150 Indispensable Catholic Hymns?
  • Cross-posted at the Chant Café. This is a very casual post. No desire to create a "white-list" repertoire, et cetera. I would really love to hear thoughts from the collective wisdom of this forum!


    A Chant Café poll:

    Imagine that you are in a parish that is slowly and gradually transitioning from "4-hymn sandwich" liturgy to singing the proper antiphons of the Mass. You are doing catechesis on the nature of the proper antiphons as being integral to the liturgy, and are helping your parishioners understand that singing hymns in place of these proper texts is ultimately a substitution for something that is a substantial part of the liturgy. You realize that hymns will not likely disappear from your parish's liturgical celebrations any time soon and you need a small collection of congregational hymns that can serve you through this process of transition, and can serve as supplemental congregational material for liturgical and devotional use even after the propers have been restored to their rightful place.

    Which 150 hymns do you want to have in the pews of your parish? Based upon consistency with Catholic doctrine and Church teaching, sound tradition, beauty, dignity, effectiveness, and so on and so forth, which hymns should every Catholic be familiar with and be comfortable singing?

    Here is my current working list at my parish. What is missing? What should be removed? Why? Please share your thoughts!

    (all chant hymns listed by their Latin title presume a singing translation in English in addition to the Latin text)

    • A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing
    • Adoro Te Devote (chant)
    • All Creatures of Our God and King
    • All Glory, Laud and Honor
    • All People Who on Earth Do Dwell
    • All Praise to Thee, My God This Night
    • All You Who Seek a Comfort Sure
    • Alleluia, Alleluia
    • Alleluia, Sing to Jesus
    • Alma Redemptoris Mater
    • Angels From the Realms of Glory
    • Angels We Have Heard on High
    • As With Gladness Men of Old
    • At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing
    • At the Name of Jesus (Vaughan Williams tune)
    • Attende Domine (chant)
    • Ave Maria (chant)
    • Ave Maris Stella (chant)
    • Ave Regina Caelorum (chant)
    • Ave Verum Corpus (chant)
    • Away in a Manger (not Luther Tune)
    • Be Thou My Vision
    • Beautiful Savior
    • Christ the Lord is Risen Today
    • Christus Vincit (chant)
    • Come Down, O Love Divine
    • Come With Us, O Blessed Jesus
    • Come, Holy Ghost
    • Come, Thou Almighty King
    • Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
    • Creator of the Stars of Night
    • Crown Him With Many Crowns
    • Crux Fidelis (chant)
    • Faith of Our Fathers
    • For All the Saints
    • For the Beauty of the Earth
    • Forty Days and Forty Nights
    • Go Make of All Disciples
    • God, We Praise You
    • Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise
    • Hail to the Lord's Annointed
    • Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above
    • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
    • Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
    • Holy, Holy, Holy
    • I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
    • I Know That My Redeemer Lives
    • I Sing the Mighty Power of God
    • Immaculate Mary
    • In Dulci Jubilo
    • In Paradisum (chant)
    • Jesu Dulcis Memoria (chant)
    • Jesus Christ is Risen Today
    • Joy to the World
    • Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
    • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
    • Lift High the Cross
    • Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates
    • Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
    • Lord of All Hopefulness
    • Lord, Who at Thy First Eucharist
    • Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days
    • Lord, You Give the Great Commission
    • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
    • May Choirs of Angels Lead You
    • Merciful Savior
    • Now Thank We All Our God
    • O Breathe on Me, O Breath of God
    • O Come, All Ye Faithful/Adeste Fideles
    • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
    • O God, Beyond All Praising
    • O Holy Spirit, by Whose Breath
    • O Lord, I Am Not Worthy
    • O Sacred Head, Surrounded
    • O Salutaris Hostia (chant)
    • O Salutaris Hostia (Werner)
    • O Sanctissima
    • Of the Father's Love Begotten (chant)
    • On Jordan's Bank
    • Once in Royal David's City
    • Pange Lingua (chant)
    • Panis Angelicus (chant)
    • Panis Angelicus (Lambilotte)
    • Parce Domine (chant)
    • Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
    • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
    • Regina Caeli (chant)
    • Salve Regina (chant)
    • Savior of the Nations, Come
    • Silent Night
    • Sing With All the Saints in Glory
    • Songs of Thankfulness and Praise
    • Soul of My Savior
    • Stabat Mater (chant)
    • Tantum Ergo (chant)
    • Tantum Ergo (St. Thomas)
    • The Church's One Foundation
    • The First Nowell
    • The Glory of these Forty Days (Old Hundreth)
    • The King of Love My Shepherd Is
    • The Strife is O'er
    • To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King
    • Ubi Caritas (chant)
    • Veni Creator Spiritus (chant)
    • We Three Kings of Orent Are
    • What Child is This
    • Ye Sons and Daughters
    • Ye Watches and Ye Holy Ones

