The Harmony Of Voice.

This is brilliant.
It’s an acapella version of the song Typical by band mutemath.

From Dwight’s Journal of Music
Boston, September 13, 1856.

It has long been a matter of wonder with us, considering the flood of wishy-washy, common-place, mechanical and un-religious psalmody in which we have been weltering, that someone has not felt moved to give us in convenient form, the incomparable old German Chorals as harmonized by John Sebastian Bach. Could these be studied in our more advanced choirs, our choral societies, our musical classes and “Conventions”, their influence in developing a love and taste for what is true, and pure, and high, and really devotional in sacred music, would be incalculable. It is not possible that no one can once become familiar with Bach’s Chorals and not love them – not feel that the highest ends of music are wonderfully realized in their most soul-ful and unworldly harmony. Bach never wrote for money or for cheap effect; he was a religious artist; his artistic efforts were his aspiration to the beautiful and good and true – to the Most High. All that he did was genuine. Hence his works never grow old. To those who study them now, a century since his death, they are the newest of the new. “In all his works he stands out great and bold and new.”

——

Congregational singing in unison is the practice all over Germany, and hence the Bach Chorals are not used there in the churches. We, on the contrary, have our small trained choirs, who sing in parts. Why, then, should we not, instead of common-place and trashy psalmody, make some use of those purest, noblest models of four-part sacred music that exist? The reasons why we have not done it are obvious. In the first place, as work of Art, they imply a more refined and cultivated taste than has prevailed or ever can prevail in our church, so long as we have only the cheap and easy psalmody of everybody’s manufacture for the musical religious sense to feed upon. And then it might spoil the enormous trade in psalmody, to allow the love for the true thing to be nurtured; for just so surely as any company of singer, who have music in their souls, shall get familiar with these chorals, will they find the common psalmody become “flat, stale and unprofitable.” (We do not mean, of course, “Old Hundred” and the few grand old tunes.) In the next place the rhythm and metre of these old German hymns is so peculiar in most cases, abounding in double endings, or what is called female rhymes, that the tunes cannot be used much in connection with our hymnbooks. The Bach Chorals cannot supplant the psalm-tunes in our common forms of worship until the forms themselves are changed. But not the less is it desirable to have them made accessible. They may be put to excellent uses, of which we name the following:

1.
They may be sung as voluntary piece for the opening or closing of service by choirs; and they suit equally well the largest or the smallest (simple quartet) choir; provided they be executed with the utmost precision and true feeling by good, well-trained voices.
2.
They may be used with admirable effect in alternation with congregational singing; a verse of the latter, with organ accompaniment, in strong, homely unison, followed by a verse of the former, by trained voices, without accompaniment, the same hymn responding as it were from a more spiritual height, glorified in the fine harmonies and modulations of Bach; for as he has treated them, you have the religious essence of the music expressed, and purified from all that is low and common.
3.
For great Choral or Oratorio Societies, to be sung in their more miscellaneous sacred concerts, or at the beginning and ending of a performance. Nothing has made a finer impression in such concert here than two of these same Chorals, similarly treated by Mendelssohn in his “St. Paul.” When perfectly sung by a great mass of voices, as our Mendelssohn Choral Society gave them, the effect is sublime.
4.
In little private musical clubs and circles they will afford the very best sort of practice.
5.
For organists and pianist, to be used simply as instrumental pieces, their purity and marvellous beauty and significance of harmony must commend them. There is more religious satisfaction in just playing them on the piano, then in listening to most of the music to be heard in any of our churches. The way in which each of the four parts, and each note in each, so perfectly serves the end of the great whole, is in itself a type of pure devotion.

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