The Parish Book of English Hymns
  • This idea came up on another thread but I thought I would highlight it here. What if there were a hymnal of only English hymns, mostly in four parts, with few if any English renderings of chant. No Latin obviously since those are covered in PBC. It could be the Parish Book of English Hymns, with 250 four-square hymns. The people's book would have four parts, same as organ. It could be a hardback that sells for $10 or so. It is published entirely in Creative Commons and is built on public domain resources. It could include some new hymns provided by people on this forum, conditioned on publishing into Creative Commons. It would be a free download too. You could print, copy, publish, or send it via email or do whatever you want with it forever. It would be the first of its kind.

    would that be something desirable? what are the pluses and minuses of this?
  • Gilbert
    Posts: 106
    And it with perfectly compliment the PBC? with no overlap? And only 10 dollars? I'd probably buy several copies. Sounds perfect for dinner parties!
  • PLUS
    Use of original, unadulterated texts.
    Use of solid arrangements.
    Emphasis on Church's musical patrimony, rather than commercial sacro-pop.
    Electronic accessibility.

    Implicitly encourages hymnody at Mass.
    Would need to exclude some excellent music and texts currently under copyright.
    Some hymns are only meant to be sung in unison/octaves and thus wouldn't fit paradigm exactly (Episcopalians' Hymnbook (sic) handles this somehow: a good model)
  • Yes on this minuses. The intro would have to make clear that hymns are not normative. And yet, they aren't going away. We all need them at at least one Mass. The other point is that you can still have hymns WITHOUT replacing propers.
  • I think that it's a wonderful idea. Suggestions: try to stay for the most part in a D-D range. Use standard harmonisations and standard texts. ( A thought:
    what about the inclusion of quality ordinary settings in English? Even if it meant waiting for formal USCCB release?)
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Is there any chance you can add Gregorian chants in that book? I don't know how many parishes can afford to have two hard converd music books in each pew. If they can afford only one, which one would be?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Great idea--I'd be interested in helping to put this together, and/or writing for it.

    Two things missing from what would otherwise be a complete, PBC + PBEH pew edition: Sunday readings and proper chants. Otherwise I could envision a parish church with CMAA-only resources.
  • Right but there are a few very low priced readings/propers only things out there. Look at this for $2.25 each for an entire year of readings/propers/Psalms.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Excellent. Yes, you're right.
  • Sorry, Jeffrey, I believe such an endeavor would be counter-productive to the essential mission of CMAA on more than one level. You can do the math on why I think so.
  • Hmm, that's not obvious to me. Pls drop me an email or mabye call my cell.
  • Was that to me, JT?
  • right
  • Send cell to scurradei at sbcglobal dot net
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,173
    It appears that these annual books usually go for $1.90 each.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,472
    1. Should be a beautiful hymnal - could match the PBC...A download book will not look like a nicely produced hymnal
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,173
    Are 250 hymns enough?
  • It will be beautiful certainly.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    What would be the rational for including particular hymns?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    Do 500 hymns. Adoremus suffers from the mistake of not enough content.
  • The rational would be difficult of course but time tested, the ones we all pull down year after year, with a good sampling for all main liturgical needs. Remember that no Latin need be in here at all. No service music either. No patriotism etc. No, it would not meet every need. The main thing is to make a clear statement that these hymns, all excellent, with solid harmonies and sound texts, are part of the commons and can be done by anyone without licenses, restrictions, etc.. It could be the best hymnal made in many a decade. And yes some new material too, and over the next months we would need to do a solicitation of these.

    My main concern are the hymns that one senses that one cannot do without but are under copyright. "Come Down Oh Love Divine," for example. We would need to approach rights owners to see about putting them into the commons. It could happen.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    Harmony in the pews, YESSSSSSSS!
    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

