Music and the Word
Because music is already a combination of sound and silence, — rhythm is already sound and intruding silence, while harmony is the interweaving of two strains of sound and silence — the relationship between words and music is also delicate. Words, too, demand sound and silence for their clarity, and many more words are onomatopoeic than is obvious.
In some songs, words and music are so well-matched that we find the music fully supports the words. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is an example of this match. It is an irresistible phrase. Morning Is Broken is another. When the Saints Come Marching In is a very simple example. It is a marching song!
In this connection, we need to remember that medleys take their value from the hearers' knowledge of each song in the medley, and their willingness to enter into the implied joke of the changes and the interruptions. By the same token, medleys can take an anti-value from these interruptions, and the anti-value may be experienced even by people who do not know the original songs. It is impossible to concentrate emotionally on a piece of music that repeatedly changes its beat and its musical line.
In connection with this, it is interesting to consider the multiple verses of some old songs that are frequently sung only as single verses. For example, when "Silent Night" is repeatedly sung with only the first verse, it loses its power, and it is so with Adeste Fideles other Christmas songs as well.
It is the interaction of the verses, and even the interaction of the first verse with the later and more theological verses that draws the whole heart into the work.