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Love Divine And Its Variants

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I thought this topic within a topic (see Hymns Discussion) was worth a fresh start so may I add a few thoughts on the subject of Love Divine and its various musical settings?

 

The use of “Fairest Isle” has been known for quite a while now and a quick glance through some of the hymn books on my shelves have thrown up the following variations: from Songs of Praise (1931 edition) “Exile” and “Moriah”, which I recall was the one we sang at my boarding school; I remember thinking what a very boring tune it was, ending every line with the dominant chord. Good heavens, you wouldn’t want a Christmas hymn like that? In the 1925 printing of SoP, the dreaded Moriah is there but this time accompanied by a David Evans tune “Pisgah”. The Public Schools Hymn Book (1949) has “Moriah” and pairs it with “Shipston”.

 

Hymns for Church and School (1964) has the Stainer “Love Divine” as 135 in 6 4-line verses, while 134, in 3 8-liners, uses “Arfon”, a marvellously strong and characterful Welsh Melody with an excellent descant by Leonard Blake.

 

Ancient and Modern (1924) has the Stainer, of course, but also “Airedale”, a fine tune by Stanford; has any ever used or heard it? While The Baptist Hymn Book uses “Blaenwern” together with a fine tune by Henry Smart “Bethany”. One can almost imagine a complete CD made up of all the known tunes to this particular hymn; and then, perhaps not.

 

I have heard the hymn being sung to a slightly adapted version of the “Ode to Joy” and no doubt correspondents can add other examples of their own.

 

It really is quite surprising, given all these different published options, that the Stainer “Love Divine” seems to have become more or less the industry standard, or at least, the one they usually want at weddings and funerals!

 

David Harrison

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It really is quite surprising, given all these different published options, that the Stainer “Love Divine” seems to have become more or less the industry standard, or at least, the one they usually want at weddings and funerals!

 

David Harrison

 

David, as always some very useful thoughts and I will trawl through my 50 or so hymn books tonight (yes, I know its anoraky, but I've been collecting since a teenager! Anyone got a 1904 A and M for sale?)

 

However, for me and weddings/funerals, Stainer has never been the industry standard. I always assume Blaenwern UNLESS speficially told not ti, even on occasions where printers for wed/funs have printed the 4 line version.

 

The only hymn where I double, triple and quadruple check about tunes is 'O Jesus I have promised'. You can tell what kind of wedding it will be, almost from start to finish, by which tune they pick for that one!!

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Whenever I am asked to play "Love Divine" at my local crematorium I enquire what tune they want and invariably they say "the well known one". When pressed further on this point it very much more often than not turns out to be Blaenwern that they want, rather than the Stainer tune which is rarely requested. Strange how fashions change; I personally prefer Blaenwern.

 

With "The King of Love" they almost invariably want Dominus Regit rather than St Columba. Fortunately I never get asked for "Praise to the holiest" which has abut 5 equally well-known and equally fine tunes. My choice would be "Billing" by Sir Richard Terry but I suppose you would expect me to say that!

 

Malcolm

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Guest Patrick Coleman

We obviously usually sing it to Blaenwern but sometimes to the superb Caradog Roberts tune In Memoriam.

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Yes, I should have thought 'Blaenwern' is now the standard. 'Love divine' being second choice (and somewhat inferior in my eyes). From my experiences surfing the net, many across the pond sing it to 'Hyfrydol'. All of this bears up my point in the other thread - Kendrick's music will never have a dozen different tunes which might be set to it! Incidentally, if you want a different setting of Love Divine altogether, then I love Howard Goodall's anthem version - it can be found on Youtube if you're interested.

 

I was going to mention 'O Jesus, I have promised', which surely is about the only other hymn which can have so many tunes still sung to it regularly

Day of Rest

Thornbury

Wolvercote

Hatherop Castle

being the four most common, but I'm sure there are others. I'd opt for one of the middle two.

 

I prefer 'The King of love' to 'Dominus regit me' and 'Praise to the holiest' to 'Gerontius'. 'Glorious things of thee are spoken' to 'Abbot's Leigh'. And so we could go on....