    Lift High the Cross
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Would this at all be similar to what Noel is doing, or has already done, with his Catholic hymns project?
  • This is a splendid idea which has been waiting to be realised for too, too long. I should think, though, that the issue of copyright vs. commons should not stand in the way of compiling and publishing a Catholic hymnary which might (were it possible???) be an exemplar (and then some)for even the Episcopalians, Anglicans, and Lutherans. It should have a minimum of five to six hundred hymns, including those to which Jeffrey alluded above which form the back bone of any good liturgical hymnal. It should have at least four serious hymns complimentary to the propers and relevant to the lectionary for every Sunday and Solemnity of the year, plus major saints' days, patronal feasts, weddings, ordinations, parish anniversaries, various rituals, etc., etc. It should have several complete masses for festival and 'ordinary' seasons. (These might include something equivalent to Willan, and to Fr Columba's chant settings.) It might, also, contain the proper responsorial psalms and alleluya verses pointed for the Gregorian psalm tones and having, newly composed if necessary, chant-like responds. There should be no imaginable liturgical need for which it does not supply specifically suitable hymns or chants. There should be a generous selection of plainchant hymns in singable translations which are At Least as good as those of G M Hopkins or J M Neale. Editorial policy should be such that not a single item is less than excruciatingly fine music and literature - i.e., it should have less dross than even Anglican and Lutheran hymnals. And, there needs to be at least as many indeces as has The English Hymnal. It goes without saying that it needs to betray not the slightest influence of the gender police. Last - I have often admired the Lutheran method of printing in their hymnals the entire liturgy set to music, including the celebrant's and people's dialogue. This leaves no doubt that sung liturgy is the norm (of which spoken liturgy is the debasement) and leaves no excuse for everyone not to chant his part. (Indeed, those who do not, Will not, sing the mass are like the guest who came to the wedding without a wedding garment!) I hope the above may be suggestive for the general shape of a Catholic hymnbook which will be brought to fruition - and, be taken seriously by all.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I can't imagine why I would need more than 52 hymns. Even one per week seems excessive. Having two to choose from would bring us to about 100. There should be settings of the Marian antiphons, benediction and thanksgiving hymns, and hymns for seasons and solemnities. Some nice chant hymns in English (cf. Mundelein Psalter) would be a good start.
  • M. Jackson, that's just not the book being envisioned here. What you are talking about would be crazy big and require years and a massive staff and be a financial nightmare. Moreover, I don't even see the need for such a tome. Maybe every reference book should reprint the whole of Wikipedia but sometimes it is good just to have a reference book.
  • As regards Noel, he was the inspiration behind this. Really it began with a phonecall from a Dir of Music in a large parish. His hymnals are wearing out in this reform2 parish. He uses propers and ordinary but of course there are times when people sing hymns. One Mass on the weekend uses 4 hymns - the price he pays for the other Masses, so to speak. In any case, he started looking at what is available and couldn't bring himself to get anything from the existing bunch. All he wants are standard hymns that are known with good words that fit the season, with reliable and not wacky arrangements. Not a tall order. but it turns out that he could find not one single thing like that in print. He suggested the idea.

    At the same time, Noel Jones has been independently been working within the creative commons context to liberate hymns. Working with Dr. Mahrt and Turkington and others, we suggested that he formalize this into a possible book from the CMAA, a radical venture to give the Catholic Church a gift in the form of standard English hymns that are reliable and completely open sourced. Master typesetter Jonathan Eason has agreed to jump in here with his excellent eye and expertise to make it consistent and to stay focused on formatting and choices.

    I'm very optimistic about this. I'm sure that this forum will continue to be a great help as we proceed here, not only in posting all the hymns to the list but also in helping to contact publishers who hold copyright protected materials with the suggestion that the music be put into the commons as a charitable gift.

    In time we can start working on a hymn solicitation from people for possible inclusion in the PBEH.

    Once again, none of this would be possible without this wonderful forum and the whole of the CMAA. It's amazing what we can all do working together!

    And let me add a final point about the scope here. Hardly a week goes by when I don't hear about another hymnal that someone is putting together. All of these efforts are great, and one has to be happy about them. but the truth is that most of the go nowhere and the reason is editorial. They have a difficult time containing the scope and the project goes on and on and on and then eventually fizzles with nothing to show for it. We don't want to make the same mistake, hence the 250 benchmark.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    We need desparately to replace our Ritualsongs, but I will not spend $$$ until new translations are finalized. You can imagine what these hymnals look like after years of use for school masses every day, plus 5 masses on weekends. A lot are being held together with red duct tape.
    embarrassing. How come the Epis Hymnal is so much sturdier? Could there be some built-in obsolescence here, resulting in having to replace sooner=more bucks for GIA? (We did replace 100 of the worst ones a year or two ago) Shoot, they don't even get used all that much for the School masses, now I come to think about it- they sing mostly from that United in Christ thing.

    I would love to have more choice when it comes to replacement time.

    Francis is right about Adoremus- not enough choice.

  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I would propose that such a hymnal should have ONLY hymns (and perhaps English chant ordinaries according to the new translation). Leave out the Missal portion, since that's available in the PBC! Then parishes that want the text of the Mass in the pews will have to buy a PBC as well.
  • Precisely, Gavin. We don't need to get into that area. We've done the ordo thing with PBC.
  • tdunbar
    Posts: 120
    I would hope that every tune for hymns in The Liturgy of the Hours would be included. I recently had someone ask me about that and didn't have a good answer (see: comments).
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    A comprehensive treatment of the Liturgy of the Hours is probably not possible in this hymnal, I would think. For one thing, some of the tunes are unique, in irregular meter, and not in the public domain.

    Also, ICEL's revision of the LOH translation is scheduled to begin as soon as the Missal translation is finished, so the value of including all of these hymns would be of short duration.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    My main worries with this project would be:

    1) Any time texts are used which are not explicitly approved by the Church, there are those who will argue whether the text is consonant with the Catholic faith. We see this in the discussions on protestant texts, and even nitpicking on "Now Thank We All Our God". I worry that this project could fall into such nitpicking unless strong editorial decisions are made. (and I might suggest seeking an imprimatur, nihil, etc. to reassure people that all texts are in fact OK)

    2) I would not want to see this project eclipse the PBC. The PBC, I repeat, is the music of all Catholics and belongs in every Catholic pew. Perhaps there could be a reduced-cost bundling of the PBC and PBEH (fun to pronounce) or something. And as we discussed above, make sure PBEH lacks those things which can be found in PBC.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,035
    One way to keep a focus on the types of hymns you want is to limit it to those that would work as opening and closing hymns. For many years my parish has sung hymns only at theses points in the mass at its principal masses with advantages that I do not have to point out to the readers of this forum. We have gotten no complaints (that I know of!), and has weaned at least part of the parish off the 4-hymn sandwich. This would help to discourage singing the hymns instead of the propers, at least at offertory and communion.

