Oramos Cantando - Spanish/English Hymnal from GIA - First Impressions
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Oramos Cantando / We Pray in Song
    Bilingual Catholic Hymnal - English & Spanish
    from GIA

    I got a copy yesterday (Thanks, Fr. Ron Krisman!).

    I have not had time to do a thorough analysis, but here's a few first impressions.

    Overall, the word that occurs to me is: COMPREHENSIVE

    This hymnal is, essentially, a mainstream English-language Catholic hymnal + a mainstream Spanish-language Catholic hymnal, smashed together with everything translated. So you could sing "Come Holy Ghost" in English, Spanish, or both; you could sing "Mañanitas a la Virgen de Guadalupe" in Spanish, English, or both.
    Most (not all, but most) selections have complete translations (as opposed to a verse or two). A few (pieces specififcally written that way) have macaronic verses or refrains (switching back and forth between Eng. and Sp.), but mostly the two languages are stacked on top of each other (like additional verses in a hymn) or, occasionally, side-by-side.

    The other exception to everything being English/Spanish is a handful of Latin-only (or, in the case of the Kyrie, Greek-only) chants. For example 709 is the traditional Mode I Ave Maria chant in Latin. (Fa Do Re Re-La-Te La). Not all Latin chants are left untranslated, though. Regina Caeli (444) and Ubi Caritas (585) are both presented in their entirety in Latin, English, and Spanish. (Just for example - there are others).

    I cannot speak to the quality of the translations, because I do not speak/read Spanish with more than a cursory "I think it's saying X" level of competence. The couple places I "spot-checked" didn't jump out at me as, for example, having different content. The literary quality will need to be judged by someone else.

    This is not a "Chant Hymnal." However, given the (as I understand) lack of vernacular Spanish translations of Gregorian chant currently, the forward movement in this regard is excellent.

    The "Order of Mass" section has most of the ICEL chants (a few items are presented in text-only, which is a regrettable but probably very practical decision), with interlinear or side-by-side Spanish versions of the same. I hope these will be used.

    There's also an ENTIRE Mass setting in Latin-only chant. (Setting Eight: Cantus Missae). The major pieces of it come from the Missa De Angelis, with dialogues from the Missale Romanum and additional material (Credo, Pater Noster, an additional Sanctus, etc.) from other well-known/accessible settings.

    I would have wanted an additional one or two tri-lingual chant settings of the Ordinary (instead of, some of the pop-folk settings included), but they probably would not be used by most congregations.

    Personally - I think it would be very useful. The parish I grew up in (50/50 or so English-Spanish) would have been much better off with this hymnal than with the Pastiche of OCP throwaways, home-made bulletins, and words-only Spanish editions that were there back in the 90s.

    But I do worry that the paradigm being presented here (unified English-Spanish worship, with lots of musical cross-fertilization) isn't the reality in most bilingual parishes. GIA is attempting, with this hymnal, to change bilingual parish culture (at least, as I've known it). I hope they are successful.

    Okay- I have to say a couple things.

    1. If you don't agree with the philosophy/praxis/whatever that guides GIA's production of English-language hymnals, you won't like this one any more or less. It has the same questionable adaptations of the Liturgy of the Hours, the same liberal-bias commentary in the introduction to Mass, the same mix of pop/folk/ethnic songs and hymns. It is a bilingual version of one of their mainstream hymnals. That's either good or bad depending on your view point, but it's a point related to GIA generally, not this hymnal in particular.

    2. The orange cover is awful. I cannot fathom how this happened. I'm serious- that was the first thing my wife and I both said when I pulled it out of the mailing package. GIA: For future reference- don't do that. (And the kerning is off on the English title.)

    Thanked by 2CHGiffen kenstb
  • Thanks for the review! I've been looking forward to this hymnal coming out for some time. I had a preview copy sitting in my office from my predecessor, and I am much more excited about it than I am of That Other Spanish Hymnal.

    Fr. Krisman, I've loved most of the psalms settings I've seen here an in other settings. They have been very useful in diocesan events when we work hard not to exclude our local Spanish-speaking population. Thanks!

    Thanked by 2Adam Wood CHGiffen
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,367
    AW, the color is "adobe" not "orange." So sorry you and your wife do not care for it.

    I'll have someone who knows about kerning look at the cover titles.

    A most fair initial review. Thank you.

    One small point in response to something in your review: The so-called "ICEL Gloria" along with a complementary Spanish plainchant Gloria are not found in the "Order of Mass / Ordinario de la Misa" section at no. 154 because of layout concerns. We were unable to "stack" both languages under a single staff, and having to allot two full pages for two Gloria's, with both of them starting in the middle of a page, was not visually pleasing and would have caused additional layout problems later on in that section. We regrettably included only the two texts of the Gloria at no. 154. The two musical settings are found at nos. 173 and 174.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Thanks for the additional info on the Gloria. I saw the ICEL version further back, but somehow missed the Spanish right next to it.

    The color- well, de gustibus and all that. I think it gives it a weird 1970s YMCA feel, but that's just me. It wouldn't stop me from using it. And I particularly notice because I think GIA's hymnal design and production is of particularly high quality generally. (And I love GIA's standard font set, music engraving, and page-layout for it's hymnals.)

    Bottom line(s):

    1. If I was MD at a parish that resembled the one I grew up in (which many many parishes in the US do), I would want this hymnal in the pews.

    2. I am hopeful that this hymnal makes a big enough splash that other producers/publishers (of all persuasions) take notice and start competing here.
  • I just received the accompaniment books and (more importantly) the Lectionary Psalms volumes for this hymnal.

