The first point to
observe is that this hymn is too high for most congregations; so I
play it in F.
The tune is so well known that the final part leads comfortably into
the start. Do NOT pause or rallentando anywhere except on the last
line of the last verse!
Joy to the world
This delightful uplifting carol is
relatively straightforward and my playover uses a well known bit of
Handel! You can shorten if you wish. There is a very slight risk of
singers starting subsequent verses at the top of the semi-quaver run
in the bridge.
Experience has taught me that the shorter play-over works best and the
bridge could be risky. Dropping the four bars and re-starting
directly from the last note of the verse has been found to be fine.
The First Nowell
Below is the melodic
analysis that I do for all hymns and songs that I have worked on. It
defines the melodic phrasing which helps me to construct my playover.
If the melody is repeated identically I use the same letter. If it is
different I work my way through the alphabet; if a phrase is very
similar but slightly varied I use italics e.g. C
below on the last phrase, which is not quite the same as the phrases C
You really don't need me
to help you play this well-known carol! BUT what do you play to
introduce it? And how do you join the verses bearing in mind the quick
pick-up in the melody?
Notice the sections of
melody above, just four parts with C in the last phrase
only slightly different from the two sections C above. If you
play over any part of this with a view to stopping just before an A
your congregation will not be sure that you are about to continue your
playover or want them to sing, unless you add something,
conventionally a pause. I therefore play over using just the refrain;
this is distinguished by the D section running into C.
I might shorten the last note to a crotchet/quarter note with a silence
of the same value then start the verse a tempo. That just
leaves the question how to move from verse to verse. Bearing in mind
this is 3:4 the pace could, and often does, get progressively slower
so you must guard against that. Between verses I therefore hold the
last chord for four beats followed by one beat rest then start the
next verse strictly a tempo. I tend to have moving chords under
the four beats which helps to sustain that tempo. It is vital that you
do not pause or slow down in that area.