Official Latin hymns already translated in the LOTH?
  • Friends,

    The four-volume American version of the Liturgy of the Hours contains many hymns that are unrelated to their respective Hours. The selections seem random, in fact (except for solemnities and feasts). I often wonder if there was ever an "approval" process, or if the publishers of the LOTH just threw in whatever they liked. Some of the hymns are, however, "official" Latin hymns in English.

    Two such examples are in Volume I (Advent-Christmas):

    Conditor alme siderum (pg. 126, Vespers in Advent, as Creator of the Stars of Night)
    Vox ecce clara intonat (pg. 123, Lauds in Advent, as Hear the Herald Voice Resounding)

    Are there any other liturgical Latin hymns translated within the American LOTH, that you're aware of? I'm asking for Volume number and page number, so I may compile a list. It would be appreciated. :)
  • How silly of me; I forgot the two most obvious, again in Volume I:

    Nunc sancte nobis Spiritus (pg. 660, Terce, as Come, Holy Ghost, who ever one)
    Rector potens, verax Deus (pg. 662, Sext, as Almighty Ruler, God of Truth)

    I also want to ask this: there is a rubric on page 121 saying "The following hymns may be sung during the Advent Season..." - does this mean that others may be sung, or can only the ones listed on those pages be sung? Can only the hymns contained in the four volumes be sung? Where does it end? Who decides?
  • Two more in Volume I:

    From the Office of Readings from the Common of Holy Women:

    Fortem Virili Pectore (pg. 1532, as Let us with joy our voices raise)

    From the Office of Readings for the Common of Holy Men:

    Iste Confessor (pg. 1500, as This is the feast day of the Lord's true witness)
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,415
    Latin hymn translation is a complicated business.

    Besides the fact that a lot of translators have more or less given up accuracy during or immediately after verse 1 (Humbly we adore thee, for example), there is the deeper issue of the Urbanite reforms

    Many of our best translations, often done by 19th century English Oratorians or Anglicans, were based on Pope Urban's reforms. At the Lamb's High Feast, for example, is a translation based on a thoroughly rewritten hymn.

    Also, the original meter is often not kept (At the Lamb's High Feast being an example). There are two normal meters used in office hymns, Ambrosian = Church Meter = Long Meter = iambic, and Sapphic or There are a few exceptions but not many.

    The present Liber Hymnarius goes back to the pre-Urbanite versions of the office hymns--wisely, in my view--but also includes a number of current hymns of mixed value. These are noted in the index as "Novus." So one question would be whether the Hours ought to use only time-tested hymns, or whether hymns from the 20th century ought to be included.

    Ben Whitworth is the real scholar on these matters and I hope he or others will correct me if I'm mistaken on the above.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,415
    Another important question is whether the LM hymns ought to rhyme. Some people feel that this would be impossible to do while preserving the meaning of the text, and/ or that rhyme is unnecessary, particularly when chant tunes are used, especially considering that many of the Latin originals do not rhyme.

    I think that rhyme is expected in English hymnody and that it's perfectly possible to have everything: meaning, meter, rhyme, imagery, theology--everything.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,906
    There are two normal meters used in office hymns, Ambrosian = Church Meter = Long Meter = iambic, and Sapphic or There are a few exceptions but not many.

    Kathy, are you sure about this? It seems there are a number of hymns that are NOT iambic (but trochaic), and I thought (plus or minus an 8.7) was also used with some frequency.
  • Very helpful, Kathy. Thank you so much.

    Since many of the Hymn translations thrown into the North American LOTH are based on the recension of Urban VIII, it does seem that we need new translations. The "Hymnal for the Hours" - created by Fr. Weber OSB and released last month - seems like a prime candidate to be a source of those translations. They're not licit and approved for universal English use, though, are they?

    In my sorrow, I assumed the rubrics prevented me from using hymns that haven't been "approved"... but is that necessarily true? The "General Instruction" 175-176 says that a new, twofold cycle of hymns is used for alternate weeks and for the office of readings. Clearly this is referring to the Latin hymns in the Liber Hymnarius.

    177, however, says "New Hymns" may be sung to traditional melodies of the same rhythm and meter. Is this a "way out" of needing official approval for hymns? I mean, if I can find a good hymnal with English translations in the same rhythm and meter as the original Latin hymns (i.e. Fr. Weber's book), would that not be in accord with 177?

    178 does say that conferences of bishops may adapt the Latin hymns for vernacular celebrations, provided that such adaptations are in harmony with the "spirit of the Hour, season, or feast", and "great care must be taken to avoid popular songs". Since this care was evidently not taken with the English LOTH (there's a Cat Stevens song in there!), I don't think the bishops of our North American conferences particularly care which hymn is used. Now isn't that a tacit approval of every hymn?