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Guest Patrick Coleman
I was going to mention 'O Jesus, I have promised', which surely is about the only other hymn which can have so many tunes still sung to it regularly

Day of Rest

Thornbury

Wolvercote

Hatherop Castle

being the four most common, but I'm sure there are others. I'd opt for one of the middle two.

 

It goes nicely to Penlan (In Heavely Love Abiding)

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Guest Patrick Coleman
... as does Jerusalem the Golden. Penlan is a sensational and under-used tune.

 

Agreed, but it ain't underused here! :(

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A curate friend once told me that you can tell where a man stands on the theological/worship candle by which tune he picks for 'O for a thousand tongues to sing'

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I was going to mention 'O Jesus, I have promised', which surely is about the only other hymn which can have so many tunes still sung to it regularly

Day of Rest

Thornbury

Wolvercote

Hatherop Castle

being the four most common, but I'm sure there are others. I'd opt for one of the middle two.

At the risk of disturbing a hornet's nest, I remember reading a scathing comment about Thornbury by Eric Routley in a book about hymns, probably dating from the late '50s/early '60s. I think the word he used was "dreadful". I quite like it, but it is proper to Thy hand, O God, Has Guided.

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A curate friend once told me that you can tell where a man stands on the theological/worship candle by which tune he picks for 'O for a thousand tongues to sing'

 

I favour Richmond, because it helps emphasise the quiet, aweful prayerfulness of the first line. One of my colleagues thinks very differently, i.e. that the "tha-a-a-a-aaasand" moment in Lyngham emphasises the idea of the many.

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I favour Richmond, because it helps emphasise the quiet, aweful prayerfulness of the first line. One of my colleagues thinks very differently, i.e. that the "tha-a-a-a-aaasand" moment in Lyngham emphasises the idea of the many.

 

Depends on the congregation, I love Lyngham with a full, hearty non-conformist congregation. Richmond for the BCP Evensong with three men and a dog in the back row!

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Over the years I've tried all sorts of combinationsof tunes for the O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo at Benediction. Once, consideration was given to setting the O Salutaris to "We'll gather lilacs" but we all quickly decided that it really didn't work.

 

If you ever go to St Mary's Bourne Street (Anglican) for their Sunday evening in the Octave of Corpus Christi jamboree (occasionally advertised as the most spectacular show in the West End) - and possibly on some other "big" occasions during the year - you will find choir and congregation heartily singing the O Salutaris in Latin (mostly from memory) to an adapted version of Parry's Jerusalem with a loud organ improvisation mid-way. Tasteless and exceedingly vulgar yes, but it works and is enormous fun. Only problem is that nobody ever really sings the Amen. The firsdt time I experienced this I whispered to the friends either side of me "This isn't going to work" but I was wrong!

 

Malcolm

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Perhaps my comment about the Stainer tune being “the industry standard” was a little wide of the mark in view of the experience of others. My own preference is “Blaenwern”, though, at the risk of inviting more controversy, I expect I am the only organist in the country who is not entirely happy with the “modulation” from line 3 to line 4. It’s obviously just me. However, I’m sure that one is completely safe with this choice where no preferences are stated, but I did add the rider about weddings and funerals; I don’t think they’ve caught up with current thinking in this neck of the woods. Guilmant will, doubtless, recall.

 

I go along with Malcolm in his choice of Billing for the Gerontius hymn; I believe Adrian always uses this tune at the cathedral. In response to David Coram’s comment about Jerusalem the Golden, I imagine that the fact that “Aurelia” was written specifically for it is widely known.

 

What a jolly little hornets’ nest one appears to have stirred up; clearly there are opportunities here for many hours of fruitful time-wasting. My anorak is at the ready.

 

David Harrison

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Guest Patrick Coleman

Lyngham is always popular here. Given a little encouragement, we can outsing most nonconformists. Indeed, I think the content of some varieties of incense we use might facilitate the enthusiasm of the singing... :lol: The hymn also goes well to the tune Godre'r Coed.

