Oriola: Hymn and Tune Book for Sabbath Schools

By William B. Bradbury

Anthology of the American Hymn-Tune Repertory


            Next to a good Superintendent, that which tends more than any thing else to make a Sunday School popular, is, doubtless, GOOD SINGING.  And this should generally be characterized by sprightliness and cheerfulness, tempered with gentleness.  “Animated, but not boisterous; gentle, but not dull or tame,” are directions that will apply to most of the compositions in this book.*
           We do not believe in the stiff, old-fashioned way many have of keeping the children singing nothing but Old Hundred, Dundee, Mear, St. Martins, and such like.  Good old tunes these, no one will deny, and should be sung from time to time, but they are not in any peculiar sense children’s tunes, and the children should not be limited to them.
            The popular tunes for children should be as simple as their own thoughts, -sprightly as their own dispositions.  Lambs require plenty of skipping room.  They thrive best in the green fields.  Let the children'’ songs, then be such as they can understand, appreciate and enjoy; such as they will love to sing both in the Sabbath School and at their homes.  These will ever be to them a source of delight, and will render the school doubly attractive.
            We believe in making the children so happy on Sabbath day, by the sue of all proper means, that they shall look forward to it through the week as “a delight.”  It is the Lord’s day; a sacred day, a happy day.  Psalm cxvii. 24.
            This book has been prepared at the urgent request of a large body of Sunday School teachers, superintendents, and others, interested in the Sunday School cause.  Singing is now so important an element of the Sunday School that it has seemed desirable that a more extensive and complete collection, both of hymns and tunes, than has heretofore appeared, should be prepared; and as the author’s resources are somewhat extensive, he believes he has succeeded in preparing such a book as will meet the wishes, not only of the gentlemen at whose kind solicitation he first undertook the work, but also of all interested in the Sunday School.  To the gentlemen referred to, he would express his obligations for valuable aid, suggestions and contributions, both of hymns and music.
            While most of the good, popular Sunday School melodies of the present day are here inserted, many of them, however, newly arranged and harmonized, a large number of new pieces has been composed expressly for this work, which, it is believed, will prove equally as interesting, instructive, and varied as the old.  These are generally of a popular character; the melodies, it is believed, will be found to be fresh and attractive, while the harmonies are natural and easy.
            “Any thing will do for the Sabbath School,” is a motto that has been too long recognized and acted upon; and, in keeping with this, “any thing that the children would sing” has been given them, as suitable, without the slightest regard to its adaptedness, construction, or associations.
            While we would not confine Sabbath Schools to the old church music exclusively, we certainly would not, on the other hand, encourage the use of melodies that are associated with words and sentiments low and degrading.  These can not be redeemed, and had better be let alone.  The power of association in the human mind, especially in connection with music, is so great that the popular tune will always suggest the words with which it was first learned.  If it be said that a sufficient number of striking melodies, adapted to children’s abilities, can not otherwise be made available, we, in reply, would venture the assertion, based upon our former success in this department, that there are in this book more than fifty tunes, never before published, which, so soon as they are learned, will become as popular as most of that objectionable class to which reference has been made; and these have been composed expressly for THE SUNDAY SCHOOOL. 


            We urge upon all teachers and leaders of singing to interest themselves in the Sunday School.  (The chorister who is most successful in sustaining a good choir in the church is, we have observed, often in the Sunday School singing with the children.)  Especially do we urge such leaders to do their utmost to break up the slow, heavy, drawling habit of singing, which prevails to a great extent.  In many places these habits have become so confirmed that the starting of a well-known tune is the signal for a sleepy, drawling, tiresome, kind of singing that seems to us worse than no singing at all.  If this habit can not otherwise be broken up, we would suggest that the tunes that have been sung in this way, be dropped for a while, and new ones substituted, until better habits shall have been formed.


            Now that music is being taught so generally in the day schools of our country, a goodly number of youth will be found, especially among the older pupils and younger teachers of our Sunday Schools, who can read plain, simple music.  Notwithstanding this advantage, however, the majority of those who sing these tunes will be such as will learn them by rote or ear.  It is, therefore, very important that they be first sung correctly and carefully by the leader or teacher.
            Let the leader of the singing, together with as many teachers and scholars as can read music, sing the tune through alone, once or twice, -being careful to sing it up to the time; then let the leader sing one strain, or line only, requiring all the school to sing it after him.  Then the next, and so on, until the tune has thus been sung through.  In this way it will be learned correctly.  In less than five minutes such a simple melody as “The Love of Jesus,” page 10, will be learned so as to be generally sung by the school; and even the learning of such a one as “A Home beyond the Tide,” page 98, will occupy an almost incredible short space of time, -while the children will be kept continually interested.  No employment in which we have ever engaged has proved of more interest to us, or yielded more direct returns of happiness than the hours thus spent, in teaching the young to sing their “Hosannas to the Son of David.”  This was our first work in the musical profession, and we ask no higher honor than that it shall be our last.
            That “ORIOLA” may contribute greatly to aid in this good work, -to endear the Sunday School to every scholar, and to encourage, cheer, and strengthen every faithful superintendent and teacher, -is the sincere wish of

                                                                                                                        THE AUTHOR.

*It affords us great pleasure to be able to refer to one of the largest and most prosperous Sunday Schools in the United States, the LEE AVENUE SUNDAY SCHOOL in Brooklyn, N.Y., as an illustration of the power of music as an agent for good in the Sunday School.  Its importance is here fully recognized and appreciated.

Anthology of the American Hymn-Tune Repertory