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The World's Worst Hymns


Peter Clark

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It was quite superb - we had a big (noise, not so much in terms of numbers) choir in, and a good 500+ in the congregation. I've never heard Be Still accompanied by full organ before - awesome.

 

Only for one bar at a time in the middle of each line in the 2nd half - the joys of a General Crescendo!

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I banned 'O Jesus I have promised' when set to the tune 'Hatherop Castle' (made me feel like Fozzy Bear from The Muppets) and can't abide 'How Great Thou Art'. Not enough harmonic interest.

 

H

 

How Great Thou Art is in fact heretical - look at the bit about "sent him to die". This is a completely erroneous misreading of the purpose of the incarnation.

 

BTW Hail Gladdening Light is one of my favourites too. Glorious on a summer evening, with the sun streaming though the stained glass windows and an almost embarrasingly exaggerated rall on the last line "therefore in all the world"....!

 

Peter

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How Great Thou Art is in fact heretical - look at the bit about "sent him to die". This is a completely erroneous misreading of the purpose of the incarnation.

 

BTW Hail Gladdening Light is one of my favourites too. Glorious on a summer evening, with the sun streaming though the stained glass windows and an almost embarrasingly exaggerated rall on the last line "therefore in all the world"....!

 

Peter

 

Hi

 

I have no great problems with How Great Thou Art - I certainly don't regard it as heritical

 

Take a look at John 7 - verses 16, 28 & 33 speak about God sending Jesus, as does John 8:42. John 17:3f puts it even more clearly:- "3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."

On the basis of these verses, God sending Jesus is completely Biblical.

 

And if Jesus didn't come to die for our sins, just what was the point of the incarnation?

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I don't know if the following publication is still available - but it presents an illustrated guide to really dreadful hymns -

 

The Guild of Church Musicians study guide No C9 - "Seriously Silly Hymns" by Anne Kennedy and E H Warrell

 

:o:o:o

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I don't know if the following publication is still available - but it presents an illustrated guide to really dreadful hymns -

 

The Guild of Church Musicians study guide No C9 - "Seriously Silly Hymns" by Anne Kennedy and E H Warrell

 

:o:o:o

 

 

My vote would go to

 

'All I once held dear' - words and music by the sainted Graham Kendrick

 

chiefly because the last two lines of the music are a note-for-note steal from

'There once was an ugly duckling' from the show 'Hans Christian Andersen'!

I can't play, sing or listen to this with a straight face.

 

Mind you, I still have difficulty with the Toccata from Suite Gothique by Boellmann ever since I watched a TV documentary in the early 1980's where this was used as background music for half an hour. Of all things, the subject of the documentary was bed bugs! Did anyone else see this?

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...can't abide 'How Great Thou Art'. Not enough harmonic interest.

H

 

It gets slightly more interesting when you have to sing every verse twice - alternately in English and Arabic -as my choir had to recently for a wedding where the bridegroom was an Egyptian Christian. We had expert tuition from the (Chechen-born, Jordanian-educated) fiance of a choir member, who taught us the finer points of the Cairo dialect as opposed to classical Arabic. The Egyptian half of the congregation sang lustily in the Arabic verses, but were gobsmacked when we joined in.

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I have problems about the Armistice hymn "The Supreme Sacrifice" - "O valiant Hearts". The words are a little outdated for these days and it is a problem to get the `old soldiers' not to wallow in the singing of it making it sound like a Saturday night pub performance.

 

FF

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Guest Paul Isom

My wife and I play at the RAF Memorial Chapel at Biggin Hill, and hearing this hymn sung with true feeling on Remembrance Sunday is quite something. There is no pub singing, just quiet dignity. The words have recently been revised, and the new set appears in BBC Songs of Praise hymn book, I think - equally good. I think this hymn in context is a fine and exceptionally poignant one. Frank - perhaps you ought to pay us a visit at Biggin on the Bump and hear how it really should be done!

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Mind you, I still have difficulty with the Toccata from Suite Gothique by Boellmann ever since I watched a TV documentary in the early 1980's where this was used as background music for half an hour. Of all things, the subject of the documentary was bed bugs! Did anyone else see this?

 

In the early 80s, around the time that the film 'The Elephant Man' was released in cinemas, a TV docuentary about the life of John Merrick was broadcast. Shots of large jars containing preserved human specimens were accompanied by Vierne's 'Impromptu' op 54.2.

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...can't abide 'How Great Thou Art'

 

It gets slightly more interesting when you have to sing every verse twice - alternately in English and Arabic - as my choir had to recently for a wedding where the bridegroom was an Egyptian Christian.

 

I have two profoundly movng experiences of this hymn. Firstly, its being sung at my own wedding. Secondly, and (even more movingly), playing it at the wedding of a Russian friend of mine, and hearing it (or at least its original version) sung by a congregation which included survivors of the Soviet Union's anti-Christian purges.

 

As regards verse three being heretical. I'm with Tony on this. Its sentiments appear to be entirely consitent with Orthodox, Cathlolic or mainstream Protestant understandings of both the doctrine the incarnation and the doctrine of the atonement.

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Guest Paul Isom

Not quite the worst hymn - but certainly the worst experience. Imagine - Chartres Cathedral, high mass - two organs (well out sync), choir (if you can call it that) miles away in the transept, funny little man at microphone conducting badly. The hymn - the French translation of 'Make me a channel of your piece'. Talk about French wines not travelling......................................................................

