Borrowing texts

In “Rudolph in Northfield”, I explained how a cheesy Christmas song could be sung to the tune of the hymn Northfield. Now, from some explorations I did some 20 years ago, a few more text borrowings into the Sacred Harp:

The intrusion of secular texts into the shapenote tradition is not at all welcome, so these experiments were not well received, even by fellow Dickensonians.

The settings (remember that the melody line is the tenor, third line down):

The three most common hymn meters (from Wikipedia):

C.M. – Common Meter, 8.6.8.6; a quatrain (four-line stanza) with alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, which rhymes in the second and fourth lines and sometimes in the first and third.

L.M. – Long Meter, 8.8.8.8; a quatrain in iambic tetrameter, which rhymes in the second and fourth lines and often in the first and third.

S.M. – Short Meter, 6.6.8.6; iambic lines in the first, second, and fourth are in trimeter, and the third in tetrameter, which rhymes in the second and fourth lines and sometimes in the first and third.

[The short lines are really tetrameter, but have rests in their fourth feet.]

5 Responses to “Borrowing texts”

  1. Susan Fischer Says:

    You know about Emily Dickinson and “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, right?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Oh, my yes; my favorite is perhaps “Because I could not stop for Death / He kindly stopped for me”. There are some videos.

      And then there’s “Stairway to Gilligan” — the words to the Gilligan’s Island theme sung to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.

  2. Text and tune « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Arnold Zwicky's Blog A blog mostly about language « Borrowing texts […]

  3. Black keys « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] C.M. tune will do for singing any C.M. text; for some entertaining pairings, see my postings here, here (note the comment), and […]

  4. Martyn Cornell Says:

    The marvellous BBC radio programme I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue has a regular feature called “One Song To The Tune of Another”, which does exactly what it says on the tin: a selection can be heard here.

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