    I also second the idea of of tdunbar - hymns for the LOH should be seriously considered as well. Many are sung at mass already in English translation (e.g. Come, Holy Ghost) and many more could be either to the chant tunes or solid foursquare hymns.

    Also, there are many many old hymn tunes out there which are almost unknown but are worth resurrecting. Two hymnals edited by Theodore Marier in the 1950s and 60s - Pius X and Cantus Populi - include a number of them, not to mention even older books from the early 20th century like "Songs of Syon." (I understand that some of the harmonizations and words may be copyrighted, but the tunes cannot be.)

    Sam Schmitt
  • We consistently use English hymns in recessionals. I can't imagine that most parishes will achieve a world in which they are entirely absent.

    I'm wild for the idea of office hymns. The back of Mundelein Psalter itself make a great hymnal.The problem here is: should the focus be on the hymns that people do sing (excluding of course hymns they should not sing) or on the hymns that people should sing? Realistically, too much focus on the latter would make the hymnal too pie in the sky.
  • tdunbar
    Posts: 120
    My personal preference would be: 104 that folks do sing and another 104 that folks should sing and another 52 hymn settings of psalms..with the three categories interleaved.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "should the focus be on the hymns that people do sing (excluding of course hymns they should not sing) or on the hymns that people should sing?"

    Both. People should see things they're familiar with and feel comfortable introducing something new. My suggestion would be maybe 20-25% new stuff and enough familiar stuff that people will be comfortable with the book. Also, go here to see what else such a hymnal should contain:
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Sorry, but I'm worried. This is a wonderful idea, but the little treasure PBC hasn't even spread into the pews of the churches yet. I hope this hymnal doesn't overshadow PBC, as 4 sandwiched hymns already took over chants in most average parishes.
  • that's a good worry
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Right on Jeffrey and Gavin. I would go a step further than rich_e and suggest focusing on hymns that would work as a hymn after Mass. Also, to avoid objections ("Now Thank We All Our God"), I would suggest using strictly liturgical hymns (from the Office, sequences from the Mass, the Tantum ergo, Crux fidelis), metrical psalms, as well as translations of traditional Catholic texts (Panis angelicus, Ave verum, Marian hymns) rather than original hymns, whatever their source or quality. There might, for instance, be 6 or 8 musical settings of the Salve Regina - a great variety without a broad scope. The Magnificat can be sung as a general use hymn after communion any week (cf. Graduale Simplex), so why not provide several quality settings of that as well? Of course, all with excellent English translations.

    These are just my four cents - feel free to disregard them if they are beyond the scope or intent of your (very worthy) project!
  • I should add that the sequence of course will be to 1) publish online, and 2) only later in print. This would have the outstanding merit of permitting revisions and also making it clear (for the first time ever?) what hymns are part of the commons in every respect with no weird slicing and dicing between words, music, and typesetting.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    The "no weird slicing and dicing hymnal project."

    I really like the idea of a combined PBC + PBEH, although I see the merits of leaving them separate.
  • there might be a future in that too
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    It might be wise for the book to conform to ...

    2001-may-7 Liturgiam authenticam
    # 108 "...Within five years from the publication of this Instruction,
    the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the
    national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts,
    shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of
    texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be
    transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation
    for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments."

    2001-dec Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy Principles and Guidelines

    2006-xxx FDLCnew.ppt
    (right click and save now, you never know when it might disappear!)
    (in fact, I thought there was also another file, but cannot find it)
  • Furthering incantu's suggestion re:liturgical hymns, those hymns culled from the Office definitely should be labeled as such…prominently. It would help raise awareness of their proper place in the Roman liturgy.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,188
    i am very much looking forward to this possibility. Again ,in the context of the new mass translations, it seems opportune to begin to make these changes. Parish book of chant, disposable readings resource and Parish book of English Hymns. I already have three things in the pews. so no big deal.
    Keep us posted.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,948
    I would like to see some decent communion hymns. We do Communion propers but also do hymns. The communion hymns in RitualSong are beyond wretched.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    52 weekends * 4 hymns = 208 hymns with no re-use, so, why 250+ hymns?

    "weaned at least part of the parish off the 4-hymn sandwich"

    If the current use of hymns is to have music at Introit, Offertory, Communion,
    why do we need four hymns per Mass?
    Can we encourage an open-face sandwich?
    I only find mention of the fourth/recessional/final hymn in
    1967-mar-05 Musicam Sacram # 36
  • Jeffrey, in such an effort I would be willing to offer any of my hymn texts for use.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Yeah, what ever happened to that "approved common repertoire" of song texts that we were all talking so much about a year or two ago? Did that just get dropped in light of the new Mass translation?