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Peter Clark

Lord Of The Years

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The fourth bar of the hymn tune Lord of the Years (by Michael Baughen), popular on SoP and Morning Worship, contains what I have always thought a quirky and somewhat unnecessary rhythmic element in that the first two notes are quaver - dotted crotchet. The tune itself is strong and the harmony (by David Illif in my hymnal) is imaginative without being off-puttingly adventurous. Does anybody else think this, and that the tune would works equally well were the two beats I referred to simply crotchet/crotchet?

 

Peter

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The fourth bar of the hymn tune Lord of the Years (by Michael Baughen), popular on SoP and Morning Worship, contains what I have always thought a quirky and somewhat unnecessary rhythmic element in that the first two notes are quaver - dotted crotchet. The tune itself is strong and the harmony (by David Illif in my hymnal) is imaginative without being off-puttingly adventurous. Does anybody else think this, and that the tune would works equally well were the two beats I referred to simply crotchet/crotchet?

 

Peter

Spooky. I was discussing that very point with a friend over a pint on Monday (I had to play it for a WI 90th anniversary service at the weekend). I agree, the Scotch snap is naff and spoils an otherwise strong tune.

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Guest Cynic
The fourth bar of the hymn tune Lord of the Years (by Michael Baughen), popular on SoP and Morning Worship, contains what I have always thought a quirky and somewhat unnecessary rhythmic element in that the first two notes are quaver - dotted crotchet. The tune itself is strong and the harmony (by David Illif in my hymnal) is imaginative without being off-puttingly adventurous. Does anybody else think this, and that the tune would works equally well were the two beats I referred to simply crotchet/crotchet?

 

Peter

 

 

I know the rhythm you mean. Of course, most congregations smooth this over and just sing a normal four beats instead. IMHO They are not wrong. [A tune unnecessarily trendified!] This is not the worst of the Michael Baughen hymn tunes, the palm is held by the one that quotes from 'I've been working on the railroad, all the livelong day'. If Mission Praise had a composer index, I'd be able to find out the first line for you now.... but it doesn't, so I can't.

 

This near-miraculous 'masterpiece' is fully matched by Graham Kendrick's 'All I once held dear' which borrows extensively from 'There once was an ugly duckling'. It is as much as I can do to stifle my reaction each time I have to play it. Mind you, when one is serving decent, sincere folks one has to do one's best not to over-react to the poverty-stricken efforts of musically-handicapped would-be hymn-writers.

 

Even Cesar Franck inadvertently borrowed from popular melody - note that in Panis Angelicus he quotes from Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber's immortal Jesus Christ Superstar*.

 

 

*And yes, I realise it actually happened the other way around.

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I know the rhythm you mean. Of course, most congregations smooth this over and just sing a normal four beats instead. IMHO They are not wrong.

 

Even Cesar Franck inadvertently borrowed from popular melody - note that in Panis Angelicus he quotes from Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber's immortal Jesus Christ Superstar*.

 

*And yes, I realise it actually happened the other way around.

 

Shurrly not, my dear Watson. Does that mean Mr Ravel also stole from the Kinght of the Realm (cf Bolero/Memory) and Mr Mendelssohn (cf slow mov't vln conc/I don't know how to love him)? Perhaps mr Lloyd Webber isn't as talented as we've all been led to believe.....

 

On the original matter, I actually quite like the stutter in the rhythm of the tune, though with two contrasting results. Yes, the church congregation never quite got it and did smooth over it a bit, but both my current and last school actually took to the rhythm very easily.

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Shurrly not, my dear Watson. Does that mean Mr Ravel also stole from the Kinght of the Realm (cf Bolero/Memory) and Mr Mendelssohn (cf slow mov't vln conc/I don't know how to love him)? Perhaps mr Lloyd Webber isn't as talented as we've all been led to believe.....

