Your Least Favourite Hymn Tunes/Harmonizations
  • As a variation to my world famous anthem thread, which are your least favourite tunes? Or harmonizations?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    Well, since there are so many bad but little used tunes (and also excluding contemporary-genre "tunes" to make this not like shooting fish in a barrel), I'd focus on traditional tunes that are commonly esteemed among many sacred musicians in the Anglosphere. (How's that for redefining a question? Sorry.)

    What comes to mind are tunes that organists seems to love but that are more tiresome for singers (which seem to be a speciality of English organists of the 20th century*, and those who ape them), such as:

    1. Vaughan Williams: Hail Thee Festival Day. (It's this that gave my idea for the mash-up tune: SALVE FESTA DIES IRAE.)
    2. Festival Canticle (sucks all the joy out of Easter like a giant vacuum)
    3. ABBOT'S LEIGH (an organ solo cum vocalise)

    * Postscript: a related group of tunes are those that are deadly when handled too stolidly (which will be the temptation of many organists) but that can work if sung to the right text in a more flowing tempo and with a lyrical touch: one example that comes to mind is THE KING'S MAJESTY. (I love DANBY, but would hate to hear it under the wrong hands and feet.)
    Thanked by 1fcb
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,242
    1. LAMBILLOTTE ("Come Holy Ghost")
    2. ST. LOUIS ("O Little Town of Deathlehem")
    3. The hideous ditty that goes with "Hail Queen of Heav'n, the ocean star"
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    I don’t like ABBOT’S LEIGH, and I had a particularly difficult encounter with ORA ET LABORA.
  • I second SALVE FESTA DIES. What a weird, weird tune.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    Salieri.

    1. Yep.
    2. Yep. Yep.
    3. Do you mean? STELLA!!!!!!! http://www.hymnary.org/text/hail_queen_of_heaven_the_ocean_star
    Thanked by 1Salieri
  • I actually love Abbot's Leigh, believe it or not.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,482
    I like all three of Liam's choices. Oh, well, it takes all temperaments!
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,410
    I'm not a huge fan of ST. CATHERINE for "Faith of Our Fathers". It's okay, it just seems so uninspiring for the text it accompanies. I prefer SAWSTON, but that one's been nixed by my chapel as "being too much like an Irish jig." Sigh . . . The alternate tune in the TRH is pretty good, too.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • JL
    Posts: 152
    1. SAINT CATHERINE
    2. GENEVA
    3. VESPER HYMN
    4. PURPOSE
    5. MUELLER
    6. OLIVET
    7. AUSTRIA (which is a perfectly good tune, but even if the text says "Glorious things of thee are spoken" I'm still thinking "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles".)
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    well, it is the Kaiser hymn…
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    The generation for whom AUSTRIA had those connotations in real-time is passing away, and it's not been an issue in my experience the way it was, say, in the 1970s. Haydn knew how to write.

    I forgot another one I detest: ODE TO JOY in its form where the absolutely idiotic practice of squaring up the last line is used. The genius of the thing rests on the anticipated rhythm of the last line. Either do it right, or use AUSTRIA instead (Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee scans beautifully to AUSTRIA - Ted Marier set it, on facing pages, to both tunes, including the correct version of ODE TO JOY).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gott_erhalte_Franz_den_Kaiser

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqWQbK2xncA
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    I hate when GROSSER GOTT is sung as is taught in, but not necessarily published for, Catholic parishes.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,410
    The generation for whom AUSTRIA had those connotations in real-time is passing away


    Let's hope so. As always, the Society holds out.

    I happened to be reading a newspaper editorial written by an SSPX supporter who was extolling the virtues of the Old Mass. He described how it brought tears to his eyes hearing Tantum Ergo sung to the tune above: "Part of this magnificent hymn contains the Tantum Ergo, which may be sung to the glorious tune of “God Save the Kaiser,” the greatest national anthem ever composed, the divinely-inspired [sic] work of Franz Josef Haydn, that most Catholic of composers from that most Catholic of countries, Austria..."

    The Francophile and Anglophile inside of me ceased their eternal feud for just a moment to issue a collective gag.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    Re: GROSSER GOTT: you mean with the passing notes? Congregants will just flatten organists who try to correct them out of using them...
    Thanked by 1Spriggo
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    Stimson

    You saw Anglophilia in the mirror, just in lederhosen, that's why.
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,410
    That's comparable to getting a good look at Cthulu, right, Liam?
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    Liam, I admit my ignorance as to your meaning. I mean the extra eight notes in the last line, which is then repeated unneccessarily.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    Your Least Favourite Hymn Tunes/Harmonizations


    I find the standard harmonization for ADESTE FIDELIS to be both really boring and extremely difficult to play. I really need someone to write a new one. With jazzy chords. But easy to play. Like three voices, tops.