 

Having been brought up with it, I prefer Billing for Cardinal Newman's hymn, but Gerontius always sends shivers down the spine.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
On the East Coast, Hyfrydol is far more common.

 

Not that it really matters, but I do find Hydrofoil a very tedious tune! :rolleyes:

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Shame on you, Patrick! :rolleyes: Hyfrydol is one of my bestest tunes! I would fight tooth and nail to avoid doing it to Love divine, though, as I don't think it does those words any favours. I'm in the minority with David - it's always been Stainer for me.

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Perhaps my comment about the Stainer tune being “the industry standard” was a little wide of the mark in view of the experience of others. My own preference is “Blaenwern”, though, at the risk of inviting more controversy, I expect I am the only organist in the country who is not entirely happy with the “modulation” from line 3 to line 4. It’s obviously just me. However, I’m sure that one is completely safe with this choice where no preferences are stated, but I did add the rider about weddings and funerals; I don’t think they’ve caught up with current thinking in this neck of the woods. Guilmant will, doubtless, recall.

 

I go along with Malcolm in his choice of Billing for the Gerontius hymn; I believe Adrian always uses this tune at the cathedral. In response to David Coram’s comment about Jerusalem the Golden, I imagine that the fact that “Aurelia” was written specifically for it is widely known.

 

What a jolly little hornets’ nest one appears to have stirred up; clearly there are opportunities here for many hours of fruitful time-wasting. My anorak is at the ready.

 

David Harrison

Thank you David, you are correct, always Blaenwern in that neck of the woods and only the very educated asked for Stainer.

 

You mentioned Aurelia, one of the most memorable tunes from school days (we alternated between A and M and the PSHB, since outlawed by the socialist government). Firstly in that great geographical hymn 'From Greenland's Icy Mountains', and then for one of our local organists who used to do the hugest of gaps in the middle of the phrase 'Their cry goes up................How long!', in 'The Church's One Foundation'.

 

I remember meeting an organist years ago who had a very amusing story/poem which had been set to Aurelia. Its a long time ago, and it might have been about a dog....and I might be going crackers, but does this ring a bell with anyone?

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Some years ago one very occasional contributor to this forum (Ron Bayfield) produced a hymn tune called "Mongrel" for use at the end of a spoof-Oratorio about traffic wardens. The first half of the tune was the first half of "Aurelia" and the second half was the second half of "Ewing" (obviously, both in the same key). It was interesting how few people realised what was happening.

 

From memory, other items in this oratorio included

He blocketh up the mews

See how he waits outside our gates and gets in everyone's way

In all the roads we search for cars, ever unperceived, never understood

What is that to us, see thou to that (Vittoria)

Say, where is he gone, the man who was here, for he has parked his car

Could I not park my car one brief hour?

 

You get the general drift. It only worked, of course, when sung to an audience of people who were familiar with the original pieces.

 

Malcolm

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The hymn that really gets me for funerals is "O Jesus I have promised." Ineveitably when a question is raised as to which tune is preferred, one is usually presented with a stony silence.

 

As far as I know there are a least four tunes to this hymn in common usage; Thornbury, Day of Rest, Wolvercote, and the horrid 20th C one. Even the age of the deceased is no clue as to which one is favoured in any one instance.......

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You mentioned Aurelia, one of the most memorable tunes from school days (we alternated between A and M and the PSHB, since outlawed by the socialist government).

I'm fairly sure this was meant light-heartedly, but I just wanted to check whether the government had outlawed the alternation or the PSHB.

I remember meeting an organist years ago who had a very amusing story/poem which had been set to Aurelia. Its a long time ago, and it might have been about a dog....and I might be going crackers, but does this ring a bell with anyone?

I think you might be referring to: "The Dogs They Had A Party" which occurs in Alan Bennett's "Forty Years On" sung by the schoolboys. It is extremely rude. And funny, sung, as you say, to Aurelia.

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Excellent, my memory did indeed serve me correctly for once. Anyone got the full text?

 

Sorry for the poor English, my grammar does indeed give the wrong idea!

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