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a tune called Slane

DigiTrad:
BE THOU MY VISION


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Be Thou My Vision alternative lyrics (23)
Folklore: Irish Hymn - Be Thou My Vision (4)
Lyr Req: Be Thou My Vision...in Scots Gaelic?!? (15)
(origins) Lyr Req: Be Thou My Vision / Slane (95)
Lyr Req: Rop Tú Mo Baile (Be Thou My Vision) (5)


GUEST,leeneia 19 Mar 10 - 11:30 PM
Little Robyn 20 Mar 10 - 03:03 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 20 Mar 10 - 04:21 AM
Dave MacKenzie 20 Mar 10 - 04:23 AM
GUEST,Ross Campbell abroad 20 Mar 10 - 06:33 AM
Jack Campin 20 Mar 10 - 07:46 AM
doc.tom 20 Mar 10 - 07:54 AM
Ruth Archer 20 Mar 10 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Mar 10 - 11:20 AM
Tootler 20 Mar 10 - 06:10 PM
Little Robyn 20 Mar 10 - 06:14 PM
Tootler 20 Mar 10 - 06:17 PM
Jack Campin 20 Mar 10 - 06:56 PM
Tootler 21 Mar 10 - 01:21 PM
Dave MacKenzie 21 Mar 10 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Mar 10 - 09:18 PM
Nigel Parsons 22 Mar 10 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,John Moulden 22 Mar 10 - 04:29 PM
mouldy 22 Mar 10 - 04:55 PM
Dave MacKenzie 22 Mar 10 - 06:53 PM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Mar 10 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Mar 10 - 10:09 AM
IanC 23 Mar 10 - 10:11 AM
Jack Campin 23 Mar 10 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM
GUEST,Dave 22 Apr 15 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,Peter 23 Jun 16 - 09:37 AM
GUEST 14 Jan 18 - 06:33 PM
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Subject: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 11:30 PM

The pastor asked me to play guitar and lead the hymn 'Be Thou My Vision' at yesterday's Lenten service. After having five St Patrick's Day Parades, we were all feeling kinda Celtic, and this hymn is Celtic.

The CyberHymnal has this to say of the words:

Words: At­trib­ut­ed to Dal­lan For­gaill, 8th Cen­tu­ry (Rob tu mo bhoile, a Com­di cri­de); trans­lat­ed from an­cient Ir­ish to Eng­lish by Ma­ry E. Byrne in "Eriú," Jour­nal of the School of Ir­ish Learn­ing, 1905, and versed by El­ea­nor H. Hull, 1912, alt.

The tune, 'Slane' is named after a hill in Ireland. Its history seems obscure, but I'm willing to accept it an as old Irish air.

Our little church includes more than one person who cannot read well, so I folk-processed the words to make them more understandable. In fact, I consider the second line completely unintelligible:

"Be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart.
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art."

I read that to my husband, and he said "What?!" So out it went, along with extraneous capital letters and any non-standard punctuation. The goal is for everybody to sing.

The tune now, is not what I would call a folk tune. For one thing, it has a range of an octave plus a third. You know, a lot of people think that five notes are enough for a song. (Somewhere on the Mudcat is an impressive list of famous songs with only five notes to them.) 'Slane' has eleven notes.

Then there's the timing. I typed the song out and put the chords on it, and it just didn't seem to go. It was lumpy, with chords in funny places. When that happens, it often means that somebody didn't write pick-up notes as pick-ups, but that didn't seem to be the answer here.

The Catholics (Lord of all Hopefulness) and the Lutherans thought Slane was in 3/4 time, but the CyberHymnal thought 4/4. I tried both. Then I tried making it a crooked tune. That didn't seem to help either.

So finally I went for 6/4. I've played 6/4 before, and I'm comfortable with it. 6/4 seems to be used when a song is 'talky' or uneven. For example, one measure might go LA-la-la LA-la-la while the next goes TUM-ty TUM-ty TUM-ty. (It's used for other things as well.)

However, there was one measure that wouldn't co-operate. The words to it are 'day and by ni-ight,' and when I tried to play it, my left hand got stuck on the fretboard and didn't want to move. And try as I might I couldn't sing the next note - it refused to come to my mind. Strange!