    Unfortunately, since it's already July, even if I found one now, it wouldn't be ready in time for this year's party.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    ENGELBERG
    EBENEZAR
    NON DIGNUS
    (BOOM!) mic drop
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    I hate when GROSSER GOTT is sung as is taught in, but not necessarily published for, Catholic parishes.


    Melodies go the way they go, not the way they are written.
    Do you get mad when Harpsichordists swing the eighths in Baroque music?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    Matthew

    Yes. The eighth notes are canonical in much US Catholic congregational practice. Written music to the contrary is moot.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    I’ll teach it in German…
  • @Adam Wood CAN YOU EVER CONTAIN YOURSELF? Any harmonization which is not Vaughan Williams' harm for Iste Confessor.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,559
    I think I like or love every single hymn mentioned in this thread so far.

    Hymn tunes I don't like:
    ST ANNE
    DUKE STREET
    ST COLUMBA

    Odds are good if you come to the Cathedral of Phoenix when I'm on vacation, you'll hear a substitute organist playing one of these.
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood Heath
  • Amazing Grace
    Brother James' Air
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,482
    Oh: and what I don't like:

    FINLANDIA, pompous and dull; it matches the high-minded texts set to it, hymns to peace and recycling.

    REGENT SQUARE, unsingable.

    O FILII ET FILIAE would be more appealing played on a penny-whistle in an Irish pub. It's a lot of deedle-de-dee.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,482
    By the way, in case anyone hasn't heard the story, and since both these hymn tunes have been mentioned above: they are related.

    ABBOTS LEIGH was composed by one of the BBC's producers of religious programming in 1941 so that their Sunday services broadcast on the radio would have a tune to replace AUSTRIA, which had fallen out of fashion.
  • There are so many bad ones, boring ones, tedious ones, and on and on, that I would be hard put to name them all.

    At the very top of the list would be these that popped into my mind just now -
    Grosser Gott
    Grosser Gott even worse with tasteless Catholic addenda
    Nicea
    Aurelia

    Lambuillotte (or whatever it is)
    St Louis
    Ass's Bray
    (otherwise known as Galilee)

    There are so many...........
    Moscow, for instance.

    About Austria - I've always loved it, whether to Kaiserlichen words or others. It's a shame that the Nazis nearly ruined it for everybody. When I was serving my Lutherans I was quite put off by the dinky tune for 'Glorious Things...' that was in their hymnal, so I taught them Austria, and was amazed that they (so they insisted) had never heard it before nor knew from whence it came. They did, though, like singing it!

    One of my new favourites, though, is Blaenwern, found at no. 150 in Gracewing's The Catholic Hymnbook
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    I think I like or love every single hymn mentioned in this thread so far.


    You also like Enya.

    And Sweelinck.

    So....maybe you have bad taste, is all.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,559
    Enya was a phase in high school, you're the one who still likes her.

    Sweelinck is great.

    And maybe I have bad taste.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    You still like Enya.

    Sweelinck is a nefarious foe.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    Oh, also - I like almost all the tunes mentioned, especially the ones that have been mentioned more than once.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,559
    What about the three I mentioned?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    What about the three I mentioned?

    I like STS ANNE and COLUMBA, but I find DUKE STREET to be both boring and a little tough to sing.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,559
    Somewhere in the TV Mass archive on YouTube there's a TV Mass where that common friend of ours whom you cooked hot dogs for a few months after you cooked hot dogs for me just brutalizes DUKE STREET while subbing for me. We've now started using it as a verb - "wow, you really DUKE STREET'd that..."
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Heath
  • ZacPB189ZacPB189
    Posts: 70
    I rather enjoy Enya (though she's made a few I could care less for). Anyway...


    -The world would be a better place without "Amazing Grace"/NEW BRITAIN.
    -The world would also be a better place without HYMN TO JOY.
    -"Großer Gott" is one of my favorites, and I could do without the little frills the English-speaking world added to the tune, but what I really don't like is the repeating of the last line.
    -KINGSFOLD. Jesus may be the light of my life, but he's not the star of County Down.
    -I know we're suppose to like Palestrina, but VICTORY (The Strife is O'er) is such a vapid little tune.
    -MENDELSSOHN/Hark the Herald. I like Wesley's original text better ("Hark! How all the Welkin Rings"), and prefer his suggested tune EASTER HYMN (Jesus Christ is Ris'n Today). I don't think Mendelssohn would have approved his Gutenberg-praising tune being used for sacred reasons, anyway.
    -KELVINGROVE
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,978
    I'm not sure I've ever seen such a disconnect between what professional church musicians like and what people enjoy singing.

