Why I Arrange Hymns
May 7, 2021
A DISCUSSION WITH MY FRIEND ED (who has arranged/produced many Hymn recordings over 30 years as a part of a major Christian record label) AND MYSELF...Yes, the denominational differences always present a problem....geez folk, let it go already!!! The wars go on and on ....Anyway...
Having been raised Catholic I was, when younger, more familiar with Chant and Palestrina than Hymns. I started getting familiar with Hymns when I was at The Crystal Cathedral (arranger-orchestrator) starting age 24.
I had a good friend at that time who was a well-known Hymnologist (or whatever it is). Unfortunately he passed away too young. He would take me to all kinds of Hymn conferences.
In the 90s I started finding a love of Hymns and did many arrangements thereof. They turned into some albums of mine and commissions from other artists for their albums. What really turned me around was Fernando Ortega's Hymn projects - more "folklike"...We both know that the problem most folk have with Hymns is not the melody and basic chords themselves but the Hymn "setting" (Chorale-ish - a chord on every note! ).
My recent love of Hymns has been inspired by this...
I have gone to YouTube to look up a Hymn. I read comments from folk like: "I was going to blow my brains out, then came across this Hymn and listened. It reminded me of going to church when I was kid. I have put the gun down and am returning to wanting to know God/Christ" (paraphrased). I have read many such comments.
I also like this...
Many hymns (as you know) were written by amateur musican's (I'm talking about the music, not text). I'm not sure how to put this in words, but there is something very attractive about these being just simpler melodies from basic folk - no "academic" standard to meet. I realize some were by more studied composers like Vaughn Williams, etc. But my whole life I have wanted to keep at least a toe or a whole foot in the more folk oriented genre's...that's where the people live.
That stuff is mostly why I do these. Yes, monetary considerations have to be made, but reaching people is what drives me.