Cover image for Hymntune index and related hymn materials
Hymntune index and related hymn materials
Wasson, D. DeWitt.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, MD : Scarecrow Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
3 volumes ; 29 cm.
v. 1. -- v. 2. Hymntune index (A-K) -- v. 3. Hymntune index (L-Z).
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3186 .W2 1998 V. 3 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music
ML3186 .W2 1998 V. 2 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music
ML3186 .W2 1998 V. 1 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music

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Hymns are a vital part of worship in most denominations. Congregational song has developed through the ages to include plainsong melodies, psalm settings, folk melodies, composed hymn tunes, gospel songs, sacred choruses, spirituals, and canons. All of these categories are included in this work. Wasson's index, by focusing itself exclusively upon hymntunes, is the most comprehensive collection of hymns and hymn materials that has been created to date. It also provides new information about the many hymns that have been written during the "hymnal explosion" of the last twenty-five years. Hymntune Index and Related Hymn Materials is an extraordinary resource for organists, church musicians, and librarians. Cataloging over 33,000 melodies sung by congregations world-wide, it provides the source of each and lists related materials. Included are incipits of the hymntune in the Tonic Sol-fa system, alternate titles for the same tune, hymnals by code and hymn numbers where the tune may be found, catalog reference numbers to the index key which lists material on the hymn tune, "other references" (such as sheet music), and Concertatos on the hymntune. Hymn materials include composer or arranger, publisher and publisher's catalog number, and the title. The index is helpful when looking for tunes by a particular composer or arranger, and also for noting the variations of a particular tune. It provides a broad range of hymntune based music, and allows the reader to compare tunes of similar melodic contours. An essential work for organists, pastors, and libraries with music collections.

Author Notes

D. DeWitt Wasson holds a Master and Doctorate in Sacred Music from the Union Theological Seminary and was formerly the organist at the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren. He has played as many as fifty European organ concerts biennially until his retirement and been a regular reviewer of new organ music in The American Organist.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Hymns have been a part of Christian worship since the church's earliest days, and interest in hymnody by composers, poets, arrangers, compilers, publishers, scholars, and church musicians has been strong, particularly since the Reformation and the inception of music printing. Some modern reference sources since John Julian's A Dictionary of Hymnology (1st ed., 1892) that have become standard for the study of hymnological history and the location of individual hymns will be superseded or overshadowed by the two imposing titles described here. Temperley's The Hymn Tune Index, the definitive guide to printed English hymn tunes 1535-1820, is a bibliographical marvel and one of the most important sources for hymnological research, both in its methodology and its bibliographical data, to appear in recent decades. In four densely packed volumes, it provides an extensive historical and methodological introduction, an annotated bibliography of source publications, tune and text indexes, and a census of 17,424 hymn tunes. Tune incipits in the indexes and the census citations are expressed in a numerical code (corresponding to scale degrees of the tune), which greatly facilitates comparison of related tunes. For each tune, the census provides a chronological array of its appearances in source publications. With an elaborate system of cross-references and clear presentation of detail, the index allows one to identify and trace the lineage of individual tunes and to cut through an otherwise bewildering maze of variant melodies, texts, meters, names, and dates. This information can be traced from a variety of starting points, including the sound of a tune, a printed tune in hand, a tune name, a text incipit, or a source publication. This source's staggering amount of data, painstakingly gathered and discerningly organized, is a gold mine for historians. Similar in size, Wasson's Hymntune Index and Related Hymn Materials is directed to a different audience: organists and choir directors. Its main purpose is to facilitate the identification and location of hymns and musical materials derived from hymns, for worship or concert performance. Source materials include hymnals from various church denominations and other sacred music publications (ranging from Sacred Sounds from George Shearing, 1977, to J.S. Bach's Dritter Teil der Klavierubung) not limited by language or publication date. The "Melodic Index of Hymntunes" is organized according to a code derived from the familiar tonic sol-fa system. The tune index proper, with 33,907 citations, is organized alphabetically according to tune name or text incipit, and annotations identify related resources and locations in hymnals. This source will be much sought after to locate specific hymns in modern hymnals and related performance materials (particularly for organ), but its bibliographical and indexing standards and methods are much less sophisticated than Temperley's. The seven volumes of these two titles occupy more than one linear foot of shelf space, and since they are complementary with regard to purpose (one for research, the other for performance), audience (historians/performers), and chronology (to 1820/contemporary period), research libraries should find room for both. J. E. Druesedow Jr. Duke University