organ hymn accompaniment/free harmonizations
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    Since I have a rather small pipe organ with limited capabilities, I often like to spice things up with a pre-written free harmonization/accompaniment for a hymn that the congregation is familiar with, to invigorate their singing.
    I have a few books that have some good arrangements by various composers (which I'll mention below,) but right now I'm looking for an arrangement to use with "Joyful Joyful" or "Holy God." (I have some organ friends who can make up a really cool sounding accompaniment on the spot...but alas, I can't.)

    *Does anyone know of any good free harmonizations for either Joyful Joyful, or Holy God We Praise Thy Name? Or any other good volumes or collections that contain hymns that are known, able to be played, and sound good?

    The best book I've found is the "St. Francis Collection," containing stuff by lots of different composers.
    I also like John Ferguson's, but it requires purchasing 5 books to get the whole set.
    I have one of Harold Owen, and one of David Herman, which each contain a few usable accompaniments. (all of the above are published through GIA)
    (Also, if anyone is interested, I have also found a beautiful harmonization of Hyfrydol in Wilbur Held's "Preludes and Postludes vol. 1" through Augsburg. I think it's worth buying the whole book!)
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    'Two Hundred Last Verses' by Noel Rawsthorne, pub by Kevin Mayhew. I think it is out of print now, but used copies may be obtained at Alibris. Still in print is a golden oldie by T.Tertius Noble. Just Google and you can find others. Two Hundred Last.. is my fav though- leaning heavily, of course, on Anglican Hymns.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,518
    This and similar others are still available from the Organ Historical Society online catalog.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,112
    Lois Fyfe's book is also wonderful. Available through her web site. Very Anglican.
  • It has been suggested that downloadable, free free harmonisations and descants be made available for the PBEH.

    Free, free, free....
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    Rawsthorne's two volumes of "200 Last Verses" and "More Last Verses" has been compiled into one volume, sold through Kevin Mayhew.

    A little warning: Rawsthorne was working from tunes in the English tradition so that sometimes the tunes have minor differences with those found in American hymnals. Also, often he was working with hymns in different keys from those in use by Catholic hymnals in the US. It requires some work (entering them into Finale, for example, in order to have them transposed).
  • Different keys? You mean like, higher, singable ones?
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    Perhaps a short modulation bridge would be a clue to the congregation
    that something different was going to happen for that final verse,
    including a higher key?
  • There is a real need for a HOLY GOD accompaniment along the lines of the Praise, My Soul in the 1940.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,222
    Hello Mara is that you from Ann Arbor?
    Considered the best volume of Alternate Harmonizations are the ones by Tertius Noble.
    However, I have literally hundreds of harmonizations, just let me know what tunes you would like, and would love to send some to you.
    Gregory Hamilton
  • I have a great arr of Holy God for SATB and Brass quintet! LOL Can't remember whose, b/c I have been to lunch and part of it was adult beverages. I'll think of it in a bit. Also the Church's One Foundation same 5tet
  • And I am giving that Noel Rawsthorne compilation to my organist for Xmas. Too late for his b'day. I think he has hidden the T.Tertius Noble.

  • Gotta warn people against the T. Tertius Noble free harmonizations. I know, I know . . . they're venerable and all that, but . . .

    1) They often feature a very athletic eighth-note motion, even in the pedals, and with a different harmony on each eighth-note, which I found really odd. In order to play them without sounding ridiculous because of all that motion, you'd have to play the preceding verses verrrrrrry slowwwwwwly. Well, guess what? Noble was known for, dare I say notorious for, playing his hymns like molasses in January, so there you go.

    2) The melody is often so obscured that it completely disappears. Maybe in a hard-boiled New England Episcopal congregation you could get away with it, but given the way most Catholics sing, especially hymnody, it's my considered opinion that free accompaniments that obscure the melody or put really unexpected harmonies beneath the melody will only aggravate the congregation.

    And finally, a pet peeve of mine . . . if you're going to use introductions, interludes and free harmonizations, BE ABLE TO ACCOMPANY A HYMN STRAIGHTFORWARD AND SOLIDLY, FIRST! Nothing is more aggravating than an organist who picks one tempo for the intro (be it freely composed or just the last phrase of the hymn), and then uses another for the hymn itself, often without a predictable number of beats between the end of the intro and the first verse, and then between the verses. Once you've mastered the fine art of playing the hymns as written, then and ONLY then should you move onto fancier things. This was a hard-learned lesson for me that nobody (even in the so-called "church music" programs I took in college) discussed or trained me in.

    OK, that's my rant for the day.
  • LOL We all need to rant once in awhile. But I have to say, the organ professors at
    Westminster CC and all their students knew how to intro hymns and keep a set tempo. That was back in the days when Joan Lippincott was a grad student and Alexander MacCurdy was head of the organ dept. (I am giving away my age here) And, of course, In a single book there are always things that aren't good, and a few really great things. At least,that 's what I've found.

  • Dear Friends: Having sudied with Dr. Eric Thiman I am puzzled as to why none of you has suggested his hymn harmonizations. He is the master and the congregation at City Temple where he played for years is a testament to excellent congregational singing! His writen hymn harmonizations are published by H.W.Gray and he also wrote a small textbook on the subject. He taught harmony at the Royal Academy of Music in London for most of his life. Dale
  • I have always loved Eric Thiman. I have a collection of sacred songs by him, plus a collection of secular songs. He knew how to write for the voice.