Jump to content
Mander Organs
Peter Clark

Lord Of The Years

Recommended Posts

From Peter Clark (Sorry - I haven't yet sussed the quote bit; I'll work on it during the sermon)

 

Well for a start it just sounds nice!

 

More seriously it seems to provide a "proto-climax" to the tune, heightened by the suspension and resolution into the "extra" bar which demands a slight interruption to the established rythmic pattern. This sense of psychological tension is finally overcome by the conclusion of the tune when it returns to the expected bar-count and home key.

 

 

 

Peter, thank you for drawing my attention to your previous comment about “Coe Fen”, of which I was fully aware.

 

I feel that what you have did then was to present an explanation of why you like it, which is not, I contend, what I asked for. It is obvious that you love the tune and that’s absolutely fine by me, but that of itself does not necessarily make it an example of correct musical procedure, any more than my own predilections would justify changing, or wanting to change a composer’s work, such as the 'Scotch Snap' in 'Lord for the Years'. Considered purely as a piece of music, I can see that there are many other examples of the same sort of thing being done elsewhere; my reservation was simply that it may not be the ideal way to ‘design’ a congregational hymn. However, one gathers from others that congregations seem to have no difficulty with it and thus such reservations as I have seem largely unimportant.

 

Given your very carefully thought out reasoning for how musically satisfactory that extra bar is, for you!, how do you feel about the end of the third line of ‘Blaenwern’? I suspect that you would recoil, like everybody else, from the idea of adding an extra bar because we are all used to it as it is, but does it make that modulation to line four any more acceptable?

 

I know that it is possible to cover the worst aspects of the modulation in the last bar of line three, especially in the last verse, but imagine it with the extra bar - I reckon it would have the same impact as the ‘Coe Fen’ tune, and would, I suggest, make even more musical sense.

 

Nevertheless, if called upon to play either hymn, like almost everyone else, I will try to play what the composers wrote.

 

David Harrison

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I take it you haven't come across the version in HON then...

 

Certainly have. It's the only good thing about the dreadful book - although the harmonies are not to my taste.

 

Stephen Barber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

 

Gosh! Try it at a dignified pace and not the modern "Songs of Praise razzmatazz" speed.

 

As for the words - the rhythm of the original is FAR better to my ears. It's like comparing BCP Gloria to Common Worship Gloria.

 

Stephen Barber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Cynic
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...

 

 

Let me be as polite as I can,

Twyford is in Stockbroker Belt, isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

 

Even worse is the 'happy clappy' version that puts the tune in 4/4. Rhythm is dotted crotchet/dotted crotchet/two quavers in first bar etc. DOne because most drummers in those sorty of bands find 3/4 hard to accompany (let alone whether it is appropriate or not).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am reminded of the preface to Mercer's Church Psalter and Hymn Book (1854):

 

The Compiler has not felt himself at liberty to reject the least objectionable of the tunes in triple measure, such as Rockingham, Irish, Abridge, &c. They are good in their particular style, though that style may not be pronounced the best :

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Compiler has not felt himself at liberty to reject the least objectionable of the tunes in triple measure, such as Rockingham, Irish, Abridge, &c. They are good in their particular style, though that style may not be pronounced the best :

Now my brain might well be more than usually befuddled at this late hour by my spectacularly unsuccessful attempts to wring some semblance of taste out of a singularly "unassuming" Benriach, but have I really read this correctly? The compiler actually preferred the more objectionable triple-measure tunes? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Now my brain might well be more than usually befuddled at this late hour by my spectacularly unsuccessful attempts to wring some semblance of taste out of a singularly "unassuming" Benriach, but have I really read this correctly? The compiler actually preferred the more objectionable triple-measure tunes? ;)

 

I do not think it is so much a question of the compiler's preferences (he does not expressly state any, though the implication is obvious) as of what he felt at liberty to reject. I took what was written to mean that the compiler did not feel able to deny a place to the least objectionable tunes but was prepared to do so to the more objectionable ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

 

Although even the slightly mutilated version which is printed in HON is better than the version a 'band' performed in the Minster at a wedding a few years ago; they played it as a slow (oh so slow) ballad - in common time. Unsurprisingly, the congregation were totally confused and barely sang after the first couple of lines. I did enjoy leading them clearly (and strongly) in the following hymn - whilst the band sat (under the chamade) with sour faces.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Echo Gamba
Although even the slightly mutilated version which is printed in HON is better than the version a 'band' performed in the Minster at a wedding a few years ago; they played it as a slow (oh so slow) ballad - in common time. Unsurprisingly, the congregation were totally confused and barely sang after the first couple of lines. I did enjoy leading them clearly (and strongly) in the following hymn - whilst the band sat (under the chamade) with sour faces.

 

And was said register brought into play? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Although even the slightly mutilated version which is printed in HON i

 

But It's NOT mutilated (unless you are referring to the harmonies). The "dumbed-down" version with extra notes gratuitously added, especially when used for the rhythmically emasculated version of Be Thou my vision, is an excrescence. So three cheers for HON - can't believe I've just written that!

