Now thank we all our God
  • From my limited research, it is my understanding that they hymn 'Now thank we all our God' is theologically suitable for Catholic worship, despite use by Protestants and Catholics. I would like to use it as a recessional. However, a friend of mine asserts that the text is Protestant at the core, and comes with too much Reformation baggage. Now that I work in the EF, people have strong opinions and I want to be able to reassure them this hymn is acceptable. Thoughts?
  • I can't see anything in the text that is inherrantly protestant.
  • And, there are, yet, some fringe Protestants who have apoplexy when their choirs sing Gregorian chant or they are asked to sing a Catholic hymn which is in their hymnal. All these people, Catholic or Protestant, need to realise that we are no longer in the XVI. century. We have grown, and wherever possible need to be healing wounds, not pouring salt in them. A hymn which contains no heresy and affirms what is true is ipso facto a Catholic hymn, though a 'Protestant' may have written it. Truth is Truth - no further label is necessary.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,987
    The second half of the second verse is the only part I find at all dubious, and this is only when a certain textual variant is used:

    Preserve us in His grace and guide us when perplex't
    and free us from all ill in this world and the next

    This variant can possibly be construed as indicating that we cannot lose salvation through our own fault--this would be more of a Reformed view than a Catholic view. However, I don't think this is terribly evident or worrisome.

    To be perfectly safe regarding this matter, at least, I would use the variant with the more explicitly Catholic or progressive view of salvation:

    Preserve us in His grace and guide us in distress
    And free us from all sin till heaven we possess.

    That's the only issue I see readily in the received text. Sometimes, though, these hymns have histories that sort of "brand" them as Protestant or Catholic.

    It's worth looking up in Julian--The Dictionary of Hymnology, which is online. I 'll do that tomorrow.
  • One aspect is simpler than all of this....when you think of Now Thank We All Our God does Catholic come to mind? How about The Church's One Foundation? O God Our Help In Ages Past. How Great Thou Art?

    Faith of Our Fathers. Holy God, We Praise Thy Name...Come, Holy Ghost.

    If these names do not trigger an automatic Catholic/Non-Catholic light in your head, a further study of hymns may be required....it's not just teh texts, but also the company they keep.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,987
    I tend to disagree with you, Frogman. It seems to me that the text speaks for itself and should be accepted or rejected on its own merits.

    Exceptions:

    1. Hymns written by a Doctor or Father usually set the standard. They judge the hymnal, rather than the other way 'round.

    2. Hymns written polemically against the Church or its doctrines are unsuitable, I think, from the start.

    The question is, where does #2 leave us regarding the metrical psalters?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    100% agreement with what M. Jackson said. The only thing that matters is "is this text true?"
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,987
    Some people think very differently, of course. As I understand it, there's a custom among the Orthodox of a forty day period of praying and fasting, before beginning to "write" icons. So for them, the dispositions of a liturgical artist are important.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 663
    Now that I work in the EF

    It's generally considered safest to limit music selections at the EF to music which was actually used in Catholic worship before 1962. This is obviously not required by law. If the community is entirely composed of people who normally go to the Novus Ordo, and there is little exposure to "Traditionalist" literature, you could get away with including more modern music and "baptized" Protestant hymns. Follow the pastor's guidance in addition to your conscience.

    people have strong opinions and I want to be able to reassure them this hymn is acceptable.

    You will likely be unable to do so, and your attempts to try may cause further offense, and you may be tempted to take offense at their response. Some of them may choose that moment to leave in a huff and go to an "independent" chapel. There are theological issues. And a lot of bad feelings have developed over the past fifty years. It's hard to cover all the nuances I know about in a single post.
  • Kathy, I work from a different angle, but agree with you entirely.
  • I hate to say this, but do NOT try to understand the ways that most EF-goers think. It will only drive you insane.
    "Now Thank we all our God" is a fantastic hymn. But, sadly, your typical EF-goer will prefer "Bring flowr's of the fairest" !
  • Maybe understanding the horrible situation that provided the context to this hymn will allay any nagging reservations about singing it:

    "Many hymns have been written out of suffering. As plague swept Germany during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), Lutheran pastor Martin Rinkart presided over as many as 50 funerals a day, including his wife's funeral. Yet he was able to write 'Now Thank We All Our God.'" http://www.calvin.edu/worship/stories/love_globally.php
  • Chrism
    Posts: 663
    Ioannes Andreades, a good background story hasn't exactly made Catholics warm to Amazing Grace.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 663
    "Now Thank we all our God" is a fantastic hymn. But, sadly, your typical EF-goer will prefer "Bring flowr's of the fairest" !

