Congregational Singing
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 317
    I was reading through the 1915 February issue of The Catholic Choirmaster looking for information on a Lorenzo Dobici and came upon a write-up on "Congregational Singing". This passage made me laugh so I thought I would share.

    The Rev. Dr. Harris in his Southern Methodist, September 30, bewails the decline of congregational singing in many Methodist churches. He says that one hears now only lighter songs sung with out fervor or feeling, and instead of the faces of the modern congregation reflecting hope and joy as they sing, they who do sing look like they are suffering with a spell of indigestion.
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  • Liam
    Posts: 3,989
    Well, by that time the Victrola had made phonographs/gramophones a middle class mass market consumption item in the USA (also, movies with live accompaniment became a feature of mass culture). Radios would follow in the next decade.

    The point being that this was the time when the media forming the foundation of taste in mass culture were shifting in important ways.
  • jcr
    Posts: 72
    Congregational singing can be encouraged to a considerable degree by following a few guidelines. The organist must lead, and must breathe as a singer breathes. By this, I mean that the clipping part of a beat off of the ends of phrases has to be done away with (a practice frequently encountered with organists in recent years). Tempi should be set according to the usual methods of taking into account harmonic rhythm, text, melodic character, etc. and the stops must cause the melody to dominate just a bit while not burying the congregation in the sound. If a cantor is singing, the cantor's voice must not be amplified to overwhelm the congregation either. People will not sing if they cannot hear anyone else singing. They will also not sing if they can't breathe between phrases. There are other considerations (familiarity with hymns, etc.) but these things seem to combine to produce pretty enthusiastic singing where they are practiced regularly for a reasonable period. I know others will have things to add to this.
  • There was also a horrific war going on that might have wiped the hope and joy from many faces.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,171
    That's a compassionate thought, but "the Great War" probably wasn't affecting a lot of Americans' mood in 1915, since the country hadn't entered it yet.
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