Carols at Midnight Mass

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helen rees
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Parish / Diocese: southwark

Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by helen rees »

Thanks to our new parish priest I have to re-think our Midnight Mass this year - not all the changes will be bad but I am really stuck with what to sing at the end instead of Joy to the World which for some reason he thinks is too difficult - what is everyone else singing ?

kerrezza
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Location: Kent

Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by kerrezza »

We have in the past used 'O Come all ye Faithful'

alan29
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by alan29 »

Hark the Herald.
A real blast and just 3 verses long + the added bonus of impromptu descants in the final verse.

promusica
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by promusica »

Can't imagine why your pastor thinks Joy to the World is too difficult. Is he basing it on a musical judgement? Or does he simply not like it? There are plenty of options, of course: O Come, All Ye Faithful, with a great descant in the "Sing choirs of angels" verse and a mighty organ accompaniment in the final "Now, Lord, we greet you" verse, if you do the arrangement by David Willcocks in the Oxford 100 Carols for Choirs book. Alternatively, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, also from the same book, has a lovely descant in the final verse, although we normally transpose the entire thing to F major for comfort, as the high Es are a bit too demanding on the assembly. A final option could be Angels We Have Heard on High - congregations love the Gloria refrain, though it can be sung a bit sloppily at times!

Peter
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by Peter »

My church has used "Hark the herald" as the final hymn for many years now and our Liturgy Committee agreed to do so again this year despite the suggestion of having something else for a change. Like Promusica, we sing it in F rather than G, which can be a bit of a strain for the congregation and is presumably the reason why a previous PP never liked to use it, preferring alternatives like "Angels we have heard in heaven" or "Good Christians all rejoice".

I suspect the reason Helen's PP doesn't like "Joy to the world" is that he doesn't know it well but recognises that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between notes and syllables and is is not sure which notes to slur. He may also have noticed some antiphonal writing in the third line and wondered how the congregation will cope with that. Is the hymn well known in your parish, Helen? I don't think it is in mine, which is one of the reasons I'm happy to stick with "Hark the herald"!

helen rees
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Parish / Diocese: southwark

Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by helen rees »

Hark the Herald it is ! Thank you. And thank you Peter for your generous analysis of why our PP doesn't like Joy to the World. He thinks people don't know it even though they have sung it happily for the last four years, which I guess is reason to change it. I wasn't sure what works as a rousing recessional hymn.

John Ainslie
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by John Ainslie »

alan29 wrote:Hark the Herald.
A real blast and just 3 verses long + the added bonus of impromptu descants in the final verse.

Moreover, if the choir really lets go on the last-verse descant, it might well get a round of spontaneous applause from the congregation - as mine did some years ago!

Southern Comfort
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by Southern Comfort »

Joy to the World was never sung in Catholic churches before the advent of programmes like Songs of Praise, which has been more responsible than any other single factor for skewing the "liturgical" music used in our churches during the past 25-30 years. (The subject for a thesis on someone's part?) When I was growing up it was always considered the archetypal "Protestant" Christmas hymn, and certainly felt and sounded more Protestant than many others which have rather more easily found acceptance. I expect the PP also noted the difficulty of the final leaping and dancing phrase for those who do not know it (and sometimes even for those who do!).

I, too, favour Hark! the Herald in F, or Adeste Fideles/O come, all ye faithful at the end.

alan29
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by alan29 »

We are lucky in that several members of our church belong to local choirs and choral societies, so we get lots of harmony from around the church at Christmas time. It can be a bit like Charles Ives at times, but then at other times they seem to converge on a Willcox version. Its all very jolly.
Adeste at the end? Singing "O come etc" when they are actually going?

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mcb
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by mcb »

alan29 wrote:Adeste at the end? Singing "O come etc" when they are actually going?

You took the words out of my mouth, Alan. We always have this at the beginning, or rather at the end of our vigil as we segue into midnight Mass, to accompany the blessing of the crib.

alan29
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by alan29 »

mcb wrote:
alan29 wrote:Adeste at the end? Singing "O come etc" when they are actually going?

