Tuesday, September 05, 2006

An English "Our Father"

Some time back we asked our Pastor if the congregation could sing the "Our Father" -- and he had a surprising answer. He said he couldn't stand the tune! That really shocked me since I thought that the familiar tune was somehow the official one, and who can take issue with that? Well, it turns out that there is nothing official about it. It is composed and published the same as every any other tune but has no entrenched history that requires its use.

William Mahrt explained the problem with the familiar tune. It has a general downward tendency, even from the first notes: Who art in heaven. In the Latin version, the notes go up on "art" but in the familiar English tune, the notes go down. If you have never noticed the difference, try singing the Pater Noster and compare it with the Our Father.

As way of fixing the problem, Professor Mahrt uses a different version in his parish. I've put this in neumes here.

Here is an image that I hope doesn't take up too much space. You will see how this version is a much closer rendering of the Latin version. We'll see if our pastor prefers it! Feel free to try it out.

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