Treasure No 64: The English Hymn (review)

The new book certainly deserves to achieve the classic status of Benson’s earlier work, but for different reasons. Despite an interval of eighty-two years the difference in historical scope is somewhat less than one might expect. Both writers naturally start with the metrical psalmody of the Reformation and Benson concluded with a detailed look at what was, for him, very …

Treasure No 49: The Hymn Tunes of Elgar and Holst

In the case of Elgar the examination can be brief indeed. Although Grove’s Dictionary notes among ‘early works, unpublished’ a hymn tune in the key of G dated 1878 and ‘other anthems and hymn tunes’, only one published tune is known. This too dates from 1878, when Elgar was 21, and is now known as ‘DRAKE’S BROUGHTON’, the name of …

Treasure No 46: The Tune ‘LASST UNS ERFREUEN’ as we know it

We must recall that by the end of the 19th century the great riches of German hymnody had been laid open in two monumental and scholarly collections of hymn-melodies. For tunes of Catholic origin there was W. Bäumker’s Das Katholische Deutsche Kirchenlied (3 volumes, 1883-91, and a posthumous volume in 1911), and for Protestant tunes there was J. Zahn’s Die …

Treasure No 6: Hymns and no Hymns

Now when you consider the history of man—and you may choose any ages in any regions—you find that he remains a curiously static figure. Circumstances may appear to be totally different; man remains almost totally unchanged. God back to the Homeric epics with their semi-human deities and their curious rites, and you find in their characters the kind of persons …