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Forth in Praise

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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

May 3, 2019

Bring flowers of the rarest – quickly

evelyn @ 11:44 am


It’s that time of year again, and the Forth in Praise website is getting hits from people looking for easy music for ‘Bring flowers of the rarest’ (you’ll find three versions to download here).

I once heard a priest say that the tune of ‘Bring flowers of the rarest’ was originally a German drinking song. He said it contemptuously, but it’s an idea I rather like. Drinking song melodies are invariably cheerful and bounce along at a fair pace. ‘Bring flowers’ is a springtime hymn, and I’ve always thought it should be cheerful and bouncy. And if the original tune is German, our congregations are unlikely to make the Biergarten connection.

So although ‘Bring flowers’ usually appears with a 3/4 time-signature in those hymn books which include it, I prefer playing it briskly in a 2-in-the-bar 6/8 rhythm. At this pace, it also lends itself to improvisation, as I discovered on one fateful occasion.

However, surfing Youtube to find just such a con moto version had surprising results. I couldn’t find a single one. All of them were on the slow side of andante, or even adagio. The most popular treatment seems to be a languishing string introduction, a crooning male soloist and this slow, slow tempo. Might this account for the ‘Bring flowers’ widespread unpopularity, to the point of its omission from the Laudate hymnal?

Or is my bright and brisk interpretation a minority one? If so, could I have been offending people at funerals all these years by taking their favourite hymn too fast?



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