Your opinions about hymnals is always interesting and useful
  • Disappointed in the hymn playing ability of your organist? If so, you are not alone.

    This may help.

    Because the opinions and comments here about our project A Catholic Book of Hymns have helped us build the first crowd-sourced hymnal, your input is something we look forward to and follow carefully.

    Now we would like to test something you might find helpful. We are about ready to send this out but we want your thoughts first.


    Click here.



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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,255
    I don't know, Noel. Tying repeated pedal notes is just something one learns, much the way one has to cope with English spelling instead of learning to read with fawnetiklee reespelt books. More useful to a beginner playing manualiter would be the distribution of hands in "Hail Holy Queen en-throned above". And the simplified right hand alto of "Immort-, invisible" is surely a mistake.
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  • I, too, don't see the point in this. I want the freedom to repeat notes or not as I please, and that skill has much to do with making hymnody expressive and functional on the organ. Some of the notes in the organ edition tie through pauses that I, and possibly others, would see as warranting a break in most or all voices. In that way, it might even be less helpful than the original edition.
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  • Maybe, Noel, the problem is that the conservatory programs haven't improved since my days annexed to one. One of my organ teachers said then that the churches were telling the conservatories that the organists they were graduating could play 40 minute recitals from memory, but couldn't accompany a simple hymn.

  • Chris and that...is part of the reason organ conservatory programs have been booted and the organ sold off to create more practice rooms for tuba players. They totally failed to teach organ majors how to play hymns. They also fail to tell piano majors that they are going to spend their lives teaching little fingers to play not performing concertos in Carnegie Hall.

    Hymns are as challenging to play as Bach.

    I would estimate that Richard and Schönbergian have had extensive organ lessons, it would be great to know how many years they spent learning the art of their trade.

    A survey was published that the average years of lessons US organists overall have had in their lifetime is .5 or less.

    6 Months. With holidays and sick days, that comes out to about 18 lessons, one that was spent explaining how to turn it on and what all the controls do.

    Chris, your statement is true. That was said about Oberlin students hired to play in Cleveland by clergy. BUT it was not the fault of the faculty, which had great hymn players, but because the students could care less about playing hymns.
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  • I've been an amateur organist for under three years, receiving about twenty lessons in total under a scholarship. The number of liturgies I have personally accompanied as an organist is under ten. I was able to intuitively do what I described above on the pianoforte before I even received formal organ lessons.

    Division between the hands is much, much harder than the (IMO) very basic task of deciding what should be tied. If you wish to market a book towards beginner organists, that would seem to be a more helpful task.
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  • For early beginners I see some value to this, if for no other reason than to demonstrate the concept. I just started a student working on this very task (sustaining voices) this past Monday and, God love her, she seemed a bit deer in headlights. I’d like to show her a page or two of this to help her wrap her head around the idea. That said, I do believe this is a skill you learn to hear and intuit naturally more than “rehearse”.
  • Oh, but the Pianoforte (I have one right here beside me) is the IDEAL instrument to learn on since the technique is so different from playing the modern piano. I mean, dealing with the hammers and all that you have to do to play the pianoforte is exactly what you have to do to play the organ!

    Does yours have two strings per key, giving you a true una corda pedal?
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,255
    I largely taught myself in the wake of my first interim job as a choir director with an accompanist; a community college organ instructor wanted nothing to do with my rather long legs. Like Schönbergian I had about a score of formal lessons during a year I played at a church associated with the Lutheran Seminary, and enjoyed voluntaries far more than the 5 hymns a week grind.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,255
    The simplified HYFERDOL is obviously designed to be compatible with the choir voicing rather than an optimized 3-part harmonization (a rationale also followed by some OUP novice organist book). But why re-articulate bass notes here, as at "sceptre" or "every nation" (where the 'alto' could well add a third to the triad)?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,255
    As far as learning on piano goes, that community college had piano as a prerequisite for organ, but kept its grand pianos locked up and only made electronic keyboards available to students!
  • Most colleges have the same issue with their harpsichords. I had to beg and sneak to get access to them. I always found it ironic too, because as an organ major Id get keys to million dollar instruments and yet they wouldn’t let me touch the harpsichords...
  • None of these are simplified.

    The 3 part simplified book is in final production for beginners.

    Everyone has a personal feeling as to where articulations belong. A musical score is like a road map. You can follow the map or not, the notes and all do not make music, you do. Not the day goes by that someone decides not to play the notes as indicated. A useful score opens the mind up and you find yourself thinking, “I didn’t know I could do that there!” And you might learn something and apply it again - or never do it again.

