Chorus or Refrain?
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 515
    I have noticed in some older hymnals, hymns that use CHORUS for repeats (but not always) and in more modern hymnals I see REFRAIN. I googled both terms to this to see what the difference is and the definitions seem to vary. Is one preferred over the others?
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    I like this explanation, which without acknowledging it ties back the use of chorus in Greek theatrical tradition (and thus is the opposite of the idea of choir singing in harmonized parts):
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 885
    A Chorus is the part of your song where all of your instruments, singers or musical elements come together to play and/or sing in unison.

    It's also the part of your song where you encourage your listeners to sing along.

    So does that mean that "refrain Glorias" are more properly called "chorus Glorias"?
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,046
    Liam's link, I think, is quite explanatory.
    There are some hymns-carols which can be treated as verse (smaller group) + refrain (everyone). For instance, the carol 'Shepherds We Have Heard' is very effective when sung Stanza 1 men, stanza 2 women, stanza 3 men, stanza 4 all, with all joining at the 'refrains'. This treatment makes of the song something akin to a responsorial form (verse vs responsory). This could apply to a number of hymns-carols, i.d., the Marian hymn 'Immaculate Mary', in which each stanza could alternate smaller groups and the 'ave, ave, ave part sung by all as a refrain or responsory.

    I had always thought that, at least in hymnody, 'refrain' and ''chorus' were more or less interchangeable, but Liam's link seems to me to propose a more correct understanding of their difference.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    "So does that mean that "refrain Glorias" are more properly called "chorus Glorias"?

    Since a chorus is a specific type of refrain, refrain covers it. And, in common practice, refrains of refrain Glorias often have descants and harmonized choral parts....
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 998
    I think we should also remember that “chorus” is a term being used in modern pop music now too; so perhaps it may not be prudent to apply it to liturgical music at this time. Just a thought, anyway.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,578
    refrain from chorus?
  • madorganist
    Posts: 755
    I can't help thinking of Austin Lovelace's quip: "When I see a hymn that says ‘Refrain,’ I usually do!"
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 515
    The more I think about it, a chorus is the same as singing a verse and a refrain is a repetition of a just few words. Now let me think on that some more.