Sunday, 6 December 2009

Thou who wast rich

Yep, it's a good one.

1. Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becomes poor.

2. Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man.

3. Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Ignore the poncy costumes and listen to the tune on youtube, here.


Roger Gallagher said...

Great lyrics. Am I the only person who finds it difficult to understand the lyrics when a choir is doing it's thing? Somehow all those multi-part harmony thingies muffle the clarity of the words being sung.

Gordon Cheng said...

Roger, it depends on the choir director. If you have a choir director who thinks words are important, they will work overtime to get the choir to enunciate the consonants. If that happens, you can hear individual words with even a very large choir.

apodeictic said...

Honestly, what's with the snide and immature remarks about the choir's vestments ("poncy costumes")? Just because it mightn't be to your personal taste or you mightn't think it fitting in the blandness of your own modern day suburban existence doesn't justify projecting your personal prejudices to the level of general truths.

@Roger: No, you're not the only one. A lot of things will matter here:

First, as Gordon says, the choir has to be taught good diction. If you sing choral music in English how you normally speak it will sound terrible, even unrecognisable. English consonants tend to get lost when singing in a group unless you clearly articulate them. And even the way we pronounce our vowels and dipthongs can make a difference. This actually applies universally across the English speaking world. Don't just think it's Australian or American etc choirs who don't normally speak the so-called "Received Pronunciation" (RP). Even speakers of RP will have to watch their diction and change some of their dipthongs and vowels.

I have sung in choirs from the very amateur end of the spectrum to the very professional end of the spectrum (doing CDs, tours and film soundtracks) and for mine the thing that makes the biggest difference is the attitude of the singers. Having a good director helps of course but the most important thing is the attitude of the singers in my view. A lot of singers (mostly amateurish ones) just don't care about good diction and even when you tell them what they're doing wrong and what they need to do to get it right they still won't do it. Some people are just unteachable in this regard. Like many things in life, good habits are taught at a young age and that applies to diction in singing.

Second, the acoustic of the building also makes a difference. Some buildings have a better acoustic for this kind of music than others.

Third, if you're listening to recorded music the quality of the recording matters immensely. Generally speaking this kind of music lends itself much better to live performance than recording. And with recordings sometimes you will find ones of the same choir where the diction comes across much better than on others.

Fourth, you also need to learn how to listen to music properly and most of us never take the time to do this. Having various parts sung in harmony does make it more difficult to follow the words (and hymns are usually fairly homophonic in their harmonic structure; try listening to polyphony some time!) but with practice you will get better at understanding the lyrics in choral music.

Gordon Cheng said...

apodeictic, having worn said costumes for many years, in situations of generally suburban blandness, in choirs and out of them, you can put it down to crypto-adolescent reaction. The best that can be said for them, in my view, is that you can wear them over shorts or jammies, and people are none the wiser. Which is pretty close to their original intention.

As for all the other things you said, very true. Except, I was at my daughter's presentation day yesterday, and noticed that the words the choir of schoolkids were singing could be clearly heard, even though they were singing as they spoke. In our part of the world that means not sloppily or lazily, but with a distinctly Australian accent of the sort you'd hear on the ABC most days.

apodeictic said...

It's my part of the world too. I am Australian.

apodeictic said...

Oh, and I'm not against not against not wearing choral or clergy vestments per se. There are situations where I think wearing them can be helpful for the cause of the gospel and there are situations where the opposite is (or at least may be) true.

But what I am against is calling them "poncy costumes". That was just an unnecessary cheap shot in my book.

Gordon Cheng said...

Ian, I know who you are. ;-)

apodeictic said...

I don't know who Ian is.

Gordon Cheng said...

Ah! Well, in that case, I don't know who you are, except in the broadest terms.
Sorry for mistaken identity!