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Popular Hymn-Tunes.

What are the points of a popular hymn-tune? Rev. J. T. Lawrence, M.A., in a long article on favorite hymn-tunes in a recent number of the Musical Opinion, published in London, calls attention to the following points as essential in making a tune popular: Rhythm he considers of the first importance in the estimation of the unlearned. “Melody is a matter of taste, and what pleases one has no effect on another. It is quite possible for any melody to become popular by force of reiteration; that is to say, any succession of notes within reasonable compass will, in course of time, be tolerated, then liked, and eventually become ‘popular.’ Such tunes as ‘Hold the Fort’ certainly depend entirely upon their rhythm, as the refrain is but the common chord repeated eight times. This same repetition of one chord is a prominent feature of many popular tunes, especially in the first line; for example, “The Church’s One Foundation,’ ‘Sun of My Soul,’ ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers,’ etc. The compass should be moderate; even F-sharp requires a strain, and should not occur on the weak beat. The melody of Dykes’ popular tune for ‘Lead, Kindly Light’ lies entirely within the compass of six notes. Awkward intervals prevent the success of a tune, and chromatic intervals should be avoided, as they result in ‘dragging.’”


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