 

Stephen Barber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The compiler actually preferred the more objectionable triple-measure tunes? ;)

No! I didn't include the purple passage that follows on old Methodist tunes; nor his remarks on sober, steady movement. He feels tainted by having included any triple-measure tunes.

 

all tunes of a florid structure and of secular associations are allowed no admission here. [...] The spurious, crude, irreverent, inartistic productions which have so long occupied the room of their elder brethren, the rightful heirs to the people's confidence and attachment, are rapidly losing the position which they have so unjustly usurped,

The musical editor was John Goss.

 

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

 

Down Ampney is another instance where extra space is anticipated and, somehow, right. Rockingham, on the other hand....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

 

The original Songs of Praise book of 1936 was, I believe, the first time Slane appeared in print - and it had the upbeats in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would most definitely prefer it without the upbeats in 3/4 to any version in 4/4. Unnecessarily 'jazzed up'. But as far as what is comfortable and logical to sing, I find the upbeats better, regardless of whether they were original or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The original Songs of Praise book of 1936 was, I believe, the first time Slane appeared in print - and it had the upbeats in.

'Fraid not! It was first printed in 1919 for the words of "Be Thou my Vision" in the Irish Church Hymnal - only turned into the jogging waltz later. Though I must admit that I didn't know that "Lord of all Hopefulness" was in Songs of Praise: another wonderful addition to hymnody it produced alongside the theologically profound "Morning has Broken." Where would wedding couples be without these two wonderful hymns?

 

Anyway, do what you like with "Lord of all hopefulness" (I can provide some suggestions to any one who wants) but don't do the rhythmically dumbed-down version of Be Thou my vision (doesn't a poet have any rights?). Sing "Lord of all Power" instead, if you must have the silly upbeats.

 

Anyone who doesn't believe me, try reading through both versions of Be thou my vision as poetry.

 

Stephen Barber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I would most definitely prefer it without the upbeats in 3/4 to any version in 4/4. Unnecessarily 'jazzed up'. But as far as what is comfortable and logical to sing, I find the upbeats better, regardless of whether they were original or not.

 

Ah. Comfortable. I see.

 

Stephen Barber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No! I didn't include the purple passage that follows on old Methodist tunes; nor his remarks on sober, steady movement. He feels tainted by having included any triple-measure tunes.

Thank you. I thought he must have meant something like that.

 

In general I agree with those who would respect composers' wishes, but when I am confronted with one - or an arranger - who shows little competence there are times when I feel compelled to abandon my principles.

 

I realise we are discussing mainly modern tunes here, but if we insisted on applying the principle to all hymn tunes we would have to make our congregations sing Ein feste Burg in its original form. When the Old 100th was printed c.1559 the tune was in the customary form, except that the second and third notes of the last line were twice the length we now sing them. Would any of us want to return to this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But It's NOT mutilated (unless you are referring to the harmonies). The "dumbed-down" version with extra notes gratuitously added, especially when used for the rhythmically emasculated version of Be Thou my vision, is an excrescence. So three cheers for HON - can't believe I've just written that!

 

Stephen Barber

The precise meaning of your post eludes me. Do you mean that the version in AMNS (for example) is a later version and that the tune, as it appears in HON, is actually the original rendering?

 

If this is the case, then I must disagree with you. The version in AMNS (395) to my ears has a better flow and overall shape.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... Anyway, do what you like with "Lord of all hopefulness" (I can provide some suggestions to any one who wants) but don't do the rhythmically dumbed-down version of Be Thou my vision (doesn't a poet have any rights?). Sing "Lord of all Power" instead, if you must have the silly upbeats.

 

Anyone who doesn't believe me, try reading through both versions of Be thou my vision as poetry.

 

Stephen Barber

 

Having had to study the war poems of Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke killed any interest I may once have had in poetry.

 

If the weather was not so inclement, I would go over to church and refresh my memory. However, I am due to spend the greater part of tomorrow in the building, so I might have a look during the sermon. Either way, the version in common time destroyed any dignity of either of the other renderings; I cannot recall ever hearing any hymn as slow as that was played.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If this is the case, then I must disagree with you. The version in AMNS (395) to my ears has a better flow and overall shape.

Agreed, although I'm not entirely convinced by the harmonisation.

 

Having had to study the war poems of Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke killed any interest I may once have had in poetry.

I found at school that the poetry of Wilfred Owen was so intensely poignant that it actually helped kindle my love of poetry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The precise meaning of your post eludes me. Do you mean that the version in AMNS (for example) is a later version and that the tune, as it appears in HON, is actually the original rendering?

 

If this is the case, then I must disagree with you. The version in AMNS (395) to my ears has a better flow and overall shape.

 

Pardon? I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with.

 

The original form of the adapted melody was WITHOUT the upbeats. This fitted the original version of Be Thou my vision. Do you dispute that (see posts 22 & 41)?

 

As regards your own preferences, you are perfectly entitled to prefer the dumbed-down (in my opinion, of course!) and regularized later version which fits Lord of all hopefulness. In any case you have to use this version if you want to sing those words. However the words of Be Thou my vision are so much better and more profound. (I scarcely feel I have to say that that is a matter of opinion.)

