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Patrick Larhant

Help to choose an hymn book

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Good afternoon !

I am from France and looking for an English hymn book ; the purpose is to use to train for very basic harmony and very very basic hymn extemporization.

In the ideal, it would have the following features :

- simple 4 parts harmony ;

- if possible on 3 staves ;

- rather complete, and indicating also the traditional name of the music (as St Anne, etc.).

 

Would anybody be kind enough to tell me :

- which hymnal could suit the best ;

- where (website) I could order it ?

 

Thanks a lot for your help.

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Firstly, I have never seen an English hymn book with the music printed on three staves. Closed score is normal. I would suggest that the hymn books most likely to suit your needs would be "Hymns Ancient and Modern" and/or "The English Hymnal" The old editions of either would be perfectly suitable and could probably be picked up secondhand easily on eBay, but their condition might not be so good and you would need to be careful that you are buying the full-harmony version and not one with only the melody or just the words. Both contain a large selection of traditional English hymns in good, solid four-part harmony. Both books were revised as "Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised" and "The New English Hymnal" and these would be fine as well. "Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised" simplified some of the harmonies (cleaning up some chromaticisms), but if you want simple harmony this might suit you. If you want an up-to-date hymnal then I would recommend "Common Praise" which seems to have virtually all the commonly sung, traditional-style hymns in current use. The paper of all our modern hymns books seems very thin.

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"The Organist's Hymnbook" by Anne Marsden Thomas (Cramer Music ISMN: M-2209 - 0621 - 3) has 160 of the most common tunes (but no words!).

They are printed on three staves, with suggested fingering and pedalling.

Each tune appears twice, once "straight" with note values as printed in hymn books and once with assorted rests to assist with articulation and show what you really need to play to keep a congregation together.

 

My church (in Clapham, South London) has, literally, just pensioned off "Common Praise" in favour of its successor "Ancient and Modern Hymns and Songs for Refreshing Worship" . We have about 200 assorted full music, melody and words only copies of CP looking for a good home. Send me a private message if you are interested!

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For what it's worth, Hymns Ancient & Modern Revised (1950) and its two supplements (1969 and1980) were published as Hymns Ancient & Modern New Standard in 1983 - only to be superseded by Common Praise in 1998. This, in turn, was superseded by Ancient & Modern in 2013.

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The problem with A&M New Standard was that they cut a whole lot of hymns from A&M Revised in order to include the two Hymns for Today supplements. The latter were included without cuts or changes - thus a number of worthwhile traditional hymns were omitted from the parent book and a number of newer items which had either not proved to be popular or which had run their course were retained.

 

I think Common Praise is excellent in every way.

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I agree - Common Praise - excellent. I have a copy of the new Ancient and Modern - Hymns and Songs for refreshing worship, but with 840-odd items, I find it over-facing. There is so much new stuff in it that you wonder if you will ever find a hymn you know. Opening the book now for a cursory look, it falls open at 'Prepare a room for me, your Saviour, Host and Priest;" Another try and... oh, here we are... "I do not know tomorrow's way;" Another go - ah, now we're talking - "Jesus calls us: o'er the tumult." The music print I find a bit on the small side and the pages are very thin - you can easily see through to the music/words on the other side.

 

Those of us lucky enough to work in independent schools with a good choral tradition often produce our own hymn books usually through Gresham Books. I don't know how feasible this would be for a church, but it is a very enjoyable process. Some school hymn books have wonderful arrangements of things like Stanford in B flat morning and evening canticles and other longer works which the congregation joins in with. Libera Me from the Fauré Requiem is another favourite. On Friday, we doing the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves - As we sat by the waters of Babylon. The best of the crop is the Uppingham School Hymnbook which has all of these and many more within its covers. Trouble is, individual copies are not for sale.

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Just to let you know that the RSCM for whom I'm the Northern Regional coordinator, is running a 'which hymnbook

should I choose?' at St Paul's, Sale, M33 7YA on Thursday 25th February 2016 starting at 7.30pm

 

It will be run by Rev. Helen Bent - head of Ministerial Training at the RSCM

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