Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gifts that differ

When I was in a Protestant church a fortnight ago I first saw a hymnal with melody marked in numbers. This seemed to me very economical and obviously less trouble to print than full notation (though it doesn’t seem to accommodate sharps and flats). But it seems this form of musical notation is standard here. On a lovely ramble through Lu Xun Park on Sunday morning I encountered not just the usual taijiquan, jazzercise and dancing groups but musical ensembles of various kinds, including two groups of people singing songs, a woman singing to accompaniment on traditional instruments and a ‘cello, and, most delightful of all, a harmonica ensemble. I snuck pictures of their music.
!It gets rather more complicated if you have a many-stringed zither!)
I was charmed that so much of this is written by hand, and quite moved to spot on a bench near the man directing above this clearly much-used song set, written on old calendar pages. What music it must have heard!
And here’s a hymn I know as found in the Three-Self Patriot Movement hymnal; you may know it too. At least I know the melody. (万福泉源歌 means Source of Good Fortune.) Traditionally called "Nettleton" it has new words by Dolores Dufner, OSB of which I've become quite fond.
Called "Sing a new church" its refrain goes Let us bring the gifts that differ / And, in splendid, varied ways, / Sing a new church into being, / One of faith and love and praise. You don't know it? So much the better: try to get the melody from the Chinese hymnal! It's the last two rows. Underlined are half-notes; "1" with a dot above is the top of the scale.

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