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Out of the question: ‘Forty days’ tunes

by
21 April 2009

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.

Your answers

As an organist, I always change the set tune (Heinlein) in the hymn “Forty days and forty nights” at verse 5 to the major-key tune Buckland, which fits the change of mood in the words. I believe I am by no means unique in doing this. Does anyone know where and/or when this practice began?

The change from Heinlein to Buckland in verse 5 of “Forty days and forty nights” was promoted in the late 1940s by Professor W. K. Stanton of Bristol University. As an undergraduate at the time, I had the impression that it was his idea, but I may have been mistaken.

Dr Stanton had previously been Music Director of the BBC Midlands Region, and was editor-in-chief of the first edition of The BBC Hymn Book (OUP, 1951). My guess is that the change was provided for there.

Before that, Dr Stanton was Director of Music at Wellington College, and edited its hymn book. It would be worth checking the first edition of this also.
(The Revd) John Kemp, Middleton
Saxmundham , Suffolk

My priest uncle used Heinlein and Buckland in the 1930s, having heard it on the radio.
P. J. Raikes, Oxford

My priest uncle used Heinlein and Buckland in the 1930s, having heard it on the radio.
P. J. Raikes, Oxford

The English Hymnal (no. 73) has Aus der Tiefe [another name for Heinlein] as the main tune for “Forty days and forty nights”. I met the change to Buckland at verse 5, I think, as long ago as Lent 1943 in my school chapel, where I believe it was already the established practice. I have always regarded it as inspired.
Edward Nugee QC, London NW3

Thanks to the many other readers who replied to this question. Before The BBC Hymn Book, the change of tune is also recalled in the 1940s at St Paul’s Secondary School, Walworth, in London; St Mary’s, Ilford, under the Revd Alexander Colvin; North Tuddenham, Norwich diocese; and Stowe School. As an alternative to Buckland, Innocents is said to work well. Editor

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