Showing posts with label hymns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hymns. Show all posts

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.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Name That Tune

Our theme for this month is on the plan of salvation.  I had wanted to get the class members’ input if there was a certain topic each would like to focus on.  Subject suggestions were on faith, agency and music to name a few.  I absolutely LOVE music and the concept behind the hymns and how to use the hymn book and so forth.  But as the month started, I just didn’t feel inspired to do the lesson on music.  I actually had one beam at the subject of music.

That was the same week of ward conference.  The musical number was beautiful – a medley of “Come Follow Me” and “Lord, I would Follow Thee” Very uplifting.  Scott got up after the musical and made comment that he hates going after the musical number.  I can’t say as I blame him.  The Spirit is often felt quite strongly through music.  When I returned home from the meeting I felt impressed to create a “Name That  Tune Hymn ”  10 to be played and guessed and 10 more with clues.  


When I was growing up, it seemed that our ward congregation would sing the same 40 – 60 songs over and over again and so the tunes more familiar and could easily be guessed.   But as I mentioned in this post, our ward choirister has taken us through pretty much the entire hymn book and so I don’t know who in my class is familiar with any hymns (I guess I’ll find out on Sunday)

Every once in a while the scheduled speaker for a given sacrament meeting would be unable to attend (for whatever reason) and sometimes congregation members were called on the spot. But I recall one year (when I was no longer a youth but had a calling in which I worked with the youth) I remember the bishop announcing that the assigned speakers did not show and rather than call members from the congregation and put them on the spot for testimony or to give a talk with only that two minute notice, he would try something different.  

He had made arrangements with the chorister and hoped to get participation from those in the congregation and said he would like those who felt impressed to come to the stand with their hymnbooks and share the title of our favorite hymn and why the hymn had meaning for us and then the chorister would play the hymn while the congregation sang.  These meetings were well liked by many – the youth in particular.


As I was preparing for my lesson, by reading through talks and blogs,  I was reminded that hymns chosen need to be approved by the bishop and I thought that perhaps my idea should be approved as well.  I sent my list of songs and included the ten clues and wondered what suggestions or changes he might add – if indeed I’d be allowed to follow through on my idea.

I just  finished reading his email.  he not only loves the idea but has encouraged me to incorporate this into my lesson every month?  Holy cow.  Now I’ll have to follow through for at least this week.  Gosh, what did I just get myself into?  Hope the youth may love it as much as my bishop seems to.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

There Are More Than 40 Hymns

         I can’t say for certain, but I think it’s highly probable that there are several wards (or congregations) that tend to sing the same 40 – 80 hymnals with each meeting.  That doesn’t even cover 50% of what we’ve been given.  And there are some choristers who have tried to introduce new hymns – which may have been enforced in recent years.  If I was called as chorister, I’m afraid our hymns would be the same familiar ones that we have sung at least 20 times during any given year.  I don’t think I have to be concerned about being called to chorister position.  I enjoy listening to music – and I will even lead – but not with expertise I’m afraid. 

         My brother, Corey, has often made the complaint that with over 300 hymns (and those are just the ones currently published in today’s hymn book – there’s got to be even more that we don’t have access to each week) – why is it that someone feels the need to sing the same hymns over and over again? 

         I’ve been in a few wards in which the chorister has introduced the hymn and we’ve actually had a “practice” but I don’t remember any of those becoming part of the curriculum for future meetings.  I think we have the opportunity to sing it one time and depending on how badly our voices butcher that hymn depends on whether we will ever sing it again or not (apparently our voices haven’t worked together well enough to pursue keeping it on our agenda.  That’s also a guess on my part.  I really don’t know.)

         Corey would LOVE the ward I am at now just for the opportunity of singing new hymn each week – even ones that the congregation obviously does not know.  I believed our chorister had given us every hymnal to sing three times over, until today when we were introduced to hymn #13 which only a few of members from the High Priest group were familiar with.  They sounded awesome.  I don’t know why this ward doesn’t have a choir.  Thus far it is the only ward I’ve attended that doesn’t have one.

         There are some hymns I obviously enjoy more than others.  Many people (who are familiar with it) like the hymn 284 – and I notice that all of those who admit to liking the song are very gifted with voices and knowledge of music.  I personally find it haunting and draggy.  I like the hymns to be uplifting and move.  There are some that drag on like you’re walking in a death march or something.  I don’t mean that disrespectfully.  It’s not even the words, but the tunes themselves.  Maybe sometimes it’s the words.  Perhaps it is just from my own lack of understanding.

     I do enjoy reading what is printed in the back pages of the hymnal – how to lead, finding hymns with scripture reference, and being able to sing the words of one hymn to another.  Take  A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” for instance.   I remember Corey singing that and changing to the tune of “I know My Redeemer Lives” and it was beautiful.  Corey and Joh can sing a cappella.  I can listen to them without a piano accompaniment.  They are that gifted.

         Between Relief Society and Sacrament meeting there are usually at least two hymns that I am not familiar with.  Sometimes there are only two that I am familiar with.  And our chorister should be praised for her persistence.  I think she’s too stubborn to give us familiar. I suppose that’s a good thing.

         How awesome it is that we all given talents that we might share and learn from one another.  How great it is that there are those who take initiative to go beyond the familiar.