The Parish Book of English Hymns
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    With respect, incantu, I disagree with these points:

    "to avoid objections ("Now Thank We All Our God"), I would suggest using strictly liturgical hymns"
    The main problem with this is that people are buying this hymnal (hypothetically) for the "objectionable" hymns. The ideal buyer wants to only use the best hymns when he has to, and give his congregation familiar hymns to sing as well as quality orthodox hymns. In short, this hymnal will be irrelevant and unpurchased if it doesn't have "Praise to the Lord", and it would then fail to make the larger point that GIA has no right to copyright that hymn.

    "There might, for instance, be 6 or 8 musical settings of the Salve Regina - a great variety without a broad scope."
    As a matter of personal bias, I dislike this feature in many hymnals. I'm a big fan of one tune per text. And with how much the successful Catholic parish would use hymns (once or twice per Mass), such repetition would be useless. This is, of course, a matter of my preference.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    I find this phrase of Jackson's very attractive:

    Editorial policy should be such that not a single item is less than excruciatingly fine music and literature.
  • Gavin, I agree with you, for whatever that is worth. For that matter, I would like to see hymns of this sort go away, but they aren't anytime soon, and therefore they should be at least as available to the commons as the chant is now (to cite a point AVOZ made to me earlier today)
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 756
    An English Hymnal for 21st century Catholics?
  • There are many public domain hymns in English and tunes from British and Scandinavian sources upon which no copyright is claimed. I'm from the Anglican diaspora, and I grew up singing many of these things (and plainchant in English). There are also a number of Eucharistic Hymns of the Wesleys which are profoundly catholic. Put that together with the translations of J.M. Neale, Caswall, Palmer, Moultrie and Catherine Winkworth and one would have a very solid and useful book.

    Some years ago the Western Rite Parish of St. Gregory the Great of the Antiochian Church published a hymnal "The Saint Ambrose Hymnal" that is a real gem. Much of the hymnal is in the public domain, and apart from a few very Orthodox items, it reads as a successor to the sort of hymnal Winfred Douglas produced in the Episcopalian Hymnal 1940. It may prove to be a useful reference point as your project develops.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I find the one-text-per-tune model tends to make people think that the text and tune were written to be sung together, which is most often not the case. And if I want to sing a Marian hymn after Mass, I might get tired of singing the same one twenty weeks in a row (unless, of course, it was the chant...).

    But I did mean "strictly-liturgical" (as well as other hymns) and not "strictly-focusing."
  • Perhaps some texts should appear without music so that one could change tunes depending on the meter of the verse ... or so that one may play -- without cause for confusion -- a hymn tune under copyright not found in the book or a tune from elsewhere in the book.
  • tdunbar
    Posts: 120
    re St Ambrose hymnal, see:
    and page on hymnal link:
  • tdunbar
    Posts: 120
    that page on hymnal link also has link to a little document:

    A Manual of
    Church Music
    for Western Rite Orthodox Musicians

    which readers here will find interesting, I think.
  • Rebecca Alford (of "The Saint Ambrose Hymnal") is also a gifted composer of hymn tunes. The SAH includes her marvellous tune "LaPorte".

    Speaking of marvellous tunes: the tune "Nashotah House" in "The Saint Michael Hymnal" was written recently for Cardinal Newman's "Firmly I believe and truly" by the very gifted Anglican Canon who is professor of music and liturgics at the Anglo-Catholic/Episcopalian seminary Nashotah House. The tune is vastly superior is Shipston or any others paired with the text.

    Also the Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ have produced a very useful hymnal "The Summit Choirbook" and Sister Editor writes of her gratitude to those copyright holders who waived their fees. I suspect Sister would be willing to help with this project in regard to texts and tunes copyrighted by the Dominican Nuns of Summit.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    Thank you all for a fascinating and thoughtful conversation.
    I want to second praise for The Summit Choirbook. (The Routley forward is priceless.)
    I can't remember, (don't get old. Or perhaps I mean, don't imbibe to excess in the middle of the day...), did i already mention here that The New English Hymnal has a fair number of public domain English translations of Office Hymns? Each is provided with square note chant melody, modern notation accompaniment, and a second 4-pt metric hymntune.
    For what its worth, Fr Samuel Weber has declared himself dead-set against introducing Office Hymns into the Mass, (the conversation veered off into another direction and I never found out the precise reasons.)