 

On the original matter, I actually quite like the stutter in the rhythm of the tune, though with two contrasting results. Yes, the church congregation never quite got it and did smooth over it a bit, but both my current and last school actually took to the rhythm very easily.

a. Isn't it "Lord for the years" ?

b. I prefer the dotted rhythm

c. Hope you've got a good lawyer

d. Can anyone play the Wesley fugue in C without singing "Tell it out among the heathen"?

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d) I can't, certainly.

 

Perhaps one of the reasons I no longer play regularly for services is that, after some years, I can no longer bring myself to attempt to play that kind of 'music' exemplified by "Mission Praise", "Songs of Fellowship", and the like. A personal choice, but one which has removed a considerable amount of stress!

 

(In fact I do remember in one church, where NEH was the norm, that I had, probably in a Freudian moment, forgotten to take a copy of "Mission Praise" into the loft for a special request by a new incumbent - this gave me the opportunity to take a pair of tongs down to the chapel below to fetch the publication - somewhat obviously. Don't ask why a pair of tongs were in the loft - it's a long and boring story.)

 

Some years ago, I had the 'privilege' of taking part as a horn player in several performances(!) of the Lloyd Webber Requiem conducted, with various northern choral societies, by a well-known cathedral musician who went from a northern city to a more southerly cathedral. Not one performance was without its farcical aspects. At least one made some money out of it.

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a. Isn't it "Lord for the years" ?

The hymn itself starts "Lord, for the years", but the hymn tune is named after the last line of each verse - "Lord of the years".

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I'm afraid that I too find the rhythm in that bar rather unnecessary. I find that I play it as written, but they sing it straight. I should give up and just join them.

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"Shurrly not, my dear Watson. Does that mean Mr Ravel also stole from the Knight of the Realm (cf Bolero/Memory) and Mr Mendelssohn (cf slow mov't vln conc/I don't know how to love him)? Perhaps Mr Lloyd Webber isn't as talented as we've all been led to believe....."

 

 

 

Have you been listening to Kit & The Widow perchance?......

Regards, Oliver.

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The fourth bar of the hymn tune Lord of the Years (by Michael Baughen), popular on SoP and Morning Worship, contains what I have always thought a quirky and somewhat unnecessary rhythmic element in that the first two notes are quaver - dotted crotchet. The tune itself is strong and the harmony (by David Illif in my hymnal) is imaginative without being off-puttingly adventurous. Does anybody else think this, and that the tune would works equally well were the two beats I referred to simply crotchet/crotchet?

 

Peter

Hang on a mo! I might only be a part-time amateur hymn player, but has anybody thought to ask the composer or arranger before changing things? When so often in these pages we are encouraged to respect the composer's intentions, why is this different?

JC

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The hymn itself starts "Lord, for the years", but the hymn tune is named after the last line of each verse - "Lord of the years".

I stand corrected!

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Have you been listening to Kit & The Widow perchance?......

Regards, Oliver.

 

I thought I heard it once on a Radio 2 broadcast in a programme done by Richard Stilgoe years ago. There were loads more examples of LW 'cribbing' allegedly (I think the use of that word gets you round needing a lawyer, or at least that's what they say on Have I got news for you).

 

In answer to (d) neil, the answer is no as well.

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This near-miraculous 'masterpiece' is fully matched by Graham Kendrick's 'All I once held dear' which borrows extensively from 'There once was an ugly duckling'.

I can't play that one without following "Knowing you, Jesus" with a silent "AHA!"...

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Hang on a mo! I might only be a part-time amateur hymn player, but has anybody thought to ask the composer or arranger before changing things? When so often in these pages we are encouraged to respect the composer's intentions, why is this different?

JC

 

I quite agree. I hate it when hymn tunes are changed by local congregations - like Abide with me without the semibreves etc. etc. Do the hymn as written or leave it alone.

 

I think that if the tune of Lord for the Years is smoothed out the first line seems very banal (although I must admit that, I play the lower parts of the "offending" bar of this hymn in crotchets, so some inconsistency there!).

