EADERS WHO KNOW the Sherlock Holmes mysteries (by Arthur Conan Doyle) will remember the famous quote: “It is said that the barrister who crams up a case with such care that he can examine an expert witness upon the Monday has forgotten all his forced knowledge before the Saturday.” When I had the honor of serving on the committee which produced the Brébeuf hymnal, I learned tons of information about hymns which I’m already forgetting! But one thing I will never forget: SATB hymn harmonizations must be singable. For each hymn, we would compare various harmonizations, and I was astounded at how sloppy some of the editors were…especially vis-à-vis bass and alto lines.
This harmonization is fresh and marvelous—yet eminently singable:
Rehearsal videos for each individual voice await you at #759.
HE TUNE is called “ICH GLAUB AN GOTT,” and was printed in the Mainz Gesangbuch of 1870. I don’t have a copy of the Mainz Gesangbuch. 1 What is the original harmonization for this tune? It’s a mystery—and there may not have been an “original” harmonization, because Dr. Horst Buchholz told me most German organists harmonize at sight. (In other words, they improvise each harmonization.) Even in 2020, it’s quite difficult to obtain a “standard” German hymn book with harmonies. The words to the hymn were written by Monsignor Martin Hellriegel (1891-1981), and the refrain is based upon “Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat.” You can download an organ accompaniment for Christus Vincit composed by Dr. Eugene LaPierre (Dean of Music at the University of Montreal), the man who encouraged Roger Wagner to complete his doctorate “in absentia.” On Palm Sunday, our congregation sings the refrain while they are processing.
You can also download a “Christus Vincit” organ accompaniment composed by Father Aloysius Knauff. Very little is known about Father Knauff, who published the Christ the King Hymnal for Congregational Singing while serving as a priest in Saskatchewan (Canada). The book has a 1954 IMPRIMATUR, and we scanned the entire hymnal and posted it along with tons of other books used as reference materials for the Saint Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal. That 1954 book does not contain “To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King,” which is odd considering the name of the hymnal, and how it’s almost exclusively German hymns translated into English.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 If anyone has a scanned copy of the Mainz Gesangbuch (1890), please email it to me. Nobody seems to know what the original melody for “Ich Glaub An Gott” looked like…