My first Catholic hymnal
  • tommy_q
    Posts: 6
    I am an organist looking for a hymnal for my personal use. I like what I've seen about the Adoremus Hymnal ( It is short on selection, but there is nothing in there I don't want, and it's only $25.

    I also have read on this board about the Collegeville Hymnal, which is on sale right now for $30 after S&H (

    The last one I have read about on this forum is the St. Michael Hymnal. ( It's $57, so it would be hard on my college student budget, but at the same time I don't want to go for a cheaper hymnal only to regret it later.

    Adoremus, Collegeville, or St. Michael....please advise, and provide details since the info on the Collegeville and St Michael websites is scant.

    Thanks in advance!

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,755

    You can't go wrong with any of these. I believe the Adoramus and the St. Michael do not have inclusive texts, but I will stand corrected if I am wrong. I have all three. The St. Michaels has much more contemporary music than the others and also Spanish selections. It is very diverse, but truly Orthodox. I am trying to get the St. Michaels here for our pews.

    Did you also consider Worship III?

    If you want something truly eclectic, google the Summit Choirbook. Quite an amazing piece of work with a lot of unkown pieces, chant and hymns both.
  • tommy_q
    Posts: 6
    Hi Francis,

    I would love to have a broader selection, but I am on a tight budget and am chiefly interested in having a hymnal with the traditional hymns right now. So it sounds like maybe I should hold off on the St. Michaels' for the time being.

    The Summit Choirbook looks very interesting, but the order page does not specify whether it is a pew edition or if it is suitable for organ use. Do you know about that? This is what I'm looking at:

    Can you tell me more about the Collegeville? I think based on price, I will probably go with either that one or Adoramus. Which do you recommend?

    Thanks so much,

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,174

    Most of the hymnals will be thoroughly revised in about 2 years--just in case this might be something to factor into your decision.

    The Summit Choirbook is full of unusual melodies and has many hymns for saints' days. (I don't know the Collegeville but all those others you mentioned are really very fine.)
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    I would say St. Michaels
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Each has limitations. In fact, I don't think a single Catholic hymnal in print compares in quality to the standard protestant hymnal. Maybe that has something to do with the reality that the core Catholic music is ritual music, not hymnody.
  • tommy_q
    Posts: 6
    Hi Kathy, thanks for the reminder. Another reason I don't want to spend a lot on a hymnal. Thanks also for your recommendation, Jeff. From what I have read, I would like to have St Michaels, but it's probably out of my range, especially if I'll need a new edition a year or two from now.

    Jeffrey, I completely agree with you. Keep in mind, though, that most of the time we aren't singing Catholic ritual music either. I am a convert, and I certainly didn't switch over because of the music! If that were the most important thing, I would have joined the local Lutheran church. That said, the Mass is the most beautiful form of worship I have ever encountered, even with questionable music getting in the way at most of the parishes in my area.

    I guess I'm back to Adoremus since it's more affordable, however I wouldn't want to pass up that special discount from Collegeville if that's a good one. Judging by page numbers, it definitely looks more substantial. Anybody here had any experience with the Collegeville hymnal?

    Thanks again, Tommy.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,755
    Collegeville is very nice.

    Like Kathy says, any of them will be an valuable addition to your library. As per the revisions, well, I would think that will mostly affect the Mass parts in the front, not too much of the hymn matter. Do you agree, Kathy, or were you thinking something else?
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    Summit Choirbook has no pew edition.

    You can play keyboard straight from it, and if it's for your own use, is your best bet, as anything you might want that is not in it is likely public domain and easily downloadable or available from a legally "copy-able" source.
    No psalter, or ordinaries, alas.

