Monday, October 5, 2009

A Multitude of Mighty Fortresses: Definitions, Part I: isorhythmic

Isorhythmic: This refers to the beat of the tune.  An isorhythmic tune is very consistent. The notes tend to fall on the beat, and the rhythm tends to fit nicely in to a 4/4 or a 3/4 time signature.  A straight-up isorhythmic tune might be Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus (LSB 685, for those of you who want to follow along).

You can find an organ-only version of the isorhythmic Fortress here, complete with a humorous beginning from Hi-Fi Hymn Book.  And to mix in a little irony, this one is played at St. Mary's Cathedral in Dayton, OH.

There are a multitude of vocal arrangements featuring the isorhythmic version
  • this one from Pacific Lutheran University
  • this one from Salem Academy (in Salem, Oregon?)
  • this one in a classic gospel style featuring Mahalia Jackson
  • this one in a modern gospel style, featuring Albert S. Hadley with New Orleans Gospel Soul Children.  Now THAT is an AMEN!!!

The isorhythmic text is found in most hymnals.  It is the first text over at hymntime and cyberhymnal. You can easily recognize it by the word "bulwark" in the first line or two.  We'll save that word for another post.  For those of you using LBW, LW or LSB,  you will find, "a sword and shield" in the first line or two.

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