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I love this carol, but one verse always vexes me:

 

The shepherds at those tidings

Rejoicèd much in mind,

And left their flocks a-feeding,

In tempest, storm and wind,

And went to Bethlehem straightway

This blessèd babe to find:

O tidings of comfort and joy.

 

Having heard a Willcocks recording of this from yonks ago, he has the choir rhyme wind with mind which makes sense when one considers all the other verses rhyme so why should this one be any different. I have tried to encourage my own choir to adopt this approach but get good-natured ribbing over my intentions. Do any erstwhile contributors hereon take a similar approach to this verse?

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The carol I think is the most unfortunate verbally is "This is the truth".

 

Because several verses are normally omitted, verse 2 ends "Woman was made with man to dwell." And verse 3 begins: "Thus we were heirs to endless woes,"

 

Nobody ever seems to see anything wrong with it!

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Probably the best answer is to rhyme it with 'mind' and 'find', although, it sounds odd. As a matter of interest, does anyone know if 'wind' has been pronounced to rhyme with 'mind' and 'find' in any British dialect in times past?

 

Regarding the theme of carols that irritate, I find the words of 'Adam lay ybounden' quite offensive. That anyone should think that the woes and miseries of the world for thousands of years can be justified by Mary being Queen of Heaven (if indeed there is any such title - it's not in my Bible!) is quite extraordinary.

 

Regards to all

 

John

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Regarding the theme of carols that irritate, I find the words of 'Adam lay ybounden' quite offensive. That anyone should think that the woes and miseries of the world for thousands of years can be justified by Mary being Queen of Heaven (if indeed there is any such title - it's not in my Bible!) is quite extraordinary.

Being a medieval poem, it's not remarkable that it should use a medieval title for Mary and reflect the Catholic theology of the time. Protestants may find this "elevation" of Mary objectionable - after all, it is precisely for such reasons that we had a Reformation. However, there is no suggestion in the poem that Mary, Queen of Heaven, is the justification for man's woes. All the poet says is that, had Adam not taken the apple, there would have been no Queen of Heaven (because God would not have needed to send us his Son). The title apart, there is nothing biblically controversial about this, surely?

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Being a medieval poem, it's not remarkable that it should use a medieval title for Mary and reflect the Catholic theology of the time. Protestants may find this "elevation" of Mary objectionable - after all, it is precisely for such reasons that we had a Reformation. However, there is no suggestion in the poem that Mary, Queen of Heaven, is the justification for man's woes. All the poet says is that, had Adam not taken the apple, there would have been no Queen of Heaven (because God would not have needed to send us his Son). The title apart, there is nothing biblically controversial about this, surely?

 

No there isn't.

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The carol I think is the most unfortunate verbally is "This is the truth".

 

Because several verses are normally omitted, verse 2 ends "Woman was made with man to dwell." And verse 3 begins: "Thus we were heirs to endless woes,"

 

Nobody ever seems to see anything wrong with it!

Yep, seems perfectly logical to me!

 

<dons armour; dives for cover :ph34r: >

 

As a matter of interest, does anyone know if 'wind' has been pronounced to rhyme with 'mind' and 'find' in any British dialect in times past?

I would guess it probably did since Shakespeare rhymed it with "unkind":

Blow, blow, thou winter wind;

Thou art not so unkind

As man's ingratitude;

But did "wind" rhyme with "find" or vice versa?

 

Anyway, how old is the current text of "God rest you merry"? The words apparently exist in many variants and the current form is given in the NOBC as "Sandys 1833".

 

Personally I would stick with the modern pronunciation throughout. Mixing old and new pronunciations always sounds odd to my ears. While I wouldn't dream of tampering with the music in order to modernise a phrase such as "thorowout all generacions" it always sounds rather precious to my ears. When original pronunciation is restored throughout such phrases become unremarkable - but just imagine the outcry if our cathedrals started doing that!

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We're singing this in a few weeks, without rhyming 'mind' and 'wind'. I'm happy to sing it either way; It is a lovely carol.

