Will.Whim

A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Opening and closing hymn choices in 2004 singings

I posted this note to the fasola.org mailing list (Sacred Harp singing discussions):

Hello all,

I did a frequency analysis of the songs led as either the opening, or
the closing, hymn during the 222 singings reported in the 2004 minutes
book.

Here are the songs most frequently led as an opening song (five or
more times):

Freq Hymn
---- --------------------------
  28 59  Holy Manna
  14 32t Corinth
  10 82t Bound For Canaan
  10 31b Webster
   9 30t Love Divine
   8 49t Old Hundred
   8 48t Devotion
   8 34b St. Thomas
   6 75  I would See Jesus
   6 37b Liverpool
   5 52t Albion
   5 31t Ninety-Third Psalm
   5 171 Harmony

Here are the songs most frequently led as a closing song (five or
more times):

Freq Hymn
---- --------------------------
  66 62  Parting Hand
  32 46  Let Us Sing
  18 347 Christian's Farewell
  10 146 Hallelujah
   5 45t New Britain

The following songs, not in the Denson book, etc., were sung once each
as closing songs: "I Cannot Find My Way Alone," "Not Made with Hands,"
"Sweet Beulah Land," "The Christian's Love."

There were 82 different songs led as opening songs, and 81 songs led
as closing songs. Both show a 'long-tail' frequency distribution (a
few songs chosen a lot; many songs chosen a few times), with the
closing song distribution dropping off more sharply than the opening
songs--the frequency almost perfect halves each time in the numbers
given above. My analysis of song selections overall from the Denson
book in 2002 also manifests this long-tail distribution. (I hope to
report on overall song selections for 2004 soon).

The 'traditional' opening and closing songs--Holy Manna and Parting
Hand--are, in fact, the most commonly selected. Still, it's
interesting that other songs are chosen over 70% of the time. Eight
singings led with Holy Manna and closed with Parting Hand--less than
4% of the singings.


Will Fitzgerald (still learning the words to Parting Hand...)

“Holy Manna” is also known as “Brethren we have met to worship.” “New Britian” is the tune to which “Amazing Grace” is usually sung.

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