 

The original words of Be Thou my vision were not in the banal rhythm seen in, for example, Common Praise, but in the far better, and more interesting, metre seen in HON.

 

I make a plea for all right-minded and discerning organists (all of you, I'm sure) to eschew the bowdlerized version of the words and go for the real thing. I repeat: if you read through the text of both versions you will see what I mean.

 

Cyril Taylor has made a strong plea that Slane be reserved for Be Thou my vision and not to have its impact weakened through overuse. I have to say that I can live without ever singing, hearing or playing Lord of all hopefulness again.

 

Stephen Barber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pardon? I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with.

 

The original form of the adapted melody was WITHOUT the upbeats. This fitted the original version of Be Thou my vision. Do you dispute that (see posts 22 & 41)?

 

Neither was I sure what you were disagreeing with, Stephen. However, your post above makes it clear.

 

I have compared the two versions this morning - frankly I cannot see the attraction of the 'original' version (HON)*. I would be the first to admit that I am not an expert in the appreciation of poetic verse; this said, to me, the flow of the text as given (for example in NEH 339) appears to be superior in every way to that as laid out in HON. I cannot see that the absence of either notes (as upbeats) or ther attendant 'extra' syllables is a detraction. If anything, the additional word 'be' added at the beginning of several lines could be said to thave a unifying effect.

 

As regards your own preferences, you are perfectly entitled to prefer the dumbed-down (in my opinion, of course!) and regularized later version which fits Lord of all hopefulness. In any case you have to use this version if you want to sing those words. However the words of Be Thou my vision are so much better and more profound. (I scarcely feel I have to say that that is a matter of opinion.)

 

Stephen Barber

 

I would not describe the altered version as 'dumbed-down'. In any case, the harmony given in HON I find to be considerably more offensive than any perceived failings of the revised text. The same arranger supplied a similarly strange harmony for O come, o come, emmanuel - which I also find to be lacking in flow and harmonic sense.

 

 

* Both versions of the text appear to be translations by Mary Byrne - subsequently altered ('versified') by Eleanor Hull (no other arranger is credited). At least, I think I recall the name of the latter also appearing in the version in HON - I will not have a copy of this book in my house.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Neither was I sure what you were disagreeing with, Stephen. However, your post above makes it clear.

 

I have compared the two versions this morning - frankly I cannot see the attraction of the 'original' version (HON)*. I would be the first to admit that I am not an expert in the appreciation of poetic verse; this said, to me, the flow of the text as given (for example in NEH 339) appears to be superior in every way to that as laid out in HON. I cannot see that the absence of either notes (as upbeats) or ther attendant 'extra' syllables is a detraction. If anything, the additional word 'be' added at the beginning of several lines could be said to thave a unifying effect.

 

 

 

I would not describe the altered version as 'dumbed-down'. In any case, the harmony given in HON I find to be considerably more offensive than any perceived failings of the revised text. The same arranger supplied a similarly strange harmony for O come, o come, emmanuel - which I also find to be lacking in flow and harmonic sense.

 

 

* Both versions of the text appear to be translations by Mary Byrne - subsequently altered ('versified') by Eleanor Hull (no other arranger is credited). At least, I think I recall the name of the latter also appearing in the version in HON - I will not have a copy of this book in my house.

 

My last post on the subject! I find that if I read aloud, say, the first verse as originally versified and the version in CP the "modern" version has a dreadfully banal rhythm in comparison.

 

Original, 1919 version:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,

Naught be all else to me, save that thou art;

Thou my best thought in the day and the night,

Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

 

CP version:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,

be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;

be thou my best thought in the day and the night,

both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

 

No-one brought up on the real thing, like everyone who grew up in the Church of Ireland, will settle for anything less.

 

The last line is the crux of the whole hymn, in my view, and I almost always used to diminuendo at this point to underline it and because it is so personal:

"Still be my vision, O Ruler of all."

replaced with: "Still be thou my vision................." Emphasis on the wrong word and the hymn ruined.

 

Yes, the repetition could be said to unify the text, but I think it's already completely unified - can you see any way in which it isn't? Putting "be" in 8 times at the beginnings of lines might seem to be overkill - in any case they've only done it when they couldn't find a suitable "filler" word - so not consistent. (Karl Jenkins' music is very unified but it isn't big on profundity, is it?)

 

As for the version with upbeats being dumbed down - okay, that's a matter of opinion, but, again, if you had had known the original version first, I don't think you'd be happy with the "tum-ti-tum" version, however smooth and flowing.

 

I've already said that the harmonies in HON are dreadful so we don't need to revisit this. It's got nothing to do with the rhythm; I have never used them and never will.

 

Yes, the translation was by Mary Byrne and this was versified by Eleanor Hull. She had nothing to do with the modern version, of course (she died in 1935).

 

I regard the modern version with the banal rhythm as cultural vandalism.

 

Over and out.

 

Stephen Barber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...