 

While we're on the subject of pronunciation, I am curious to know whether the word 'aye' (pronounced as long 'A', not long 'I') is quite the problem for British singers that it is for Americans. This question came up in William Walton's setting of "Make we joy now in this fest": "Maria ventre concepit, The Holy Ghost was aye her with".

 

I'm afraid that the tendency here in the States is to sing 'eye' all the time, especially in congregational hymns (e.g. "Gladly for aye we adore Him", "Who was, and is, and is to be, for aye the same"). The fact that 'aye' is a homograph seems to be, well, beyond our ken.

 

--Justin

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The shepherds at those tidings

Rejoicèd much in mind,

And left their flocks a-feeding,

In tempest, storm and wind,

And went to Bethlehem straightway

This blessèd babe to find:

O tidings of comfort and joy.

 

Is this not an example of an "eye-rhyme" - two words that look the same but sound different? Doubtless they did rhyme at one point though.

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The carol I think is the most unfortunate verbally is "This is the truth".

Because several verses are normally omitted, verse 2 ends "Woman was made with man to dwell." And verse 3 begins: "Thus we were heirs to endless woes,"

Nobody ever seems to see anything wrong with it!

 

The full text (or at least a fuller text) can be seen at http://www.ancientgroove.co.uk/essays/truth.html where the omitted verses are restored.

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While we're on the subject of pronunciation, I am curious to know whether the word 'aye' (pronounced as long 'A', not long 'I') is quite the problem for British singers that it is for Americans. This question came up in William Walton's setting of "Make we joy now in this fest": "Maria ventre concepit, The Holy Ghost was aye her with".

 

I'm afraid that the tendency here in the States is to sing 'eye' all the time, especially in congregational hymns (e.g. "Gladly for aye we adore Him", "Who was, and is, and is to be, for aye the same"). The fact that 'aye' is a homograph seems to be, well, beyond our ken.

 

--Justin

 

“Eye” or “eh”; this seems to be a case, once again, of each to his own. But is there not a case to be made out for “aye” to rhyme with “day” because, although it is still a dipthong, it is rather easier to manage than “eye”, How would you prefer to pronounce “Laetentur” - as Lie-tentur or Lay-tentur. I favour the latter; in fact, if one follows the Sistine Chapel method of using the five pure vowel sounds it is surely much closer to Le(t).

 

Diphthongs are the curse of singing English; nothing whatever wrong in speaking like Eddie Grundy from “The Archers” but one does hope that our singers will try to avoid sounding like him.

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Probably the best answer is to rhyme it with 'mind' and 'find', although, it sounds odd. As a matter of interest, does anyone know if 'wind' has been pronounced to rhyme with 'mind' and 'find' in any British dialect in times past?

 

Regarding the theme of carols that irritate, I find the words of 'Adam lay ybounden' quite offensive. That anyone should think that the woes and miseries of the world for thousands of years can be justified by Mary being Queen of Heaven (if indeed there is any such title - it's not in my Bible!) is quite extraordinary.

 

Regards to all

 

John

 

Could we stick to organs?

 

Quite a few readers of/occasional contributors to this board are Catholics, and some of us are even guilty of being Theologians. ;-)

 

So when it comes to 'offensive'...

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Could we stick to organs?

 

Quite a few readers of/occasional contributors to this board are Catholics, and some of us are even guilty of being Theologians. ;-)

 

So when it comes to 'offensive'...

 

Indeed.

 

Let us return to writing about the king of instruments.

 

Perhaps a self-imposed ban on the discussion of religion or politics on this board is something worth considering....

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I agree - the words of Christmas Carols are totally irrelevant to this Forum as are the theological views/ religious beliefs of its members. Anyway, why is anyone discussing sich matters when it isn't even Advent yet?

 

Malcolm

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And there was me thinking how refreshing it was to see organists taking an interest in something more than three paces from the console...

 

Anyway, why is anyone discussing sich matters when it isn't even Advent yet?