    Bravo, Fr. Ron Krisman, for your hard work and contributions to this hymnal. This is a huge step forward.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    I remember Fr. Ron promising me a set of accompaniment books when they became available, after winning the "What's wrong with this opera?" trivia question.

    (As we say in Texas: Just sayin'.)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    [For entertainment only. No wagering, please.]
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • For those who want to judge for themselves:


    I really like the overall design of the cover, with a Latin cross, and what I take to be tooling around it with a very subtle Southwestern feel. No wheat stalks or funky swooshes here. As to the kerning, I would say the A-Y needs to be closer together, but other than that it is okay. Maybe the S-O a smidge tighter too.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    Surprisingly dignified cover. OCP covers are getting better.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,431
    I was surprised and pleased one year to see an OCP cover (R and A?) that was a lot like an icon. But the next year it was more abstract. I remember wanting to go through my old R and A's to see if there was a pattern of alternation.

    This is a beautiful cover. The design is almost like a cathedral from above.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Surprisingly dignified cover. OCP covers are getting better.

    This is GIA, which always has nice covers.

    I like the tooling on the cross. Hate the color.
    That's just me.

    I give Fr. Ron a lot of grief on this forum. No one should take that as me thinking ill of him.

    His contributions to, and work on, this hymnal is really outstanding.

    (And when I'm not calling his opinions of metrical accents ridiculous, he's pretty nice, too.)
    Thanked by 1Salieri
  • We procured this hymnal for use at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston, not only for our seminarians, but also in conjunction with our Office of the Permanent Diaconate, who is beginning a spanish-language formation track.

    Overall, I've been pleased with the hymnal, although our use of it is still preliminary (we're transitioning from Worship/Gather and Flor y Canto).

    The spanish-language translation of english hymns / songs is superb. They not only capture the meaning of the text, but they also maintain a nice "flow" of spanish within the rhythm of the hymns.

    The inclusion of spanish-language songs is certainly lacking some of the "standards" that have been a staple of the Flor y Canto, and for that reason we'll most likely keep both Oramos Cantando and FC in our pews.

    However, one "book" that covers both "Gather" and "Worship" as well as some spanish-language songs - with nearly-everything bilingual (including psalmody) - this is impressive.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,372
    We are just starting Fr. Krisman's Mass of Unity, he has done very worthwhile things, especially for Spanish/Bilingual liturgies, - Thank you!
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,530
    I must say I'm very impressed so far: bi- & trilingual vespers & compline, the two obligatory sequences to the gregorian tunes (Veni Sancte trans. by R. Krisman) and the Sanctus from Schubert's Deutsche Messe. There's a metrical index too! But let's see if I can come up with nits to pick too.

    Tunes seem a little bit skewed towards the Anglo-lutheran, although there's an English version of En nombre del cielo, which the Methodist order of service for Los Posadas shouldn't have missed out. I don't see some of the favorites of the neighbor parish's Spanish choir, like "Alabado sea el santisimo."

    Since St David's already uses GIA's Catholic Community Hymnal, there is familiar material for funerals and weddings including Psalms pointed for (selected) Guimont tones. There are bi-lingual gregorian hymns Veni Emanuel, Conditor & Divinum mysterium (Veni creator is missed!) and hymns for our Lady of Guadalupe ("from the sky" would be a bit more vocally hygienic than "heav'ns" imho)

    Adoro te gets 7vv in all three languages, though the English is neither the familiar Woodford nor H1940, but the somewhat quaint anonymous (copyright 1982): "Once a nesting pelican gashed herself to blood/ for the preservation of her starving brood". Would it be such a bad thing to use instead Manley Hopkins?

    Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
    Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—
    Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
    All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

    The tune-only pew edition sent for review is pretty hefty; I'll have to remember to see Thursday if it fits the rack.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,367
    All picked nits are humbly accepted, Richard.

    Regarding the Veni creator spiritus: This is one of those Latin texts for which a Spanish translation in the same meter (LM) seems not to exist. So the hymn appears in OC/WPiS only in Latin.

    But the Argentine poet Francisco Luis Bernárdez (1900-1978) made a Spanish translation using an 11 11 11 11 meter in the early 1950's. It's a fine text, and it also is found in OC/WPiS, with an English translation (in the 11 11 11 11 meter) by Mary Louise Bringle and a new tune (OC/WPiS, no. 460) to fit the meter.

    Regarding "Alabado sea el santisimo" and a few other Benediction hymns whose original text is Spanish, we tried mightily - but unsuccessfully - to get good English translations. In one case we asked four different translators.

    Regarding the English translation for Adoro te devote , It's an ICEL-copyrighted text dating from 1982. GIA chose to use it in all four of its most recently published hymnals. It's "anonymous" only because ICEL never reveals the names of its translators.

    Regarding the Blessed Mother being in the sky, I'm OK with Lucy being there (with diamonds, no less), but God or Mary, no. "Heaven/s" will get my vote probably every time.
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    This is not GIA's best efforts. Although there are some good, salvageable pieces of music, the rest of the selections are culled from the worst that both GIA and OCP have to offer (Bob Hurd, Marty Haugen). We really don't need 700 pieces of mediocre music; rather, just 150 good, solid, sacred hymns would suffice.

    It seems to me that GIA spent more time pandering to stereotypical types and not enough time reading Sacramentum Caritatis. As Benedict wrote, "Certainly we cannot say that one song is just as good as another."