Thursday, 16 October 2008

Favourite hymns

Be assured, dear reader, that not one note of the following will ever appear on 'Songs of Praise'. And don't get me started on the subject of Alan Jones. But for your delectation and delight, and in response to so many requests, I present my personal list of favourite hymns. Here they are:

1. Before the ending of the day (EH264: Mode viii)
I do so love the old plainchant hymns, don't you?
2. Jesu, lover of my soul (Aberystwyth)
'I always sing Aberystwyth...' And why not? What a lovely, gloomy Welsh tune.
3. For all the saints (Sine Nomine)
By the great RVW himself (though why he couldn't come up with a name, I don't know).
4. Ye holy Angels bright (EH517: Darwell's 148th)
A saucy little number; has an abundance of alternative opening lines, depending on the choirs' mood!
5. All people that on earth do dwell (Old Hundredth)
Preferably with big brass and an even bigger organ!
6. God that madest earth and heaven (East Acklam)
About the only decent thing that Francis Jackson ever wrote, if you ask me. What need of more?
7. Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer (Cwn Rhonnda)
I know it's Welsh. But...
8. The day Thou gavest (St Clement)
I can never sing this hymn without stiiffening my upper lip. It was our valediction at my dear old prep school, sadly closed now (and amid some scandal, too).
9. Christ is made the sure foundation (Westminster Abbey)
There has to be some Purcell, somewhere.
10. When in our music, God is glorified (Engelberg)
Appropriate words, don't you think? And a damned fine Stanford tune, too!

So, there you have it. Anyone care to add their own?


Layclerk said...

I concur with pretty much all of your list, but would also respectfully suggest All my hope on God is founded, to the tune Michael by Herbert Howells.

The tune, which despite being in unison I think is very fine, was named after his son who died of polio aged nine in 1935. Apparently Hymnus Paradisi was also written in his memory.

A fine tune, which rarely fails to bring a lump to my throat when I think of the background to its composition.

George Tarasuk said...

As a newcomer to the Episcopal Church, Aberystwyth was new to me a fews ago. It's become a favorite, indeed!

I thought I'd throw in "All my hope in God is founded" this Sunday... thinking, "what's more Anglican than that??" but evidently it is not familiar in my congregation as I suspected. The choir looked at me like I was from some other planet.

Excellent topic!

Can Bass 1 said...

Indeed, indeed Mr Lay-Clerk and Sir M - it is a splendid tune, unison nothwithstanding, and I do so like the personal connection. Some years ago I was involved in a recording of Hymnus - a most remarkable piece.

Z said...

Oh, thank you, Lay Clerk and Sir Monocle, 'All my hope on God is founded' is a favourite of mine too and it is one of the hymns I have chosen (but not told my family yet) for my funeral, although I did not know its history. 'Be still for the presence of the Lord' is one I'm rather fond of and often play as a voluntary during Communion. 'Father hear the prayer we offer' is another for my funeral (they do know about that one) and 'The day Thou gavest' makes me feel quite emotional. I appreciate the rest of your choices, a few of which (as I'm ignorant and not a musician at all) I don't know but will look at and very possibly introduce to our lovely congregation.

Suburbia said...

Can you put links in so we can click on them and hear the tunes?!!!! I'm no good with names but I'm sure I'd recognise the tune (sorry to be such a philistine!) I do remember number 5 though from school and it would be on my list if I had one ;)

BlueJayEye said...

Second Philistine requesting here (i would be a bad contestant if they put me on that "Name that Tune" gameshow, i have to admit), but i am hoping i can place some of the titles when i hear the tunes. Thanks for visiting my blog.

KeyReed said...

Yes "All my hope" has to be on the list. However, I'm a sucker for "Christ Triumphant" to Guiting Power and not that other dreadful tune.

Alan said...

Responding to your question on my blog - yes, that is me playing the horn. Don't get to play much any more after a shoulder injury a few years ago, but did play through college and in a few gigs for money here and there. Now I am mostly a singer like yourself, leading a very small church choir and directing worship.

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with those English hymns. However, I do enjoy some good Vaughn-Williams as mentioned in your previous post, with my favorite being the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis - rare that I don't fire up the mp3 of that one at least a couple of times per month, sometimes more often. Sublime. :)

Ms Scarlet said...

Do you have any use for a saxophonist? I bet the church accoustics are pretty good.

Anonymous said...

I too think "Guiting Power" is an excellent tune, and should rank as a modern classic. I love "The Day Thou Gavest" not least because the alto part is melodious, unlike many other hymns where we seem to be stuck on three notes. The words of "O God our help in ages past" always move me, particularly the verse "Time, like an ever rolling stream bears all its sons away"; I also love the angularity of the tune (St Anne). Similarly angular is "God moves in a mysterious way" to "London New", used so effectively at the end of Britten's St Nicolas. More modern hymn tunes are usually very disappointing, but I like Vikki Cook's rather Celtic-sounding version of "Before the throne of God above."
PS "Michael" is very good, but in my view Howells'descant is absolutely dreadful.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Fall on Your Knees

Silently Now I Wait For Thee

But anything sung properly really & not by some tuppenny bit Christian guitarist who can't even spell the cliched words appearing on screen above him.

Working Mum said...

I must put in a word for "Jerusalem". I know it's cheesy, but in the context of my school I love it!

It's the only hymn that all the kids sing with gusto in assembly.

Also, at the end of the year it always sung on the Upper Sixth Leavers' Day, played on the organ by one of the leaving pupils. Always brings a tear to my eye, softie that I am.

Anonymous said...

PS I sang "Come down O love divine" to "Down Ampney" today in a concert celebrating the music of RVW. Beautiful words and a gloriously understated melody. I particularly like the bit where the tenors sing above the altos just before the last line. Quite sexy, especially if you're standing next to a really good tenor.

Old Fogey said...

As a lapsed RC I don't really feel qualified to comment here but .... when I first came to London in 1968it was to teach skinheads in Dagenham. We forced on them daily prayers every morning which they sat through with grim resentment. The hymn I remember vividly from those days was "He who would valiant be 'gainst all disaster." It seemed to sum up my, and their, situation.

Gadjo Dilo said...

As a low-churcher I'm afraid I don't know all of these by name, though I'm sure the tunes will be familiar. When I first saw "Sine Nomine" here I read "Nina Simone"! Now, her version of Fanny J. Crosby's "Draw Me Nearer" was just sublime.

John Brough said...

I have to add my votes to Thornbury and Michael as hymns in my top 10. In fact, I think my top 10 hymns is growing to a number well above 50, if that makes any sense.

Here's my take on Sine Nomine - I think the "nameless" title was done on purpose, as a tribute to all the unnamed saints in the world, especially those who gave up their lives for us in times on conflict. As suitable a hymn for Nov. 2nd as it is for Nov. 11th if you ask me!

Ok now - how about a list of the WORST hymns ever written? Can I start the list with "Lord of the Dance?"

Z said...

Oh John, how I agree. I had the misfortune to attend convent school when that was first popular and the nuns loved it and I loathed it. I'd like to add All Things Bright And Beautiful, which is too often chosen as a funeral hymn, the reason I play it far too often.