Изображения страниц

The musical editors of the Methodist Hymnal have followed this precedent in the tune title, "City Road. Lightwood's notice of A. H. Mann's fondness for classical names is borne out by two titles in our index, "Silesius" and "Claudius." Thus from personal associations and tastes, or the ideas expressed in their hymns, has been wrought out for the tunes a series of titles that has puzzled many a devout Methodist as he has scanned the Index of Tunes.




OF Music TO WORDS A BATTLE has been raging of late years in the musical world over the question of the descriptive powers of music. The thickest of the fight has centered about "programme music.” This usually consists in a symphonic treatment of some legend or poem, so closely describing in music its sequence of events as to enable the listener by means of a printed programme to follow the action described by the orchestra. One school scorns programme music as decadent. The function of music is to depict emotion; and the high office of pure music, they insist, is perverted by relating it to events rather than emotions. The other school, who for the time seem to be in the majority, ardently hail programme music as the music of the future, and some devotees bow down to Richard Strauss as its prophet. They would justify their position by citing the song, the oratorio, and the opera, wherein the music aims to depict the emotions expressed in the words; and they triumphantly quote Wagner's famous phrase concerning "the fertilization of modern music by poetry.” Over these points the programmists and absolutists break lances. In spite of definite convictions as to how long programme music

will maintain its vogue, we must be content merely to have mentioned this great controversy in introducing this subject.

In the hymn tune, of course, there is no such minute description of events or emotions possible: firstly, because the hymn tune is practically the smallest complete musical form; and, secondly, because the many verses of a hymn, that must be sung, each verse to the same music, often evoke entirely different emotions, so that a tune that would emotionally describe one verse might be entirely foreign to the other verses.

We have in the Methodist Hymnal, however, some good examples of the correspondence of the music to each verse of the hymn. Let us examine, for instance, the hymn “Fierce raged the tempest” (485). There is a striking contrast in the poetic emotion between the first half and the second half of each verse. It is the contrast between tempest and calm. The music has depicted this contrast. The whole of the first line of the music is in the minor mode, the rhythm is agitated, and in the upward tossing of the bass upon the ascending sixteenth notes in the first four measures one may feel the furious rolling of the waves. But in the second half the music entirely changes to correspond with the change in the words. The harmony is quickly resolved into the relative major key, bringing reassurance: the rhythm gradually calms down from three notes in the measures to two notes, and finally on the words, “Calm and still,” to only one note in each measure, while the melody at last ends on the


1. Fierce raged the tem-pest o'er the deep, Watch did Thine

[ocr errors][merged small]

ious serv - ants keep, But thou wast wrapp'd in


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

4 So, when our life is clouded o'er,

And storm-winds drift us from the shore,
Say, lest we sink to rise no more,
"Peace, be still."

-Godfrey Thring.

third note of the scale, which ending usually denotes confidence.

Dr. John B. Dykes's melody "St. Andrew of Crete” (616) to the words, “Christian! dost thou see them?” represents a similar contrast, sustained throughout each verse. In three verses the first four lines offer some tempting question, which is answered in the strength of faith by the words of the last four lines. In the last verse the contrast is marked between the weariness of toil and the glorious reward for toil. These contrasts the music follows with great emotional power. The harmony of the first eight measures is in C minor; of the last eight in C major. The melody of the first part creeps along with hesitant steps of small intervals, never going higher than C, emphasizing the fifth note in the scale, and finally ending on the fifth, which as a final note depicts uncertainty. The melody of the second part, on the other hand, is militant, beginning with intervals of a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth; and it bounds forward triumphantly like a valiant Christian soldier about to smite the foe.

Vox Dilecti” (304) to the words, “I heard the voice of Jesus say," is another example of a melody whose first eight measures are in minor, while the last eight are in major, thus illustrating a contrast in the words. Each verse presents in its first part the invitation of Jesus, reminding the human soul of weariness (first verse), thirst (second verse), and darkness (third verse). The acceptance comes in the second part of each verse, discovering rest (first verse), water (second

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »