From the 2/27/2011 Jubilee Bulletin
The new Book of Praise (4)
Last week I mentioned that the music of some of the hymns was changed a bit. In some instances, it was changed significantly. Why change? Was not the old good enough? We are not comfortable with change. Why not leave well enough alone?
Well, what are the changes to the music of the hymns?
The breathing marks (commas) have been removed. These were not part of the original composition. At some point, they were applied to the hymns, albeit inconsistently. In one case (the old Hy. 46) they were in exactly the wrong spot in every occurrence–and we never noticed! The breath marks were redundant. People know how to breathe :-) and it is the task of the accompanist to play in such a way that the congregation can sing comfortably.
As well, some of the quarter and half note rests have been removed. In this the committee endeavoured to present the music the way it was originally composed and as it is found in most other hymnals.
You may have noticed that Hymn 31 has an “A” version and a “B” version. The “A” version is the way the music was originally composed. It is lively, rhythmic and uplifting, completely appropriate for a song celebrating the resurrection of Christ. At some point in the history of the Reformed churches, dare I call it “the puritanical era,” such liveliness was frowned upon and the melody was converted to all notes of equal value. The committee restored the old version while it also retained the newer version to which we are accustomed (the “B” version).
Hymn 48 (old 37) has a new tune. The tune we are used to is very beautiful but was intended for a Lent hymn whereas “Come Praise the Holy Spirit” is a Pentecost hymn. The committee felt that the new tune was more fitting to a song for Pentecost.
How shall we introduce these changes? Next week, the pastor, the accompanists, and the choir director are going to get together to make sure all are clear on the changes. After that, we will ask the congregation to stay behind for a half hour or so after a PM service while we sing through the songs. Until then, we will continue to sing these songs in the way we are accustomed.