Holiday Best Wishes

2012 holidayRing out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson



King’s College Festival Program Now Available

The beautifully organised and illustrated brochure for the 2012 King’s College, Cambridge’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is now available for quick download from their web site.  This is a free brochure.

The service is broadcast internationally by BBC World Service, and may be locally sponsored in individual countries.

Listeners are advised to read the Carols page for more instruction on how to obtain broadcast times for their locality.

Church gigs for the holidays

We are sincerely grateful for the guidance of long-time liturgical organist and AGO member Mary F. Johnson, in assembling this information, and the various sites linked as references.

It’s the season when many musicians have church gigs, and we thought some suggestions might be in order.

As experienced musicians & AGO-certified organists know, true hymns have a specific & well-defined musical structure.  Many of the oldest hymn tunes were set to the beat of marching Roman armies.  Hymns were meant to praise God, and sometimes to keep the faithful awake, if you read the St. Ambrose research, so don’t drag that beat unless it’s traditional.

There are long-established traditions involved in most denominations’ holiday music, and a conscientious musician needs to spend time boning up on what’s appropriate for the church they’ll be serving.

Be advised:  the choir director, cantor, pastor, or organist might not know, so be prepared to do your own research.

Be aware there may be church splits about musical traditions, particularly “traditional” vs. “contemporary,” and do the best you can in those circumstances.

Be certain you’ve got legal copies of any music you’re using, one for yourself, and one for your accompanist, if you’re soloing.

Be certain to find out what your accompaniment is: piano, organ, or other instruments.

Be aware there’s a world of difference between a traditional solo and a contemporary solo or hymn, and be certain you understand which one you should prepare.

There can be tremendous personal satisfaction from appropriately serving a church, and we hope these suggestions help.

Related links:
The Hymn Society of Great Britain & Ireland
The Hymn Society
Yale Divinity School – excellent search engine for their Journal
Earliest beginnings of Hymnody – excellent short article
Short scholarly history of hymnody

St. Ambrose of Milan, known as the father of hymnody
St. Augustine & St. Ambrose
Ambrosian hymns

Hymn metre
Early published collection of ecclesiastical songs
Christmas carols, includes international carol information

Mark your calendars for King’s College carols

It’s almost time for King’s College, Cambridge’s annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, broadcast around the globe.

From their website:

“The 2012 service booklet will be available at the beginning of December.”

“A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 on 24 December at 3pm (10:00 EST or 07:00 PST). The service is also broadcast at 2pm on Radio 3 on Christmas Day, and at various times on the BBC World Service.

In the United States the service is broadcast by around 300 radio stations, including American Public Media and its affiliates (Minnesota Public Radio, for example). Unfortunately there is no list of radio stations that are broadcasting the service, so it’s best to contact your local stations or check their online listings.”