SINE NOMINE

Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams

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Tune Information

Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1906)
Meter: 10.10.10.4 with alleluias
Incipit: 53215 61253 32177
Key: F Major/G Major

Notes

Ralph Vaughan Williams (PHH 316) composed SINE NOMINE for this text and published it in the English Hymnal in 1906. Vaughan Williams wrote two harmonizations¬–one for unison stanzas and one for choral stanzas. The tune's title means "without name" and follows the Renaissance tradition of naming certain compositions "Sine Nomine" if they were not settings for preexisting tunes. Equipped with a "walking" bass, SINE NOMINE is a glorious marching tune for this great text. Many consider this tune to be among the finest of twentieth-century hymn tunes (it is, perhaps, the cathedral's equivalent to “When the Saints Go Marching In”). Allowing the "alleluia" phrase to enter before our expectation of it is a typical and very effective Vaughan Williams touch. Sing the unison and harmony stanzas as given in the Psalter Hymnal. Try assigning the various stanzas to antiphonal groups: a "heavenly" ensemble for stanzas 1-2, an "earthly" ensemble for stanzas 3 and 5, and the entire congregation on stanzas 4, 6, and 7. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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