Strophic Hymns Fade From Classical Consciousness

Mary Jane captures what I’ve often thought of strophic hymns, On Jordan’s Bank, as one in particular.

“Oh well, I want to move away from strophic hymnody at the Mass anyway.”

Interesting. That’s what the pseudo-folkies tried in the late 60’s, culminating in the SLJ’s practice of antiphon + psalm of the preconciliar days. Only recast with guitar and voice. Some how I don’t think that’s what this year’s musical movement has in mind.

It all seems so strange, as I recall my first adventures in liturgical music in the 80’s, and meeting many conservatory-trained organists. Hymn-playing was so Big. I remember with fascination the technique of playing the bass part on the pedals, the tenor and alto with left hand, and soloing out the melody on right. I seem to recall that being a requirement for certification I saw somewhere once.
I think I program “On Jordan’s Bank” on auto-pilot. I tried to give it a sabbatical this year, but it popped up once. GIA put out an interesting rendtiion of it in 7/4 time. But I don’t need Dave Brubeck rhythms to produce a lively and light accompaniment with piano, guitar, bass and violin. Just imagine what I could do with proper Gregorian propers. Or perhaps you’d rather not.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Strophic Hymns Fade From Classical Consciousness

  1. Gavin says:

    I like the GIA version, I considered doing it with my choir.

    Actually, I think Gregorian chant can be adapted to contemporary instrumentation well. Lots of Jazz theory can be applied to chant because of it being modal. Just accompanying propers on the piano can sound great.

    But why not a capella?

  2. Gavin says:

    I’ll add (I was going to say this in the G&P thread but forgot) that the great contribution of the G&P genre is the heavy use of scripture. Not that earlier hymns neglected it at all, but the G&P genre is rather reliant on scriptural phrases more than poetry.

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