Select Harmony
Andrew Law, 1779

Anthology of the American Hymn-Tune Repertory


It was the Design of the Editor in this Publication, to furnish Schools with a Set of Psam-Tunes, Hymns and Anthems, most approved, and best adapted to the Worship of God; that thereby his Glory might be promoted, and his Name exalted.


LET it be as clear as possible, opening the throat and teeth freely, but not the mouth too wide; avoiding awkward gestures, also a stiff formality, aiming at ease and freedom: Some gestures, when used with solemnity, are proper in singing as well as in speaking, such as looking up, when singing the words God, Christ or Heaven.

A GOOD or genteel pronounciation is very necessary; the words ought always to be spoken as clear and distinct as possible that what is sung may be understood; vowels not sounded in speaking, must not be in singing, as e, in the words chosen, people, tremble. Y, at the end of words of more than one syllable is sounded like the short i, as mighty, heavenly. My, by some is improperly sounded like me, but this belongs to grammarians; indeed every instructor in this noble art, ought to be well versed in pronounciation.

ACCENT, is a certain force of the voice upon particular parts of the bar; and is that which distinguishes one mood of time from another, and without which there would be but one mood. Common time being divided into four equal parts, the first and third are accented. Tripple time into three equal parts, the first and third likewise. Compound time into six, the first and fourth are accented. The first part of the bar is always accented, and more forcible than the last accented part. The fourth mood of common time, and the moods of triple, can but just be said to have more than one accent in a bar. The length of notes sometimes answers in some measure for force of voice, which is common in triple time; by this notes of sycopation are formed, which are notes interfering with the proper accent, or having the accent in the middle of the note. The accent of the music should always coincide with emphatical words and accented syllables; and in performing, peculiar reagard ought to be paid to the words; if a word is very emphatical, the music must be so likewise. The music ought to bend to the words, not the words to the music.

SEVERAL graces commonly used, such as the trill and shake, I have omitted, as being impracticable by learners; the only graces of this kind which are ornamental, are those which are entirely natural to the performer.

BUT, the principal thing in singing is, to have the heart deeply affected with a sense of the great truths we utter in our melody, that it may be done with solemnity and due reverence before the Judge of quick and dead.

Anthology of the American Hymn-Tune Repertory