Academic journal article The Hymn

The Art & Craft of Typesetting Hymns

Academic journal article The Hymn

The Art & Craft of Typesetting Hymns

Article excerpt

TYPESETTING The art & craft of typesetting hymns by David Schaap. Pittsburgh: Selah Publishing, 2009. 44pp. US $24.50.

As stated in the book's introduction, Selah Publishing Company founder David Schaap has been involved with the production of numerous hymnals since Selah's inception in 1987. His "brief manifesto," as he describes the book, is his attempt to pass along his knowledge to those embarking on their own hymnal projects.

Using an informal tone, Schaap presents various issues encountered while typesetting a hymnal, briefly discussing each issue before giving his own opinion. The justification he gives for his advice is sometimes from past experience (be hesitant to omit the harmony from traditionally four-part hymns, for instance, as "hymnal committees have received a lot of flak" for such transgressions), while at other times no attempt is made to justify his opinions as anything more than personal preference (unison whole notes should be offset because he "loves the look" of them). In addition, many of the topics are illustrated with examples - some contrived (real hymns typeset in specific ways to illustrate specific points) and some from real hymnals.

The book chapters are presented in a logical flow, approximating the actual process of assembling a hymn collection. The first chapter presents some initial decisions that should be made before beginning any hymnal project. Readers of this journal will be pleased to know that Schaap recommends, in the paragraph about forming a committee, that all members of a committee be members of The Hymn Society and regular attendees of its conferences. This chapter also includes discussions on page layout and font choices.

The second chapter is devoted to musical considerations, starting with advice on how to produce acceptable output from Finale and Sibelius (their default settings need to be tweaked substantially). …

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