St. Paul, Hymn Tunes, and the Organ Library at CMI
Be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.
These are the words recorded in Ephesians 5:18-19 (NIV) historically attributed to St. Paul. Many scholars now believe that they were written by a Pauline-like figure, urging the faithful to solidify their new-found Christian beliefs with melodies and lyrics.
We don’t know exactly what those early Christian hymns sounded like but we do know by the fourth century, hymns were regularly used in the Benedictine liturgies. By the eleventh-century they were a regular part of the Roman service. With the Reformation, demand outstripped supply as composers created hymns, or chorales, to encourage congregational song.
The organ has been the traditional instrument to announce, accompany or create individual settings of these hymn tunes. The growing organ library at CMI currently has over 16,000 individual settings of these inspirational melodies.
This enormous organ library database was established by Dr. Margaret Evans, Professor Emerita of Music at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, and former Vice President of the AGO. We are grateful for her meticulous and careful entries. She has dedicated years of her time to fulfill the vision.
This summer CMI received the hard copies of her excellent collection that are represented in the online entries. Now CMI can proceed with scanning and uploading samples for all the entries Dr. Evans so carefully made.
About 5,000 incipits from these compositions are currently scanned so that the viewer can get a sense of the composer’s compositional style and level of difficulty. The staff at CMI continues to scan and upload additional incipits. If a member would like to see a sample of a work that is not yet scanned, please contact us and we will be happy to send a PDF.
In addition to the donations from Margaret Evans, substantial contributions have been made by Annette Albrecht, Richard Howell, Charlotte Kroeker, Hal and Martha Hopson, and Robert Mann. Future newsletters will address their gifts.