I found that if I lengthened the last syllable of 'night,' I could finish the song. The meter doesn't allow for that at all, but without it I was getting nowhere. I've decided that there is an invisible, magic dot on that note, probably put there by leprechauns, and if you want to play 'Slane,' you must acknowledge it.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Little Robyn
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 03:03 AM

Also the tune for Banks of the Bann. Several versions in the DT.
Words and midi (tho' much too fast) are here.
It's one of our party pieces, with Geordie pipes, guitar and Mitch singing.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 04:21 AM

There's a recording of 'The Ancient Hill of Slane' on a cylinder recording mad in the early years of the last century by Irish piper George McCarthy. I may shed some light (compared to written versions)


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 04:23 AM

And of course there are two versions of the tune: "Be Though My Vision" (10 10 10 10 Dactyl) and "Lord of All Hopefulness" (10 11 11 12) which aren't interchangeable. "Complete Mission Praise" gives completely different chord sequences for the versions (apart from different keys, E and D respectively). I've never come across it in anything other than 3/4, though as the tune should be sung almost as sean nos, you're going to lose a bit if you've got a guitar accompaniment.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,Ross Campbell abroad
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 06:33 AM

How it used to be sung in church when I was young. I had to wade through reams of wifty-wafty crap on YouTube to find this straightforward version. If you can't sing it like this, why mess it about? If it ain't broke, don't "fix" it.

Ross


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 07:46 AM

That was one of the hymns used at Hamish Henderson's funeral - with about 1000 folkies in the church the sound was awe-inspiring. The straight Hymns A&M version, you don't try any revisions with that many people who all know it.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: doc.tom
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 07:54 AM

It's also the tune that Bert Lloyd nicked to go to Banks of the Bann!
TomB


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 08:05 AM

It's also the tune to Lakes of Champlain as sung by Martin Simpson. He identifies it as a New England version of Lakes of Coolfin/Coalfin. He also says the New England version of the song can be heard on Margaret MacArthur's CD Make the Wildwood Ring.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 11:20 AM

Good tunes get around, don't they?

Be thou my vision
Lord of all hopefulness
Lake of Coolfin
Lakes of Champlain

Thanks for the links, Robyn and Ross. Robyn, I tried to play the MIDI but got a diagnostic that said 'not enough memory.' I wonder why that happens.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Tootler
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 06:10 PM

It wouldn't play for me either. I simply got a box offering to save it to disk. I have had this before on Mudcat and someone commented on another thread that they thought it was something to do with the way the Mudcat server is set up.

I don't know, but I had not long played a midi from the concertina.net Tune-O-tron OK, so I suspect it is not your system at fault.

If you right click on the link you can save the file to your hard drive and it should play there OK. That's what I did.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Little Robyn
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 06:14 PM

It plays OK on my computer and I normally have bother with youtube stuff. I had to have more memory added a few months back because I kept getting those messages.
BTW Be thou my vision was my favourite hymn when I was a kid - here in good old NZ back in the 50s. And we sang it at High school assemblies too.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Tootler
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 06:17 PM

A thought. Once you have it downloaded you can import the midi into Noteworthy and see what it produces.

A second thought. Old tunes don't always conform to our modern notion of barred music. I play quite a lot of Renaissance music on the recorder and we play from modern editions. The originals were unbarred and the rhythm does not always fit neatly to modern barred format and you get a lot of notes tied across barlines. The phrasing in such music does not always fit neatly into a definite number of bars so the strong beat is not always at the beginning of a bar.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 06:56 PM

This is the Church Hymnary version - not sure the ending is quite the way I remember it, but the metre is the same, i.e. unvarying triple time. This is a modern tune in the hymn repertoire, so it would have been barred from the start.

X:1
T:Be Thou My Vision
S:Church Hymnary, revised edition
M:3/2
L:1/4
Q:1/2=92
K:Eb
E2 E2 (FE)| C2 B,2 (B,C)|E2 E2 F2| G6    ||
F2 F2   F2 |(F2 G2) B2 |c2 B2 G2| B6    ||
c2 (cd) (ed)|(c2 B2) G2 |B2 E2 D2|(C4 B,2)||
E2 G2   B2 |(cB) G2 (EG) |F2 E2 E2| E6    |]


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Tootler
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 01:21 PM

OTOH, if the Church had taken over an old melody, they would likely have "straightened it out" for congregational singing. There are precedents for that kind of thing.

BTW, I am not familiar with Be Thou My Vision, but have known Lord of All Hopefulness for a long time and I was brought up in the Church of England with Hymns A & M.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 06:54 PM

According to the "Companion to Rejoice and Sing" (URC Hymnbook):

"The Melody is found in Patrick W Joyce's "Old Irish Folk Music and Songs" 1909 No 323, to the words 'With my love on the road'. The form given there corresponds with that at RS 531 (Lord of All Hopefulness) except that lines 3 and 4 each begin with a quaver.

The melody was first associated with 'Be thou my vision' in the Irish 'Church Hymnal' 1919, ......; it rapidly achieved popularity despite the difficulty congregations often found in fitting the syllables of the original irregular form of the text. 'Lord of all hopefulness', written for the tune and published in 'Songs of Praise' enlarged 1931, boosted its popularity further.

