I have just discovered that there is a Renaissance Faire going on in my town today. This is astonishing to me. I mean, is it some kind of private Faire, or are they just bad at publicity, or what? In any case, I am going to try to persuade my kids to join me in attending it. I’ll clean and grocery shop first, of course, but then we’ll be off to see the jousting. If they will not come with me, I may even go on my own.

I realize, since I am back here, that there is another topic I told someone I would post about and didn’t. Not that I think you are checking back hourly, cursing under your breath when you see that I haven’t written about it yet, but since I have the day off and all this leisure…

It is the question of using hymnals in church. Church is where most people who use hymnals at all use them, but many churches nowadays do not. The church I currently attend is one of those. There is a PowerPoint, and the words to the hymns are projected there. People look at the screen and sing.

Now, this custom first began for the sake of praise choruses, those little snippets of song which are designed to be sung over and over, in a sort of meditative fashion. They weren’t in the hymnals at the time, and also people wanted to be able to clap or raise their hands or dance or whatever, unhindered by hymnals.

Once folks got all the equipment and someone to make the PowerPoint and all, it was just a small step to putting the hymns up as well. However, the copyright issues involved in this ended up making it much more expensive to put up the music as well as the words, so it is normally just the words that are displayed.

People quit opening their hymnals. They also, since the music wasn’t visible, quit singing parts. They often quit trying to sing new and unfamiliar songs. With everyone singing melody, the mainstream hymnals lowered the starting pitches of most of the songs. This lowered the other parts as well, of course. Supposedly alto harmonies in current hymnals are often best suited to first tenors. Other hymnals have just rewritten the alto parts, so that they are comprised of an E with the occasional thrilling jump up or down one note.

The once beautiful congregational music of the church is frequently now just a bunch of people singing the same few songs over and over, in unison.

Where’s the fun in that?

I hope there are madrigals at the Renaissance Faire. #1 son got up, and has grudgingly agreed to go with me if #2 son can also be persuaded and if his dad will furnish the spondulicks.