Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ralph Vaughan Williams on Hymnody

For those interested in Church music, I would recommend reading Ralph Vaughan Williams's Preface to the English Hymnal, 1906. There is wisdom in this short essay written by one of the better composers of the Edwardian era. I have found its recommendations helpful as I help my own church with its music. Here are a few favorite quotes from the Preface:

"No doubt it requires a certain effort to tune oneself to the moral atmosphere implied by a fine melody; and it is far easier to dwell in the miasma of the languishing and sentimental hymn tunes which so often disfigure our services."

"A tune has no more right to be dull than to be demoralizing."

"The congregation might be encouraged to sing and appreciate the finer melodies if a system of monthly congregational practices were held, at which the less known tunes could be made familiar..."

"The original rhythms of many of the old psalter tunes have also been restored, especially the long initial on the first syllable, which gives such a broad and dignified effect to these tunes. Attempts to adapt them to the procrustean bed of the nineteenth century hymn tune have merely taken away their character and made them appear dull."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dull music loses one of the most important aspects of worship: joy! Comes pretty close to losing reverence, too.

Some of your shorter posts have been pretty good! I find just about everything you put up here interesting.