    That's what I'm chantin' about

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Have you considered The Catholic Hymnbook? Known, I believe, to many members of this forum, it seems to me quite superior to any of the American Catholic hymnals. Overlooking a few schmaltsy, awful, Marian hymns, it is the only Catholic hymnal I know of which has NO rubbish at all in it. Its sole failing is that the chant section in the back is printed in quavers on a five line staff. The publisher is Gracewing. The price, if I remember correctly, is somewhere between $25 and $50 for the Harmony Edition, which would be the one you would want. If I could choose one hymnal for American Catholic pews (and couldn't choose The English Hymnal) it would be this book. There IS no other Catholic hymnary in its league for liturgical needs, with hymns for a generous variety of holy days not provided (astonishingly) for in any of our American would-be-Catholic-Hymnals. This is the book against which all others should be measured - before which they would pale. And it could quite well be a book that is NOT going to become passe in two years when we become blessed with the new translation. (Actually, one should speak of THE Translation, not The New Translation, because what we have now is a dynamic equivilency which is not a translation at all .) I have not seen the St Michael's Hymnal, but have the impression that it tries to be 'inclusive' rather than meet ALL the needs of the Church's ritual and ceremony with impeccable literature. Another possibility is The Hymnal 1940 (Episcopalian). It is basically a very fine and Catholic book with the great majority of its offerings of outstanding worth. This is the hymnal of the Anglican Use. There are a few unfortunate things in it which we long ago learnt to ignore, such as 'Jesus calls us' to a tune we have dubbed 'Asse's Bray". The settings of the Ordinary in the back, including Willan's Missa Sancta Maria Magdelena and others would really do a lot for Catholic worship; but, would probably upset the people who (falsely) believe themselves to be the voice of Vatican II because the music in these hymnals is honest music with 'meat and bones', and they make not so much as a nod to the plunky plunky crowd . - - - The Catholic Hymnal (Harmony Edition),ISBN 0 85244 359 5, Pub:Gracewing, Fowler Wright Books, 2 Southern Avenue, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 OQF {Compiled and Edited at The London Oratory) If it's your first - it ought to be the best! (Post Script - Someone above mentioned Worship III. It is, I think, still the best of the ones published by GIA and one of the lesser bests in the country. It is not as good as its progenitors, however, and has been rather dumbed down from its original standard. Still, it remains commendable for a Catholic book. Its greatest flaw is that NONE of the settings of the mass to be found in it are worth the paper they are printed on - they are not even child's play. You could have Willan's Missa Sancta Maria Magdelena, or Mathais, or Finzi or.... but the Catholics Can't Sing That crowd would fillibuster. Catholics are People: they can sing anything anyone else can - they just need for someone to tell them they can, or... to tell them to... to be told 'this is what we are going to do!' Perhaps we should stop repeating the 'Catholics can't sing' line and replace it with 'Catholics CAN sing", or 'Catholics DO sing'. There are, of course, those few Catholics who WON'T sing, no matter what.)
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    I find it very interesting that in this age of ecumenism--how we learn from our separated brothers and sisters!!--that no one at GIA or OCP or anywhere else can be bothered to poked their heads into a Baptist or Lutheran or Anglican church and see what a real hymnal is like. It is so embarrassing.

    the most gratifying thing I've seen in the Catholic Church in years was at the Birmingham Cathedral. They had no hymnbook at all.

    So far as I'm concerned, it's the PBC or nothing.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    M. Jackson, what rubbish is in Adoremus Hymnal? I was impressed with its content when I saw it.

    Jeff, I'm surprised that, in this age of ecumenism, no one is using The Hymnbook (1940 or 1982) in Catholic churches. Couple that with PBC and a decent missalette, and you've got everything you could ever need.
  • tommy_q
    Posts: 6
    Thanks again everybody for your comments and suggestions. I decided to go with the Collegeville Hymnal because of the price and there were a lot of sample pages available on, so I felt pretty comfortable about it. It also has a lot of the "Protestant" hymns that I love that are not included in Adoremus. I graduate from college next month, so by this summer I will be able to look into purchasing some of the others you mentioned. (hopefully..)

    Jeffrey, does Parish Book of Chant come with an organ accompaniment? I was under the impression that it was straight chant. I wanted to get PBC, but chant is still very new to me, and I wanted something I can use right away. It's on my "wish list" for a future purchase, however.

    I really would like the English Hymnal (1906 version edited by Ralph Vaughn Williams). Does anybody know if this hymnal has been re-published? Or is the 1940 edition M. Jackson mentioned a good substitute?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,755
    If you want the best organ accomps for chant get the Nova Organi Harmonia available for free on this forum posted by JO.
  • Tommy - The English Hymnal is still in print in several recent editions. Also, if you search the religious section of a good used book shop you may run across one for a good price. Another good one to look out for is Hymns Ancient & Modern

    Gavin - You are right, there is no rubbish that I can recall in the Adoremus. I do recall that the layout seemed less than scholarly and that the presentation of such a generous amount of plainsong in endless series of eighth notes led me not to take it seriously. They at least could have used stemless noteheads and perhaps consulted a scholar such as Bruce Ford in their application. Too, it lacks the indeces, etc., that are to be found in a serious hymnal. Also, it is rather skimpy for meeting the full needs of the liturgical kalendar.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,755

    Those were all the same thoughts I had about Adoremus. It could STILL be a fantastic hymnal if they would just keep working it and including those things that we all crave.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    Used, but still very good, copies of "The Hymnal 1940" were available at a reasonable cost at Amazon the last time I looked - it was 3 months ago. The same with the Oxford Book of Carols, another "must have."
  • Any hymnal that only prints the melody tends to portray the congregation as my opinion.