    So much so that I'm surprised no one has mentioned NETTLETON.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,242
    About DUKE STREET: it should be sung in 2/2, half-note = c.80-96, with a definite forward momentum. It is not a pompous tune. Here's t' original: you'll notice there's a line repeat that is omitted in modern versions. I say this, because I often here this tune sung much too slow - as if it were some grandiose utterance.

    http://www.lgq.org.uk/Repertoire/PDFs/LGQ034.pdf
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    Kathy

    I will grant you that my bias against the squared-off ODE TO JOY is definitely not an issue of popularity but a purely musical in nature. However, my original three nominations are more of an example of things organists love but American Catholic congregants much less so....
    Thanked by 2Kathy CHGiffen
  • Ha! Salieri - I'm one of those guilty of taking Duke Street 'as if it were some grandiose utterance'. I would, normally, take it somewhat slower than your 'c.80-96' range. I do, though, agree fully that 'forward momentum' and a 2/2 rhythm are essential. As a tune, it hath about it a definite 'processional gait'.

    Actually, I think that many here would agree that tempos can be influenced by the acoustic, the choice of registrations available, how one's people sing, and more. Generous acoustics will generally permit a 'more grandiose utterance' with tunes that lend themselves to such - in fact they may demand it.

    As I was practicing the other night at St Basil's I was going through Worship IV and came across Personent hodie, a minor favourite of mine. This would be fun teaching a congregation to sing at around 90-100 or so. There would be some anguish 'getting' the repeated motive sung with spirit and bounce, but once it had been accomplished the people would very likely enjoy singing it. The choice of text, though, in Worship IV is disappointing. One is so accustomed to a Christmas text for this tune.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,574

    I find the standard harmonization for ADESTE FIDELIS to be both really boring and extremely difficult to play. I really need someone to write a new one. With jazzy chords. But easy to play. Like three voices, tops.


    You could always do as the "contemporary" group at a local parish did for a Christmas Eve mass. They sang "Joy to the World," Three Dog Night, as a recessional. BTW, the members of that group are about as contemporary as rust on the Titanic.
  • Wow, no one has mentioned ASH GROVE yet! I thought that would be one of the least favourites (yes I am Canadian).
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,574
    I tend to like most things traditional, unless the harmonizations have been butchered by Richard Proulx. What I don't like are the "hymns" written in the seventies by supposed Catholics, and heretics of various persuasions. I may be tired of the older hymns, but they are generally far better than what has been written since.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • JonLaird
    Posts: 203
    LOURDES HYMN
    WESTMINSTER ABBEY
    KREMSER
    IN BABILONE
    Bring Flow'rs; On This Day; etc. in that genre

    Regarding KINGSFOLD -- I too am familiar with this being performed as an Irish fiddle tune, and thought it was quite hilarious when it was paired with "Saint Joseph Was a Quiet Man" in the SMH. Irish fiddle tune + "Quiet Man" = flashbacks of John Wayne dragging Maureen O'Hara by the hair.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • ...no one has mentioned..


    Ha!
    That's because it isn't worth mentioning.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    "Saint Joseph Was a Quiet Man"

    they probably meant

    "Saint Joseph Was Quite A Man"
  • I'm kind of surprised no one went TWO OAKS yet.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    Perhaps because many folks look my lead of excluding contemporary genre "tunes" because that would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

    NETTLETON is a 19th century tune.
  • JL
    Posts: 152
    KREMSER loses me within the the first four bars, and FINLANDIA doesn't work outside its symphonic origins. I will admit to quite liking NETTLETON and ABBOT'S LEIGH.

    My objection to RUSSIA and AUSTRIA isn't that they aren't good tunes (they are), but that they're already well established as national anthems (Germany still uses the same tune, beginning "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit"), and feel a little like singing a sacred contrafactum of La Marseillaise (or The Star-Spangled Banner, for that matter.) Too weird.

    How about LUX EOI and SAINT KEVIN? I love Sullivan's operettas, but he really tanks as a church composer.

    Also BROTHER JAMES'S AIR.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • MarkThompson
    Posts: 768
    I like several of those mentioned here (FINLANDIA, GROSSER GOTT(!), DUKE STREET), and find myself indifferent as to several others (IN BABILONE, NEW BRITAIN, KINGSFOLD). At the top (bottom?) of my own list are:

    3. ST. CLEMENT
    2. DOWN AMPNEY
    1. LAND OF REST