    (list updated)
    Thanked by 1teachermom24
  • Other suggestions:

    A Child is Born in Bethlehem / Puer Natus in Bethlehem
    Again We Keep This Solemn Fast
    By All Your Saints in Warfare
    Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life
    Comfort, Comfort, O My People
    Draw Nigh and Take the Body of Our Lord
    Father, We Thank Thee Who Hast Planted
    Hail Thee, Festival Day
    Jerusalem, My Happy Home
    O God, Our Help in Ages Past
    O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts
    Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
    Sing We of the Blessed Mother
    The God Whom Earth and Sea and Sky
    The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns
    Virgin, Wholly Marvelous
    What Wondrous Love is This

    Omit: O Holy Spirit, By Whose Breath – "Come, Holy Ghost" is a better rendition of “Veni Creator Spiritus”

    A few are not among my favorites (I find “Lord, You Give the Great Commission” is a bit long-winded) – otherwise, very good choices.
    Thanked by 2teachermom24 kenstb
  • Mark P.
    Posts: 248
    Hail Queen of Heav'n
    Both tunes of Soul of My Savior
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    All Praise to Thee, for Thou, O King Divine
  • O Sun of Justice (to the tune of Jesus Dulcis Memoriae)
    Parce Domine
    God, We Praise You
    Where Charity and Love Prevail
    Thanked by 1kenstb
  • Take Up Your Cross
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,576
    Perhaps the above posters can edit their posts (click tiny "edit" in upper right corner)
    and follow each hymn suggestion with parenthesis ()
    into which would be listed the occasion(s)
    at which the hymn would be most appropriate.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,612
    Wow yall... This is a killer hymnal! How similar to the Adoremus?
  • Chrism
    Posts: 824
    I would add:

    Alleluia Song of Sweetness (before Septuagesima EF / before Ash Wednesday OF)
    At the Name of Jesus
    Ave Maria, Thou Virgin and Mother
    Be Thou My Vision
    Bring Flowers of the Rarest (May Crowning only)
    Christ, the Fair Glory (Holy Archangels)
    Christus Vincit (Roman)
    Christus Vincit (chant)
    Concordi Laetitia
    Crux Fidelis (Good Friday / Exaltation)
    Daily, Daily Sing to Mary
    Glory Be to Jesus (Precious Blood)
    God, Father, Praise and Glory (Trinity Sunday)
    God of Mercy and Compassion
    Hail, Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star
    Hark, a Thrilling Voice is Sounding (Early Advent)
    Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All
    Lead, Kindly Light
    Long Live the Pope
    Lord, For Tomorrow and Its Needs (Montani)
    Loving Shepherd of thy Sheep
    Mother Dearest, Mother Fairest
    O Christ Behind Thy Temple's Veil (Sacred Heart)
    O Come Divine Messiah
    O God of Loveliness
    O Jesus We Adore Thee ... O Sacrament most holy...
    O Little Town of Bethlehem
    O Lord I Am Not Worthy (First Communion only)
    O Purest of Creatures (Paderborn)
    O Sacred Heart, O Love Divine
    On this Day, O Beautiful Mother (May Crowning only)
    Praise to the Holiest
    Regina Caeli, Jubila - Rejoice, O Mary (Easter)
    Rorate Caeli (chant)
    Spirit Seeking Light and Beauty
    St. Patrick's Breastplate
    Sweet Sacrament Divine
    The Royal Banners Forward Go (words: Vexilla Regis)
    Thou art the Star of Morning
    'Tis the Month of Our Mother (May only)
    To Jesus' Heart All Burning
    Veni, Veni Emmanuel
    Ye Sons and Daughters / O Filii et Filiae
    Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

    and remove:
    The Church's One Foundation
    Thanked by 1teachermom24
  • How similar to the Adoremus?

    Probably most, if not all, of its contents at this point.
  • Two Advent classics:

    People Look East
    O Come, Divine Messiah
    Thanked by 1kenstb
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,612

    Those are very cool.
  • Thank you so much for listing authentic, solidly-Catholic hymns of lasting and high artistic quality. I'm so pleased to see real hymns that appeal to the head and heart, as well as NOT to see cheap music that appeals to clapping hands and stomping feet represented in this list. Bravo! Anything I would add from the Roman tradition would be modeled around the hymns that are already listed. Let's not forget some of the beautiful ethnic hymns--from the Polish, Slovak, and Italian (etc.) traditions that are so often overlooked today, as well as the music of the Eastern-rite (Byzantine, Ukrainian, Maronite) Catholic church.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,737
    It's not often someone adds new comments to a discussion that has been idle for three years, but it's OK.

