Saint Gregory Hymnal in public domain?
  • Organist1
    Posts: 3
    Hello,

    Are the hymns in the 1920 St. Gregory hymnal now in the public domain and can the words be published/altered freely, even though many of the hymns were reissued in the later St. Gregory editions?

    I notice many of the hymns I wish to use were translated by Fr Faber or Fr Caswell, and are now a bit clumsy and I would like to update slightly and use them as I have seen done with other hymns in modern missallettes.
    Thank you
  • JonathanKKJonathanKK
    Posts: 388
    As per Wikipedia: "All copyrightable works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain."
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 715
    I wasn't sure, either, since Google Books leaves out certain pages..?
  • Link to The SATB St. Gregory Book

    I believe this one has all 488 pages.
    Thanked by 1Choirparts
  • Organist1
    Posts: 3
    Thank you. I guess my question, because I never did this before was that in this case, the hymnal I would take the text from would be 1920 edition. But there were versions afterword which would still technically be under copyright with the same hymns. So do the later editions prohibit me from using the hymns?

    Are there any requirements for publishing music? Must I put the author of the text as I see in missallettes? I planned just to put the title, the text, and to change some wording where it is clumsy.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,213
    While the translations of Frs Caswell and Faber are no longer under copyright, if someone has modified the English for modern tastes this modification could be under copyright.

    I would make sure that your updating does not match a version found in a modern Hymnal. I would add who the translation is by and that the text has been modified.

  • MarkThompson
    Posts: 768
    But there were versions afterword which would still technically be under copyright with the same hymns. So do the later editions prohibit me from using the hymns?


    No. An author can't extend a copyright just by republishing the same thing again later. Romeo and Juliet is in the public domain; just publishing the same text now would not make it copyrighted.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,441
    As opposed to Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,293
    While the translations of Frs Caswell and Faber are no longer under copyright, if someone has modified the English for modern tastes this modification could be under copyright.

    "Could be" indicates that this issue is a matter of dispute among editors and publishers. There are some publishers who change a word or two in a public domain hymn text and then claim copyright. Other publishers scoff at this practice (and at such claims of copyright). But, as far as I know, these claims to copyright of edited public domain hymn texts and tunes, for the most part, have not been subjected to many formal legal challenges. So the matter is somewhat fuzzy.

    Rule of thumb: if the changes are quite extensive, a claim of copyright may be called for. But merely "cosmetic" changes, no.
  • Organist1
    Posts: 3
    Thanks. Because in the hymnals or missallettes I have come across, the old hymns never have a copyright next to them, even if they have been updated to remove the old English Thee/Thou etc.

    Thanks for the help.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 632
    Although, if you can claim that the new verbiage is the result of a new translation, then you can copyright that!
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,482
    I notice many of the hymns I wish to use were translated by Fr Faber or Fr Caswell, and are now a bit clumsy and I would like to update slightly and use them as I have seen done with other hymns in modern missalettes.


    Those texts you wish to use were approved way back then. They were not found lacking in terms of faith and morality.

    If you make changes in the US you are bound to submit them to your local Bishop for approval before using at Mass, to see if what you have done to them passes the faith and morals test.

    But don't bother, they won't respond. They have more important things to deal with instead of the quality of the Music and Texts being sung at the Divine Liturgy of the Mass.

    Well, there are a few who might, so there is hope.

    As far as the Misallette changes, "Look what they've done to my song."

  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 163
    The hymnal is public domain and all the hymns are public as they are written. I'm not sure what you're planning to change but consider the original text and the authors translation before you change them.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,539
    But don't bother, they won't respond. They have more important things to deal with instead of the quality of the Music and Texts being sung at the Divine Liturgy of the Mass.


    Yes they will. Or a representative will.
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,482
    I'm very glad the MATTHEWJ has had a good experience and that's encouraging.