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    'Fr Samuel Weber has declared himself dead-set against introducing Office Hymns into the Mass,"

    Interesting. Maybe he doesn't want to mix the music of two different litrurgies and keep them seperate, so we don't neglect either one? (especially the Office in these days.)
  • I agree, Adoremus does not have enough hymns. This should be grander in scope.
  • All due respect to Fr Weber, but the Ave maris stella and Conditor alme siderum (and others) have been sung at Mass for a good long time. That horse left the barn during the Renaissance. Office antiphons also served as the texts for motets, which also were sung at Mass during the 16th century. Personally, I'd like to see a hymnal that offers a nice mix of the well-known and the "really should be well known". CMAA might find itself responsible for spreading some very fine hymns that were heretofore little known.
  • have any of you ever seen this amazing ICEL book from 1981? It seems like the best hymnal to ever appear in the Catholic setting. Rough assessment. All public domain -- and then they go an copyright it (typography, don't ya know), and then GIA buries it and that's the end.

    Adoremus actually doesn't have many hymns. Once you remove service music and ordinary settings and consider how many spill over page after page, not much left.
  • I have it, Jeffrey. Yes, along with the Air Force Hymnal, it was a serious piece of work for me at the time. Still have it, somewhere's in the office.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    Speaking of translated office hymns, I have a copy of this book containing about 89 of them. Does anyone have any idea whether it would be useful to others?

    Office hymns of the church : together with the official and some additional sequences in their plainsong settings with Latin and English texts

    By: Fitts, Dudley, 1903-1968-
    Pfatteicher, Carl Friedrich, 1882-
    Catholic Church. Breviary. Hymns. English & Latin.
    Subjects: Catholic Church Hymns.
    Hymns, English.
    Hymns, Latin.
    Published: Boston : McLaughlin & Reilly, c1951.
    Description: xvii, 106 [i.e. 190] p. of music ; 24 cm.
    Notes: Modern notation.
    Opposite pages in part numbered in duplicate (1, 1a, etc.)
    Publisher No.: 1541
    M.&R. Co. 1541

    It contains translations by Neale, Chambers, Caswall, Ellerton, Woodford, Oxenham, Charles, Blacker, Irons, Schaff, Moultrie, Chadwick, Palmer, and a few by the editors Fitts and Pfatteicher.

    A sample scan of one hymn is available online.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,473
    I like the messages above. I think the book should contain:
    1.A good selection of Catholic hymns that have been sung for many years eg: Holy God We Praise, Immaculate Mary, a selection which will cover the Catholic hymns that people already know. Arranged for the liturgical year. (don't like an alphabetical hymnal - that's what an index is for!)
    2. A choice of excellently written mass settings for congregational use. Schubert Deutsche Messe, Proulx masses, others of good quality,
    3. English versions of the sequences
    4. A selection of hymns for exposition and benediction, and a selection of office hymns (of course many of these are sung at mass as well)
    5. A rich selection of Catholic hymnody that has been truly neglected in modern Catholic hymnals. Hymns by Faber, Caswell, Neale, the Tractarian and Cecilia movements.
    6. The best of the modern repertoire.
    7. A good selection of proterstant hymnody that is part of our singing repertoire- subject to careful consideration of theology
    The models we are familiar with: Hymnal 1940 (and the great line of Anglican hymnals), Classic Lutheran hymnals (like the one that started this whole discussion) the St. Michael Hymnal
    We do have great Catholic tradition of hymnody - as we resurrect chant, we can also redeem the rich tradition of our hymnody.
    Now here are some other tough questions:
    1. Do we include Spanish hymnody (can we really ignore this?) St. Michael Hymnal does include Spanish tunes.
    2. So we include psalm responses?
    3. Do we include readings or lectionary items?
    64 comments in three days!!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    The last two questions are probably pretty easy: ICEL owns the psalm responses and USCCB owns the readings; GIA will run licensing for the new psalter. Although one-time use of the material is allowed (right?), probably none of these organizations will give a royalty-free license for using the material in a book.
  • Do any of you know the WESTMINSTER HYMNAL - Catholic - (out of print), which was put together by Richard Terry in Engliand. If you do not know of it, I greatly urge you to find a copy. A Catholic Hymnal along those lines, I think, would be just what is needed!
  • Chonak, the problem is even more serious than that. The goal is not for the CMAA to obtain freebie music or whatever. That's not the idea. We aren't looking for a handout. The point is to actually MAKE the music free by releasing the best of the Catholic hymn repertoire into an edition that is part of the commons. So, no, we don't want to publish anything for which a proprietary claim is being made, not even if the claimant makes an exception for this book. The goal is a 100% clean book, the distribution of which is unencumbered by any thicket of rules and threats.
  • tdunbar
    Posts: 120
    >>The goal is a 100% clean book, the distribution of which is unencumbered

    yes, that would be wonderful. and much needed in this internet age.
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 774
    Turns out, I needn't comment on the consensus problem; you all seem to be proving the point. I will mention, however, that there are three layers involved in a hymn project: tune, text, and harmonization. Each may have its own copyright issue; each may have multiple versions, and each version its devoted partisans.

