Academic journal article The Hymn

The Calvin Hampton Hymnary II

Academic journal article The Hymn

The Calvin Hampton Hymnary II

Article excerpt

The Calvin Hampton Hymnary II compiled by Harry L. Huff. Colfax, NC: Wayne Leupold Editions, 2008. 40 pp. ISBN: 978-1-881162-23-0. US $12.50.

The last time I saw Calvin Hampton he was sitting right behind me at an orchestral concert at the San Francisco National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in the early 1980s, where one of his works was being premiered. I had become friends with him through my attendance at many of the midnight organ recitals he performed each Friday from 1972 to 1982 at Calvary Episcopal Church in New York City. As a musician, Hampton was a Renaissance man, with an uncanny ability to incorporate a wide variety of styles in his performances and compositions. About the only constant I remember from these performances was to expect the unexpected. This small volume of his hymn tunes compiled and edited by Harry L. Huff, executor of the estate of Calvin Hampton, is a welcome addition to The Calvin Hampton Hymnary published in 1980 by G.I.A.

Hampton's tunes, like his recitals and improvisations, are in an eclectic variety of styles ranging from chantlike melodies, jazzy 19th-century gospel tune imitations, and Messiaenistic impressionism to childlike marching tunes. These are hymn tunes that compel the singer and accompanist to work. They are anything but the easy-listening sound-bite tunes that seem to have washed the North American church into a stupor. They demand the singer's attention, but they also offer the reward of deeper theological insights and musical integrity, along with joy, tenderness, playfulness, introspection, and exuberance. …

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