 

Because some of us started planning Christmas in April, and have been rehearsing it since July. And that is how 14 boys, most of whom couldn't match a note off the piano at Easter, will be making a reasonable fist of Leighton 'Lully, lulla' in a few weeks. :ph34r:

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Guest Patrick Coleman

I can think of much more tiresome things that people do on the Board than religion.

 

Seriously, the use of the organ is so intimately linked with this country's traditions of worship that the occasional conversation about theology or liturgy (or even church politics) is inevitable. As long as there is room for complex (and fascinating) discussions on tonality, acoustics and other abstruse aspects of the organist's or organ builder's art, then there is surely room for seeking a greater understanding of what the same organists and organ builders encounter in the practice of the same art. Discussion of theological points or issues raised in the course of the organ 'business' surely leads to greater understanding and enlightenment - even if it's only to discover that words and formulas which wouldn't cause some people to look twice might cause offence to others.

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And there was me thinking how refreshing it was to see organists taking an interest in something more than three paces from the console...

Heaven forfend! :ph34r:

 

I did once suggest having a separate forum for choral matters, but the idea wasn't taken up. I guess Mr Mander didn't want to encourage discussions in that direction. After all, he would be paying for the extra bandwidth consumed.

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Being a medieval poem, it's not remarkable that it should use a medieval title for Mary and reflect the Catholic theology of the time. Protestants may find this "elevation" of Mary objectionable - after all, it is precisely for such reasons that we had a Reformation. However, there is no suggestion in the poem that Mary, Queen of Heaven, is the justification for man's woes. All the poet says is that, had Adam not taken the apple, there would have been no Queen of Heaven (because God would not have needed to send us his Son). The title apart, there is nothing biblically controversial about this, surely?

 

Shifting lirurgical seasons, how about the felix culpa clause in the Easter proclamation the Exultet?

 

"O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam which gained for us so holy a redeemer..."

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And there was me thinking how refreshing it was to see organists taking an interest in something more than three paces from the console...

 

Other than the pipes, you mean? :blink:

 

Or are you playing one of these new-fangled-old-style attached consoles?! :P

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Could we stick to organs?

 

Quite a few readers of/occasional contributors to this board are Catholics, and some of us are even guilty of being Theologians. ;-)

 

So when it comes to 'offensive'...

 

May I offer my apologies if I have caused offence to my any of my Catholic Brothers or Sisters in Christ - I had no intention of doing so, and had I spent a few moments considering my post I would perhaps have been more careful in the wording. I'm sorry to say my Protestant sensibilities got the better of my manners.

 

I am, of course, aware that the poem is an ancient one, and that it reflects the theology of the age in which it was written. And I think that the setting in Carols for Choirs is beautiful; sung it many years ago at school, and words aside, I love it.

 

You must forgive me, though, for sticking to my guns regarding the link between 'the Fall' and the elevation of the BVM to Queen of heaven. I don't see how it could be clearer.

 

'Ne had the apple taken been ... then would never our Lady have been heavenly queen ... blessed be the time that apple taken was ...'

 

I will now retire to my study, stop pontificating, and try to refrain from further comments on theological matters.

 

Regards to all

 

John

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May I offer my apologies if I have caused offence to my any of my Catholic Brothers or Sisters in Christ - I had no intention of doing so, and had I spent a few moments considering my post I would perhaps have been more careful in the wording. I'm sorry to say my Protestant sensibilities got the better of my manners.

 

I am, of course, aware that the poem is an ancient one, and that it reflects the theology of the age in which it was written. And I think that the setting in Carols for Choirs is beautiful; sung it many years ago at school, and words aside, I love it.

 

You must forgive me, though, for sticking to my guns regarding the link between 'the Fall' and the elevation of the BVM to Queen of heaven. I don't see how it could be clearer.

 

'Ne had the apple taken been ... then would never our Lady have been heavenly queen ... blessed be the time that apple taken was ...'

 

I will now retire to my study, stop pontificating, and try to refrain from further comments on theological matters.