    Then again, the work involved in editing, engraving, and proofreading 250 (or 500, or 52, or whatever) hymns is daunting, and not the kind of work that a buck-fifty a pop will cover anytime soon.

    Then yet again, echoing Mia (without any thought to my own stake in PBC, naturally), I wonder if such a project might not undercut CMAA's advocacy of chant generally, and Propers in particular, given its recent history advancing their cause over and against the prevailing ubiquitous hymns. Or are we claiming victory already? or perhaps defeat?
  • Well, Richard, this is the #1 concern. I foresee no great marketing campaign. Essentially it comes down to a comment that AVOZ made to me the other day. The CMAA should do for hymns what it did for chant: free them into the common life of Catholics. Think what this will mean for the parish down the street. Sober, clear, good hymns in the commons as vs. what goes on now, and I mean what really goes on right now. Imagine this as a stepping stone. The fact is that even Mahrt, who is as strong an advocate of propers as exists on the planet, would like a bundle of hymns in English to use for various purposes. who but the CMAA to break the barriers and do what no one has done in 200 years?
  • I've been waiting for a project like this to get organized for a long time! Very exciting!

    Since this will be an "open source" project why not let its development be an "open source" (community) effort? Why not open a development wiki where we can begin compiling texts, tunes, harmonizations, author and composer information, etc.? There could be moderators/editors who keep things on track, but I can bet you that this community could compile all of the data that we need, even produce fresh engravings, in no time. I bet that I'm not the only one who has my own digitally engraved scores that I would be willing to bring forward. I bet that we could find scans of open source engravings to be used as refrences and organize then in no time. Decisions would need to be made on engraving platform (Sibelius, Finale, Lilypond, etc.) but after the grunt work is done post-processing, formatting and tweaking can be done with minimal effort. Perhaps this development conversation could be taken to the next level by user contributions and group discussion and comments on texts, tunes and harmonizations. I would be more than happy to host it at What do you think?
  • I forgot to mention that much of this work is already done with sources such as and! Cyberhymnal even has midifiles that can easily be imported into programs like Sibelius and turned into scores.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    I'm not terribly fascinated by the economic ramifications of the project. I'm just looking forward to a hymnal that is ALL good.
  • well, this might a case in which sharing could actually cause delays. Every day, constantly 24/7, Jonathan and Noel are trading files and text with relentless improvements while controlling for versions. It is fine for either to post to the forum what they are doing but no need to create delays and mixed up files and things, in my view. The entire thing can go up in an organized way and then everyone can comment. Also, when the complete index is done, we can share it with the group in the form of a spread sheet.

    by the way, this thread has been of enormous benefit to these two!
  • A Catholic Cyberhymnal might be nice, but for those folks who want a quality hymnal in the pews and cannot print a million sheets (and prefer not to set up powerpoints), Jeffery's print version might be the better option. No printed hymnal will please everyone, but this sounds like a great idea. It also sounds like it has been done before from all the posts I see above, but somehow those good hymnals fall into obscurity w/o the big publishers behind them.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    Just a FYI, Linda Schafer, editor of the St Michael Hymnal says the tracking down adn securing of copyrights for a book of that size which contains a good portion of non-PD works is a task whose scale is simply not to be believed.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,021
    To whatever extent I can lend a hand, please, count me in. I use Finale to create both melody line only and organ accompaniment versions of hymns. I have quite a collection digitally, and even more in my hard-copy hymnal collection. In general, I prefer original texts, and I'll dig pretty deep to find them. Tunes and harmonies are about the same, but with some leeway for slightly better organ accompaniments than possibly the originals - they are rare, but the do exist. My email address is public on this forum. Just add it to any list of people who want help.
  • The other internet source with a great deal of PD material is the Rev. Steve Benner's (Episcopalian) "Oremus Hymnal" and the URL is

    I have the 1981 ICEL book and there is a great deal there (of course one would need to make original engravings which can be done in Finale as Steve mentions above).

    Original texts or their generally accepted shape by "Mid-Century" ca. 1950 would be a genuine gift to the Church.
  • here are the hymnals that Jonathan and Noel are consulting.

    Also they welcome your own submissions of particular hymns. They can send a .mus template and tell you what has already been done.

    "Jonathan Eason"
    "noel jones"
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Richard's concerns remind me of a homily once given by my pastor about what a problem the homeless are. The homeless this, the homeless that. I think what he had meant to say was the problem of homelessness.

