For Pentecost: Come Down, O Love Divine
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,389
    If you can't sing this wonderful hymn for Pentecost at church, feel free to sing along (and try one or both descants!) with this video. May your Pentecost be blessed with joy and happiness for the descent of the Holy Spirit. The PDF score is attached (also available at CPDL).

    Come Down, O Love Divine (Ralph Vaughan Williams, Charles H. Giffen)
    https://youtu.be/WIZXqhS-fCU
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  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,326
    Very nice and beautiful, Chuck -
    but (tee-hee) it is a notch or two (or three?) too fast.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,389
    Thank you, Jackson. My own ordinary preference would be for a somewhat slower tempo, too, although I've encountered many who insist that the tempo in the video (about minim=60) or even a smidge faster is best. In the end, I chose the quicker tempo so as to create a shorter video whose file size isn't too large.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,627
    many who insist that the tempo in the video (about minim=60) or even a smidge faster is best.

    Faster? Oh my! Minim=40 for me.
    Wonderful, as always!
  • In larger buildings, slower tempi? The singing (and thus the tempo) should be robust but never bloated and inert.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,389
    Here are MP3 sound files, one at minim=50, one at minim=40. Which tempo seems best?
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 593
    40 is perfect.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,326
    Of the three, forty is the self evident and glorious best.
    Fifty could squeak by - in an utterly dead room..
    Sixty is dreadfully fast and needs to go back to school and repeat that course.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,389
    For further comparison, here is the work, as performed at the Sacred Music Colloquium XXI on 14th June of 2011. From the timing (beginning when everyone starts singing), it appears that the initial tempo is about minim=48. This was hardly sung in a dead room!!
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,627
    48 still seems a bit too fast. Not necessarily for the hymn alone, but the descants need a slower tempo. It's almost as if there are two different time signatures. The hymn-tune with primarily minims and crotchets is in 2/2; but the descant with crotchets and quavers is 4/4. Minim=48-50 (crotchet=96-100) is OK for the first verse with the tune alone, but it's too fast for the descants. Minim=40 (crotchet=80) is, for me, the ideal tempo. YMMV
  • davido
    Posts: 289
    I’m on that recording from 2011, it was a glorious experience!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 386
    I love it at 40 too. RVW preferred, performed and conducted ALL his music at very slow tempi.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 296
    Here's an organ recording if this is helpful to anyone. I was so taken with this that I decided to record it for my choir. I should note that I do not combine the descants, however.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 296
    I've also created a practice video for my choir to learn the descants and to rehearse singing with them. Hope this helps someone. https://youtu.be/wrKz9oByAss
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,389
    Thank you ServiamScores! For some reason, the YouTube video won't link, but here it is embedded:

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    Thanked by 2ServiamScores bdh
  • Joseph Michael
    Posts: 207
    In his "English Hymnal", Vaughan Williams sets the tempo at 44 for the half note.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,389
    Thanks, Joseph Michael. I didn't think to check the English Hymnal. Personally, I've tended to use 48 with a slowing to about 42-45 for the final stanza when both descants are sung together. I think I'll try to reprogram myself to work in the minim=44 mode.

    The fact that the descants have more motion than the melody is not an accident. When one ponders the meaning of Pentecost, with its tongues of fire, and speaking in tongues, and sheer joy at the descent of the Holy Spirit, one might be led to appreciate the descants as some musical/aural manifestation of the Pentecost events.
  • Joseph Michael
    Posts: 207
    I bet that Healey Willan played it even slower than 44! He died (I think) in 1968. But even in the 1980s, hymns at Toronto's Saint Mary Magdalene were sung at the slowest of tempi--in the Willan tradition. Today, things have changed, regarding tempi, at SMM.