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  • Intro and ending to a Psalm or Hymn

    I did ask Andrew and he did suggest I ask my question on the forum. I'm a little scared of forums.

    One of these day's I'll fulfill one of the items on my bucket list. To play on a church organ, not during a service! I have spoken to all involved at the church and so far all green lights. I'm just practicing like mad while I wait for the organist to return from leave. She will assist me with the registers and all to do with the organ. It is a 1889 organ that got a electrified playing console in 1948.

    I want to practice to play correct. I'll be playing 3 pieces from the Psalm and Hymn book.

    First question. What is the correct way to play a intro and ending. Usually the intro is soft for the congregation to get the key or note and when you continue the full organ is selected. After the three versus, or whatever, a ending is played in soft organ while people get seated and coughing, sneezing whatever before the silence. What part of the music is played for these... the correct way?

    My next question. I play by singing along. I cant read music while playing. Therefor I learn the first few notes as its in the book and my ear picks up the rest. I do follow the words in the Psalm and Hymn book. It seems like the key that the music is written in, is difficult for men to reach. Do you adapt the key for playing for a congregation?

    To illustrate this at best, I recorded a MP3 of Hymn 190. The first verse in played in "G" as its in the Hymn book. Then I change the key to "C" in the second verse. It's much easier to sing along.

    My question, Is it allowed to change the key of the music better for singing. Please excuse my faults in playing this as this recording isn't perfect as the rhythm is not right. I need to work on that as well. I play correct when I stick to the piece as I memorize it, but in this case I concentrated too much to play at least correct in two different keys.
    https://youtu.be/Q8AC8QS84vQ
    I apologize for my poor English.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Tour Biker View Post
    My next question. I play by singing along. I cant read music while playing. Therefor I learn the first few notes as its in the book and my ear picks up the rest. I do follow the words in the Psalm and Hymn book. It seems like the key that the music is written in, is difficult for men to reach. Do you adapt the key for playing for a congregation?
    Tour Biker,

    Your English is fine, but I'm a bit confused what you mean by beginning and end? Are you talking about the beginning of the service (usually called Prelude or Processional) and end of service (usually called Postlude or Recessional), or are you talking about the beginning and end of a single hymn?

    Assuming you're speaking of a single hymn, the introduction does a few things:
    • Establishes the tempo of the piece,
    • Establishes the key of the piece,
    • Familiarizes the congregation with the melody of the piece, and
    • Lets the congregation know if you can play or not (I just needed a 4th thing).
    Generally, the introduction to a hymn is between 6-8 measures of the hymn and includes a phrase or two so the congregants can hear the character of the piece. Sometimes I use the first phrase and last phrase, sometimes the verse only, or sometimes the chorus/refrain only.

    Originally posted by Tour Biker View Post
    My next question. I play by singing along. I cant read music while playing. Therefor I learn the first few notes as its in the book and my ear picks up the rest. I do follow the words in the Psalm and Hymn book. It seems like the key that the music is written in, is difficult for men to reach. Do you adapt the key for playing for a congregation?
    I dare say men don't make up the majority of the congregation. The key should be comfortable for all. The tessitura (melodic range) of a piece should not go below Middle C by more than a note or two, nor should it go higher than E at the top of the staff more than a note or two. If the piece remains unusually high, I will sometimes make the key lower, but not more than a Major 2nd.

    The Key of G to Key of C you mentioned in your post is quite a dramatic transposition, and is rarely done. Transposing a piece from the Key of G to the Key of F would be a more acceptable change--again, depending on the range of the piece. Bottom line--keep it in a comfortable range for all to sing.

    Hope this helps.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 10 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

    Comment


    • #3
      My arrangement of REGENT SQUARE transposes it all the way down to Ab (C4-Db5) where the version I have elsewhere is in both Bb and C (the latter running all the way up to F5, which I think is a bit too high)...that's pretty dramatic a shift, but I think it's probably fine...

      Comment


      • #4
        Below is the PM I received from Tour Biker earlier today, and my response. I have removed personal information from the post, but felt the question could benefit the Forum as a whole.

