Cover image for The hymn tune index : a census of English-language hymn tunes in printed sources from 1535 to 1820
The hymn tune index : a census of English-language hymn tunes in printed sources from 1535 to 1820
Temperley, Nicholas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
4 volumes ; 29 cm
v. 1. Introduction and sources -- v. 2. Tune indexes -- v. 3-4. Tune census.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML128.H8 T46 1998 V.1 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music
ML128.H8 T46 1998 V.2 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music
ML128.H8 T46 1998 V.3 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music
ML128.H8 T46 1998 V.4 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music

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This unique reference is the first systematic guide to the history of the English-language hymn tune, as represented in printed sources from the earliest (Coverdale's Goostly Psalmes) to 1820. Using a simple numerical code to represent the first two lines of each melody, the book allows the reader to look up any of nearly 20,000 British and American hymn tunes without advance knowledge of the composer, name, or text. Each entry provides an array of information on the tune's first printing, composer, the texts to which it was sung, and its later history. The work contains a historical introduction; a theoretical introduction; chronological and geographical lists of sources; indexes of tunes by name, composer, text, and metre; and tables of concordances with early German and French tunes.

Author Notes

Nicholas Temperley, Professor Emeritus of Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Temperley (music, Univ. of Illinois) has produced a detailed and comprehensive reference tool of the highest quality that indexes the print history of all English-language (including Scottish, Irish, and American) hymn tunes found in books or other printed sources. He provides information including the earliest known version of a tune and its variants, a chronology of printed sources of the tune, and musical information such as key, meter, and the first two lines of music in numeric code. The organization is complex and will be confusing to a first-time or one-time user, but it is logical and will become comprehensible, even elegant, to the initiated. Entries (Volumes 3 and 4) consist of numbers, numeric codes, and abbreviations in small print arranged in five columns. Essays (Volume 1) include an overview of hymnody scholarship and a long technical introduction. Indexes (Volume 2) list tunes by musical incipit (melody), text incipit (first line), name, and composer, as well as tunes for unusual text meters. General readers may be better served by the single-volume Hymns and Tunes: An Index (Scarecrow, 1979), which is easier to use and covers 20th-century material. This four-volume print edition is an abbreviated version of a larger database maintained at the University of Illinois, accessible in limited form on the Internet at . Recommended for academic, theological, and music libraries serving music historians or large public libraries with hymn collections.ÄMarc Meola, Temple Univ. Lib., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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