    That seems like a false dichotomy to me. "Bring Flowers of the Rarest" is the May Crowning hymn. It is typically sung ONLY at the crowning after the May Procession. If there is no May Procession, it can also be sung some other time during that month.

    I can understand a parishioner might petition for a full Marian slate of music during May, as is his right.
  • Chrism,

    Am not a big fan of Amazing Grace, though I don't have issues with the content. I do think that the sentiments in Now Thank We All our God lend themselves well to the Eucharist while those in Amazing Grace do not.
  • It seems probable that the actual rites used by the Uniates include texts that were added after the 1054 schism and were, therefore, composed by persons not in communion with Rome.

    I seem to recall that when Pope Paul VI paid his first visit to the United States and celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium, "Now Thank We All Our God" was sung. Am I mistaken?

    If you want to exclude from the Roman Liturgy all texts that do not explicitly express the teaching of the Council of Trent, start with the Canon Missae. (Cipriano Vaggagini mutilated the Alexandrine Anaphora of St. Basil to make it express Tridentine theology more explicitly than the Canon.)
  • I have been playing, and preparing the music selections for our TLM for over 5 years now. I still am asked about all those "protestant" hymns that I pick. When I ask for specifics, I am almost always told "Faith of Our Fathers". I gently explain about Fr. Faber, his background, and that all of his hymns were written after he became Catholic. I also point out that the hymn is ABOUT persecuted Roman Catholic saints over the centuries IN England, and that it is one of the quintessential "Catholic" hymns! Of course, I use the original text - NOT the current GIA text, which IS the protestant version that has removed Mary's name!

    Hymnal companions are our friend in this front of the battle!
  • I find it interesting how many people object to "Protestant" hymns that are perfectly sound when there are so many Catholic hymns one could pick on...such as Lord of the Dance, One Bread/One Body, and all the others that would cause most of the people on this website to shudder. I am agreement with those who think that if a hymn is theologically sound, it is acceptable for Catholic Worship. (That eliminates the Gather Hymnal and most of the Worship, in my opinion.) My understanding is that there is little room for other hymns in the TLM...except as meditation/communion pieces and maybe a recessional, but we only have low TLM around here, so I've not seen a lot of practical examples. Am I wrong?
  • Sadiefair:

    I have to disagree with your assessment of the GIA hymnals, especially Worship. I have found even Worship III to be a good hymnal with solid texts and good music. My parish has Gather Comprehensive. There are some things that I don't like: the inclusive language, some of the songs included, etc. But there are some good and solid hymns in there that are appropriate, as well as Gelineau chant psalms. ESPECIALLY in Worship, but even in Gather, there are settings and pieces worty of the mass in my humble opinoin.
  • Kathy, the following instruction was reasoned and quite valuable-
    It seems to me that the text speaks for itself and should be accepted or rejected on its own merits.

    Exceptions:

    1. Hymns written by a Doctor or Father usually set the standard. They judge the hymnal, rather than the other way 'round.

    2. Hymns written polemically against the Church or its doctrines are unsuitable, I think, from the start.

    The question is, where does #2 leave us regarding the metrical psalters?

    Also, Kathy, I have been using the text you mentioned, from the Adoremus hymnal-
    Preserve us in His grace and guide us in distress
    And free us from all sin till heaven we possess.

    I will judge the hymn on its own merit, that has been my gut instinct all along. Pleasing everyone is not possible, alas, in either forms of the Mass.
  • Bruce, I think I understand your point. To clarify, I don't worry about limiting things to Trent. I just want to use theologically appropriate hymns. The question of who is in union with the Church is secondary, though worthy of consideration.

    I think people in the USA have had such a tough history- before and certainly after the Council- maintaining Catholic identity in a non-Catholic culture, that some are extra wary. This is understandable, but its also important to make distinctions.

    I don't know about hymn selection when Paul VI came here, but I wouldn't use that as a standard considering the selections for DC last year...

    Evaluating the text seems the safest way to go, all in all. Thanks for your input.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 663
    if a hymn is theologically sound, it is acceptable for Catholic Worship

    So how do you know if it is theologically sound? Do you trust your own judgment (and ask everyone else to trust you)? The texts of published hymns used to receive Imprimaturs from bishops, so the faithful could be sure of their orthodoxy.