 

Regards to all

 

John

 

Actually John I hope you don't refrain from making the occasional theological observation. As a Catholic (Roman, that is!) organist whose first degree is in theology I find the marriage of both disciplines very stimulating. And I endorse Patrick's earlier remarks in which he suggested that our ministry as organists can be enhanced by a deeper undertstanding of the theology underpinning much of what we play and sing.

 

Peter

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Because some of us started planning Christmas in April, and have been rehearsing it since July. And that is how 14 boys, most of whom couldn't match a note off the piano at Easter, will be making a reasonable fist of Leighton 'Lully, lulla' in a few weeks. :blink:

Congratulations David! (How did you gather said youths near a piano?)

 

I did once suggest having a separate forum for choral matters, but the idea wasn't taken up.

I suggested that the RSCM start one, but no joy yet...

 

Almost time for compliments of the season! :P

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I can think of much more tiresome things that people do on the Board than religion.

 

Seriously, the use of the organ is so intimately linked with this country's traditions of worship that the occasional conversation about theology or liturgy (or even church politics) is inevitable. As long as there is room for complex (and fascinating) discussions on tonality, acoustics and other abstruse aspects of the organist's or organ builder's art, then there is surely room for seeking a greater understanding of what the same organists and organ builders encounter in the practice of the same art. Discussion of theological points or issues raised in the course of the organ 'business' surely leads to greater understanding and enlightenment - even if it's only to discover that words and formulas which wouldn't cause some people to look twice might cause offence to others.

 

Hi

 

I thoroughly agree - playing a church organ - even if only for hymns - is much more than just playing the right notes at the right time.

 

The issue of "poor" theology in hymns, etc is something that we need to take on board - especially if we are choosing the music! The problem is the range of theological beliefs across the church, plus the fact that sometimes we just tend to accept the lyrics without even thinking about them. There are certain carols, hymns and worship songs that I won't use because I think that their theology is flawed - but there's plenty more to choose from.

 

There's nothing wrong with raising questions about the appropriateness of the wording of potential repertoire - if nothing else, it makes you think about the meaning. We need to respect other views - and agree to differ on such relatively minor points.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

(formerly chair, Heaton, Girlington and Manningham Council of Churches)

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I agree - the words of Christmas Carols are totally irrelevant to this Forum as are the theological views/ religious beliefs of its members. Anyway, why is anyone discussing sich matters when it isn't even Advent yet?

 

Malcolm

 

 

Because some of us started planning Christmas in April, and have been rehearsing it since July. :blink:

 

I agree, and for me I particularly find the time of year after Trinity Sunday (and most particularly after mid-June, which is our dedication festival) to be very useful for getting ahead with Christmas rehearsals.

 

By November it's far too late - the run-up to Christmas has already begun (although we haven't jumped in yet): after requiems for All Souls' and Remembrance Sunday there is just a couple of weeks' grace before Advent Sunday and all that that entails which leaves just three weeks of rehearsals. This is fine if one just wants to "resurrect" old favourites, but I have found that attempts at significant expansion of the repertoire during December is, in my experience, a non-starter. To not even be thinking or discussing it at this stage seems awfully last-minute!

 

 

Moving on, has anyone tried giving an organ recital of Christmas music at the 'wrong' time of year?* There is no particular reason that such pieces shouldn't be heard in a recital context (when the music is divorced from its intended use in the liturgy anyway) at any time of year. I have found that people actually appreciate listening to such music out of "context", and when they can be listened to objectively rather than amid the sentimentality of the Christmas season when the reaction can be "oh yes, there it is again"...

 

*(I'm not suggesting doing further damage by chipping away at the 'popular' start to Christmas which seems to come just after Hallowe'en for many these days, but rather at a completely different time of year - before the summer, say.)

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Moving on, has anyone tried giving an organ recital of Christmas music at the 'wrong' time of year?

The choral society I sing in a couple of years ago gave a June concert of music for the periods of the church year, so starting with Advent carols and proceeding as you'd expect. No one appeared to see anything odd in this.

 

Paul

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