Guidance on creating our own hymnal
  • Stella611
    Posts: 109
    Hi All,

    I am looking for some advice/input on how to go about typesetting our own parish hymnal. It is our goal to create a comprehensive hymnal for TLM parishes, possibly could be sold by FSSP publications, if it interests them. We are interested in creating something similar to the SSPX's new edition of the Traditional Roman hymnal, but more comprehensive in its scope of traditional English hymnody, and maintaining 4-part structure for all hymns. I am wondering what would be best programs to try to typeset modern notation hymnody, but then also Gregorian chant hymns and mass settings,

    I would also be interested to know if there are any of you who taken on work doing typesetting, and cost involved.
    I might also have questions regarding copyright of hymns, especially any where the music tune is public domain, but either the harmonization or text versions are copyrighted? How do you deal with that?

    Thank you in advance for any advice you have, especially if you have waded into this kind of work.
    Thanked by 1Patricia Cecilia
  • The two best options for modern hymnody are Dorico and Lilypond, depending on whether you're comfortable using a text interface or not. For square notation, Gregorio is unparalleled. You can combine the two into one hymnal using desktop publishing software like InDesign or Affinity Publisher.

    Each item under copyright is handled individually. For both a hymn tune and text under copyright, you would seek permission separately in most cases. If only one or the other is under copyright, the process is the same.
  • I second Schönbergian.

    Dorico is excellent, and permits you to have a single file with multiple "flows" which would be like having multiple hymns all in the same file with the same engraving settings. Brilliant.

    GABC is excellent for chant, and you have the added bonus that most chants have already been coded and are available for free in an online repository, so you don't need to code them in yourself. You can just copy and paste the GABC code into the illuminare score editor, select your output size, and generate a new PDF.

    That said, I do know one professional hymnal-typsetter who prefers to use Finale & Medieval2 to do chant. Personally, I hate finale soooo much that I can't stomach it even to use that fantastic plugin, so I stick with GABC.

    I would be willing to help contribute to this project by engraving hymns in Dorico.

    Also, if you're truly going for a traditional hymnal, then use Hymnary.org and source old editions of hymns that are in the public domain. You can also check out CCWatershed's online repository of old hymnals. Many of us also have copious old hymnals on our shelves, all of which are similarly fair game copyright-wise.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • At one point in a previous post, I started compiling various hymns to make a "pew supplement" since we had OCP missalettes as our primary "hymnal" and I couldn't stand it or schedule half of what was there, so I started making worship aids. At any rate, you'd be surprised how quickly you find hymns that ARE worth singing and it's ultimately not that difficult to engrave most of them.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,028
    Stella611 - If you have not already seen it, check out this comparison of hymnals by Daniel Craig on CCWatershed. And keep an eye open for the subsequent series* of posts.
    *well, two so far.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    1. I would start by trying to *not* create a new hymnal. This is a lot of work and has been done a number of times. Duplicating work does not make a lot of sense. Have you looked at:
    - Lumen Christi Hymnal
    - St. Jean Breibuf Hymnal
    - St. Michael Hymnal
    - Episcopal hymnals 1940 and/or 1982
    - (probably three or four others I have forgotten)

    Could you get everything you need in two existing books? (Like Lumen Christi + Parish Book of Chant)

    2. If you're going to do it...
    Finale is what the major publishers (WLP, GIA) use. If you like their look (aside from their content) it's a place to start. But they can afford to throw a ton of money at it (as in: hire people to stare at a screen all day for a year making it all look nice)

    Dorico (in my experience using it the last year or so) is great for composing new music, but doesn't seem as easy to use for the minutiae of pew book layout

    Lilypond would be the best option and - in the end - the least amount of work, though your getting started phase will be much higher. The code-based paradigm allows you to automate a lot of the work.