    The Franciscans in this city regularly take their office hymns from the CBW III - even in public celebrations of the Hours. If they can do it and still fulfill their prayer obligation, why can't anyone else?

    One of my least-favourite attitudes in the Catholic world also seems to be one of the most widespread: "if you aren't obligated to pray the Office, you can do whatever you want". This is not just clericalism or elitism, but an indifference towards Lay participation in the sacrifice of praise. I wish people would stop thinking like that.
  • I am not an expert, but from my impressions of living with and regularly praying the offices with clergy and religious for about a year and half is that the hymns can licitly be omitted when the office is recited and that other hymns may be substituted for the provided hymns. Quite regularly in communal celebrations a hymn from the chapel hymnal would be substituted, and in the Advent/Christmas/Lent/Easter seasons you can either use the hymn provided for the day or use one of the seasonal hymns, or again another suitable hymn. Likewise you could do part of the Liturgy in English and part in Latin (or some other language).

    I think in addition to Fr. Weber's fine contribution, if memory serves the Mundelein Psalter uses hymns which are English translations of the Latin hymns rather than standard American ones, and the Mundelein Psalter has approval of the USCCB to be used throughout the United States (Fr. Weber was involved in that project as well). The newer collection by Fr. Weber has the approval of the Archbishop of San Francisco, which as a hymnal the approval of the bishop in the place of publication is all that is required, but it also has an unofficial recommendation from Cardinal Burke, which should tell you that it is really OK to use.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    I have no recollection that the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has ever decreed that the hymn texts found in the Liber Hymnarius that vary from the versions of the same hymns found in the Liturgia Horarum henceforth replace the latter. It very well may have done just so, and I am not aware of it.

    However, if the CDWDS has not so decreed, is it at all certain that the Vatican will eventually accept the editorial decisions reflected in the Solesmes' Liber Hymnarius?
    Thanked by 1BeniSoitLeSeigneur
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    the Mundelein Psalter has approval of the USCCB to be used throughout the United States

    I don't know what this means.
    Thanked by 1BeniSoitLeSeigneur
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,897
    (1) There are two notations about ecclesiastical approval. The title page says the book is "approved for use in the dioceses of the United States of America by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops". On the copyright page, the 'concordat cum originali' bears Msgr. Moroney's name.

    (2) BeniSoitLeSeigneur mentioned "a Cat Stevens song" in the American LOTH. Does that refer to "Morning Has Broken"? That hymn predates Cat Stevens by a few decades.
  • chonak, I apologize for the inaccuracy. I did not know the song predated him. It is still popularly associated with Stevens, however. The guitar predates Guitar Masses by centuries, but the association is not necessarily ancient.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,415

    You may find this thread to be quite helpful.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    In the English translation from the Vatican website, canon 838 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law reads:
    Can. 838 §1. The direction of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church which resides in the Apostolic See and, according to the norm of law, the diocesan bishop.
    §2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books and review their translations in vernacular languages, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.
    §3. It pertains to the conferences of bishops to prepare and publish, after the prior review (recognitio) of the Holy See, translations of liturgical books in vernacular languages, adapted appropriately within the limits defined in the liturgical books themselves.
    §4. Within the limits of his competence, it pertains to the diocesan bishop in the Church entrusted to him to issue liturgical norms which bind everyone.

    The manner in which conferences of bishops prepare and publish translations of liturgical books, succinctly treated in §3 above, has been consistently adhered to in the United States from the time immediately following the Second Vatican Council. A two-thirds majority vote of the de iure Latin rite members of the USCCB is required for approval of a translation. The subsequent review/approval (the “recognitio”) of the Apostolic See (specifically, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) is also required. That same CDWDS requires that the protocol number of its recognitio as well as the date of the conference’s approval be indicated in the published work.

    Bishops, individually as well as when they are gathered in particular councils or conferences, also have rights and duties concerning “instruments of social communication,” specifically, the publication of books. Can. 823 §1 states:
    In order to preserve the integrity of the truths of faith and morals, the pastors of the Church have the duty and right to be watchful so that no harm is done to the faith or morals of the Christian faithful through writings or the use of instruments of social communication. They also have the duty and right to demand that writings to be published by the Christian faithful which touch upon faith or morals be submitted to their judgment and have the duty and right to condemn writings which harm correct faith or good morals.