        Originally posted by Tour Biker
        The forum doesn't allow me to reply to the thread. Thanks soo much for the reply. If I have it right, I can play part of the intro to the Hymn that contain the title? The ending can just be a repeat of the last line in soft organ. I'm practicing hard and when I get to the pipe organ, play Holy Holy Holy and how great Thow art (these I can play perfect) and Hymn 190, still practicing that. I can play it well only in G. I want to play simple, but correct. Is there somewhere I can see a video of a congregation singing to these. On youtube I see only organists playing solo's and very complicated playing to show off all styles.
        [snip]
        Sorry for my stupid questions but I am soo looking forward to this to complete my bucket list.
        Thanks
        Tour Biker
        Tour Biker,

        The only stupid question is one never asked. That said, check the two page hymn Holy, Holy, Holy at the bottom of this link. For an introduction to the hymn, I would play the first 4 measures, followed by the last 4 measures. The introduction would be using the same registration you would use while the congregants are singing. I'm not sure of the traditions you have in your church, but in our church, the organ doesn't play after the hymn. When the people are done, so is the organist. If you are expected to play softly after the hymn, you could either do the whole hymn, or just the last phrase or two (4-8 measures).

        I'll check out why you can't post to the thread. You should be able to click "Reply" under peoples' posts and write your reply there. Have a great day!

        Michael
        Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
        • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
        • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
        • 10 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

        Comment


        • #5
          The question about playing after the hymn, while people are getting seated and quiet, rings a bell with me. I had not heard of this practice until I was visiting a service a few years ago and heard an organist who apparently came from an entirely different traditional than mine. He always gave lengthy introductions, often one entire stanza of the hymn. Then, after the final stanza of each hymn, he played a bit, sometimes just the refrain, if present, or the last couple of lines, playing quite softly on these added phrases. It seemed quite odd to me at the time, but I can see how it might be a useful thing, and perhaps is commonly done in some places or in some musical traditions.
          John
          ----------
          *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

          Comment


          • #6
            The tradition in my area is for the protestant churches that you remain seated while singing, and that the organist offers an introduction to the hymn which should help the congregation pick up the mood of the song and the tempo. There's no "outro" at the end.
            However, when playing in the catholic church, an "outro" of a few bars is expected, although the congregation remains seated, too.

            For the "intros", the official protestant hymn books offer at least one variety, but organists are encouraged to find their own.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for all the replies and interesting comments on the subject. Thanks so much for the given link. It helps a lot. I'm seeing the organist tomorrow and will take my MP3's for advice or changes I should practice. I'm getting a little nervous... for some reason.

              It's amazing how different things are around the world and from church to church. It makes for a interesting subject.

              Comment


              • #8
                An into can be a number of different things depending on the situation.

                For example: With hymn familiar to the congregation, one could use the first 4 bars (or whatever the length of the first phrase is), the last 4 bars, or a combination of both. If it is a particularly lengthy or repetitive hymn with many verses, one may opt for a shorter intro.

                If the hymn is new or unfamiliar, one can play the melody of the entire verse in unison as the intro. No harmony, no chords, just unison left and right hands. If you feel up to it you could play the melody in the pedals as well. When it comes time to sing, then you can add the harmony parts. There is nothing wrong with unison playing and singing, especially if it assists the congregation with the music.

                Generally the intro sets up the tempo, phrasing, breathing, and character of the hymn. So for registration, I would use something similar to what would be used when singing the hymn. Sure you can have a color change in registration, but generally not a drastic shift in volume. If there is some quiet preluding before the hymn, I would generally do one of two things: end the prelude, change to hymn registration, then play the hymn intro; or gradually build registration to seamlessly transition into the hymn registration to play the intro. A quiet hymn intro followed by full organ registration for singing is not something I have heard before, but your traditions may be different.

                In many of the churches I've played at, the organist stops playing when the singing stops. Outros may be needed if the hymn ends in the middle of some other liturgical movement such as a procession. If the procession is not yet finished, the organist continues to play (usually improvise) until the appropriate liturgical timing. Registration can remain in the character of the hymn. Quiet outros I have most frequently encountered in RC churches. I think it is also effective to use the outro to transition into the next liturgical moment.


                There's nothing wrong with changing keys to aid singing. Just don't go too far from what is written. One to two semitones up or down is often safe.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by quantum View Post
                  If the hymn is new or unfamiliar, one can play the melody of the entire verse in unison as the intro. No harmony, no chords, just unison left and right hands. If you feel up to it you could play the melody in the pedals as well. When it comes time to sing, then you can add the harmony parts. There is nothing wrong with unison playing and singing, especially if it assists the congregation with the music.
                  Thank you very much for this input. It's becoming a "new" unfolding story where a lot of things start to make sense! I'm so glad you mentioned unfamiliar Psalms and Hymns. I think here they are sort of avoided. Most of the time they stick to familiar music as the a sort of "enthusiasm" within the congregation singing familiar Hymns.

                  I visited the organist yesterday and she listen to my MP3's. As used to playing a home organ in the first inversion, I hold down a chord and she said it wouldn't sound right on that pipe organ. She gave me a few pointers playing the chords on her piano. I'm practicing as such. I now only practice playing on the lower keyboard only.

