Here’s a question which came up at at the HSGBI/IAH/HSUSC meeting in Cambridge, England that just ended: how high should congregational hymns (and we may add, antiphons and refrains and service music) be pitched? A speaker from Germany lamented the unfortunate tendency to pitch things low with children, which isn’t their appropriate register, and also to pitch congregational hymns lower and lower with each successive hymnal. Now D is generally the upper limit, with very little E. She observed that hymnals in England still have hymns in their traditional, higher pitch. To which someone from England observed, there are plenty of alternate low-key accompaniments which are oftentimes used, despite the pitch in the hymnal.
Do you think it’s better to pitch things down to encourage hesitant singers (which includes many Catholics)? Or is it better to preserve the brighter sound of a higher pitch, and if some have to drop out for a note here and there, others can carry it?
And a related question: Do you approve of the custom of modulating up to a higher key for the final stanza of a hymn, to build momentum? I believe Erik Routley thought it was in bad taste, an example of hackneyed Romanticism. But it’s done by many organists of otherwise impeccable taste, I note.