    In the United States the entire conference of bishops jointly exercises its oversight in this matter with regard to these most significant publications: bible translations and catechisms and catechetical series. Permission to publish other works which touch upon Catholic faith and morals are the responsibility of the diocesan bishops in whose dioceses those books are to be published. (I am generalizing when I name only the diocesan bishop. The Code of Canon Law contains eleven canons – canons 822-832 – covering this matter. The major superior of a male religious may also, at times, grant the necessary permission to publish.)

    Consult the entire series of canons dealing with instruments of social communication at:

    The wording which Chonak supplies from the title page of the Mundelein psalter ("approved for use in the dioceses of the United States of America by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops") says nothing about when the USCCB granted this approval or when that approval was given the recognitio of the CDWDS. And, as I have been unable to find anything in the Newsletter of the Committee on Divine Worship referring to this approval, I presume that the statement in the Mundelein psalter is hyperbole. (If the USCCB did not take a canonical vote, no one else could grant an “approval for liturgical use,” not the USCCB president, or the chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, and certainly not the executive director of the Liturgy Secretariat.)
    That would mean that the approval mentioned is no more or less than what is required for any book intended to be used by Catholics. And it is no different from the “ecclesiastical approval” given by the Archbishop of Chicago or the Archbishop of Portland for Catholic hymnals published within their dioceses. That approval means that the book is free from errors against Catholic faith and morals. It does not make the hymnal an “approved liturgical book.”

    Concerning Msgr. Moroney’s “concordat cum originali,” that means that he is stating that the text used in the Mundelein psalter conforms to that approved by the then-NCCB in 1974 and confirmed by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship on December 6, 1974.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,897
    Since the Mundelein Psalter was published by LTP, an agency of the Archdiocese of Chicago, I hope they knew how to get ecclesiastical approval for the hymns, but indeed the labeling in the book is vague about it.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    Chonak, I said nothing about hymns. However, since you raise the issue, if the Mundelein Psalter were to contain anything that is not contained in the NCCB-approved Liturgy of the Hours from 1974, it would then not be in full concordance with that canonically-approved text and Msgr. Moroney's "concordat cum originali" would not be totally accurate. In such a case, the wording of the concordat should be made more specific and list everything from the Mundelein Psalter which agrees with the 1974 text (and, perhaps, what does not).

    I have no doubt whatsoever that the Mundelein Psalter was published with the permission of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The issue is not securing permission to publish. The issue is the wording used on the title page. If something has not been submitted to the entire USCCB for approval, then it is incorrect to use the wording "approved for use in the dioceses of the United States of America by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops," because it was not. That is the wording usually put into canonically-approved ritual books.

    Rather, the statement of the "concordat cum originali," with the specificity I mentioned above, if necessary, would have been sufficient to establish that the texts used in the Mundelein Psalter are, in fact, the approved ones from 1974. That statement, plus the diocesan bishop's ecclesiastical permission to publish - which is a guarantee that the book is free from erroneous doctrinal or moral teaching - would be sufficient.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen chonak
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,415
    Fr. Krisman, for those who might not be aware, perhaps you might explain how your background gives your knowledge of these matters both a special insight and something of a stake in their precise character.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,897
    I've only compared the editions for a couple of examples, but it appears that the Mundelein Psalter takes the hymns from the Latin Liturgia Horarum rather than from the 1975 ICEL English Liturgy of the Hours, and presents English translations of those Latin hymns from various sources. Some are from previous hymnals, and many are by the nuns of Ryde and Stanbrook.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen ronkrisman
  • Thanks to Kathy for the kind words, but I am not sure I have much to add here.

    Joseph Connelly (Hymns of the Roman Liturgy, p. xxi) lists no fewer than fourteen metrical forms used in the Breviarium Romanum, though Iambic Dimeter (Ambrosian, LM) predominates, with First Sapphic ( a distant second.

    "Morning has broken" was published some seventeen years before the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens was born. Its text seems to me much closer to the spirit of Latin hymnody than many other modern productions; it reminds me of Venantius Fortunatus' "Salve festa dies" or some of the hymns in the Parisian Breviary. Its main drawback for me is the tune BUNESSAN - or rather, the funereal tempo at which it is customarily sung.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,423
    the funereal tempo at which it is customarily sung.


    I find Morning Has Broken a charming piece. People who complain about it being a Cat Stevens song must likewise not want to sing How Can I Keep From Singing (covered by Enya) or O Sacred Head (tune used by Paul Simon).
  • Morning has broken...somebody fix it.
    Sung by a novice once was enough for us never to sing it again!
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • What has morning broken?
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,906
    In the past, I think morning has broken ... at daybreak.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,565
    Like the first dewfall.

    Someone should have told Cat Stevens not to use Eleanor Farjeon's text, because dew doesn't fall and morning doesn't break.
  • And blackbirds don't speak. (How is this liturgical?)

