the bridge passage. As a tune it is quite adventurous as it has a wide range (top Eb to Db if I recall correctly) and it neither starts nor ends on a tonic note (and anyway the key is ambiguous as it starts in Bb minor and ends in Db).

 

Peter

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My comment seems to have sparked off quite a debate!

 

East Acklam is a nice tune, I do like the build up through the 5th, 6th and 7th lines but I feel its climax is ruined by a rather nondescript ending. Coe Fen on the other hand reaches its climax at the end, particularly when singing the last verse "Thy time is now and evermore...", a wonderful way to finish a hymn.

I'm a big fan of Guiting Power too, its similar to Coe Fen in many respects and is a truly uplifting tune, which really enables you to sing the words with meaning IMO.

Michael is fantastic too, and Love Unknown is also a good mention, and both fit very well with the feel of the words. I'm not familiar with San Rocco though.

 

With all these arguments, its great to remember that, even now in the days of more modern worship songs being prevalent, people are still writing (and theres still a place for) fantastic new hymn tunes!

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... I'm a big fan of Guiting Power too ...

 

Indeed - although with this tune (and without feeling remotely guilty), I always play a two-bar phrase between each verse (which changes slightly before the last verse), since I am convinced that this is one tune which does not benefit from a 'silent' gap between verses. Does anyone else do anything like this?

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Indeed - although with this tune (and without feeling remotely guilty), I always play a two-bar phrase between each verse (which changes slightly before the last verse), since I am convinced that this is one tune which does not benefit from a 'silent' gap between verses. Does anyone else do anything like this?

 

No - but it makes a lot of sense: I'll ask Lyndon to try it, or try it myself in the remote event that I end up playing it! :lol:

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I don't normally 'link' verses but I might give that some thought - thanks pcnd !

 

I do sometimes play a short introductory prelude for a rousing occasion. I first tried this with Monk's Gate, using the last half of the Thalben-Ball

version from his book of 113 variations on hymn tunes (Novello) which went down a storm. Start from the pedal Bb in the 3rd system...

 

Another contender for fine 20thC tunes :

 

Corvedale (Maurice Bevan). Common Praise 598 There's a wideness in God's mercy with a handsome descant to finish of verse 7.

 

H

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Indeed - although with this tune (and without feeling remotely guilty), I always play a two-bar phrase between each verse (which changes slightly before the last verse), since I am convinced that this is one tune which does not benefit from a 'silent' gap between verses. Does anyone else do anything like this?

 

Yes, regularly! The temptation is to to do a "chopsticks" 1-6-4(or 2)-5 but I try to resist this. And in Anima Christe (Soul of my Saviour) I have devised a way to modulate from Eb to G in two bars between verses 2 & 3!

 

Peter

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Another contender for fine 20thC tunes :

 

Corvedale (Maurice Bevan). Common Praise 598 There's a wideness in God's mercy with a handsome descant to finish of verse 7.

 

H

 

Very much agree!

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Guest Barry Williams

Corvedale is a wonderful tune but Faber's words are dreadful. I could not understand this because Faber's standing in poetry was high indeed. However, he had a regrettable conviction that fine poetry was unsuitable for ordinary congregations. The results were unfortunate.

 

Maurice Bevan's magnificent tune has power and dignity far beyond other tunes of the same period. The introduction and link passages are especially effective and make me wonder how often organists improvise these for 'ordinary' hymns. I have always found link passages or inter-verse fanfares far more thrilling than the (usually banal) last verse harmonies that are inflicted on the unwilling congregation on every possible occasion.

 

Barry Williams

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Corvedale is a wonderful tune but Faber's words are dreadful. I could not understand this because Faber's standing in poetry was high indeed. However, he had a regrettable conviction that fine poetry was unsuitable for ordinary congregations. The results were unfortunate.

 

Maurice Bevan's magnificent tune has power and dignity far beyond other tunes of the same period. The introduction and link passages are especially effective and make me wonder how often organists improvise these for 'ordinary' hymns. I have always found link passages or inter-verse fanfares far more thrilling than the (usually banal) last verse harmonies that are inflicted on the unwilling congregation on every possible occasion.

 

Barry Williams

 

Hi

 

I sometimes use links between verses. Although the book has, in my view, major limitations, some of the links in "Hymns for the People" are quite useful (but some of the introductions are dire!). Probably not worth buying the book just for the links though (and I doubt if it's still in print anyway).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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  • 10 months later...
Indeed - although with this tune (and without feeling remotely guilty), I always play a two-bar phrase between each verse (which changes slightly before the last verse), since I am convinced that this is one tune which does not benefit from a 'silent' gap between verses. Does anyone else do anything like this?

 

 

I did a non-chopsticks phrase yesterday before the last verse: hold pedal low F and play triplet crotchets: f minor, g minor, a flat major (all first inversion) then shift to pedal B flat and play (triplets again, with a bit of a rall) B flat, C minor (first inversions) then B flat 7 (second inversion without the B flat) and a full E flat chord leading into the last verse in which I reduce the speed slightly.

 

Peter

 

edit: someone, can't remember who, said of this tune (in another thread) that it is not the easiest to play and I agree that it doesn't lie too comfortably under the fingers.

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I always play a two-bar phrase between each verse. Does anyone else do anything like this?

'Paderborn' always gets an interlude from me, and the Sussex Carol (On Christmas Night...) gets the 2-bar Carols for Choirs intro between verses, even when a congregational hymn.

'Camberwell' (At the name of Jesus) has an interlude provided, of course. The congregation seem quite used to it, but I can't see their expressions at the moment that the swell box opens yet again, heading for verse 6...

 

Ian CK

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