N AN INTERNET FORUM a few weeks ago, the editor of a Catholic hymnal was bragging about his product. In particular, the editor was bragging about SATB voice settings in his book. Please don’t ask me the person’s name; I’m not going to reveal that. One of the members asked him a straightforward question: “How are the singers supposed to sing the final verse in harmony?” [The hymnal in question was the type of book that had final verses printed at the bottom.] The editor’s response was: “Let me do some research, and I’ll get back to you.”
Cringeworthy Situation • I suppose each of us has a pet peeve. Mine is when church music products are produced (and sold) by individuals with no real-life experience. Think of it! This person was bragging about his harmonies—but he’d never seen how this stuff works in real life. To him, it was like a game, or (as my dad would say) it was “academic.” When asked the most elementary question, he was totally stumped. If memory serves, his exact words were: “Gee, I never thought about that before.” The situation was truly cringeworthy. Sadly, many who produce choral music scores have never stood in front of a choir in real life.
A Better Solution • Our choirs use the Brébeuf Hymnal because the SATB choral supplement deliberately and meticulously notates each verse in a brilliant and powerful way. It gives both conductor and organist mind-blowing freedom … and once you experience it, you’ll never look back.
Hymn Experiment • Because of this freedom, we were able to try an experiment the other day. We sang the first half of each stanza in unison, then added SATB voice parts at the halfway mark. What do you think?
M To access this hymn’s media in the Brébeuf Portal, click here.
For the sake of comparison, here’s the same hymn sung in a more “conventional” manner:
Epiphany Hymn In Latin • I’ve mentioned in the past a project I’m engaged in: viz. creating “Latin versions” for hymns in the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal. I’ve created many of these, but I need to find an organized way to add them to the website. These are designed for choirs forbidden to sing in English. Here’s my recent setting of Hostis Herodes Impie, by the fifth-century poet Sedulius:
* PDF Download • Brébeuf Extension for Number 17
—Please Note: These are different harmonies than what is found in the Brébeuf Hymnal
I could write volumes and volumes about this ancient hymn. Suffice it to say that it’s very famous. (It’s a perfect fit for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.)