Reharmonizations for last verses of hymns
  • Do any of you guys do this? Do you use "Two Hundred Last Verses" by Noel Rawsthorne or similar? I did something from that book this morning.
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,954
    I like that book. Too many hymnals have changed keys for hymns which modern singers seemingly can't sing. The only problem with books like "Verses" is the keys don't always match hymnal keys anymore.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,049
    Agreed, Charles. They so rarely line up with what I need them for that I have very little use for books like "200 Last Verses."

    If someone like Richard Rice or our own @ryand put together one that would line up with something like Worship IV or St. Michael's Hymnal, I bet I'd have a lot more use for something like that.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CCooze
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,545
    I wouldn't want to align it to any one hymnal, but maybe if we came up with a list of 100 hymn tunes I could have something drafted by 2019 ;)
  • Seemple!
    Transpose the hymn to the key of your 'last verse'.
    Or, improvise your own 'last verse'.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen doneill
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,954
    Seemple!
    Transpose the hymn to the key of your 'last verse'.
    Or, improvise your own 'last verse'.


    More work! Who needs that? LOL. You could find a hymnal where the keys match and play the hymn from it.
  • Well sometimes I just like to improvise. I think that some hymns shouldn't be changed, though, like Down Ampney. The harm is too good to be changed for a last verse.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,107
    I think that some hymns shouldn't be changed, though, like Down Ampney.
    I couldn't agree more and, in fact, have mentioned somewhere in this forum that Down Ampney was so well harmonized by Vaughan Williams, that when I composed my double descants for Down Ampney I used only the original harmonization (whereas, more often than not, I tend to reharmonize a hymn tune for descants that I compose).

    The attached MP3 file is a recording of "Come down, O Love divine" as sung at the 2011 Sacred Music Colloquium with my double descants (minor note, the second descant was slightly rewritten shortly before the Colloquium and hence differs slightly in the recording from the final version).
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Seemple but not so seemple.
    1. Final verses are traditionally the ones where descants are unveiled.
    2. Ergo, re-harmonize a preceding verse.
    3. Perhaps new purveyors could sell their alternatives (including interludes?) as Finale/Sibelius files, thus streamlining the transposition issues.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,954
    I have concluded that older is better when it comes to hymnals. There are some whacked out harmonies in some of the newer hymnals. I can get really exasperated when GIA has published one of the Proulx harmonizations that don't really sound so good to my ears. I wouldn't mind so much if they printed the traditional harmonization on another page. I go find the hymns in the 1940 or another hymnal and play from those and tell the choir to sing unison. The descant books seem to fit that hymnal much better.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,174
    1940 or die. all others retire quickly. I often improvise progressive harmonies but never for the final verse
  • It should be noted, for those who are new around here, that, so long as your melody line is clearly-enough presented, re-harmonization can be a real asset to a musical presentation. (Some harmonizations are so bland that they must be rescued!)
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • I can get really exasperated when GIA has published one of the Proulx harmonizations that don't really sound so good to my ears. I wouldn't mind so much if they printed the traditional harmonization on another page.
    Charles, your wish has been granted! In the accompaniment edition for Worship IV, we often included both traditional and alternate harmonizations (as well as alternate keys) for hymn tunes that appear more than once in the hymnal.

    As much as I admired Richard Proulx, his harmonization of the tune ST. FLAVIAN was not a favorite of mine, especially his use of the flatted seventh chord in the penultimate measure (even though Proulx's harmonization was based on the original faux-bourdon setting.) Since ST. FLAVIAN appears twice in Worship IV, the tune is printed at #461 ("Lord, Who throughout These Forty Days") with Proulx's harmonization, and at #463 ("From Ashes to the Living Font") with the more standard harmonization.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,303
    Since we're on the subject. Does anyone have a harmonization for Adeste Fidelis? It must be free. I need it for a party.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,592
    Right now.
  • It isn't as though Adeste fideles harmonisations are scarce as hen's teeth.
    Every hymnal and carol book has one.
    Even those little paper bound carol books that one takes acaroling.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,722
    Adam is remembering this silly thread from three years ago:
    Adeste Fideles reharmonization

    (If you go to read it, please note that there are two pages of comments.)
  • Ah, so.
    How quaint.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 510
    I love that book! Often have to do a fancy modulation to get into the key and sometimes will transpose the whole hymn just so I can do his last versus!
  • JesJes
    Posts: 510
    I'm planning to write a book of hymn preludes and last versus when Hugh gets his hymnal done. I've still got some harmony issues to weed out with him first.
  • Proulx harmonizations aren't nearly as bad as DeBryun harmonizations in OCP hymnals. His stuff can be just horrible to see or listen to.
  • doneill
    Posts: 168
    To address the initial post -

    I like varying the harmonizations. Without a choir present, I tend to be more conservative; with a choir, I can be a bit more adventurous. Harmonizations that simply reharmonize the tune are more successful; most Catholic congregations are just not confident enough to sing with harmonizations that obscure the melody more (I love Gerre Hancock, but some of his do that). It is not necessary to have a strictly Catholic collection - some Catholic publisher accompaniments tend to be on the low side, and could bear transposing up anyway.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • Doneill's observation is very good. I would qualify it, though. Some Catholic congregations can sing really well, and, for them, there is no reason to hold back on imaginative hymn leadership from the organ. This can and does have the effect of making their singing even more confident and enjoyable as they take up the challenge and comprehend the interplay. This, of course, is not for many congregations, but there are those to whom it would be a boon. We hear so much about Catholics who won't (note I didn't say 'can't') sing that we are sometimes not aware that there are many who do, and do it quite well, thank you. At St Basil's Chapel here at Houston's UST I can and do do just about anything and the people sing all the better for it. When people realise that they are part of something really interesting that adds to their experience and makes the mass more glorious, they will respond. So, if some of you have congregations that sing well, make them sing even better with imaginative organ playing on ordinaries and hymns. They will like it and respond in kind. If your congregation don't sing well, then of course you need to take a more conservative course. The same goes for descants. People who really sing are not put off by them, but egged on in doing their part. Descants are thrilling. (A final thought: some people who fain to be confused irrationally choose to be confused and negative, are spoil sports, and just aren't going to cooperate - and some of them wear Roman collars.)
  • I think that part of this is also adding notes on top of the melody in an organ reharm. It can be less confusing for the congregation if it is just changing the chords, or something like that. I find this is the case for our almost non singing congregation.