Best Hymnal in English
  • Jehan_Boutte
    Posts: 173

    Out of curiosity, what is, in your opinion, the best Hymnal in English, and why is it? If so, do you use it in your church?

    Thank you all in advance, and have a most blessed Eastertide.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 989
    I suppose a proper response partly depends on its intended usage and whether or not you mean hymnals currently being published. Also do you mean a hymnal specifically billed as catholic? In reality, there is no "best" hymnal. Assuming you mean a "catholic" hymnal:

    The St. Gregory hymnal is well-beloved but is long-defunct (although reproductions can be purchased). This is a heavily-latin hymnal, however, and would be anathema in most N.O. parishes. It's really more useful for scholas.

    Recently Corpus Christ Watershed made a very nice hymnal which is a treasure trove of rich texts (St. Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal) however it is full of its own idiosyncrasies which will be off-putting to some.

    Then there's the St. Michæl Hymnal which is a great all-rounder which is traditionally oriented but intended for use in N.O. parishes. I played for one church which had it and I was happy with it and vastly preferred it to other hymnals I'd used elsewhere.

    There are many well-beloved Anglican hymnals such as the Hymnal 1940 which are quite excellent as well, and, frankly, more orthodox in their approach than many modern hymnals which are specifically billed as catholic.

    I would personally avoid just about anything published by GIA or OCP like the plague.
  • davido
    Posts: 516
    The best English language hymnal is The English Hymnal (1906, 1933), first published at one of the high points of research and hymnal production. It’s contents and tunes are referenced and relied on by Protestant hymnals throughout the 20th century - Lutherans, Episcopals, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists, the sort of ecumenism that VII and the 20th century in general has ruined.
    It was developed and used by Anglo-Catholics. The musical editor was Ralph Vaughan Williams. It contains some dross, but generally is for the sort of liturgy that the Anglo-sphere could have adopted after V II, but which it rejected.

    For a practical hymnal, Serviam nails it.
  • The two absolute best are listed above -

    The Hymnal 1940 - used at the cathedral church and throughout the Ordinariate.

    The English Hymnal (1906), edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams
    (An admirable feature of TEH is that the generous plainchant offerings are in square notes)
    TEH is better than even the 1940

    Hymns Ancient and Modern - indispensable as the grandfather of The English Hymnal and others that followed it.

    The Catholic Hymnbook
    Another very fine English Catholic hymnal, published by Gracewing
    Other than a very few embarrassingly purple Marian hymns it has almost no dross
    Its only real fault is that the plainchant is given in eighth notes (sad! in these days)

    Lumen Christi Hymnal
    In my opinion the finest American Catholic hymnal
    it has a complete section of totally impeccable hymns and tunes,
    then a second section with all the office hymns in translation and set to their original plainchant tunes (with round noteheads).

    (The greatest fault of every American Catholic hymnal is that, even if its hymns and tunes are admirable they do not supply hymns for every solemnity or great feast day. And those that they do supply for have only one or two lackluster examples to choose from when what one needs is at least four hymns of some substance and gravitas - for every solemnity!)
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 878
    I find nothing to question in Jackson's list.

    Brébeuf is simply not in the running for a laundry list of reasons which have already been discussed to death on this forum. In particular, providing forty different translations of each Office hymn does not elevate your "Catholic-est" hymnal over "Protestant" ones - it just expands the book for no real reason.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,706
    Jackson is absolutely correct in his list and in his supporting comments.
  • Jehan_Boutte
    Posts: 173
    I suppose a proper response partly depends on its intended usage and whether or not you mean hymnals currently being published. Also do you mean a hymnal specifically billed as catholic? In reality, there is no "best" hymnal.

    Thanks for your answer. I meant a Hymnal either of Catholic origin or which could be used within the Roman rite of the Catholic Church.
  • davido
    Posts: 516
    Then in the US: Lumen Christi and St Michael Hymnals. The Catholic Hymnbook I have not seen, but is probably the best English offering.
    Although, you can use The English Hymnal. It’s very catholic.
  • Jehan_Boutte
    Posts: 173
    I have a scan of the English Hymnal, which seems like a very fine book (though the scan has several pages missing). As Jackson stated, it gives both a plainsong and a modern tune to each hymn, which is great.
    I also like the fact it provides all propers at the end of the book.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 513
    If you're looking for a hymn book of good Catholic hymns, I would recommend A Catholic Book of Hymns. This is a wonderful collection of hymns for congregational and choir singing.
  • oldhymnsoldhymns
    Posts: 167
    I would agree with Don9of11 and would suggest the recently published A CATHOLIC BOOKS OF HYMNS if you are looking for a hymnal consisting of hymns that a congregation would really sing. It includes nearly 300 hymns that are useful for all occasions, including many truly Catholic devotional hymns that are not available in other sources at the present time.
  • Lumen Christi Hymnal for me.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,598
    A Catholic Book of Hymns

    Email me for the index:
  • DanielCDanielC
    Posts: 37
    Hi @Jehan_Boutte
    I worked up this article last year... I hope you will find it helpful!
    God bless your day today,
  • Perhaps the best American Catholic hymnal ever was the modest “Our Parish Prays and Sings” published by Collegeville Press in 1959. This slender volume is packed with everything a parish could need. (Even today!) It contains thirteen Gregorian masses and about one hundred hymns—mostly in English. (The Ambrosian Gloria--yes!)

    In the preface, the editors wrote: “The hymns contained in this collection have been selected on the basis of the conformity to the norms laid down by Pius XII in the encyclical “Musicae Sacrae Disciplina”, namely: (1) “they must express sound Catholic doctrine and explain it accurately”; (2) “they must use simple melody and plain language, free from pompous and meaningless verbiage”; (3) “they must manifest religious dignity and seriousness.” The hymns in this collection surely meet Pius’s criteria. The small collection of hymns could serve the needs of a liturgical year quite adequately. Sprinkled throughout are short chant-based antiphons in Latin and English that would be wonderful to use.

    A parish, today, that has an EF mass would find this book to be practical and of enriching benefit. Ordinary Form masses that sing the Latin Ordinary would find this book useful, also. (I like the English translation under the Latin. If people know what they are singing about, they are friendlier to Latin chant.)
    1399 x 2056 - 854K
    2396 x 2280 - 1M
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,373
    Then there's the quartet: The Pius X Hymnal that Theodore Marier edited, then his own Cantus Populi, and then Hymns Psalms and Spiritual Canticles' first and second editions (~1975 and 1983).
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 227

    Counterpoint: just ran into this 1906 St Basil's hymnal. Quite possibly the worst old hymnal in English I have seen. Complete organ-grinder Tin Pan Alley takeover. Unerringly bad taste.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • But, the NEW St Basil Hymnal (1958ish) is one of the best ever. They fixed things!
    Thanked by 1rich_enough
  • We still sing from the Marier HPSC. Love this book.
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 227
    From that 1906 St Basil’s, worth mentioning their section on "Mass Hymns" - including a hymn at the Sanctus - that I have never encountered before. I wonder how long people did this for. Attached here. Fascinating. Glad to see it go.
  • m_r_talor :

    several books have been uploaded which contain more items like the one you mention:

    when vernacular hymns were sung at low Masses

    * including William Henry Cardinal O’Connell of Boston.

    I'd be interested to see examples from other countries.