a city boy's guide to the south

Welcome, friend, to the ramblings of a southerner by choice.

Friday, October 21, 2011

When Sophie Disavowed Greensleeves

When Sophie Disavowed Greensleeves

Hello there all. I'm back to tell ya I'm listening to my favorite choir's recording of “Be Thou My Vision”, which I'd stuck on my hard-drive so I could practice along. It's St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church Prayer Choir and somehow I keep getting them confused with a furniture company formerly of Birmingham of the name “Marks-Fitzgerald Furniture”. I often find myself referring to them as St. Marks-Fitzgerald being as how all the Irish sounding names sound Papist.

The Catholic Church, through my last two or three choirs, have been putting out some good Celtic songs for their choirs to sing. And of course, that brings to mind, Sophie. Ten minutes before service one day, she handed out an improvement to the great Celtic hymn known as “Greensleeves”. It required the tenors and basses, long noted for their spontaneous and independent arrangements, to sing an exotic scale, ascending some 13 steps or so.

Now everyone familiar with the haunting and familiar strains of “Greensleeves”, KNOWS that every note in the chorus should sound a bit lower than the one note before it. What no one suspects is that twelve men stuck singing a mixolydian harmony sound like James Earl Jones losing a pair. Sophie had kindly put this in as the exit hymn and everyone exited grateful.

But what brought this all up was listening to the St Mark-Fitzgerald Catholic Church Choir serve up a
tasty, yet melodically different rendition of that wonderful hymn, “Be Thou My Vision”. The arrangement I had learned with Sophie had been sung by a Mormon attending Bob Jones University on a faculty trade. He'd even mentioned on the back of the octavo that he'd practiced choral harmony with his wife in Salt City and that they had declined an invite to join the “I'm A Mormon” campaign as they'd just gotten back in from Greece.

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