The Hymnary stores two types of records: instances and authorities. An instance is essentially a page in a particular hymnal. An authority is the master listing of a text or a tune.

  • Open up to Psalter Hymnal #441 and you'll find "All Praise to You, My God, This Night" to the tune of TALLIS CANON. That is an instance--a unique combination of text and tune that appear on a page in a hymnal.
  • Now click on text information:title which brings you to the text's authority record. Here we find out that the text is sometimes "Glory to Thee, My God This Night," that it appears in 12 other hymnals, and it can also be paired with Gounod's EVENING HYMN.

This structure of instances and authorities makes the Hymnary powerful for users, but complicated for editors.

The most important thing to keep in mind if you are entering or editing data for the Hymnary is that instances should show exactly what is on the printed page—even if it's incorrect—and authorities should contain only global information about a text or a tune such as author, meter, and incipit. If you keep in mind the fundamental difference between instances and authorities, the rest of the details will be much easier to understand.

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