Seasonal music is doing quite well in the head-to-head polling of this liturgical music madness. NPM’s number one song, “On Eagles’ Wings” got bounced by an Easter song we often sing only once a year. Let’s see how the most popular English-language Christmas song fares against a “gathering song.”
“Silent Night” had one of the more interesting polling experiences of the first round, making it to the “Theological Thirty-Two” by one vote. Admit it: it’s a good tune. According to legend, it was written on guitar in Germany–well over a century before guitars invaded churches in number. My ensemble in Kansas City liked to sing it in German. Many people like the Dan Kantor partner song, “Night of Silence.” Here is a recording from Chris Squire (best known as the bassist for the supergroup Yes).
I spoke with Marty Haugen many years ago at a workshop, discussing the composition of church music for singing congregations. He spoke of it being a craft, as I recall. Without being exclusive of the artistic aspect of music, I think he was getting at the notion of fashioning music to permit a worshiping assembly to easily enter the singing. Predictability, support, and perhaps something that would be less “fun” for the musicians involved. Did I mention a tune that suits well for various accompaniments, including pipe organ, like here by a young musician.