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I quite agree. I hate it when hymn tunes are changed by local congregations - like Abide with me without the semibreves etc. etc. Do the hymn as written or leave it alone.

 

snip

 

 

This sounds fine, very principled - is this really what you would do with the printed rhythm in Nun Danket?

I'd be very surprised if like me you haven't felt it necessary to add an extra beat (over and above the printed text) in order to give a congregation room to breathe.

 

The truth is, hymns have to be singable. Some trendy hymns are presented to an organist complete with bizarre rhythms which are at best an approximation of what a rock group might do to them at Spring Harvest or similar. What a congregation tends to arrive at in practice is often simpler and 'their version' might well be much more singable and tons more natural. As for us writing to The Very Revd.Michael Baughen asking whether he would like his hymn re-written......

 

I remember hearing a back-stage account of his Enthronement Service at Chester Cathedral some years ago. When asked what he might like the cathedral choir to contribute to the service, he replied that he would like them to sing Lead me Lord by S.S.Wesley as their only item in a service lasting more than two hours. I think any further comment is superfluous at this point.

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As for the Baughen tune - as there's no change of syllable, the Scotch snap doesn't cause any undue ugliness from the singers. My habit is to play the whole thing 2 to a bar (as suggested by the first line) and let the choir fill in the crotchets. This makes it feel a lot more natural.

 

As for altered/amended hymn tunes - the one I really can't stand is the abbreviated Slane, with the missing upbeats.

 

As for plagiarism - I have lost count of the number of composers who have shamelessly cribbed passages of Karl Jenkins. All of which said, I cannot imagine what Mr Lloyd Webber and others would produce without being influenced, as has oft been alleged, by other composers and pieces.

 

Quotation can be used to splendid effect when you're honest enough to write in the margin "With apologies to Elgar" or whoever. David Owen Norris does this a lot, and never tries to conceal it. It's rather nice to watch the themes develop as each subsequent piece rolls off the desk.

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Quotation can be used to splendid effect when you're honest enough to write in the margin "With apologies to Elgar" or whoever. David Owen Norris does this a lot, and never tries to conceal it. It's rather nice to watch the themes develop as each subsequent piece rolls off the desk.

When somebody accused Leonard Bernstein of stealing Beethoven or Stravinsky (there's a load of both in West Side Story) he's reported to have replied "If you're gonna steal, steal CLASS."

 

Organ related aside: I played a couple of extracts from The Magic Flute on the organ for a funeral a couple of weeks ago and they worked really well.

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I agree with Peter Clark and others who find this lone nod to “modernism” gratuitous. Like Mr Coram and others I just play crochets in the lower parts there and leave the choir and congregation to work out their own salvation. I am, however, intrigued by the fact that no one appears to have any reservations about the last line, which strikes me as being very weak as a result of all those repeated notes. I fear that this tune will, probably, not stand the test of time in the same way that, for example, Michael, or even Guiting Power, despite its ridiculously wide range, have done; nor do I think that it deserves to.

 

With reference to what a composer might think of his masterpiece being changed without permission, I am equally intrigued by Peter’s readiness to suggest a weakness in this tune when he seemed unable to spot a similar weakness (for me) that I pointed out, in other topic, in “Coe Fen”. Would I have been right to remove the 'extra bar' in “Coe Fen”? Of course not, and thus I don’t use it.

 

David Harrison

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Guest Echo Gamba
I agree with Peter Clark and others who find this lone nod to "modernism" gratuitous. Like Mr Coram and others I just play crochets in the lower parts there and leave the choir and congregation to work out their own salvation. I am, however, intrigued by the fact that no one appears to have any reservations about the last line, which strikes me as being very weak as a result of all those repeated notes. I fear that this tune will, probably, not stand the test of time in the same way that, for example, Michael, or even Guiting Power, despite its ridiculously wide range, have done; nor do I think that it deserves to.