    I hate that song. Just saying.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,007
    Others have probably made these objections to 'dewfall' and 'daybreak' over the last 400 or 500 years (respectively), but since they are known to have been in common use for all this time I would suggest not wasting time fighting the point. But I would not use this song at Mass.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,906
    It, ummm, dawned on me to check the definition of "daybreak" - which is "dawn" or 'first light" ... and "dewfall" is the formation of dew or the time in the evening when dew begins to form. Also in the 1969 Roman Missal, we have: "Haec ergo dona, quaesumus, Spiritus tui rore sanctifica," which is properly translated into English as, "Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall." And, finally, we have: "Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum" (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just).
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,565
    I was being sarcastic, just to be clear....
  • mahrt
    Posts: 517
    A new translation of the hymns of the Latin Breviary is being prepared by iCEL. These will be metric so that they can be sung to the Gregorian hymn melodies
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,897
    A talk about the project Dr. Mahrt mentions was given at the 2017 Sacred Music Colloquium by Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth; a recording is on-line at Plenary Wadsworth.mp3
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Will the new translation, which I heard was going to come out SOON just be a translation "offered" or "required"?
    Where did people get the idea that any "appropriate" hymn can be used at the Office. It doesn't say that in the Instruction but I've heard that for years.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,897
    That vague wording does appear in at least one place in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours:
    "42. Immediately after [the introduction to Morning and Evening Prayer], an appropriate hymn is sung." (Source: copied from my 1975 edition of the LOTH.)

    Further information, but with a loophole, is given later:
    "178. For vernacular celebrations, conferences of bishops may adapt the Latin hymns to suit the character of their own language and introduce new compositions, provided that these are in complete harmony with the spirit of the Hour, season or feast."

    Alas, if I'm reading n. 178 correctly, I can't say that it actually mandates that the Latin hymns (or translations of them) be used exclusively.

    The project to develop new translations of the classic Latin office hymns is specifically a project commissioned by the USCCB, so we probably should not expect it to be accompanied by any changes to the general documents about the Office. However, Msgr. Wadsworth did indicate in his talk that people would be free to use existing translations of those hymns.
  • smcatharine:

    This is OFFICIAL. Just like the "Roman Missal, Third Edition" is the normative missal, the newly-designated (by the USCCB) "Liturgy of the Hours, Second Edition" will OFFICIALLY REPLACE the current Liturgy of the Hours and become the normative books for the office.

    From everything I've seen, as it was with the missal, this will be a vast improvement over what we've been using since the '70s. The fact that the hymns are being correctly translated and the pedestrian tripe is being excised should make the whole enterprise worth the wait.

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
  • Thanks be to God, the older breviary is still available.
  • Thanks, RMSawicki. I do understand about the new breviary replacing the old one and being the official translation.
    As of now, many religious communities don't use most of the hymns that are in the breviary but choose them from other sources. As I read the Instruction that doesn't seem to really be an option but it is generally considered to be one. Choosing a hymn from an approved hymnal is not the same as using a hymn approved for the Office.
    I guess what I'm trying to ask is do we know if once the new breviary and or hymnal is out (I hear it is supposed to come out first.) will it be clear that the texts of this hymnal are to be used for the Office and not a subjectively chosen hymn? For example if you pray the Office from the EF you pray the hymn that is there for that particular office, not something that someone chooses at random. There was always some latitude in, say, choosing a hymn from the common rather than the ferial but that was about as far as it went.
    It would be super wonderful if like singing THE MASS we sang The OFFICE.
    Does my question make sense?
    I'm looking forward to the new breviary except that for those of us who sing the whole office it is going to mean adapting music yet again. Let's hope this translations lasts more than 50 years.
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • smcatherine:

    Yes, I believe there will be some "tightening up" of rubrics, instructions, etc., with the hope of removing some of the "vagueries" that allowed so much illicit practice to go on for so long.

    The USCCB's website has actually been fairly helpful and informative on this issue. The fact that the bishop's conference's own website made references to accurate hymn translations and usage as being something desired, yet lacking, speaks volumes about genuine improvement in the mindset of those entrusted with this task.

    Yes, let us look forward to the day we are "singing the Office" as well as "singing the Mass"!

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,007
    Yes but while there are the important needs of those obligated to the Office, there are also many others whom the Church encourages to base their prayer on the Office. And over the centuries there have been reduced and adapted versions, of which the Angelus is the most minimal. It is important both to provide clarity and coherence for those obliged to follow the Church's liturgical pattern, and flexibility for the rest of us.
    Thanked by 1RMSawicki
  • a_f_hawkins:

    I couldn't agree more.

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!