You took the words out of my mouth, Alan. We always have this at the beginning, or rather at the end of our vigil as we segue into midnight Mass, to accompany the blessing of the crib.


Thats exactly what we do too.

John Ainslie
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by John Ainslie »

alan29 wrote:
mcb wrote:
alan29 wrote:Adeste at the end? Singing "O come etc" when they are actually going?

You took the words out of my mouth, Alan. We always have this at the beginning, or rather at the end of our vigil as we segue into midnight Mass, to accompany the blessing of the crib.


Thats exactly what we do too.

And with our spirit.

JW
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by JW »

Southern Comfort wrote:Joy to the World was never sung in Catholic churches before the advent of programmes like Songs of Praise, which has been more responsible than any other single factor for skewing the "liturgical" music used in our churches during the past 25-30 years. (The subject for a thesis on someone's part?) When I was growing up it was always considered the archetypal "Protestant" Christmas hymn, and certainly felt and sounded more Protestant than many others which have rather more easily found acceptance. I expect the PP also noted the difficulty of the final leaping and dancing phrase for those who do not know it (and sometimes even for those who do!).

I, too, favour Hark! the Herald in F, or Adeste Fideles/O come, all ye faithful at the end.


The "Protestantism" of 'Joy to the World' also applies to Hark the Herald, and others which aren't in the 'Westminster Hymnal". But I trust we all accept that a Protestant origin for a hymn is not necessarily a bad thing provided the theology is OK. Otherwise much of Laudate, which has bishops' approval, is called into question. By the way, Hark the Herald is in G in Laudate, so it needs to be transposed or use another music version. Basses, including myself, tend to go down the fifth at the 'ye' of "joyful all ye nations rise" instead of the third which is written in the music - minor point I know.
JW

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Nick Baty
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by Nick Baty »

Southern Comfort wrote:Joy to the World was never sung in Catholic churches before the advent of programmes like Songs of Praise, which has been more responsible than any other single factor for skewing the "liturgical" music used in our churches during the past 25-30 years.
Given that the show is now 50 years old and that hymns were not sung – at least at Mass – much before then, SoP is surely responsible for introducing us to a greater repertoire of scripture-based song rather than causing any "skewing".

Southern Comfort
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Re: Carols at Midnight Mass

Post by Southern Comfort »

JW wrote:The "Protestantism" of 'Joy to the World' also applies to Hark the Herald, and others which aren't in the 'Westminster Hymnal". But I trust we all accept that a Protestant origin for a hymn is not necessarily a bad thing provided the theology is OK. Otherwise much of Laudate, which has bishops' approval, is called into question.


My purpose was not to decry Protestant hymnody, without which we would be all the poorer, but simply to point out that that particular Christmas hymn sounds and feels more Protestant than many others do.

Nick Baty wrote:
Southern Comfort wrote:Joy to the World was never sung in Catholic churches before the advent of programmes like Songs of Praise, which has been more responsible than any other single factor for skewing the "liturgical" music used in our churches during the past 25-30 years.
Given that the show is now 50 years old and that hymns were not sung – at least at Mass – much before then, SoP is surely responsible for introducing us to a greater repertoire of scripture-based song rather than causing any "skewing".


I beg to differ. SoP has been responsible for the introduction of choruses, "praise and worship" music, Kendrickiana, and much else into a Catholic liturgy in which it actually does not fit comfortably. You can see the various phases when this happened rather clearly, which is why I hope someone will one day do some serious research on it. Nothing much apart from mainline traditional hymnody was ever used on SoP before the late 1980s. There was a strict policy in place which restricted what might be broadcast on the programme. Then that policy was relaxed in an attempt to boost audience figures, and other idioms and styles were introduced, with the unfortunate side-effects I have mentioned.

People hear these things and understandably want to reproduce their effect (emotional as much as anything else) in their own parishes, not realising that there are other parameters and values in play, and that, for example, a hymnfest is different from the ritual of the Eucharist.

<grumpy old man off> !

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