.......

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Not quite the worst hymn - but certainly the worst experience. Imagine - Chartres Cathedral, high mass - two organs (well out sync), choir (if you can call it that) miles away in the transept, funny little man at microphone conducting badly. The hymn - the French translation of 'Make me a channel of your piece'. Talk about French wines not travelling......................................................................

.......

 

Surely more a case of English whines not travelling...

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One nomination I'd put forward is "What a friend we have in Jesus" to the tune Converse. I cannot understand why some churches still insist on singing it. I came across a Naval version of this hymn "Me no likee English Sailor", a lament by a waterside prostitute in the far East comparing the attributes of the English sailor ashore to American sailors, which was very refreshing.

 

David's 3 hymns are absolute class...

 

Try singing "What a friend" to Blaenwern. It turns it into something completely different.

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Try singing "What a friend" to Blaenwern. It turns it into something completely different.

 

Whilst I would not dispute the fineness of 'Blaenwern', 'Converse' can be saved from sounding twee and sentimental. Try playing it at half speed and in blues/Gospel style.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
'Songs of Praise' often use Spirit of God, unseen as the wind, the the Skye boat song. Least said, soonest mended!

 

 

Actually, IMHO

'Songs of Praise'

least said, soonest mended!

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When singing some of these dreadful hymns, it can be helpful to remember the words of on older version of "Hark a herald voice is calling." In the first edition of the Westminster Hymnal the words read "Hark ! an awful voice is sounding." Quite a few choirs and music groups I have encountered could make this their signature tune.

 

To get back to dreadful hymns, my own nomination is "Peace is flowing like a river." It doesn't mention God, it oozes conceit, and has the melodic interest of a badly oiled door swinging in the wind. As for the harmony, I can't even recall it. Why is it in hymnbooks at all?

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To get back to dreadful hymns, my own nomination is "Peace is flowing like a river." It doesn't mention God, it oozes conceit, and has the melodic interest of a badly oiled door swinging in the wind. As for the harmony, I can't even recall it. Why is it in hymnbooks at all?

 

 

My own nominations are "God is working his purpose out" and "I watched the Sunrise". Although the words of "If I was a butterfly" are dire, it has a fairly rumpy pumpy tune - I once found myself slipping it into a barn dance medley when playing a session in a great Northern ballroom 20 years ago!

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Guest Andrew Butler

As I have said earlier, in my opinion, if a hymn is "right" for an occasion it has something going for it. Conversely, a "good" hymn can be "bad" if used wrongly.

 

Yesterday, Advent 1, we had a "Children's Mass" for which the Children's Liturgy helpers chose the hymns. they included "For the beauty of the earth"....... Hello!?

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My own nominations are "God is working his purpose out" and "I watched the Sunrise". Although the words of "If I was a butterfly" are dire, it has a fairly rumpy pumpy tune - I once found myself slipping it into a barn dance medley when playing a session in a great Northern ballroom 20 years ago!

 

I can't imagine the venue to which you refer Neil - but note the Shakespeare quotation in your sig!!

(By the way, does your mobile still play THAT tune?)

 

Steve

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A latter in the current issue of OR claims that the three least popular hymns seem to be All Things Bright and Beautiful, Lord of the Dance and Shine Jesus Shine. However, none of these, not even the Kendrick, approaches the depths reached by I Watch the Sunrise, a hymn devoid of any musical and theological content. It seems I have to play it for 9 out of 10 funeral services, and I cannot work out why. Any thoughts? Are there any hymns that drop below the Sunrise Scale?

 

Regards

 

Peter

 

====================

 

 

Actually, I'm going to research this a bit and name names, because some of the harmonies on the Catholic Hymn Book make already bad hymns into something truly grim.

 

I reckon, as a rough estimate, that I re-harmonise 50% of the hymns in the book on the hoof.

 

It is a very, very bad hymnal indeed, but I've grown fond of it. Every Sunday is a new challenge and a new opportunity.

 

MM

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The worst hymn I’ve ever come across came from 100 Hymns for Today. I can’t remember its name or the tune but the whole hymn was putting across the point that God was everywhere. The words included: - as big as a Tree, as big as a House, as big as a Nuclear Submarine. AARRRRRRGH

 

:P:lol:

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT

"Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye" was not the most profound offering I have been asked to play. It was at a funeral in a Crematorium and was sung as the curtains closed. Nevertheless, as the funeral was for one who served (most obviously) in the Services, it was certainly better in the circumstances than "Keep the home fires burning".

 

All the best,

N

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"Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye" was not the most profound offering I have been asked to play. It was at a funeral in a Crematorium and was sung as the curtains closed. Nevertheless, as the funeral was for one who served (most obviously) in the Services, it was certainly better in the circumstances than "Keep the home fires burning".

 

All the best,

N

 

Yes. I wonder if some people think these things through properly. I'm always having to put on CD's of My Way because people think it's about being individual and characterful and looking back. Unfortunately, the second line is about final curtains, and it NEVER fails to cause entire families to disintegrate into uncontrollable floods of tears.

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it was certainly better in the circumstances than "Keep the home fires burning".

 

All the best,

N

 

Now THAT reminds me of a newspaper article I read about a plan they had somewhere in Scandinavia to recycle released energy from the crematorium into the municipal heating system. The headline read "Put another Lars on the fire, it's getting cool in here".

 

But that, of course, is off-topic. Sorry.

 

:lol:

B

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