Accompaniment of congregational singing in the 19th century by Jan R. Luth

by Jan R. Luth | Het ORGEL | Year 101 | (2005) | Issue 6

Jan R. Luth Accompaniment of congregational singing in the 19th century
Het ORGEL 100 (2005), nr. 6, xx-xx [summary]

German sources on accompaniment of congregational singing show that the middle of the 19th century was a transitional period. Comparison of the writings of authors from this period, like Türk, Anthes, Oesterley, Von Tucher, Palmer and Koch, reveals that they did not agree about whether interludes between the lines of a hymn should be maintained or not, but also that they did agree that organ music should edify; hence the term Empfindung, i.e. ‘noticing’, ‘feeling’. Türk explicitly said that the harmony should correspond to the text; to further the Empfindung, consonant and obvious chords should be preferred. Other authors emphasized that the harmony should be simple.
Ornamenting melodies was criticized increasingly; again, the goal of simplicity characterized the opinions. The number of the defenders of using the original form of a tune, and thus the original rhythm, increased, as did the appreciation of ancient modes.
Nevertheless, the 18th-century habit of playing the melody on a louder manual remained popular. Reeds were considered not only solo stops but basic tone colors as well.
The majority of the authors agreed that up-tempo singing was not edifying at all. Their suggestions imply that a tempo of MM = 60 for a half note represented an acceptable average value.