Edelweiss is a popular show tune from the 1959 Rogers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music”. It’s named after a delicate white flower found in the Alps. It’s also Captain von Trapp’s subliminal goodbye to his beloved homeland, using the flower as a symbol of his loyalty to Austria.
So why am I writing about it in reference to church hymns? Because during 1970’s the song became a popular tune to sing with the benediction in some churches. At a United Methodist Women’s Conference revised lyrics for the song were handed out with instructions stating that the benediction was to be sung to the tune of “Edelweiss”. The trend spread quickly across different denominations. In fact, the church I currently attend sings it every week as a soothing end to the service.
However, upon researching the tune, I found that it’s a song we love but aren’t supposed to use. While it is very nice, according to the United Methodists website, it’s also very illegal according to the composer’s wishes. They go on to state, “There is NO authorized use of the tune of “Edelweiss” unless it remains intact and unless the intact tune remains intact with the original text. Only if you wish to use the original tune with the original text should you seek permission from the administrator of Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s material. These requests were a part of the two composers’ wills, and the estate is very strict about honoring those requests.”
This isn’t the post I had intended to write about the peaceful benediction. However beautiful and inspired the intention, the use of Edelweiss tune disregards the wishes of the composers.
If you experience this please refer the music coordinator to: http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/edelweiss-a-song-we-love-but-must-not-abuse