The Organ

Bryan F Spinney: Is That The Right Tune?

Bryan F Spinney: Is That The Right Tune?
Available from the author at 28, Oldbarn Close, Calmore SO40 2SY

The preface to this modest volume stresses that it is ‘written out of experience and not expertise’. This left me somewhat puzzled since the author clearly has much to offer. The work is a most interesting and readable introduction for anyone remotely concerned with church music and hymnology. The author is a Methodist circuit minister with some 40 years experience of rural and urban appointments and therefore well acquainted with the vagaries of congregational hymn singing.

The author takes the development of the hymn in chronological order, beginning with textual sources, through sources of tunes, ending up with some practical notes on matching texts and tunes. Consideration is given to hymn books of the major denominations and contributions from the British Isles and beyond, with an interesting if brief, mention of some tunes which have fallen by the wayside.

Spinney does acknowledge that the subject can be contentious and that some will differ on his opinions. What is hard to accept is his assessment of S. S. Wesley’s contribution, which seems to stop at Hereford. What about Aurelia, Harewood and Cornwall? Nonetheless, five pounds well spent.