Title: Abide With Me: 50 Favourite Hymns (The Quack listens to this one, given to him and Sukie by Aunt Fran, on the way to work.)
File Under: Music
We need to include music in our library!
I know the feeling of having a vague idea that everyone should be singing in harmony around a campfire, but also the feeling of having no idea where to start.
Maybe this Lent would be a good time to devote some evenings to learning some new songs. If you get your simple supper ready early, you will have some time before the weather really gets nice for outdoor play.
Here are some ideas, and as we go along, we’ll try to remember to add to the list. I personally get an anxiety attack when presented with a long list of options, so I will try to give you just a few good resources to get you started.
I’ve consulted with my musician children on this, and we are starting you off with hymns.
If you want to hear the great old hymns as they would be played in a big stone church with a good organ, we recommend the CDs linked above (you can preview them on Amazon).
Now, you need to know that not all hymns are best sung this way. Many of our favorites are beautiful French hymns, or the great melodic Welsh ones that ought to have a more lyrical line than you hear in this type of setting (organ, big congregation). They were composed for and sung by little, often unaccompanied or lightly accompanied, gatherings of people who could really sing.
But the way to begin is to listen to the CD, get a hymnal so you can learn the words, and start hunting on You Tube for some versions that aren’t “grand,” concert-ish, or operatic, either. Just ordinary good singing.
Hymnals we love:
The Vatican II Hymnal (yes, it’s good, and looks like you can download scores for free as well).
The St. Michael’s Hymnal (sadly, this one seems not to be available — maybe you can find one used?)
Go ahead and get the choir (SATB — Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) version. You will eventually want to be able to sing the harmonies. For the melodies, follow the top line of the music. You can hear them on You Tube, so don’t worry.
You can also look up individual hymns on Net Hymnal. There you will find all the lyrics and at least be able to hear an MP3 of the music.
Hymnals always have indices in the back that direct you to the music by liturgical season (and are often laid out that way). (They also list the hymns by Scripture, tune, and title!) So for specifically Advent or Christmas music, you will find a rich treasury. Again, if you look up on You Tube, you will hear the song and have a better idea of how it’s sung.
For a way to incorporate hymns naturally and easily into your homeschool curriculum, visit the Ambleside Online site. They give you other suggestions for finding hymns and for seasonal selections.
Remember that chant (O Come O Come Emmanuel, Ye Sons and Daughters, etc) should be sung with no accompaniment and has its own special style — very simple, very meditative. It’s actually ideal for children — they pick it up easily and sing it well, once they get that it’s relaxed.
Our family, at The Chief’s request, learned to sing the Salve Regina long ago — it’s traditional to sing it on Saturdays. The children learned it right away (they had learned the English version of the prayer before that, one Lent).
Here you will hear monks singing the “simple tone” (there are other settings) (with Spanish accented Latin!), and you can follow along with the music and words. Note that the “phrases” or arcs of the sound follow the words. When there is a comma, you can hear the voices relaxing; they soften and slow down just a little. Where the music hits a double line in the score there is a complete pause that’s arrived at very calmly. That is the essence of chant and it’s very conducive to prayer.
Here you can read up on chant notation.
Another day we will give you some resources for folk singing and traditional songs. You can remind us!