Depending on the hymn, all options are available to me.
Yes, they should! I have to transpose more songs that I play in the actual key that they are written in, I would say about 3/4. Even then some have such a huge range is to be difficult in any key (I am the Bread of Life)
The traditional hymns were written for congregational singing, to combine: being singable by a wide range of voices, to be musically interesting, and to sound best when sung by a congregation (rather than a soloist). The modern “songs” (for they generally aren’t hymns) usually lack one of these qualities, if not all three. Men, in particular, struggle with many modern songs - and usually don’t bother.
Does boisterous humming count?
It’s very rare that our music ministers select a song or hymn that we haven’t sung dozens of times before. I sing, reservedly, without gusto, and almost always without the need for a hymnal or song sheet.
My parish has been using a projector instead of hymnals for years, just putting the words to the songs on the screen and not the music. I strongly prefer sheet music because it helps me a lot if I don’t know the song, but I gather most people can’t read music and probably wouldn’t sing anyway.
I finally joined choir last year, so now I get to use a music book. What is really fun is learning the harmonies.
I thinks there is a lot of truth to that, but I don’t know whether the chicken or the egg cane first. Some congregations seem unwilling to sing no matter what the song is. I was visiting a parish this summer and the cantor had chosen some very basic music, but I could hear almost no one else singing. I think some cantors and choir directors have decided that if people won’t sing anyway, they might as well choose music that sounds interesting as a solo or with just a choir.
It’s standard that Catholic hymnals used by the congregation will only have the melody. Few people read music well enough to sing by strictly sight reading, so there would only be a few who could read and sing harmony parts on the spot. In choir we do use a book with SATB parts - OCP’s “Choral Praise.” I think GIA has something similar.
Personally, the only instrument I really play is saxophone, which always uses treble clef. Now that I am singing bass in choir, I find reading bass clef tricky.
We use the notes in the worship aid. We are also blessed with a community of people who know how to read the music.
Good observation. My own parish has a participation rate of more than 50%, but I’ve visited parishes where, it seems, the vast majority simply refuse to sing and leave it to the cantor or choir, no matter what the hymn/song, so perhaps that’s why the cantor or choir choose music which suits them. As you say, chicken and egg.
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