The Hymn Tune Index: A Census of English-Language Tunes in Printed Sources from 1535 to 1820

By Hawkins, Robert D. | Anglican and Episcopal History, March 2000 | Go to article overview

The Hymn Tune Index: A Census of English-Language Tunes in Printed Sources from 1535 to 1820


Hawkins, Robert D., Anglican and Episcopal History


NICHOLAS TEMPERLEY. The Hymn Tune Index: A Census of English-Language Tunes in Printed Sources from 1535 to 1820. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1998. 4 volumes. $550.00.

Once again the musical and ecclesiastical worlds are indebted to Nicholas Temperley. Assisted by Charles G. Mann and Joseph Herl, Temperley has produced a massive, and as far as is possible, comprehensive four-volume index of extant English-language hymn tunes (1535-1820) cross-referenced to printed sources, meters, tune names, and associated texts, eventually to be accessible on the Internet (http:// hti.music.uiuc.edu/). Moreover, it is cross-referenced to several significant collections: A Short-Title Catalog of Books, 1475-1640, The, Music, of the. English Parish Church, and American Sacred Imprints, 1698-1810. The four volumes represent close to twenty years of research, coding, and cataloguing some 108,195 tunes, of which 19,784 are distinct. Of the different tunes, 1 7,424 may be considered primary, 2,360 related, and the remaining 88,411 duplicates.

Such musicological, hymnological, and encyclopedic publishing ventures seem more readily the work of familiar giants of the nineteenth century: Wackernagel, Zahn, and the editors of the Bach Gesellschaft edition, not to mention the indefatigable Migne. Leave it to Temperley again to identify lacunae and convincingly present the case. His 1979 publication, The Music, of the English Parish Church (Cambridge University Press), demonstrated how a stratum of English church music history simply could be overlooked because musicologists heretofore had focused almost exclusively on cathedral churches. Building on material in that work, Temperley and associates launched the present project in 1982.

English-language hymns have played a central role in inculating faith and belief: they are part of the cultural fabric. Surprisingly, no such work has been undertaken before. Temperley notes at the outset that Englishlanguage hymnody and metrical psalmody enjoyed neither the official liturgical place nor integration into higher art forms (cantatas, passions, concertato settings, and organ works) that was the case, for example, in German Lutheranism. While central to the piety of people, English hymnody and psalmody were, until the mid-nineteenth century, dismissed as plebian. Included are important essays addressing the state of scholarship; the function of hymn singing in the representative faith traditions, institutions, and in the public arena; origins of the hymn tunes; and discussions of the necessary musicological, bibliographical, and typographical insights appropriate to the study.

Temperley's work is not for the faint of heart. The sheer amount of bibliographical information provided is mind-boggling, though invaluable for the serious musicologist and student of hymnology. Volume I presents historical and technical essays including the method of coding the tunes, adapted from Keller and Rabson's National Tune Index ( 1980). A bibliography of secondary sources (pp.65-70) identifies fully the brief citations appearing in the historical essays. Volume II provides indices for tune incipits (first ten notes), tune names, composers, unusual meters, and text incipits (initial letter of the first six words). Volumes III and IV, the heart of the project, contain the hymn census. Information includes citation of primary tune, meter, tune history, variants, settings, associated texts, dates, and other source material. While systematically presented, it takes some time to master the apparatus in order to track down wanted information. …

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