Monday, January 5, 2015

Ringing Out Wild Bells – Can We Sing MOURN?

“Ring Out Wild Bells” (found here) has got one of the most mournful tunes I have ever heard in my life.  If it isn’t the most mournful tune in the hymnbook, I would guess it’s at least in the top three. To top its already mournful tune, it is being played on the organ – which in my opinion is one of the most mournful musical instruments and so the two put together sounds like a procession to a dark funeral.

The chorister was not impressed with the lack of volume from the congregation and suggested we try again.  The brother behind me uttered, “Well then pick a different song”
Needless to say, I was in full agreement.  It wouldn’t bother me at all to have that hymn completely thrown out of the hymnbook.  But then again, I have only heard it just once a year.  For me, personally, once a decade would be plenty.

I visualized a setting as one would find in a Charles Dickens story.  It’s rainy and cold and everybody is dressed in black.  No one is smiling.  It’s the end of the world for each of them and there is no longer anything worth living for.  At least that is what I see.

The last two verses without the music don’t seem quite as mournful as the first. 
           “Ring Happy Bells Across the Snow”  Oh, yes.  Let’s do that.  Let us be happy.  There is absolutely no joy in that tune.  There are no happy bells.  There is only death – and not a pleasant one.  No pep.  No believing that the New Year will bring new hope.  It’s over.  Life is over.  That is my personal opinion of it anyway. 

Funny thing is by the time the song is over, and I am reminiscing about the mournful tune, I somehow end up turning it into “Portobello Road” (written by Richard and Robert Sherman) from Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  But even at the slowest tempos and gloomiest notes, it still has more upbeat than “Ring Out Wild Bells” will ever have.   In case you haven’t guessed it, I just really don’t care for that song.

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