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Hymns and how to play them!


ples
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On the subject of the hymn book, I don't hugely mind the one I have, I was only concerned because of all the bad coverage it gets on here. I've been able to play many hymns for years using my own improvised (and simplistic) accompaniment. My aim now is to learn how to do it properly and I was worried that I would spend all this time trying to read the real music only to find that the music in the book I am using differs wildly from more respected publications. If that isn't the case then I shall happily continue to use it.em.

The only thing to be careful of is the key the hymns are in. If you go to the trouble to learn a hymn, you don't want to find that the congregation, who are wimps these days), can't manage the high notes (though they could if it was a football match or The Last Night of the Proms!). The tunes, in my view, are sometimes set too low in Hymns Old and New but at least congregations won't complain. I think that Common Praise has probably got it about right (some have gone up again from New Standard).

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The only thing to be careful of is the key the hymns are in. If you go to the trouble to learn a hymn, you don't want to find that the congregation, who are wimps these days), can't manage the high notes (though they could if it was a football match or The Last Night of the Proms!). The tunes, in my view, are sometimes set too low in Hymns Old and New but at least congregations won't complain. I think that Common Praise has probably got it about right (some have gone up again from New Standard).

A good point, Stephen.

 

To OnlyAnAnorak, I'd say, without trying to frighten you, that your ultimate goal should be flexibility. Of course learn the hymns as they are printed in whichever book you are using making whatever adaptations you need for stretches etc. But then you will discover that there are different versions and different keys in different books and different organs and buildings (and choirs and congregations) will require different speeds, pauses, articulation (staccato/legato), registration. And above all, you will need variety in how you play them; despite your IT background you aren't and shouldn't aspire to computer accuracy and inevitability. Best of luck!

 

One more point; you might find it interesting to use a computer music notation program to make your own versions of hymn tunes. You can then transpose them very easily. I've found inputting music into the computer a very good way of understanding the music "from the inside". There's a wide range of notation programs available from the market leader in the UK (Sibelius - very expensive but discounts for education and churches) to many freeware or quite cheap ones.

 

Michael

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Thanks for the continuing advice. As an update I did drop a line to a the vicar at the weekend and got a swift, if non-committal response. Perfectly understandable I think as she doesn't know me from Adam. She wants to meet me before she decides whether or not the church can help and even suggested some appropriate times for me to drop in to the Rectory but sadly they are all times I cannot make. But the channels of communication are now open. Furthermore it may be that a resolution is at hand to one of the main current complications - specifically that I may now be staying on in my house in which case I should be in a position to buy a more appropriate instrument complete with a full pedal rank - and as luck would have it one has just gone on Ebay which is located right here in Norwich.

 

With regard to the keys of various hymns, I also have a very tired (melody only) copy of Hymns For Church & School, which sure enough goes back to my school days. If nothing else at least I can compare what Old & New is up to with regard to the key. I think probably the first thing for me here is to learn to play the hymns I like straight out of the book and in time, as I become more practised and more familiar with the thinking I'll be able to develop the variety to play them in the most suitable manner for each context in which I might find myself playing.

 

Simon

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Hi Simon,

 

The old Norwich organs were built with a really solid and comfortable console, and many had drawstops rather than tabs. But, the early organs now sound very dated. Having said that, they are good for home use and the console can be used as the basis of a rebuild with modern sound generating systems.

 

Good hymn books are English Hymnal and Ancient & Modern Revised. You can often pick a full music copy up for peanuts in charity shops. I can probably find you one if you PM me.

 

Regards,

 

Nigel

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  • 2 weeks later...

A previous poster asked that I update this thread from time to time with progress - and after all the helpful advice it would be rude not to!

 

Sadly I've had absolutely no time to practice recently and after the initial 3 hymns I learnt haven't really made any further progress due to lack of practice. However things are settling down now so I should be able to start again soon. I've also been to see the vicar this morning and she is happy that the church can help me, though she thinks the organ isn't a particularly easy one to play. Whether she is a musician herself or whether that is simply what she's been told is not clear but the organist is keen to meet me so that will be the next stage.

 

This is the organ, btw.

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A previous poster asked that I update this thread from time to time with progress - and after all the helpful advice it would be rude not to!

 

Sadly I've had absolutely no time to practice recently and after the initial 3 hymns I learnt haven't really made any further progress due to lack of practice. However things are settling down now so I should be able to start again soon. I've also been to see the vicar this morning and she is happy that the church can help me, though she thinks the organ isn't a particularly easy one to play. Whether she is a musician herself or whether that is simply what she's been told is not clear but the organist is keen to meet me so that will be the next stage.

 

This is the organ, btw.

 

 

Salhouse - I've played it, but many years ago. Solid Bishop & Son, not very exciting tonally but nice soft stops. If it was restored in 1970, it's probably due for another going over and the touch might be a bit heavy, but it shouldn't be unduly awkward.

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Salhouse - I've played it, but many years ago. Solid Bishop & Son, not very exciting tonally but nice soft stops. If it was restored in 1970, it's probably due for another going over and the touch might be a bit heavy, but it shouldn't be unduly awkward.

I look forward to being able to report back to you in due course then. :blink:

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