Small ads

Community Divided by Carol

From James Allison

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dear Community

Once again it's Christmas in Mytholmroyd and there is trouble brewing. Every year it's the same, family's divided, domestic rows, boycotts and complaints.

It's not the usual stuff of most communities that divides the good people of Mytholmroyd: X-factor of Strictly, artificial or real trees, stars or angels on the tree.

No, what divides people in Mytholmroyd is the tune for "While Shepherds watched their flock by night." Every year the arguments begin as to whether we should sing the words to Shaw Lane or the more familiar nationally known, Winchester Old at the Annual Village Carol Service. I know it doesn't sound like much of a contentious issue but every year at least one person says to me that I have ruined their Christmas by picking the wrong tune.

This year I have had enough, I want a harmonious Christmas, so I am opening it up to you. I am going to try a new way to keep the peace by allowing people to vote on-line as to which tune they prefer. So if you care about this issue, if you want to keep the peace in Mytholmroyd, why not go to the church website and vote?

Then when we gather on the 18th December at 6-30p.m. for our Candlelit Carol Service, the lights will be beautiful, the music splendid and no-one can complain to me about the tune we have for While Shepherds.

Have a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!

Canon James Allison

PS I know this is the first time I have put something on HebWeb but I hope you realise that the seriousness of this community dividing issue has prompted me to write

From Cllr Tim Swift

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Entirely for personal interest and enjoyment, I've been posting a series of Christmas songs on my weblog. And by coincidence, number four was a version of 'While Shepherds' which is better known as 'Christmas Bells', or the tune 'Crimond'.

So whilst I would hesitate to interfere in a church dispute, perhaps the compromise answer to the Reverend's question is, 'Crimond'?

From Mick Coughlan

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

I can sympathise entirely with the Rev's dilemma having been in this position myself many times over the years.

Having discussed this with colleagues can I suggest a suitable challenge would be to sing the words to the tune "Mack the Knife" - I might even try to attend to hear this.

From Andrew C

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The seriousness of this issue is what prompted James to make his first post on Heb Web? I'm shocked and lost for words.

From Claire M

Thursday, 8 December 2011

This is so sad to read. The dear people in your congregation need to try and remember that Christmas is not about what they want or don't want. I hope they can all show some grace and be happy to sing in celebration whichever carol it is x

From Jack Hughes

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Maybe the only way round this thorny issue is to set the words to an already existing song. A quick rifle through the ol' iTunes folder comes up with a few likely candidates - The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's "'Jollity Farm' fits nicely, or on a heavier note King Crimson's 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' or Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid' would do the job equally well (actually, better forget the latter). Alternatively, perhaps a reggae version might be apt - I've always found the line about 'Mighty Dread' evocative in a way that the lyricist almost certainly did not intend.

From Mick Coughlan

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Andrew, given your comment followed mine I take it you think I was being too jovial.

However as I said - I have had this sort of problem to deal with myself. For 8 years I led the music in a large church in Halifax and fully undersrtand the problem stated.

Being more of a blues rock musician by taste I would at times receive criticism for altering the tempo of a hymn that was a favourite of someones deceased husband - (once from my own mother-in-law!). I understand my too my suggestion would be difficult for most congregations but try it - it works so long as you click your fingers in a jazz crooner stylee!

Remember too that a lot of the hymns now sung in church as traditional were from tunes sang in the pubs to give a visitor some point of reference. A technique used greatly by the founder of the salvation army.


From James Baker

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Have you considered what voting system you are using on your website to select the version? The Alternative Vote has many benefits over First Past the Post.

Really though you should use a proportional representation system to determine the tune. This could easily be achieved by dividing the carol into different bars of music and assigning the tune on a proportional basis of the vote gained.

From Rev Tony Buglass

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Claire, you sound so worried. Please be assured, Mytholmroyd Christians haven't lost sight of the real meaning of Christmas at all. We do know about giving, and celebrating the gift of God's Son.

Having said that, we do take our singing seriously. Well, some of us do. Most of the time. We do know that there is often the 'right' tune for any hymn or carol (and Methodists are the experts at this - if the organist chooses the 'wrong' tune for a hymn, someone will tell them!) By the same token, some tunes just always go with particular hymns - that's why Tim Swift's suggestion just won't work: 'Crimond' goes with "The Lord's My Shepherd." I've never heard it sung to any other hymn.

As to "While Shepherds Watched" - by the time I get through Christmas I'll have sung it a few times, mostly to Winchester Old, but at least one of my churches prefers Shaw Lane, so I expect we'll have that, too. It's Common Metre, so there are thousands of possibilities (including Amazing Grace). But I'm surprised nobody here in this Yorkshire community has suggested the obvious tune. "On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At" - it fits.

That's what I mean about taking your singing seriously. Most of the time. Happy Christmas, and happy carolling!