    Likewise, I can't imagine that too many CMAA members object to hymns in general, vernacular or otherwise. The objection is with their being used in place of the chants of the Mass. I don't see too much of a problem with publishing a collection of hymns for the Office, prayer meetings, school assemblies, and private devotions as long as it isn't titled "Hymns for the Mass." As others have pointed out, there's a veritable tradition of singing a hymn after Mass that long predates Vatican II. If you've sung your 5+5 already, and hopefully the acclamations and responses, why not an Ave stella maris?

    And chonak, I for one would like to see those other hymns!
  • Chrism
    Posts: 869
    This is a wonderful project. I also would prefer 2,500 hymns but would settle for 250.

    My concern with adding Neale and other work by "small-c catholic" Protestants is that they ought to be sent to Lyric RCIA before inclusion. Perhaps someone knows a hard-nosed traditional theologian who can wow us with his scrupulous alts and then release them to the public domain? This would help answer complaints that might arise when the hymnals arrive in the pews. One of the complaints I've heard about Adoremus is that it includes "Protestant hymns".

    It would also be nice to see the sources of the hymns listed explicitly somewhere in the hymnal.

    All that said, whether you ignore the above or not, I think I will be a very happy consumer of the digital edition, and I expect there will be a market. I know one parish that is down to a 20-hymn OCP whitelist.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    I volunteer for the scrupulous alts remedial catechist position. No wows guaranteed. A good tailor is never noticed.

    Who is keeping track of what needs to be done, and who's going to do it? Jeffrey, where's Arlene?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    Please, let's not alter the lyrics of hymns. Omitting a stanza is fine if it contains a truly unacceptable theological expression, but I find subtle changes deplorable. However well-intended they are, the effect is an Orwellian effort to tamper with memory.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "Perhaps someone knows a hard-nosed traditional theologian who can wow us with his scrupulous alts and then release them to the public domain?"

    I echo Chonak's concerns. Not to mention, it doesn't matter if Pope Benedict himself reviews the texts, it won't be good enough for some. At the end of the day, lulu (or whomever is "publishing" this) just has to say "don't like it, don't use it."

    The point is to show off the treasure of free, public domain hymns. Not to show that we're better at bowlderizing the texts than OCP is.
  • Jonathan and Noel are working through a spread sheet right now and will share it when it is presentable. Nothing will be printed until everything has been seen by everyone, so all comments and criticisms can be taken into account. As regards printing, this can't be done on demand. hardback on-demand printing is unaffordable really, at least it doesn't work financially. So we'll have to take the plunge with 3000 or so. I hope to have time soon to put together a notice on new hymn solicitation.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    I don't believe Chonak and Gavin have responded to Chrism's question.

    Neale's translations are sometimes missing important theological elements that were in the Latin originals. Yet the translation is commonly considered the standard. Poetically they are superior, if sometimes markedly 19th-century in diction. Are these the translations this hymnal will opt for?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    A missing theological element is not as much of a problem as an added erroneous theological element. I recommend taking action on the latter only, and that the action should be to omit the stanza (or possibly to substitute it from another translator's long-standing PD version, if available).
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    So it's okay to bowdlerize the Latin original, but not the English copy?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    "Bowdlerize" implies intent. Are you making a case that, say, Neale omitted theological elements for ideological reasons?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Yes, this is my understanding.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    That's interesting. I don't know much about Neale's story. If he left explanations of his translations and if they show that he went out of his way to exclude some point of doctrine expressed in an office hymn, then that would vitiate his translation of it. For some people, that would be reason enough not to sing such a version. OTOH, some would be willing to use such a version as long as it does not contain any express error.

    Of course, we can't jump to conclusions just based on an omission alone. Some expression might have been omitted for poetical reasons.

    From a cursory search on the net, it seems that Neale held high-church Anglican views, founded a Anglican women's religious order, and was suspected of Catholic sympathies. Based on that, the burden of proof should probably be substantial.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    Here's another resource: The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal, 1922.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    I realize that this quotation depends on hearsay, but it is from a source considered to be authoritative.

    "Before quitting the subject of Dr. Neale's translations from the Latin, it is only fair to notice that while they have been almost universally accepted by the English Church, and some of them adopted by dissenting congregations, they called down upon the translator a storm of indignation from an opposite quarter. The Roman Catholics accused him of deliberate deception because he took no pains to point out that he had either softened down or entirely ignored the Roman doctrines in those hymns. So far, they said, as the originals were concerned, these translations were deliberate misrepresentations. As however the translations were intended for the use of the Anglican Church, it was only to be expected that Neale should omit such hymns or portions of hymns as would be at variance with her doctrines and disciplines." John Julian, A Dictionary of Hymnology, 2nd revised ed., 1907.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500

    p. 788
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    My basic question is, will this hymnal be markedly Catholic? What will distinguish it from the 1940?