Hymn Tunes  from  the British Isles

Settings for Organ

Volume II
(34 pages)

Invention  on  Aberystwyth  (4 pages)
Postlude  on  Bunessan  'Morning has broken'  (4 pages)   
Three Canons  and   a  Lilt  on  Danby  ( 5 pages)
Fantasy  on  Down Ampney  (7 pages)
Paraphrase  on  God Rest You Merry  (5 pages)
Chorale Prelude  on  Llangloffan  [c.f.  in Ped.]  (5 pages)
Prelude  on  Slane  (4 pages)


Invention on Aberystwyth continues the use  of a Baroque keyboard idiom for the settings of Welsh hymn tunes represented here. Written by Joseph Parry, Aberystwyth was first published in a collection that appeared in 1879, Ail Llyfr Tonau ac Emynau; it takes its name from a Welsh seaside resort. In Invention’s contrapuntal  textures, the lower of two voices offers an extended thematic ostinato, returning at varied key levels and weaving  its  way around the longer notes of the hymn’s treble  antus firmus. The Invention is for two manuals and requires no use of pedals.      
Postlude on 
Bunessan is a neo-contemporary setting of a familiar Scottish hymn tune. The  original Gaelic melody was transcribed by Alexander  Fraser from the singing of a wandering Highlands musician and first published in Songs and Hymns of the Gael in 1888. The tune takes its name from Bunessan, on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides;  it first appeared in Songs of Praise (London, 1931), with the text, "Morning  has broken". Following an introduction, and then an imitative digression, the first half of the melody weaves its way through tenor and soprano voices, then cedes to the returning imitative measures. The second half of the tune is similarly presented, followed again by an imitative transition, and then a cadential restatement of the introduction. The postlude closes with a bold codetta.

Three Canons and a Lilt on Danby offers contrasting verses of a lesser-known hymn tune adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williamsfrom an old English ballad melody. In the course of his travels through the English countryside, Vaughan Williams first heard this distinctive air sung by a Mr. Broomfield at the Cricketer’s Inn of Herongate, Essex on February 22, 1904. The derivative tune first appeared in 1906 with a text by Charles P. Price, "Tis winter now," and with its present tune name in The English Hymnal, then subsequently in Songs of Praise. Its contemporary North American reemergence in The Hymnal 1982 pairs it with another Price text, "The golden sun lights up the sky." The multi-verse setting provided here opens with a simple statement of the melody, followed by three canonic presentations, each at contrasting temporal and tonal intervals and separated by varied interludes. The concluding Lilt presents the hymn tune in an ornamented version,  then gives way to a returning interlude and brief codetta. Subtle contrasts of tempo, timbre and registration from one variation to the next will enhance this gentle setting of Danby
Fantasy on 
Down Ampney is a multi-sectional hymn setting based on an original tune composed and prepared by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the 1906 English Hymnal, where it is paired with the text, "Come down, O Love divine."  The tune name is derived from the composer's birthplace near Cirencester in Gloustershire. Vaughan Williams' melody consists of two phrase groups, each group three phrases in length.  The two phrase groups have been divided at midpoint to create a bipartite structure for Fantasy: the first half offers the first phrase group in three variations, followed by the second half of the tune treated in three similar variations, although presented in a different order. Fantasy is launched by a brief contrapuntally imitative section based on the first phrase group, followed by a gentle hymn-like variation on the same phrases.  In a third variation, the first phrase group is sounded boldly in canon between soprano and bass (pedal) voices and spun out to a dramatic pause.  The second half of the hymn tune appears in a gently harmonized guise; after a short recitative, the phrases reappear in extended contrapuntal imitation reminiscent of the opening variation. The canonic treatment between pedal and soprano reemerges and builds in intensity to a dramatic hiatus.  The movement is  concluded  with a  brief  but boldly hymn-like organo pleno codetta.   
Paraphrase on 
God Rest You Merry is a neo-romantic toccata for organ set in a latter Romantic classical harmonic language. It begins with brief declamatory fragments evocative of the familiar 19th century English Christmas carol. A toccata figuration ensues as accompaniment to reordered phrases of the melody, rhythmically altered to sound as consecutive notes of chant. At midpoint a developmental interlude reintroduces the toccata figuration with a shift from compound duple meter to grouped triplets, sounded above expansively phrased statements of  the tune.  An evocative return of the declamatory introduction is heard, then cedes to the pealing chords of Paraphrase's coda.

Chorale Prelude 
on Llangloffan offers a somber setting of a traditional Welsh hymn tune. Strongly imitative and modeled after German Baroque organ chorale preludes, it presents the original melody as a cantus firmus in the tenor voice (but they are actually played in the pedal). All of he ornamentations are notated in the manner of Baroque performance practices.

on Slane sets an Irish folk melody, so named for Slane Hill, located about ten miles from Tara Hill in County Meath, where it is said St. Patrick defied the pagan King Loigaire by lighting a ritual Paschal fire on Easter eve,  prior to the king’s own celebratory spring festival fire-lighting on Tara Hill.  An altered version of the tune first appeared in Old Irish Folk Music and Songs in 1909, with the text, "Lord of all hopefulness," and subsequently in the Irish Church Hymnal (Dublin, 1919) with the text, "Be thou my vision." The present setting frames two verses with a freely imitative opening and closing prelude. The first of the two central variations resets the tune from its original triple meter into quadruple, while the second offers a gentle verse with the melody appearing as a solo sounding in the tenor register.