Celebrating Grace Hymnal

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by Timsings, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. Timsings

    Timsings
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    I have just received my copies of the new Celebrating Grace Hymnal. I had borrowed a copy a few days ago, so I have already had a chance to look through it. I am most impressed with the mixture of new and old hymns that have been included. I am also very pleased with the increase in the number of minor tunes, including several new compositions. This goes against a trend that has existed since the 1956 Baptist Hymnal. My church is going to be looking at new hymnals in the coming months, and this is going to be at the top of my list. I know several of the members of the hymnal committee personally, so I will have to declare my biases early. Anyone else seen this hymnal? What do you think?

    Tim Reynolds
     
  2. drfuss

    drfuss
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    Why do you like minor tunes? They certainly are not conducive to worship. My church is starting to have them with their contemporary music, and it is frustrating to try to sing along. What is the point?
     
  3. Timsings

    Timsings
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    My musical experience is pretty broad. My father was a church musician. When my brother and I were little, my parents took us to hear the Nashville Symphony where I heard plenty of music written in minor keys. I sing in two choirs, my church choir and another chorale that sings a mixture of sacred and secular music. Also, I sing early American shape-note music (e. g., Sacred Harp). The early American tunebooks can have as many as 1/3 minor tunes. So I am used to singing them. I don't find them to be necessarily dark or sad. If you are familiar with the tune "Promised Land" ("On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand") as a major tune, it might surprise you to know that it began as a minor tune and was altered to major. Another example from The Sacred Harp is the tune "Jefferson" which is included in the Celebrating Grace Hymnal. In The Sacred Harp, it uses John Newton's hymn text "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken".

    I suspect that your frustration with minor tunes is due to your unfamiliarity with them. I hope that you will stick with them. They represent a rich part of the musical heritage that I would hate for you to miss. Finally, if you get a chance, I would suggest that you go to a shape-note singing using The Sacred Harp or some other book. It would put you in the midst of people who know how to sing minor tunes very well. I know there are some singings in Northern Virginia, but I'm not sure about the area around Virginia Beach. You can check the "Singings" section of http://www.fasola.org. Good Luck.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  4. jaigner

    jaigner
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    I like it, although there are a few hymns I wish had been held over. I think for a hymnal intended for broad usage, it's pretty good.

    Minor keys stand on their own as much as major keys do, although since most of us have grown up in churches that think all music should have a sound that is kind of like a "Hollywood" ending (all happy and mushy), they don't fit into our collective experience as they once did.

    Singing hymns in minor keys was actually very common and, since many folk tunes are in minor, was a bit more natural. It does take some discipline and openness, but it can be quite beautiful and doesn't always have to be a downer.
     
  5. David Lamb

    David Lamb
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    Sorry, but why do you think that tunes in a minor key are "not conducive to worship", and "frustrating to try to sing along" compared with tunes in a major key?

    As I see it, there are some tunes in minor keys that are hard to sing, and some that are easier; there are also some tunes in major keys that are hard to sing, and some that are easier. "Greensleeves" in a minor key is much easier to sing than Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" in a major key.

    We sometimes sing a hymn: "I heard the voice of Jesus say, Come unto Me and rest." We sing it to a tune called "Vox Delecti", by John B. Dykes. The tune starts in G minor, then halfway through changes to G major. I must say that I have never thought the second half of the tune easier to sing than the first! :laugh:
     

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