excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 303-4 (309 words)

excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 303-4 (309 words)

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Musical letters from Abroad

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There was a large congregation the Sabbath we were in Haarlem, and all united in great earnestness in the psalms. The movement was very slow — very nearly twice as slow as it is common to sing the Old Hundredth in our American churches, so that the time was easily described by counting four to each note, or eight in a double measure. No leading voice was heard; the organ alone seemed to lead, and yet the singing and the playing were so nearly together that no unpleasant effect was produced. It is always better that the organ should lead, than that a single voice should be heard ahead of others; but, there is, indeed, no necessity for either, even in Congregational singing, and the idea that a single voice should lead a choir by being always a little in advance in time, is so entirely at variance with good taste that it is not to be tolerated. The singing was in unison, and the times seemed to be perfectly familiar. The tune was not played over upon the organ before the singing, but the organist played only a prelude of a few measures, when all the people joined at once in the hymn. The interludes were very short; indeed, they could hardly be called interludes in the ordinary sense, since they were too short to include even a single phrase; they consisted only of a passing chord or two, merely allowing time to breathe between the stanzas. 

We have already intimated that the singing was very general in the congregation; in this respect, we think the Dutch congregations are in advance even of the German; for there was one universal burst of vocal sound from the beginning to the end of the hymn. No other musical form was attempted than that of the plain metrical time, or chorale.

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excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 303-4 (309 words)


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