Congregational (mis)Counting with The Strife Is O'er (VICTORY)
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 564
    Any of you have issues with the congregation only wanting to hold "lu" for two counts instead of three on the "alleluia" refrain? A few of the stronger singers in the congregation went a little rogue with this today and it made me curious as to whether or not this was a universal problem. I encountered this to some degree in a previous position as well.
    Thanked by 2Brad_S_2018 LauraKaz
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    We sang this hymn last week and I didn’t notice anything odd. In fact, the congregation sang it better than a few other selections which I thought would be relatively straightforward.
    Thanked by 1trentonjconn
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    Do you play an intro to set the tempo and duration of the unsung downbeat?
  • davido
    Posts: 893
    Yes, the amateur singers don’t count, and always try to cheat/shorten the dotted half notes.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    Do you play an intro to set the tempo and duration of the unsung downbeat?
    Is there a way of NOT offering an intro before a hymn? The whole point of an intro is to set the tempo and give everyone an entry point.
  • PaxTecum
    Posts: 307
    I noticed that people do this in the last "allelluia" dotted half-note of LASST UNS ERFREUEN
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    SS

    Yes, but I have witnessed hymns where only a gathering note, with pedal, has been given by the organist, or the use of a line that does not help prepare for an unsung downbeat. Collisions ensue.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,044
    Yes. Or the organist gives a tempo rejected by the choir (too slow, basically), which the director should correct of course.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    The tempo rejected by the choir has become the [fill in the blank].
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 273
    I’ve never noticed this at my home parish with VICTORY, but a lot of people run through the dotted half notes when we do anything to SINE NOMINE (whether it’s “For All the Saints” or “Go to the World”). I do notice people being thrown off by the intro pedal note on both VICTORY and SINE, though. Also notice it on Hillert’s “Festival Canticle.”
    Thanked by 1LauraKaz
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    And the missing initial downbeat to the 7 note organ intro to PERSONET HODIE is another musical equivocation that invites a congregational false foot.
    Thanked by 1trentonjconn
  • JonLaird
    Posts: 245
    I noticed that people do this in the last "allelluia" dotted half-note of LASST UNS ERFREUEN

    Here's the classic example:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shIACXmg7Bc
    Thanked by 1PaxTecum
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 564
    I definitely play the refrain as in intro deliberately in order to avoid miscounting.

    On the topic of hymns that people get wrong, do any of you have congregations capable of singing "Hail Thee, Festival Day"?
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Liam
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    No, on "Hail Thee, Festival Day." They couldn't sing it if their lives were dependent on it. Hillert’s “Festival Canticle.” was never a problem. I remembered an obese organist who jiggled and bounced all over the bench every time he played it. I recalled that image too strongly and never programmed it.
    Thanked by 1trentonjconn
  • davido
    Posts: 893
    I just started using “Hail Thee Festival Day” at the school mass, so I’m hopeful that someday in the future I’ll have a congregation that can sing it. It’s really no more difficult than Eagles Wings or Blest are they
  • In this situation I would:
    -play passing tones or accompanimental figures which resolve on the correct beat in an aurally obvious manner
    -utilize the party horn on the melody
    - play an interlude with melodic figures with the same rhythm
    - some of these at the same time

    I've not encountered that problem with this particular hymn. The one I can't fix is Ode to Joy with the anticipated tonic at the end of the 3rd line
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,164
    I've encountered "For all the Saints..." with some people singing "Saints" to a half-note instead of a dotted half.
    Thanked by 1CatholicZ09
  • Carol
    Posts: 854
    Liampmc-

    Not being an organist, I just have to ask is the "party horn" a real organ stop or were you being sarcastic?
    Thanked by 2WGS CharlesW
  • Any hymn with a dotted half note! Come, Thou, Almighty King; Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones; etc. I try add a moving voice to the bass line or inner harmonies to keep the singers honest.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    Not being an organist, I just have to ask is the "party horn" a real organ stop or were you being sarcastic?


    I wondered if he meant the chamade trumpet. My organ professor always said that if you pull on the chamade during communion, they will notice.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    Yes: “party horn” is organ joke-speak for chamade (or other loud solo reed such as a high-pressure tuba).

    Regarding the actual discussion, I’d say that if the congregation doesn’t get the tempo, then the organist failed in their introduction. Intros really are not difficult. Be boring as all get-out if that’s what it takes and simply play stanzas 1 & 4.

    The only time you should really do unusual or short intros are for something that the congregation knows REALLY well.

    For The Strife is O’er, the three alleluias at the beginning (the refrain) makes a perfectly sufficient and clear introduction. This also allows you to demonstrate the downbeat in the pedal. (Which, it should be noted, needs to have a strong enough registration to make itself sufficiently heard and felt.)