Unusually for a folk-tune, there is no melodic repitition, but typically Irish are the wide compass and the ending on the three repeated key-notes. Erik Routley's harmonization was made for 'Congregational Praise' 1951.

......

The metre varies, according to the words used......"

Of the words:

"The original Gaelic hymn, of which this is a much-altered translation, dates back at least to the tenth century, and possibly earlier......"


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 09:18 PM

Hello, Tootler. It's interesting to hear from someone else who plays Renaissance music. I'm convinced that 'Slane' is more modern than that, however. By that I mean merely that it doesn't sound like a 16th or 17th C. piece to me.

We have quite a few crooked tunes in our hymnal. This means that the measures do not all have the same number of beats. However, when a tune is crooked, there is some sense to it. Perhaps one measure in a 4/4 tune is in 6/4. Or vice versa. With 'Slane' I couldn't work out anything like that.

The earliest reference to it is the 1909 book that Dave MacKenzie just mentioned. The editor considered it old, so I suspect the tune came from the late 18th C or earlier in the 19th.

Some people say it's a song in 3/4 time. This doesn't handle the four E's in a row at one point and the four beats in Bm at another. (I've changed the key to D for easier guitar accompaniment.)

As I mentioned above, I've seen it in 3/4 and in 4/4, so it is not an obvious tune.

Somebody mentioned that there is a wax cylinder recording of it, but I couldn't find it online. It would be interesting to hear.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 09:40 AM

The UK comic 2000AD had a strip entitled "Slaine", a warrior in the Conan style. A filk was inevitable.

Slaine stands alone 'gainst the murderous horde,
Who attack him on horseback, with axe & with sword.
With bare hands and feet he will fight for what's right.
He may be a hero, but he's not all that bright.

Slaine's home is SouthWest, and a long way away.
So he follows the sun in its course through the day.
His way he plots clear t'ward the pole star each night.
As I may have mentioned, he's not all that bright.


Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 04:29 PM

Although Bert Lloyd was known to use traditional tunes in order to allow sets of words to be sung, I don't think it went as far as 'nicking' and, in this case, the tune he used for "The Banks of the Bann" is the one used most often in the north of Ireland for "The Banks of the Bann".


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: mouldy
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 04:55 PM

And if they ever give you a copy of Mission Praise, be careful with their version, because you need to think a bit to fit it at the beginning of the lines. A&M New Standard (the red book) seems to fit ok.

Andrea


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 06:53 PM

If I'm singing from "Mission Praise", I always drop a few words and add a few others to make it fit. The editors of "Rejoice and Sing" have done a good job of selecting a version that fits the tune.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:05 AM

See, Dave knows what I'm talking about. Teasing the humans by making them drop certain words and add others to 'Slane' is just what they had in mind all along.

For the recent St. Patrick's Day celebration I hung a banner on my front door with art from the Book of Kells. Now I wonder if leprechauns were behind the poor creatures twisted into knots in the art of that era.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:09 AM

animals (incl. humans) in knots

should be from Book of Kells


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: IanC
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:11 AM

Leeneia

Unlikely unless the Anglo Saxons had Leprechauns.

:-)


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:13 AM

I had a theory about that.

The Book of Kells was probably made on Iona.

The field next to the abbey there is heaving with Psilocybe semilanceata mushrooms. At the right time of year you could find enough for a trip within five minutes.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM

Finally, a breakthrough! Jack, that is simply brilliant.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,Dave
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 09:05 AM

Listening to Nic Jones sing "The Lakes of Shilin" yesterday, the melody did sound familiar. This is of course another song of the "Lakes of Coolfin" family. I have heard John Doyle sing one of these songs also at one of his concerts with Mike McGoldrick and John McCusker. Martin Simpson may be right, or it may be that these melodies all derive from the same root which is much older. Its almost as ubiquitous as Dives and Lazarus/Gilderoy/Star of County Down/Kingsfold, which made it into hymnals at around the same time.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 23 Jun 16 - 09:37 AM

The different metre is a problem.

When ever I have played the version which omits the extra notes given in the tune of 'Lord of hopefulness' version of slane (so it fits with the words), congregations still try and sing these extra notes because they know the tune of 'Lord of hopefulness' so well and expect the words of 'Be though my vision' to fit.

Unfortunately it usually ends in confusion for those singing unless they have rehearsed. The annoying thing is that everyone thinks it's the organist fault!

The solution is to always use the version of the words for 'Be thou my vision' that fit the exact tune of 'Lord of hopefulness'.


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Subject: RE: a tune called Slane
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jan 18 - 06:33 PM

Here is the point though, a folk tune is not exact it varies every time you sing it so all tunes either blend into one another or grow apart.


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