O Come, O Come. To pause or not to pause

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

Moderators: Dom Perignon, Casimir

Post Reply
docmattc
Posts: 987
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 11:42 am
Parish / Diocese: Westminster
Location: Near Cambridge

O Come, O Come. To pause or not to pause

Post by docmattc »

Happy new year one and all!
Last Sunday (4th Advent) we had the annual scrap about the timing of O Come, O come Emmanuel (well, not annual as we've not done it the previous 2 years). In the chorus, is the last syllable of 'Emmanuel' held for 2 beats or not? The choir assured me that the congregation would hold it, and then they duly didn't themselves.
It makes more sense of the words not to hold, (the pause makes the first part of the refrain an instruction to Emmanuel to rejoice!) but the 2 beats are there in the music in Laudate, HON (3 beats!) and a few others I looked at.
I once found a version in nuemes on the web but can't locate it now.
What do others do and where does the difference in timing come from?
nazard
Posts: 555
Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2006 7:08 am
Parish / Diocese: Clifton
Location: Muddiest Somerset

Re: O Come, O Come. To pause or not to pause

Post by nazard »

CfE has only one beat for the last syllable of "Emmanuel", and no breath mark or any other suggestion of a pause. Another supporter of this view is "Carols for Choirs 2" by Willcox and Rutter. I was always taught to do it that way and always play it that way myself. As you point out, anything else makes nonsense of the words.

A more inflammatory issue is whether to pause at the end of the first line of each verse. In verse 1,

"O come, O come Emmanuel, (pause for breath) and ransome captive Israel..."

is sensible, but in the rest of the verses is inadmissible, eg.

"O come, Thou rod of Jesse, free (pause for breath) thine own from Satan's tyranny..."

which obscures the meaning. I always allow the first breath at the end of the second line of each verse, where there is a long note which can be shortened to make breathing space, and the next breath after four lines. Breathing is then allowed after each "Rejoice", some editors put rests in at those points and some don't, and then through to the end without a break. Some of the choir find this what they are used to, and others moan furiously. It does take a little practice, but they are far from music's longest sung phrases.
asb
Posts: 251
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 10:09 pm
Location: Gone away :(

Re: O Come, O Come. To pause or not to pause

Post by asb »

docmattc wrote:Happy new year one and all!
Last Sunday (4th Advent) we had the annual scrap about the timing of O Come, O come Emmanuel (well, not annual as we've not done it the previous 2 years). In the chorus, is the last syllable of 'Emmanuel' held for 2 beats or not? The choir assured me that the congregation would hold it, and then they duly didn't themselves.
It makes more sense of the words not to hold, (the pause makes the first part of the refrain an instruction to Emmanuel to rejoice!) but the 2 beats are there in the music in Laudate, HON (3 beats!) and a few others I looked at.
I once found a version in nuemes on the web but can't locate it now.
What do others do and where does the difference in timing come from?


I haven't checked, but I think the long note was in HON; it's definitely not in CFE. I believe (but am open to correction)that Dom Gregory Murray (in the Westminster Hymnal?) instituted the long note on "Emmanuel", his argument being that it then logically matched the rhythm of the opening phrase, and I believe that he argued against the tune being of plainchant origin.

Incidentally, for a really bizarre arrangement, see "Ancient and Modern Revised" ! :?
User avatar
VML
Posts: 727
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2004 12:57 am
Parish / Diocese: Clifton Diocese
Location: Glos

Re: O Come, O Come. To pause or not to pause

Post by VML »

I googled it as 'Veni, veni..' and the versions I found do not have the long note, and also date it from either 8th or 15th century, and both say it is plainsong, though I wouldn't usually argue with Father Gregory.
docmattc
Posts: 987
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 11:42 am
Parish / Diocese: Westminster
Location: Near Cambridge

Re: O Come, O Come. To pause or not to pause

Post by docmattc »

No pause in "The English Hymnal" (I have 1979 impression, but 1st ed 1906) or "Songs of Praise" (again 1979, 1st Ed '36)

VML, is it the tune, or the 'O' Antiphons that you found dated to the 8/15th C?
User avatar
VML
Posts: 727
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2004 12:57 am
Parish / Diocese: Clifton Diocese
Location: Glos

Re: O Come, O Come. To pause or not to pause

Post by VML »

I think it said 15th c French chant
Peter
Posts: 264
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:05 pm

Re: O Come, O Come. To pause or not to pause

Post by Peter »

The source given in most books I've found is "Adapted by T Helmore from a French missal"; Laudate says "From a 15th century French manuscript", though in the 15th century all missals were presumably in manuscript anyway.

In the English Hymnal it is given as a plainsong line (arr J H Arnold) in quaver beats with a crotchet on the "el" of "Israel" though not "Emmanuel" in both verse 1 and the refrain. The second syllable of "rejoice" is given to a crotchet plus quaver rest, thus effectively three beats.

Laudate also gives it as a plainsong line (arr Richard Proulx) in quaver beats with a crotchet on both "Emmanuel" and "Israel" in both verse 1 and the refrain. The second syllable of "rejoice" is given to a crotchet, thus effectively two beats.

In both the Westminster Hymnal and Hymns Old and New the arrangement is credited to A Gregory Murray (even though the harmonies are completely different) and presents the tune in crotchets in 4/4 or 2/2 bars with dotted minims (thus three beats) at all the cadences, including "Emmanuel" and "Israel" in both verse 1 and the refrain, plus "rejoice". This turns the plainsong into a metred hymn, presumably to make it easier for modern congregations to sing.

Liturgical Hymns Old and New follows the example of its non-"liturgical" predecessor in using 2/2 bars but adds a 3/2 bar in the refrain so as to give the last syllable of "Emmanuel" a single crotchet.

It's hard to know from this what is the "right" way to sing this carol and different congregations will have their different traditions and expectations. For what it's worth, at my church we used the Liturgical Hymns Old and New version last Advent and the congregation sang it with no problem. Doubtless not authentic to the minds of plainsong aficionados but it worked - I suspect that this version has become a de facto modern standard, though there may be other congregations that still support the AGM version. I like Nazard's reasoning for inserting a similar 3/2 bas in line 1 of each verse, though I fear it may not have much support in the pews - apart from those brought up on the English Hymnal and continuing to stick to it.
User avatar
Gwyn
Posts: 1147
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2003 3:42 pm
Parish / Diocese: Archdiocese of Cardiff
Location: Abertillery, South Wales UK

Re: O Come, O Come. To pause or not to pause

Post by Gwyn »

When I doubt I generally refer to the English Hymnal. There we find no pause between line 1 and 2 of the verse nor between lline 1 and 2 of the Refrain.

They have it headed as "Melody adapted by T Helmore 'from a French Missal' arr. J. H. A.

The elongated notes, when they are inserted, always put me in mind of Golden Syrup hanging off a knife or spoon when freshly out of the tin.

The imagery is unsettling I know. :lol:
Post Reply