    This is not a teaching book but it teaches and inspires organist’s to apply what they see when playing out of a hymnal because they have feeling in their hands that builds up neural pathways so their hands will apply these techniques without thinking.
  • Noel,

    How long ago did that report about Oberlin students come out?
    {I'm an alum}
  • We are really proud of this book, thank you all for your interest and comments!
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  • Chris - the report was a survey, the comment was bandied about in clergy circles in the 1970’s when I hired John Bishop [organ clearing house] to take over my very sweet position at a church on Euclid Avenue. Now he could play hymns!
  • That must have been the one to which Haskell Thomson referred. It happened before my time there.
  • No, Haskell was at Church of the Covenant on the A/S, and John and I were at Calvary Pres on the 4 manual Austin donated by John Severance (Severance Hall, home to the Cleveland Orchestra) in memory of his wife.

    I believe that Haskell was one of the panel that I played the FAGO exam for, and the Peter Principle is right, and as an AAGO I have truly reached the level of my incompetence.

  • Noel,

    You misunderstood me. I had Haskell for improvisation at the keyboard. I'm clearly younger than you are (which, given your level of accomplishment wouldn't be hard to believe!) Maybe he just remembered the ancient survey, and referred to it all those years later? Or, maybe, there was another survey confirming the old results?
  • Aha, now that makes sense. The survey was by an ago member, as I recall. I used to go to the coop in Oberlin - the back room was a fantastic music store of scholarly editions. Long before you were there. Excellent school.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,289
    Hmmmm. good work, but all the major publishers like Concordia, Augsburg and the like offer simplified hymn version for less experienced organists... Just a comment (0.2) If you are not enjoying playing hymns, then you may not be using them to challenge your musical growth - improvising introductions, interludes, descants, re-harmonizations, transposing etcetc. I find they are ideal for developing these skills.
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  • The hymns are not simplified just made readable for an organist who prefers an organ score.

    Simplified edition IS in final editing. Soprano & Bass with a middle part to preserve the tonality is on the way. All of us, we can’t forget beginners, because we all were beginners at one time.

    No one was born playing the organ, but many of us were born wanting to!
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 434
    I think an SAB edition would be nice. My music director was asking for SB or SAB hymns not to long ago. Sometimes our baritone cantors both the TLM and NO mass and it would be nice to have. I was going to suggest also some additional Latin hymns (I know you have some in the collection already) I remember singing these Latin hymns for ordinary form years ago. Perhaps you considered these already and set them aside. Maybe for Volume 2?

    Ave Maris Stella - Italian Melody (St. Basil's)
    Ave Maris Stella - Lambillotte (St. Basil's)
    Veni Jesu Amor Mi - Cherubini (St. Basil's)
    Ave Verum - Sunday School Hymn Book melody
    O Cor Amoris - Sunday School Hymn Book melody
    Adoramus te Christe - Th. Dubois (St. Gregory edition)
    O Sacrum Convivium - Remondi (St. Gregory edition)

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  • wolffwolff
    Posts: 23
    Everyone has a personal feeling as to where articulations belong. A musical score is like a road map. You can follow the map or not, the notes and all do not make music, you do. Not the day goes by that someone decides not to play the notes as indicated.


    Very true, and while I know the purists want every note and nuance to be exactly as the composer wrote it, but my feeling is the composer is long dead and not only no longer cares, but he or she has no say whatsoever in how the music is played!

    If I have a lot of difficulty with certain parts, notes, or "ornamentation" I just omit them.

    With that in mind and your booklet sample that you linked to, the pages have a nice "clean" look to them with no distractions.

    Here's a page from my 1936 Slovakian Catholic hymn book "Jednotny Katholicky Spevnik" (translated roughly to English it is the "Uniform Catholic songbook" ) by Spolok Vojtecha, 565 pages.

    This is the organist edition, there is a pew edition which has only the melody lines which I'm told is pretty common over there and the organist is expected to improvise a bass line on the fly for it, but the JKS is available in both editions.

    It can be seen in the music for JKS 48 "Dnesny den sa radujme" (Let's rejoice today) that the composer/author made free use of ties and slurs, in fact, to my eyes its too much and is distracting and I don't pay any attention to them. Some ties are ok.
    Of the approx 600 hymns in the book, about half of them were composed by the author and others taken from very old works.

    I have a video of JKS 48, I omit several notes because of the rather awkward fingering needed to do it in measure 11 and 12 which I don't feel adds to the overall if played, I also omit a note or two in the last measure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWaNI4JP61U

    I like having the words with the music, JKS has them, I find it helpful to find/keep my place in the music if I know the words, not all the scores for instruments have the words, others find the words there of use to phrase the music to the words better, so they belong in the score whether it's for the organist edition or not.






















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