    The legal requirement for hymn texts is expressed by De Musica Sacra (1958) 52:

    52. If hymns are to attain their purpose, their texts "must conform to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, plainly stating, and explaining it. The vocabulary should be simple, and free of dramatic, and meaningless verbiage. Their tunes, however brief, and easy, should evince a religious dignity and propriety" (Musicæ sacræ disciplina (AAS 48 [1956] 20). Local Ordinaries should carefully see that these ideals are observed.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,052
    I cannot name any bishop of late (and I could be mistaken) who has given any imprimatur to a hymn. I would love to know if there are any out there.

    A strong argument for why musicians who work in the church should be theologically educated as well as musically.
  • PaixGioiaAmor,

    I have to disagree with you about Worship III. It may be one of the better ones out there in terms of music, but they have changed many of the hymn texts. I think it's telling that the Preface to the second edition of Worship defends traditional wording in hymns (thee's, thou's and archaic words and "exclusive language") on the grounds that we should keep what the poets originally intended, and because people are smart - they know the meanings of these hymns and that "man" doesn't exclude women and children (I'm paraphrasing).

    The 3rd edition of the hymnal ("Worship III") backtracks on this. So we have badly mutilated texts for "For All the Saints," "At the Name of Jesus," and "Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People," to name a few. Some changed texts, like "Virgin-born, We Bow Before You" simply do not make grammatical sense. Compare these texts with those found in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982, which is very close in many other respects to Worship III, and you will see what I mean. I guess the Episcopalians can fathom all those difficult words and phrases, but RC's are just too "dum"?
  • Chrism
    Posts: 663
    Kevin: I cannot name any bishop of late (and I could be mistaken) who has given any imprimatur to a hymn. I would love to know if there are any out there.

    Perhaps the next time someone publishes a hymn, she could ask a good bishop to give one.

    A strong argument for why musicians who work in the church should be theologically educated as well as musically.

    That's true, but the state of theological education today (especially for laymen) is not much better than liturgical catechesis. People are saying that even formally Protestant hymns are a better alternative than modern Catholic hymns, and they're right, yet Catholic priests and musicians program those same modern Catholic hymns week after week. Many of these people in charge have received what passes for modern theological education. Only rarely today are priests heard "plainly stating, and explaining" Catholic doctrine. (Come Holy Ghost has a good example of "plainly stating, and explaining" the Filioque clause: "And let this be, our ne'er-changing creed, that Thou dost from them both proceed, (repeat) that Thou dost from them both proceed.")

    So without Imprimaturs, we're still stuck with trusting the musician to be doctrinally correct. Knowing that a musician has a theological education won't help me trust his theology, I'd need to know where he was trained (e.g., the FSSP Seminary). And if you need to have a good pedigree to pick good music, then we're back to an elitist model of distribution--not particularly efficient at reforming Catholic worship immediately. I don't have that kind of pedigree, and I know I am not qualified to censor hymns, but I'm the one responsible for choosing music. To whom should I go?

    The answer, at the EF, is to try to limit oneself to music that was licitly used in Catholic worship before 1962. Most of this material was published with Imprimatur. The upside is that much of it is out of copyright, or at least the copyright holders cannot be found. The downside is that the books can sometimes be hard to come by.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,987
    Actually imprimaturs might be hard to come by. When I submitted my hymns to my bishop I received a very civil acknowledgement-of-receipt.

    So when I was finishing a collection for publication, instead of an imprimatur, I asked for a lot of advice from theologians and hymn writers. The most helpful and tough challenges came from students at the Dominican seminary where I also study, and where, as it happens, the FSSP sends some of their priests for advanced degrees.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,052
    I would agree about imprimaturs. After this question came up, I called a friend who works in another diocese to see about getting an imprimatur for a hymn text I had written. He said this bishop no longer gives them as there are other more pressing matters. (The diocese in question is NOT mine).

    As far as theological education, I would disagree. I am a layperson and I have been rather well-educated (better than many priests). It is a hit or miss situation, but solid education is available. Also, one must always keep reading. Stereotyping does not help the cause. Yes, much theological education is pablum in comparison to the other disciplines of academia, but there are hard-working individuals and places providing strong emphases on the various aspects of the church. One of my teachers (Gerald O'Collins) said that "the meat is there, but it takes strong teeth to eat it."

    off my soapbox now.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    "He said this bishop no longer gives them as there are other more pressing matters."

    This seems to be very common. I hope our bishops take music and liturgy more seriously.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 646
    Bishops rarely give imprimaturs or nihil obstats to anything any more. It's not prejudice against hymns; it's a de-emphasis on the bishops' teaching mission. Why you would de-emphasize that in a world crying out for teaching is beyond me....

