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Lyr Req: Sullivan's NOEL hymn tune


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masato sakurai 14 Dec 08 - 08:00 PM
masato sakurai 10 Dec 08 - 10:51 PM
masato sakurai 10 Dec 08 - 08:21 PM
Haruo 10 Dec 08 - 02:01 PM
Newport Boy 10 Dec 08 - 04:21 AM
Haruo 09 Dec 08 - 02:00 PM
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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sullivan's NOEL hymn tune
From: masato sakurai
Date: 14 Dec 08 - 08:00 PM

From Historical Companion to Hymns Ancient & Modern (1962, p. 168):
NOEL. The first four lines are from a traditional carol melody, received from a friend by Sir Arthur Sullivan, who slightly modified it, added four lines, and printed it in Church Hymns, 1874, of which he was editor. The tune given by Bramley and Steiner in Christmas Carols New & Old, No. 39, appears to be a variant of this tune. Compare also No. 5 in the Appendix to The Oxford Book of Carols. Both this and the previous tune are set to the "Dives and Lazarus" Carol.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sullivan's NOEL hymn tune
From: masato sakurai
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 10:51 PM

Arthur Sullivan's Church Hymns, With Tunes ([1874], 1885) is at Internet Archive. "It came upon the midnight clear" (tune: NOEL) is numbered 82 [pp. 62-63].

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sullivan's NOEL hymn tune
From: masato sakurai
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 08:21 PM

From The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992, p. 375):
The one sung in Britain (II) is an adaptation by Sullivan of an eight-bar melody (bars 1-8) that was sent to him by a friend, which he slightly revised, completed, and harmonized. It was first published in Church Hymns with Tunes (1874) with the attribution 'Traditional Air rearranged'. There is, indeed, a strong resemblance to 'The Sussex Mummers' Carol' (see The Oxford Book of Carols, 1928, no. 45; also Journal of the Folk-Song Society, vol. 2, p. 130, and vol. 3, pp. 261-3).
See The Sussex Mummers Carol at The Hymns and Carls of Christmas site.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sullivan's NOEL hymn tune
From: Haruo
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 02:01 PM

Thanks, Phil. So I gather the specific identity of the anonymous tune Sullivan based it on remains unknown.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sullivan's NOEL hymn tune
From: Newport Boy
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 04:21 AM

This is one of my favourite tunes (mainly because I like singing the bass line), and is fairly universal for 'It Came Upon the Midnight Clear' in UK.

To the best of my recollection, Sullivan arranged the tune from an 8-bar melody sent by a friend - the second half supposed to be his own.

It's also likened to the tune 'Eardisley', and there are similarities. Ralph Vaughan Williams edited the Oxford Book of Carols in 1928, and the tune of 'Dives and Lazarus' (No 57) there was noted in Eardisley, Herefordshire in 1905. It was also collected in Worcestershire much earlier.

I have references for all this somewhere, but it's some years ago, so I'll need to dig.

I've listened to all the tunes many times - I think Noel and Kingsfold are very closely related. I'm not so sure about Eardisley and Dives & Lazarus, but I hear some similarities. One caveat - I was looking for a different hymn tune on one occasion, and listened to about 30 of the same metrical pattern. By the end, I was hard pushed to tell any of them apart, so maybe I'm not the best judge.


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Subject: Lyr Req: Sullivan's «NOEL» hymn tune
From: Haruo
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 02:00 PM

I am well familiar with Ralph Vaughan Williams' arrangements of Star of the County Down in its English Dives and Lazarus variant as the hymn tune KINGSFOLD, and of The Ploughboy's Dream as FOREST GREEN, but I have not been able to identify the English traditional tune, or rather the traditional text sung to the tune, that Sir Arthur Sullivan arranged a few decades earlier as NOEL. This tune is not nearly as ubiquitous in the hymnals as are KINGSFOLD and FOREST GREEN, but it is the second most common setting for "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear", occurring in my experience in roughly one hymnal for every fifteen that have it set to Richard Willis's CAROL. The setting seems a bit more common in Anglicanism than elsewhere.

Oddly, although the tune is most often met with in a Christmas carol, it appears that Sullivan didn't mean it that way; rather, the tune name apparently alludes to the Anglican clerical poet Gerard Noel, author of "If Human Kindness Meets Return". also gives it as a tune for "A thousand years have come and gone" and "I will extol thee, O my God", and I have hymnals that set "For ages women hoped and prayed" (Worship & Rejoice), "I know not where the road will lead" (The Worshiping Church), and "O God in whom all life begins" (New Century Hymnal) to it.

So anyway, the question is what it was/is in the folk tradition before Sullivan gussied it up or dumbed it down and used it for hymnody.


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