 

With reference to what a composer might think of his masterpiece being changed without permission, I am equally intrigued by Peter's readiness to suggest a weakness in this tune when he seemed unable to spot a similar weakness (for me) that I pointed out, in other topic, in "Coe Fen". Would I have been right to remove the 'extra bar' in "Coe Fen"? Of course not, and thus I don't use it.

 

David Harrison

 

Do you mean the tied dotted minim C's at the end of the penultimate phrase of "Coe Fen"? (haven't got tune to hand to check bar numbers) Personally, I think it is a perfect culmination to the foregoing phrase. Congregations like holding notes at the end of phrases anyway ;)

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This sounds fine, very principled - is this really what you would do with the printed rhythm in Nun Danket?

I'd be very surprised if like me you haven't felt it necessary to add an extra beat (over and above the printed text) in order to give a congregation room to breathe.

 

I think adding time for the congregation to breathe is different to halving notes in a printed tune (which was what I was complaining about in Abide with me).

 

In any case, my copy of Riemenschneider has pauses in bars 4 and 8 and I have no compunction in adding extra time here. (Although, before someone makes the point: I don't always observe pauses in chorale melodies and I ignore those on the dotted minims. And I am aware that some modern hymn books either leave out all the pauses (AMNS) or only put some in (NEH)).

 

Stephen Barber

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Rheinberger organ concerto No 2 has a main theme remarkably similar to the Elgar Enigma Variations theme. The Rheinberger, of course, was written before the Elgar.

 

Malcolm

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As for altered/amended hymn tunes - the one I really can't stand is the abbreviated Slane, with the missing upbeats.

 

NO! The "proper" Slane (i.e. the original adaptation of the Irish Ballad) does NOT have the awful, silly upbeats. It was originally used for the wonderful Be thou my vision as translated by Mary Byrne and versified by Eleanor Hull.

 

However it had the upbeats added to fit the words of the ubiquitous Lord of All Hopefulness. Bad enough, you might think. But worse was to come: someone had the bright idea of bastardizing the words of Be thou my vision to fit the newly-bastardized tune. So the word "be"was added at the beginning of no fewer than 8 lines, and various words added in other places. Ugh! Sing Be thou my vision as originally written or not at all!

 

Stephen Barber

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I always think that Slane sounds infinitely better with those upbeats in. Regardless of whether or not it was the original, asking God to 'be' all those things makes far more sense to me.

 

As for Lord for the years, I will play what is written and they can sing what they like. I don't have a particular issue with that rhythm - its a little quirky and a bit different. The hymn itself is such a useful one and a good marriage of words to music, so for those reasons I think it will stick around for some while.

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NO! The "proper" Slane (i.e. the original adaptation of the Irish Ballad) does NOT have the awful, silly upbeats. It was originally used for the wonderful Be thou my vision as translated by Mary Byrne and versified by Eleanor Hull.

 

However it had the upbeats added to fit the words of the ubiquitous Lord of All Hopefulness. Bad enough, you might think. But worse was to come: someone had the bright idea of bastardizing the words of Be thou my vision to fit the newly-bastardized tune. So the word "be"was added at the beginning of no fewer than 8 lines, and various words added in other places. Ugh! Sing Be thou my vision as originally written or not at all!

 

Stephen Barber

I take it you haven't come across the version in HON then...

 

Re. Lord for the years, I can't say my congregation has a problem with it. I encouraged them to enjoy the quaver and dotted crotchet and they've sung it with relish ever since. There's no need to dumb anything down for my lot...

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With reference to what a composer might think of his masterpiece being changed without permission, I am equally intrigued by Peter’s readiness to suggest a weakness in this tune when he seemed unable to spot a similar weakness (for me) that I pointed out, in other topic, in “Coe Fen”. Would I have been right to remove the 'extra bar' in “Coe Fen”? Of course not, and thus I don’t use it.

 

David Harrison

 

Actually David I did address this issue and even attempted an analysis of this "extra bar"..... look again! ;)

 

Peter

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