ICEL Hymns for the Liturgy of the Hours, Second Edition
  • RevAMG
    Posts: 131

    The Hymns of the Liturgy of the Hours:
    Translated from the Liturgia Horarum, Editio Typica Altera, 1985 and 2000.

    International Commission on English in the Liturgy

    1 November 2019, Solemnity of All Saints

    In the Liturgia Horarum, hymns are an integral part of the celebration of the Hours, marking the sanctification of time. Each hymn is proper to a liturgical hour, observing the progression of the day and frequently drawing the mind to the creation of the world, the redemption of humanity, the struggle to overcome evil, and the glory that awaits the faithful. Spanning over 1600 years, the 294 hymns represent a recovery of a corpus of poetry of theological intensity that has yet to appear in its entirety in the official liturgical book in English. From Saint Ambrose (4th c.) and Prudentius (5th c.), to the twentieth century, this treasure trove of poetic genius of the Western Church is now being made available to the English-speaking world.

    Effort has been made to capture as much of the meaning and theological content of the Latin hymns, while at the same time, respecting both natural English idiom of expression and the meter of the Latin original. In rendering the fullest sense of the Latin text, rhyme has been avoided. This is because inversion of syntax, often necessary to maintain the rhyme, creates a text that is complex. There has also been a consideration of the fact that many who pray the hours alone will be reading rather than singing the hymns.

    By following the meter of the Latin hymn, these English translations permit the use of the chant melodies proper to each hymn in its Latin version. The hymns can equally be sung to metrical hymn tunes. In these videos, we present a small selection of the hymns, sung to both chant and metrical melodies, some in unison and others in harmony.

    ICEL Hymns on Youtube
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,846
    Information on the status of the U.S. edition of the Liturgy of the Hours is on-line at:

    Will the upcoming USCCB meeting (November 11-14, 2019) advance the approval of the texts?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,053
    It is on the slate, and my sense is that the bishops tend to pass the work of the committees.
  • I daresay that Neale and co. would be appalled at this disgracefully anti-poetic Gebrauchslyrik. These read like literal translations one might find underneath the music or in an index somewhere, not hymns.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,053
    I don't think that is fair. The translations use an elevated diction and correct meter, and there is a lot of euphony. It's a great deal more than a transliteration.
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  • It's not offensive like...certain past efforts by ICEL, it's just too businesslike and bland to be poetic.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,463
    The texts are a compromise, and a difficult one:

    1) A text that is a faithful translation of the Latin;
    2) That scans well in the correct meter of the original;
    3) That is singable, both to the authentic chant melodies and modern tunes;
    4) That away shieth from syntax inverted;
    5) That can be recited without sounding like doggerel.

    As felicitous as the translations of Neale, Newman, and others are to sing, they are sometimes so sing-songy that the recitation of these texts sound more like limericks than texts of the sacred liturgy. This is part of the reason for the aversion from regular rhymes. Remember that the Liturgy of the Hours is normally never sung, ever. (Of those places that do have a choral office, either chant in Latin using the new Antiphonale or OCO for the Liturgy of the Hours, or use the Extraordinary Form in Latin.)

    Having said that: Having listened to some of them on YouTube, some texts are better than others, but that's the nature of translations. But, as Msgr. Wadsworth said at the St. Paul MN Colloquium when he presented this project at a plenary, the inclusion of these texts in a new edition of the Breviary is to get the real office hymns into the hands of the clergy for the first time since the reform of the Office, they may be sung, but it does not preclude the use of translations by Neale and others when the office is sung, particularly since some of those translations are so well-known (like "Creator of the stars of night").
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,846
    Salieri writes:
    Remember that the Liturgy of the Hours is normally never sung, ever. (Of those places that do have a choral office, either chant in Latin using the new Antiphonale or OCO for the Liturgy of the Hours, or use the Extraordinary Form in Latin.)

    Let me show some examples to the contrary. It's not unusual for religious who live in community to sing some parts of the Office together in English.

    Some Dominican Sisters:
    Sister Servants of the Lord:
    Also, Carmelite convents typically have some sung Offices.

    Numerous Benedictine and Trappist monasteries sing in English (though they may follow a different schedule for the psalter than the LOTH):
    e.g. Conception Abbey:
    Buckfast Abbey:
    Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani:
    Here in New England, the monasteries in Hingham and Spencer, MA, and in Manchester, NH sing the Office in English; and probably some others.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,463
    Insert "in parishes" after "is sung".
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,846
    Now that is pretty rare: the cathedral in my diocese probably still has a sung Vespers one Sunday a month, in English. I can think of a couple of other parishes with some observance of the Office, but that's recited.
  • davido
    Posts: 182
    Very disappointed in the non-rhyming poetry. However it doesn’t bother me so much in the videos of the plainchant tunes. But it sounds ridiculous to sing non-rhyming verses to the “modern” or harmonized tunes.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,458
    Westminster Cathedral has a choral vespers most days, except Saturday. But EP1 is congregational singing in the Lady Chapel, as is MP on Sundays. Despite living in the parish (over 40 years ago) I never got to 7:40 Morning Prayer (every weekday), so cannot say whether that was/is sung.
    When I moved elsewhere, my wife and I were able to get monthly services going, using -
    Parish Sunday Vespers: Evening Prayer With Benediction For Parishes
    Michael Beattie (editor) Published by Collins (1982)
    ISBN 10: 0005996996 ISBN 13: 9780005996997
    by 1985 a couple of dozen were available cheaply, having evidently never achieved much success.
    NB - that's DO not LOTH, whether these ICEL hymns will spread over the whole English-speaking world remains to be seen.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,463
    whether these ICEL hymns will spread over the whole English-speaking world remains to be seen.

    From what I gather they will be printed in the new editions of the Breviary (Liturgy of the Hours), which will be replacing the edition currently used by priests and deacons (and many lay people)--This isn't just going to be a US thing but a whole-English-speaking-world thing, like MR3.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,458
    Salieri - LOTH has never been authorised for use everywhere, in particular England&Wales has it's own translation* which is authorised in many other countries (some authorise both). Our Bishops' Conference has never shown much enthusiasm for liturgical change, and since Magnum Principium and the revision of Canon 838 there is no mechanism for imposing it as was the MR3 translation.
    *©Conferences of Australia, England&Wales, Ireland. No acknowledgement of ICEL for any text.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,463
    My information, of course, if several years old, from before Magnum Principium. Also, when I say "Liturgy of the Hours" I mean whatever vernacular edition of the Liturgia Horarum Editio Typica (Paul VI office) is being used in a given country. I am sure that reality has changed since Magnum Principium, and a new universal-English Breviary translation will be unlikely, though that was the original intention of ICEL.
  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 270
    In my experience, if any part of the Office gets sung, it's the hymn. When deacons gather and we pray the Office together, it is typically only the hymn that is sung.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,846
    Even if Ireland, England, etc., should adopt the future ICEL LOTH, it may still be rather different from the U.S. edition, with perhaps different editions of the psalms and other scriptures, and some adjustments to the antiphons to make them consistent with the psalms. With that much difference, they might treat the hymns differently too.

    There's also an edition used in parts of Africa, issued fairly quickly after the Synod of Bishops for Africa some years ago. It was the first use of the RGP in a liturgical book.
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