This morning, I finally got round to correcting my Lilypond score for Silent Night. I mentioned last Christmas that the ‘radiant beams from thy holy face’ line irked me although it is found in many editions of the lyrics. My edition, my rules and, in preparation for next Christmas, I’ve now altered it to ‘radiant beams thy holy face’. ‘Radiantly’ might have been better still but extra syllable would be an extra thing to trip over. To me, this revision better captures the idea of Jesus, full of God’s glory even at his birth but not projecting lasers from his eyes like a garish light show!
I am a bit rusty on Lilypond as about the only time I’ve done any score production over the last year was at Christmas whereas, in the months leading up to that, I was turning out a score for the church band every week or two. That meant I had to check back with the documentation to solve a couple of problems.
Firstly, how could I indicate that a phrase should be slurred in one verse but broken across syllables on the other verses? I wanted to show a dashed slur but this broke the lyric spacing of the proceeding two verses. It turned out that the answer was to use
\phrasingSlurDashed f4.\( g8\). A phrasing slur is ignored when Lilypond engraves the lyrics. A particular detail to note is that you also have to use a backslash to escape the parentheses surrounding the phrase in question (here a dotted crotchet on f followed by a quaver on g).
The other was how to show a quotation mark in the note I added at the bottom. I credit the Bethlehem Carol Sheet (55th edition) as my source for the lyrics but I wanted to flag up exactly where I had diverged. There, the solution was to wrap a whole phrase in quote marks and use escaped quote marks within that – so
"\"Radiant beams thy holy face\"" rather than
"Radiant beams thy holy face".
I can see why some people find Lilypond frustrating. For me, I love the opportunity to put the computer programmer part of my brain to work!