                  Something else you mention is playing the tune on the bass pedals. Pity home most home organs comes only with one octave bass pedals. (13) It would have been nice if the average was 20 and that would widen the capacity of any organ. I tried playing "tune" on the 27 bass pedal Viscount in the museum. Sadly those people don't like organ music and find people playing there a nuisance.

                  Thanks for your wonderful input and I'm still practicing!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I had to do a looong intro to one song yesterday, since it wasn't well known to both congregations and what's more, the melody is pentatonic in Chinese style, so our pastor asked me to help the singers along. Good that the thing has 6 verses, by the end of the last one most people seem to have grasped the melody.

                    I'm ambivalent when it comes to unfamiliar hymns. On the one hand, there are so many seldom sung hymns which deserve to be sung more often, but on the other hand it's quite a hassle to get the congregation singing if you don't have a supporting choir.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by myorgan View Post
                      ... check the two page hymn Holy, Holy, Holy at the bottom of this link...
                      @ myorgan, Micheal can you please guide me with HYMNARY.ORG. My English is poor and obviously incorrect spelling or names don't show results. How do I find the Hymnary.org page for, How Great Thou Art and Hymn 190 from the old Psalm and Hymn book. I can't search the words as they are in my language and a direct translation helps none. I'll really appreciate.

                      Johan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Johan,

                        I believe hymnary.org is only available in English. The hymn, How Great Thou Art is located at: http://www.hymnary.org/text/o_lord_m...awesome_wonder. The other piece (#190), I would need to have a tune name, title, or lyrics to be able to figure it out. I'm sure there are a multitude of hymnbooks with the same name, but different contents--depending on the denomination of the church (i.e. Baptist, Episcopal, Anglican, Catholic, etc.). Should I assume the language of your hymnal is Afrikaans? There is another member from South Africa, and he may be able to help translate for you.

                        To get this result, I typed the title in the search blank at the top of the page. This search brought up a list of lyrics from the first line of the hymn, and I chose the lyrics that fit the tune I knew. You can verify your results by comparing them with the music pictured at the bottom of the page.

                        I hope this gets you started.

                        Michael

                        P.S. I'm glad to see you can now post!
                        Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                        • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                        • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                        • 10 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by myorgan View Post
                          I'm glad to see you can now post!
                          Thanks! You are the real good buddy here! I do e-mail with Nico, but more technical aspects. I am very impressed with information and learning on new and exiting sites like hymnary.org! There is a South African site ... but in comparison its poor.... Readers should find this link interesting... They tried a something similar in Afrikaans.

                          To compare one doesn't really need to translate the language... As example its all links... The Hymn number and after the dash the title.
                          (Example.... Gesang(Hymn) 190 - And the title.) Sadly the listings is incomplete and with the Psalms... only three... Someone got lazy...

                          http://www.webwoord.co.za/sangmusiek...ectedMenuID=88

                          Have a look and one can only admire the effort to Hymnary.org!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            So, Tour Biker,

                            Here's the process I used:
                            1. I visited your website and obtained the text for Hymn #190, and copied the URL (aka web page address).
                            2. I visited translate.google.com, pasted the link, chose Afrikaans as the source language, and asked it to translate to English.
                            3. From the text given, I was able to ascertain the English translation of the hymn is Take My Life and Let it Be (more accurately--Take my life and let it be consecrated).
                            4. Next, I visited hymnary.org, and typed in the first few words of the text, and obtained the following link: http://www.hymnary.org/text/take_my_life_and_let_it_be.
                            Granted, this is a convoluted process for you to follow in a language foreign to you, and you need to have some command or knowledge of the English texts, but it can be done. In the Afrikaans translation, I recognized the text Silver and Gold, let me sing, and take my hands and let them move. The other hint I followed, is that I recognized in the Afrikaans translation that the last two lines of each verse were repeated twice--the same as the English hymn.

                            As you practice with English, you'll become better at recognizing the words. If I remember correctly, Afrikaans is based on Dutch, which is very similar to German. In reality, many German words are very close (if not the same) as English words. I hope this helps a bit.

                            Have fun with your new toy.

                            Michael
                            Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                            • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                            • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                            • 10 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Wow Micheal... Thanks for the effort an guidance... Stunning! I'll certainly follow your guidelines. I'm busy to load the computer for the organ in the church museum...
                              With some good advice from Nico, I'm getting there! I'll load that organ with Hymnals as well. Sadly the base pedals is still not working... but I'm getting there! From dead wood to this....
                              https://youtu.be/IqfOw1aFvZ8
                              Thanks Micheal!
                              Johan

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