The New English Hymnal
  • cronanyu
    Posts: 4
    In Australia, the Catholic Bishops Conference have approved a list of five hymnals to use including the Catholic Worship Book II, As one Voice, Gather Australia, Together in Song and the New Living Parish Hymnal. Whilst the CWBII is an improvement on it's predecessor, and stands superior to its counterparts, I still believe there are elements found wanting.

    Meanwhile, in the past few months, I have become better acquainted with the New English Hymnal, a book which I prefer despite it's lack of approval by the Bishop's Conference. However, whilst I've been told its use is forbidden in Catholic Churches, I have seen the hymnal used in various metropolitan cathedrals in Australia.

    Would someone be able to clarify whether the use of the NEH is legitimate within Catholic Churches?
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,150
    @Jes ? Care to weigh in?
  • There are those more competent than I about official rules, laws, and canons of the Church. However, if the situation in HM's Dominion of Australia is akin to HM's non-Dominion of the US, there are no 'official' and obligatory hymnals for Catholic churches. A merely 'approved list of five hymnals' does not, it seems to me, necessarily exclude any that aren't on the list. There is every reason to want a better hymnal than is going to be 'approved' by almost any Catholic entity. I have heard of parishes here and there in the US whose priests have put The Hymnal 1940 in their pews. Smart men!

    You would have to do some searching to do better than The New English Hymnal. One alternative would be The Catholic Hymn Book, which is English and published by Gracewing. At least get a reference copy. It is really good (other than notating plainchant with quavers!). Its only dross is a very few maudlin Marian songs.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • JesJes
    Posts: 544
    It is used frequently in Melbourne!

    It might not be "Approved" as such but it isn't "banned" as such.

    I know some of the main churches and cathedrals include NEH stuff and it is indeed a more traditional hymnal not too dissimilar to the old Australian Methodist stuff.

    What I can say is that NEH is approved for use in the ordinariate rite. And preferred by the priests in that rite.

    I would reccommend checking out Hugh and his contributions to working on a hymnal. It's also a great one albeit a smaller collection.

    The catechism states that hymns should derive from scripture. So... if you can find scriptural writing that can go with the melody of the NEH or can find scripture in those hymns then why not?

    Many parishes can't afford hymnals I'm finding so they use public domain hymns and that suits me.

    Not to be scathing of the CWBII because some of my good friends contributed to this I have noticed that even some of the choirs that sang at its opening still haven't invested in their own copies sticking with the old one which is a tad distressing but a stark reality of the financial situation of those parishes.

    Some of my friends also use the old Methodist hymn book they grew up with in grammar school. I will often revise the text in this if I'm using it.

    AOV, GA and TIS are three hymnals I simply refuse to use. One of the cathedrals is letting a lot of Hillsong into their adoration services.

    It is difficult to get on the approved list however the current approved list is a very modern one so if you want to use something older (like NEH) I'd say it has been approved in other rites of Catholic Church and that makes it ok.

    My rule of thumb is.
    1. Ask clergy
    2. Stick to scripture and make sure it fits the liturgy.
    3. Consult the catechism
    4. Ask clergy
    5. If something traditional is knocked back for a reason like "the people don't know that one" then drag out CCC1156-1158 and nitpick the lines you need, it clearly says that the texts sung should be drawn chiefly from scripture but also has more significance when closely connected with the liturgical action and that there should be cultural richness. You can easily argue that the more modern hymns in many cases do not foster cultural richness but rather a slide in cultural standards. The unanimous section won't fit well in this argument however you can argue that if you were to provide copies of the hymnal etc then people can easily join in after thes hymns become the norm, explain that other churches use these hymns and name them, that gives you more standing in the unanimous participation argument.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,632
    Personally, I like The New English Hymnal. The main peculiarity for us from the USA is the setting of the text separately from the music, but since most people in the average congregation here don't read music anyway, I don't think it would pose a big problem for them. And obviously, as with any Protestant Hymnal, those who utilize it in a Catholic setting need to be cautious about what to use and what not to use.

    What I like about it is:

    1) Every section begins with Office Hymns (How many Catholic hymnals do that!), these are given in both their plainchant settings (square notes -- modern notation for accompaniment) and appropriate alternate four-square hymn-tunes.

    2) A huge selection of general hymns so one is not stuck endlessly rotating 'Praise to the Lord', 'Holy God, we praise Thy Name', 'Come, Holy Ghost', 'Holy, Holy, Holy', and 'All people that on earth do dwell', through Ordinary Time, as is the case with most "traditional"-style Catholic hymnals.

    3) A liturgical section that includes many settings that, while not approved texts according to MR3, could well be sung as hymns or anthems, such as the Advent Prose, the Advent Sequence, Psalm 22 and Antiphon for the Stripping of the Altars, etc.

    I think, all told, its a useful book. And everything is spelled properly.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,093
    If we are talking about Mass this is about text and not tunes. The rule (GIRM #48) is, at entrance, offertory and communion
    suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, and whose text has been approved by the Conference of Bishops.
    The Australian list of approved hymns is here. There is no permission for hymns from these books other than those listed. However GIRM gives no rule for the choice of post-communion hymn other than
    a Psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung
    as far as I understand the Latin it applies the praise requirement to any element including a hymn, but does not control the text.
    Thanked by 2Jes CHGiffen
  • JesJes
    Posts: 544
    That's right, so you can pick your text and then use it to the tunes and harmonies from NEH with no issue!
    Thanked by 2a_f_hawkins CHGiffen