Guest delvin146 Posted May 27, 2006 Share Posted May 27, 2006 I had some minor altercation with my boss this week regarding the general tempo of hymns. Has anyone else had a similar experience? It was stated in correspondence to me, that for sometime the church has, (unbeknown to me), been working very hard to try to introduce some "bounce" into the hymns, (presumably in what is supposed to be a well-hearted but misguided attempt to increase the chances of, "more bums on pews" and part of the overall reductionism and dumbing-down of standards in our places of worship today. The scenario is basically, that the church in question had Mission Praise when I arrived, but in a failed attempt for me to get the New English Hymnal we had to settle for Hymns Old and .. - which despite it's many many many faults perhaps could be seen as a slight improvement on MP. I have a very small choir, basically adult sopranos and a female tenor, so basically repertoire is kept very simple. When I arrived there was no phrasing in the hymns whatsoever, and also no cadences or breathing points! The third line of a hymn was generally speeded up... rather giving the impression of a racing car trying to get across the line first. There seems to have been little attention paid whatsoever to tone or word pronounciation. The result was a kind of half-hearted kind of gabbling of the words rather like a badly sung anglican chant. I saw this as a cop-out as the choir and congregation obviously didn't know the tunes properly, and when put into a stricter time it showed that they didn't know what pitch quite a few of the notes were meant to be. Of course, this annoyed them! I really have worked exceptionally hard to try to select a tempo which means the quavers in the underparts are not muddled into some kind of scotch-snap, and to provide breathing points so proper phrasing of the line can be obtained. I also seek to provide a legato manual and pedal line (for the vast majority of the time, but not always), cadential pauses (hands off keys for breathing). Two beats rest at the end of each verse. Occasionally I do take some hymns quite slowly..eg. Sweet Sacrament Divine. When I survey etc, but naturally I tend to use the quiter stops on the organ as I find these more appropriate registrations for this type of thing, whereas for a tune such as Abbots Leigh, I go quite boldly roughly crotchet = 109, but with a very slight holding back before the octave leap in the treble part in line 3 for emphatic purposes of that octave leap. Would tend to use principals for registrations here. I for one cannot stand understated old "Anglican" and dare I say, BORING styles of church music performance! No wonder church music gets a bad name as when I hear for some life to be injected into the music. It's hard to specify exactly what I mean by this, but I'm sure the kind of sound has been experienced by most. Think a dragging romantic performance of Handel's Messiah, or "village church" anglican chant. Of course, "old fashioned choral tone" is quite another thing than the overall performance style. The problem is that I think I set quite a good pace for the hymns in a building with little acoustic and with an organ not terribly well placed for leading the congreation. I feel that in general, (unless on occasions I specifically want a slower tempo to match the words), I take the hymns at an appropriate speed which I aim to have life, expression, vigour, and all the hallmarks of something musically interesting and alive. Ok, they're not overly fast, but I've heard very much slower playing. The congregation complain that the hymns are slower than they used to be. I'm not so sure that the tempo has changed greatly. Because there are now cadential points, a steady tempo throughout, and a two beat rest at the end of the verse they seem to be perceiving the use of silence and phrasing as a drop in tempo. The outcome was that I corresponded back that if the congregation don't like the speed of the hymns they could always try a congregationalist church. Secondly that I had rarely had complains in 20 years or so of playing the organ, so I had no intention of altering my style now. I also pointed out that I do not try to dictate which eucharistic prayer is used, or whether we use NIV or King James for versions of the bible for example. In general I get on well with my boss, so this incident was a shame and I hope it hasn't spoiled our good working relationship. I thought the line had been crossed when telling me what speed at which to play. Whatever next, printed directions for registrations? "Hello, welcome to our service today, and welcome again! We stand to sing hymn number 456 "All things bright and beautiful" , the first verse will be played on The Great Principal Chorus up to 2'. The Second on Great 8' 4' flutes and on the final verse you'll hear the whole bally lot! All requests for next weeks tempi and registrations should be with the organist no later than Wednesday of this week so that he has chance to set the pistons in good time. Requests will be allocated on a first-come first served basis. Anyone else had anything similar? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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