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Service Accompaniment


Guest delvin146
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There is room for all sorts of opinion and practice in hymn playing, bar one: it must be rhythmic. That doesn't mean a sterile rhythm.

 

The hymn has to be regarded as one piece of music from start of playover to end of last verse.

 

Pace depends on character of tune, poetry, building, occasion, choir, congregation - all of these things. Just as one would, I suggest, not want to rush Blaenwern, so one would not wish to drag St. Denio.

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one would not wish to drag St. Denio.
I wouldn't, but I heard Simon Lindley waxing lyrical about the very slow speed he had heard St Paul's do it on some televised occasion a year or two back. Mind you, anything sung slowly in St Paul's would probably improve it... (Only joking.)
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I find that "loud" = "fast" and "soft" ="slow down" with a lot of Catholic congregations. I do however think there is a tension between trying to reflect in one's playing the mood of the words and providing sufficient support for the congregation. In the hymn "Dear Lord and Father" for example, the verses about the "Sabbath rest by Galilee" and the "still dews of quietness" must be allowed to contrast with the final verse which speaks (temporarily) of earthquake wind and fire, at which point I generally go full organ and coming right down at the end for the calm after the storm.

 

Best

 

Peter

 

There's something really tacky you can do with this - on the very final line, it's possibly to play the first line over the top on a solitary Oboe with tremulant or something.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

On Thursday evening this week we held (at Holy Trinity, Hull) an unusual service. Put it this way, I have not come across its like anyhere else I have been organist. It was due to be one of the very few services without benefit of Choir, so I immediately thought of this topic on our forum. I didn't exactly make notes, but you can say that I was less on automatic pilot than usual with the several hymns.

 

First of all, the service itself:

It was a Memorial Carol Service, arranged by three major firms of undertakers in the city. Any family who has lost someone during the year is invited to attend. Their loved ones are remembered in general, readings, homily, the dear departed are then named in turn and the congregation are invited to light little candles in their memory while soft music is played (this year: Flute and Piano). It would have been moving enough (the whole thing very nicely devised and taken) without the fact that the nave was full! We had well over 1000 (a thousand) in the congregation.

 

Anyway, to hymns: I took very slightly slower speeds than usual in most cases (not quite the moment to make everything 'jolly') but took absolutely no prisoners as regards regularity and tautness of rhythm (breathing pauses apart). It is fatal IMHO to let the congregation lead! I gave them no gathering notes, but also no massive verses (unless they were the emotional high at the end of something really well-known). It went a real treat! They sang well (because they knew everything) and they kept together amazingly. In 'how silently, how silently' for instance, I was able to back off a lot - full strings, sub couplers and playing up an octave, and in 'Away in a manger', I began on massed flutes and kept it seriously gentle (but rhythmic, if you see what I mean). If I say 'a good time was had by all' it sounds both arrogrant and tastless, but you know what I mean.

 

This is what churches are for, this is what large romantic organs are for, this is what I am for!

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Paul - I know exactly what you mean - also from recent experience. In this case it was a Hospice Carol Service, but of virtually identical format. In this case, too, the church was full.

 

Again, no concessions as far as rhythm, lack of gathering notes, tautness - rewarded by strong singing, seemingly with people listening to each other and the organ.

 

Marvellous.

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On Thursday evening this week we held (at Holy Trinity, Hull) an unusual service. Put it this way, I have not come across its like anyhere else I have been organist. It was due to be one of the very few services without benefit of Choir, so I immediately thought of this topic on our forum. I didn't exactly make notes, but you can say that I was less on automatic pilot than usual with the several hymns.

 

First of all, the service itself:

It was a Memorial Carol Service, arranged by three major firms of undertakers in the city. Any family who has lost someone during the year is invited to attend. Their loved ones are remembered in general, readings, homily, the dear departed are then named in turn and the congregation are invited to light little candles in their memory while soft music is played (this year: Flute and Piano). It would have been moving enough (the whole thing very nicely devised and taken) without the fact that the nave was full! We had well over 1000 (a thousand) in the congregation.

 

Anyway, to hymns: I took very slightly slower speeds than usual in most cases (not quite the moment to make everything 'jolly') but took absolutely no prisoners as regards regularity and tautness of rhythm (breathing pauses apart). It is fatal IMHO to let the congregation lead! I gave them no gathering notes, but also no massive verses (unless they were the emotional high at the end of something really well-known). It went a real treat! They sang well (because they knew everything) and they kept together amazingly. In 'how silently, how silently' for instance, I was able to back off a lot - full strings, sub couplers and playing up an octave, and in 'Away in a manger', I began on massed flutes and kept it seriously gentle (but rhythmic, if you see what I mean). If I say 'a good time was had by all' it sounds both arrogrant and tastless, but you know what I mean.

 

This is what churches are for, this is what large romantic organs are for, this is what I am for!

 

What a spendid idea, Paul. I would have done exactly the same. Even in an ordinary service, all strings and octave couplers appear occasionally (for example, 'See from His head, His hands, his feet...') - and I usually have at least one or two quieter verses without pedals in every service. It is also my experience that a congregation responds well. It is quite possible to project one's 'will', with sensitivity, on a congregation - sheer volume is not often the way to do it!

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
What a spendid idea, Paul. I would have done exactly the same. Even in an ordinary service, all strings and octave couplers appear occasionally (for example, 'See from His head, His hands, his feet...') - and I usually have at least one or two quieter verses without pedals in every service. It is also my experience that a congregation responds well. It is quite possible to project one's 'will', with sensitivity, on a congregation - sheer volume is not often the way to do it!

 

 

You understand perfectly. [For once we are in total agreement....

note this date in your diary!]

 

Cheers!

P.

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What a spendid idea, Paul. I would have done exactly the same. Even in an ordinary service, all strings and octave couplers appear occasionally (for example, 'See from His head, His hands, his feet...') - and I usually have at least one or two quieter verses without pedals in every service. It is also my experience that a congregation responds well. It is quite possible to project one's 'will', with sensitivity, on a congregation - sheer volume is not often the way to do it!

 

And even with my lot and all the resources of 8 speaking stops, one manual and pedal the same applies - if the choir is there I can reduce to 8 & 4 Flutes (box almost shut) and still keep them in order. It is surprising how much the lack of the security of organ going flat out makes them sing better.

 

AJJ

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