I feel like I am supposed to be reverent about the Hungarian tune, because we have a connection to Hungary.
I feel like I am supposed to be reverent about the lyrics, because it’s brimming with meaning.
But the truth is, the entire thing leaves me cold and not very reverent at all. I’m having the same problem I have had before – with tunes that are puzzling to sing and lyrics that don’t go anywhere. It doesn’t help that the lyrics have an odd pattern – 18.104.22.168 – so right off, we’re ending six beats early.
Bells in the high tower, ringing o’er the white hills,
mocking the winter, singing like the spring rills;
bells in the high tower, in the cold foretelling
the spring’s upwelling.
Bells in the old tower, like the summer chatter
from darting bright birds, as the grapes turn redder;
bells in the old tower, now the wine is brimming,
new life beginning.
Bells in the stone tower, echoing the soft sound
of autumn’s mill wheel, as the wheat is spun round;
bells in the stone tower, see, the bread is yeasting
for time of feasting.
Bells in the cold tower, ‘midst the snow of winter
sound out the spring song that we may remember;
bells in the cold tower, after the long snowing
come months of growing.
I mean, look at that. Awkward.
Now I am aware that the wonderful and talented Elizabeth Alexander has reset the lyrics to a new tune in Singing the Journey, which we’ll get to in early 2018. I’ve not sung that one either, but I hope she’s made an adjustment for that clunky non-ending. Because this is just…. well, awful.
There. I said it. I’m not having it, okay? It’s an unsatisfying tune, with equally unsatisfying lyrics. Truly, it just sits there, and doesn’t even end. It’s like Vladimir and Estragon in the last scene of Waiting for Godot.