    As for the one-note “boops” at the beginnings of things, those were (as I understand it) really developed by Marier, and are extremely useful in the right context. They are NOT for hymn introductions. Full stop. They are primarily useful (and intended) for offering a downbeat for flowing chant accompaniments, where the flow is natural speech and doesn’t need an intro that sets a tempo in the traditional sense. They can be very useful in psalms as well, depending on how they are composed.

    The downbeat for TSiO is not the same thing as the Marier boop, however. It’s actually highly unusual for a hymn to begin this way.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    Yes, gathering notes with pedal as developed by Ted Marier are for bringing in the congregation on antiphons/responsories after the cantor or schola has sung. That works very well. Not for typical hymnody.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Carol
    Posts: 854
    I like The Strife is Oer and agree that the organist can enable the congregation with those down beats.

    I am very suspicious of hymns that start with a downbeat rest. Pick up notes into the hymn are easy to understand, but an actual rest on the first beat of a full measure, to me, is usually just bad writing. There are some OCP hymns that I think were written by someone using a guitar and strumming a 4/4 beat while they were really writing lyrics in 3/4. It drives me crazy! I used to rewrite them in my head until I realized that it was pointless and only going to make it harder for me to sing as written.

    While I am on a rant here, I cannot stand when a song is transcribed as mixed meter when it would be simpler if there was just a firmata over the note that is causing the need for mixed meter. Maybe it is a byproduct of computer music writing programs.

    Thanks for the "party horn" explanation, ServiamScores!
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,391
    What poor musical craft it is, indeed, for a composer to begin a hymn tune with a downbeat rest! Besides that above-mentioned polygamist polyphonist Palestrina (VICTORY), there's that English fellow, Vaughan Williams (SINE NOMINE), and the Americans Richard Hillert (FESTIVAL CANTICLE) and Calvin Hampton (ST. HELENA and DE TAR), to name just a few of these pitiable composers. (Not to mention Sebastian Temple's MAKE ME A CHANNEL OF YOUR PEACE.)
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    When in a choir, I appreciate the need for a conductor/leader and for at least minimal rehearsal. As a PiP I am irritated by the assumption that we are more capable than a practised choir.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores Carol
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,167
    W. H. Monk included a pedal downbeat (E2 marked ”Org.”) in the (original) HA&M edition of 1861.
    Thanked by 1ronkrisman
  • davido
    Posts: 893
    Also ENGELBERG, Charles V. Stanford.
    Thanked by 1ronkrisman
  • davido
    Posts: 893
    No one needs a conductor for hymn singing. A trained organist will provide all the musical indications a congregation needs for success. See all the techniques described above for making sure congregations sing the dotted half note correctly.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,391
    @Andrew_Malton: Which tune by W.H. Monk? I'm compiling a list of fine hymn tunes which begin with a downbeat rest. ENGELBERG is a great tune.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,167
    I looked at VICTORY In the 1861 where it is not so named but where apparently it first appeared.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    And for those unfamiliar with the source material for the verses:

    The choral Gloria Patri in Palestrina's Magnificat tertii toni a 4 (versos impares - that is, loose verses without rhymed endings):

    Starting at measure 119: https://www.cpdl.org/wiki/images/a/aa/Pal-magiii-impares.pdf

    https://youtu.be/GyGiVj70tfI?t=391
  • tandrews
    Posts: 163
    I had a chuckle as I realized I was reading this entire topic thinking this was about Vulpius, not Victory, and wondering how everyone was having these kinds of issues.
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 564
    See all the techniques described above for making sure congregations sing the dotted half note correctly.


    I will reiterate that I very deliberately (and correctly) played the refrain in question as an intro. Additionally, I improvised on the hymn tune while soloing out the melody to this segment with a gentle reed. Additionally, I told the choir that the congregation may jump the gun on the counting so that they would know to lead strongly. All of this I did to aid the PiPs. Needless to say, I was surprised it was still an issue, thus the post.
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 402
    One way out of the problem with this hymn is to use the tune Vulpius instead.
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 564
    I do like the Vulpius.
    Thanked by 1Viola
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    TJC—sometimes things just go awry despite our best efforts.

    Also, I’ve noticed that one or two strong singers downstairs can have a surprising effect on the entire congregation. One person belting out can embolden others to sing. But one person belting out and being very off can also derail them. Perhaps there was an eager beaver downstairs who wasn’t quite with it.

    I’ve also had parishioners try and disagree with my tempos before. (Bless their hearts.) Then again, I also know people who can not clap on beat to save their lives. (And cannot clap “off beat” either. They just… well… God loves them just the same.)
    Thanked by 2trentonjconn Carol
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,044
    We had this tonight at benediction; unfortunately it was a pitch issue, because someone sang in octaves and stuck out, causing the women to drop out.