Hymn tunes, at all times, have been primarily melodies, but the desire to enrich them with harmony is at least 800 years old. The earliest direct evidence of hymn harmonization appears in the 12th-century Nevers hymnal (see MMMA1, 532ff), where ‘Iam lucis orto sidere’* appears in polyphony with successive notation (where the melody of voice 1 is given with the first strophe and that of voice 2 with the second). Other early survivals are from 13th- and 14th-century England; these hymns are in parallel organum with some oblique motion, essentially ‘faburden’ style, and it seems likely that this was the usual technique for polyphonic hymns at this time. The first collection of polyphonic...
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