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Wanted a "Te Deum."

In more years’ experience than the vanity of femininity would care to number, as choir leader, organist, soprano in various church choirs, I feel I owe a word to the “Te Deum” as I have found it.

In the formidable array, I have yet to discover the “Te Deum” that is in every degree suited to the place it should fill in the service of the church. To revive the dreary Gregorian tone of the middle ages because to a certain order of minds it is ecclesiastic does not appeal to modern intelligence. Dreary minor modes of medievalism should have no part in casting a gloom over the brightness of the glory in a service of worship to Almighty God. And if we will not have fossil remains, still less will we tolerate much of the music that comes to the hands of the choir-leader in his search for a suitable “Te Deum.”

A wholly adequate and satisfactory “Te Deum” must have a theme—as the “Messiah,”—well marked, well worked out in a musicianly form. Not much solo, or fugue. It must be to a certain extent simple, for church choirs have a way of being the most unreliable corps in the world. There is nothing like a boy soloist for sore throat, breaks in voice, and general sudden indisposition, and the “under studies” are generally all we would not hear in singers.

The “Te Deum” as I have met it maunders and whines to the last degree in all sorts and styles of wandering fancies wholly meaningless and not significant even as ornamental adjuncts to a dignified work.

Why would not a composer of the splendid genius of Dr. Elgar give us a new “Te Deum”? After the “Dream of Gerontius,” a composition the very climax of the poetry and beauty of music, we may expect all the world of Edward Elgar. It would be faint praise to compare him with English composers. He has his own field. His soul is superb. His flight is as that of the albatross. Would he come down to the king’s highway and, recognizing the needs of our much abused church service, try his muse with a grateful task and write for us a new “Te Deum”?—Fanny Grant.

 

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