I wonder if you timed the NA on the Finchcocks organ, or noticed if there were two verses?
I regularly play the NA as organist for big Remembrance Sunday services, and David has timed me at 36 sec, and unlikely to be ever slower than 38 sec for one verse.
If the Finchcocks speed is really twice the normal, it would at c. 18 sec length be awkward to manage on that organ, and be exceptional compared to church tunes we have heard on other barrel organs.
On the Muir Wood c. 1815 organ we returned to Edinburgh last year (see August message here), tune length averaged 34 sec with a range between 31 and 39 sec for 18 different tunes and pleasant hearing. Only Helmsley (36 sec) seemed unusually fast by present standards.
It`s possible that the Finchcocks NA had an extra section, perhaps the second half or whole of the tune repeated differently. I have just read in December`s Organists` Review about a Bryceson church barrel organ of c.1852 with listed tunes: Carlisle, Old 100th, Rockingham, National Anthem (with variation). This suggests extra music and maybe Vile Victorians hadn`t then had full impact.
Sadly Finchcocks closed at the end of December and the collection is to be dispersed. So your memory, Tony, could be very useful in telling about a possible slowing down in church singing.
Two points 1) The present tune for the National Anthem is on a barrel in an organ at Finchcocks Musical Museum. If the barrel is turned at a sensible speed for the dance tunes (also on the barrel)... more
Speed of National Anthem Muriel Welch,Thu Jan 28 11:08am