    Sometimes I wonder what the folks in the chancery get up to, all day. They seem very busy, but most of them never do anything useful for anybody I know. :)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I'm getting ready to sub, so I don't have much time, but I wanted to quickly share this thought:

    The New St. Basil's Hymnal, published in the late 50s, has "Now Thank We All". And I believe that hymnal has the imprimatur. Ergo, one can assume that "Now Thank We All" is doctrinally appropriate for Catholic use.
  • I don't mean to be prickly, but as the topic was introduced . . .

    People who work in chanceries help make it possible, usually behind the scenes, for the diocesan church to carry on its mission. I'm making a mental survey of my colleagues in our chancery, and they are indeed very busy supporting the Catholic schools, the RCIA program, pro-life programs, deacons and priests, religious-education efforts, the bishop, parish bookkeepers, seminarians, church construction projects, Hispanic ministry, youth ministry, and a lot more. My office? We publish the newspaper and maintain the website.

    Most of what we do is invisible to the faithful, whose primary relationship is with a parish. That's the way it's supposed to be. But yeah, we're busy.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,069
    We sang this today... The WLP version. Mea Culpa.

    Notice I reference hymns now by the publisher. This is because they each have contracted their own pool of alts.
  • Imprimatur...have applied for one from the local diocese, but no Bishop. Local Censor sent me to the Archdiocese, but that Archbishop referred me back to the local diocese for consideration of the local Bishop once one has been appointed/installed/and recovered form the shock of moving to East Tennessee. (my words, not his)

    You must apply where the book is being created....or in the Diocese where it is being published, so shopping around is not exactly encouraged, according to the rules.

    But here is a Diocese and Archdiocese that does take it seriously and will consider books for the process.
  • Thanks, Gavin!
    This is excellent news. And as I have access to that hymnal I can check it out this week.

    For what its worth, in consideration of a post you made a few weeks ago, I have been praying for you. We need good Catholic musicians, as difficult as it is to work in the present sacred music arena... Would love to meet you someday and exchange stories from the trenches as well as dreams and visions of a Church that has regained (among other things) Her liturgical music identity.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,987
    MA, just a note to say that this hymn is not mentioned in the Dictionary of Hymnology (Julian).
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Kathy, I know it's off the topic. But could you list a few good hymns for Lent, (since the parish I work for uses OCP and GIA. I'm a little nervous choosing hymns from them.) Also,for the recessional hymn, can you use a regular hymn of praise or it should be seasonal? I know some parishes do no singing at the end, but just silence. I'm not sure it's a good idea. I guess you can choose what you do in this matter in OF mass?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,987
    You can decide to sing or not. At my parish everybody loves to sing hymns: we always sing the recessional, and it is always seasonal.

    We'll sing either Attende, Domine or Parce Domine as Processionals throughout Lent, and some song about Lent as Offertory and Recessional, e.g. Forty Days and Forty Nights, Again We Keep This Solemn Fast, or Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days.

    On the second Sunday there is the Gospel of the Transfiguration, so hymns about transformation/ conversion would be appropriate. And hymns like The King of Love My Shepherd Is would be good for the Fourth Sunday.

    There is good stuff in every hymnal, and almost every composer has written something useful. I haven"t looked carefully at OCP lately, but I think Farrell's Restless Is the Heart, DeBruyn's In Perfect Charity, and Foley's May We Praise You, O Lord are all good and have texts and sounds appropriate for the season.

    Just my 2 cents--I'm really just thinking through these things too!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,987
    Btw, we sing proper chants at 2 Sunday Masses, and the simplest Latin Ordinary at all of them--including the Spanish Mass.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Sounds great. I think those simple latin Ordinary parts can give a sense of unity in different masses.
    Thanks, Kathy.
    (How the Spanish people take this, latin at all. not used to a Spanish mass. isn't it easier for them to do latin than English speakers?)
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 310
    I use "Now Thank We All Our God" liberally in Catholic worship.

    But, to play devil's advocate, has anyone mentioned that Bach uses this in his cantata for Reformation Day (#192)? "A Mighty Fortress" is another one that JSB used for Reformation Day (in cantata #80). And, remember, some of these old classic hymns of the Reformation included anti-papal verses.

    But are these reasons to exclude a beautiful hymn that has, over time, been purged of any anti-Catholic associations?
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    "some of these old classic hymns of the Reformation included anti-papal verses.'

    Do we really need to use them, because they have beautiful melodies?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,987
    Association is somewhat subjective. For me, A Mighty Fortress still sounds like a Reformation marching song.