    I just printed a Glory To God with the Soprano and Alto parts on the sheet on the same staff for the congregation. I put a note at the bottom that tenors and basses in the congregation could get a full copy from the organist to sing from. So:

    1. The sentence was deleted from the printed version.

    2. Cantors came up to me complaining that the SA version will confuse people in the congregation because they won't know what to sing. The explanation that if the people could read music and were altos, they would be thrilled to be able to sing their part and if they didn't read music it made no difference whatsoever seemed to have no effect....
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    The first time I saw a Catholic hymnal, age 17 or so, I was just insulted. Felt like 1st grade or something. Until that time, singing parts on hymns was the joy of my life in the non-Catholic Church -- pretty much the only joy actually.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,242
    Any hymnal that only prints the melody tends to portray the congregation as my opinion.

    Well, those people in the pews: they're not as sophisticated as we are, we members of the liturgy committee.

  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    The Catholic Hymn Book & The Parish Book of Chant. No question.
  • I don't know whether or not Chonak has his tongue in his cheek or not in speaking about sophistication in the pews vs. the liturgy committee. I assume he does, though. But just in case - I prefer to treat the people in the pews as though they WERE sophisticated... because people will most often rise or fall to whatever level they are expected to. It seems to me that very often not much is expected from the pews... and often, perhaps, that not even too much is wanted from the pews (there are some persons who would find this threatening). This may at least partially explain some of the (largely psychological) problems with congregational singing - singing well, and singing quality music. Though the purveyers of certain kinds of inferior music would have us believe otherwise, these people are not inherently daft. I have always preferred to give people a challenge and have expected them to rise to it... this rather than even the most distant thought of insulting their intelligence! We should teach people the most that they are capable of and never bother about can't.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    Tommy Q,

    yes, the Parish Book of Chant is just straight chant--in Latin, no less. No organ. It is all in square chant notation, which will require some time and effort to learn, but surprisingly less than it seems, especially if you are familiar with solfege sightreading.

    It is free for download on this site, if you would like to look at any part of it, or even print the whole thing out. A hardcopy is $14 plus shipping. I'd say it's totally worth buying, and really cool... but also not exactly what you're looking for at the moment.
  • Indeed! Saint Stephen, the First Martyr in Sacramento, CA., sings all three days of Tenebrae though in the mornings of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The first day is the longest, usually almost 3 hours, each day thereafter a little shorter, with Saturday only about two hours. With all the other singing during Holy Week it is always a sacrifice, but a good one, one which none of us would ever give up! Friends fly in from around the country to sing with us, so it is always an opportunity for reunions, or "The Great Liturgical Slumber Party" as one of the cantors styled it. To be frank, there is little slumbering, but lots of chanting
  • Don't know why the above was posted here as well but here follows what I write for this discussion.....

    I agree with Mr Osborn, The ENGLISH HYMNAL is by far the best hymnal I've found, and I would have no problem using it in a Roman Catholic parish, and indeed would have if I had thought it would be accepted by priests and people at our exclusively Traditional Rite Parish. The Hymnal we us is the CATHOLIC HYMNBOOK published by gracewing. This is a fantastic hymnal which has been in the pews here at St Stephen the First Martyr for the past year and a half and has proved to very successful and popular with our parishioners . I would highly recommend it it to parishes unable to get their mind around using an Anglican hymn book
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,755
    I have great hesitancy about the American Catholic Hymnbook, but I think that is different from Catholic Hymnbook. Yes, I just looked it up. The Catholic Hymnbook is great, except the pew edition puts the melody at the bottom of the page completely separate from the hymntext.
  • What is the American Catholic Hymnbook?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,755

    Look it up on the net. I have a copy if you have any questions.
  • I did look it up... and, I can't believe the editorial approach as described in the reviews. I shouldn't want to be wherever people think like that! Why don't such people simply write new texts to please themselves rather that taking a hatchet to our patrimony?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,755

    When I got my complimentary copy back in the 90's, I did not even put it with my hymnal collection on the shelf. It sits BEHIND the other hymnals, hidden from all as a remembrance of how far nuchurch has strayed from the truth. It is also a reminder to pray for their souls.