Sometimes I Wish We Were More Like the Protestants

Sometimes I Wish We Were More Like the Protestants

Hymn #61 — “Raise Your Voices to the Lord”

Text and music: Evan Stephens (1854-1930; LDS)
Tune name: TOVEY

Having participated in many Episcopalian services as a choir member and guest composer, I sometimes wish our Sacrament Meeting services were a bit different.

Don’t worry, no dissension in the ranks here, I just really love the “ceremony” feeling I’ve experienced in their church. There’s a sense of ritual, of seriousness, and the music plays a much bigger role in their worship.

The clergy process in at the start accompanied by music, often it’s the organ blaring at fever pitch (I love that! I’m trying to train my ward to love blaring organ, but I’m not having much success).

The congregation stands and belts out every hymn. And there’s no such thing as “extra” verses. Every verse that’s printed in the hymnal is sung. Even if there are 5, 6, 7, or 8 verses. And of course, the organist takes the opportunity to alter the harmony and bring a dramatic arc to the hymn as it progresses from verse to verse.

There are several musical numbers throughout the service, more hymns, and a final recessional as the clergy leave the sanctuary, again, accompanied by big music.

Hymn #61 in our book is the perfect Latter-day Saint recessional.

Raise your voices to the Lord,
Ye who here have heard his word.
As we part, his praise proclaim,
Shout thanksgiving to his name.

Hmm, maybe we can start a “postlude” singing tradition. But with most of us scurrying to run and teach our primary class or help in Sunday School and get our kids situated in their classes, this is probably just wishful thinking.

Oh well. There are more important things to worry about.

This is an excellent hymn. Well written from top to toe.

The only bit that turns on my composer “if-I-had-composed-this-hymn” radar is the bit in bars 3 and 4. There’s nothing wrong with it at all. I just hear the opening phrase going a different direction after the opening bars.

Here’s what I hear…

IMG_1612 2.jpg
Bars 3-4, alternate version.

Bars 3-4, alternate version.

That’s about all I have to say about this one. We should sing it more often. It’s a great way to end a meeting. I really hope we get to keep it in the new hymnal. Maybe the committee should consider a new appendix suggesting which hymns are best for opening a meeting or closing a meeting. I think we often get mixed signals with hymn selection and how they are placed throughout the meeting. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Have a great weekend!


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Commentary from “The Bench Warmer”

by Jason Gunnell, Organist

This is a well-written, if short and forgotten hymn. The text is fitting as a going-forth hymn, and the tune is well-conceived in both melody and part-writing. Karen Davidson of this hymn reports that the “musical setting is in the style of a chorale, a simple hymn form dating back to early Protestantism. The half-note rhythms with which it was printed in the 1950 hymnal are more typical of chorale hymns, but the quarter-note rhythms of the 1985 hymnal are somewhat easier to read and are less likely to invite too slow a tempo.” Looks like slow hymns has been a burden for a long time!

Though Sister Davidson suggests that a notation change from half to quarter notes would help deter a slow tempo, this hymn is marked over 30 beats per minute slower than it seems to want to go. 118-120 beats per minute (quarter note as the pulse) seems to be a much more appropriate tempo for this dignified hymn. Dignity doesn’t equate to slow and stodgy (I can’t imagine playing or singing this at 72-88! I know the hymn is short, but that shouldn’t dictate tempo…)! Again, a dignified registration would include principal chorus through mixture and chorus reeds.

Registration Starting Point:
Great: Principal 8’, 4’, 2’, Mixture
Swell: Principal 8’, 4’, 2’, Flute 8’, Nazard 2 ⅔’, Mixture (choose the lower pitched-mixture between this and the Great Mixture…, Hautbois 8’
Pedal: Principal 16’, 8’, 4’, Bourdon 16’, Flute 8’, 16’ Reed
Sw/Gt, Sw/Ped

Possible Final Verse Additions:
Great: Mixture, Trumpet 8’
Swell: Mixture, Bassoon 16’
Pedal: 32’ Flue and Reed,  Posaune 16’