    You might like to have a look at the hymn collection on our main site:
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,360
    Having this discussion bumped provides me with the opportunity to marvel at all the many authentic, solidly-Catholic hymns written by Anglicans and Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, even a few Baptists and Evangelicals and others. Indeed, if all the Latin hymns were to be removed from the list, perhaps a majority of the remaining English-language hymns were not even written by Catholics. I do not bemoan this, but rather rejoice in the fact that the hymns Christians sing contribute to the ever-increasing visible unity of Christ's Church. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
  • and remove:
    The Church's One Foundation

    Why would you remove this?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,412
    and remove:
    The Church's One Foundation

    Why would you remove this?

    cf. varying interpretations of Matthew 16:18


    Side note:
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    I would suggest God of Our Fathers and Duguets O Salutaris Hostia. Don't forget Come Let Us Sing Unto the Lord.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    and remove:
    The Church's One Foundation

    Why would you remove this?

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    You would prefer, "Gather Us In?" That exciting enough for you? LOL ;-)

    We sing Aurelia, but it is to the words, "O Christ the Great Foundation." Granted, not the most exciting of tunes, but far better than many I could name.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • I didn't see either of these, but think they merit consideration precisely because of their clearly processional nature: Salve, Festa dies (or, "Hail, Thee Festival Day", with Vaughn Williams' tune); Lift High the Cross, especially if we include all those verses usually left out because they aren't (ecumenical, sensitive, tolerant, or whatever).

    In another vein: please choose the proper tune for O Little Town of Bethlehem, for with the wrong tune the words sound like an Irish Drinking Song. (There may not be anything wrong with an Irish Drinking Song, but it surely doesn't belong at Mass.)

    With apologies to those who have an emotional attachment to the tunes, could someone find a replacement for Bring Flowers of the Rarest and On this day, oh beautiful mother?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160

    Salieri, I trust that your opinion above is based solely upon over-use. In theory, AURELIA's form is A-B-B2-C (or A2) and its melody is not only sturdy, balanced between step-wise and intevallic (especially the M6's) and intuitive, but very congregationally accessible.
    I could cite ELLACOMBE as a candidate on those same criteria, but I fail to see a benefit as other tunes that use AABA (no jokes, Little Joe) such as KINGSFOLD that I personally (key word, that) find more compelling.
    And to Chris' "proper tune" issue, I also love the "English" version, but also see nothing wrong with the use of another now-traditional tune for that carol text. It's all "de gustibus."
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,393
    C'mon, Charles, I know you'd really prefer to do O Little Town of Bethlehem to MATERNA.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Okay, KLS, cute; I suppose then we'd be singing about the "city of bread" in Pennsylvania, huh? ;-)
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    AURELIA isn't exciting, but it is quite a useful hymn. I use it for 1. The Church's One Foundation; 2. O Jesus Christ Remember; 3. By All Your Saints Still Striving; 4. O God of Earth and Altar (although for this last one I would like to change to CRUGER)

    It's a good tune because most people know it or pick it up very quickly and it is useful if you have a hymn to that meter which people don't yet know.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    What is this about Aurelia not being exciting?? Totally disagree. Growing up Catholic and never hearing it, I was thrilled by it the first time I learned to play it.
  • Gavin, with all the respect to which you, an esteemed friend, are due (and a little more just for 'good measure'), I can't imagine that you were ever charmed by 'Aurelia'. Perhaps it was, astonishingly, better than anything you had heard before. To many of us who grew up with it, though, it's sort of on the same level (maybe one or two degrees higher) as 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus' as sung to 'Erie' (and, that goes for 'Nicea', too). I must admit that I now like (or tolerate) it more than ever before in my life, perhaps because it is better than so much of the stuff being pedalled (um, peddled) these days.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen ghmus7 Salieri
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    I personally like Beech Spring, but there aren't many hymns set to it. The ones I know are mostly wisdom hymns. Think I might have to do a Eucharistic one to that tune possibly.
  • My Song is Love Unknown
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    I love aurelia. Try singing this to it. http://www.canticanova.com/articles/hymns/art2i1.htm
    Thanked by 2Ben Yanke CHGiffen
  • In defense of the detractors of Aurelia, it really must be played by a thinking-man's organist. (It lends itself to what I have been told is called an "Anglican Organist") I have, sadly, heard too many otherwise beautiful hymns (and even some merely interesting ones) destroyed because the "organist" isn't really one. Imagine playing the whole thing with nothing but root-position chords!

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • kenstb
    Posts: 364
    Summi Largitor Praemii (Lent)
    O World, I must now leave you (Good Friday)
    Sweet Sacrament (Holy Thursday)
    God and Man at Table are Sat Down (Advent)
    Veni, Lumen Cordium (Berthier) (Pentecost Vigil)
    Laudate Pueri, Dominum (Ordinary Time)
    Wake, O Wake and Sleep No Longer (Advent)
    Primo Dierum Omnium (Ordinary Time)

  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 43
    I like Sibelius's tune FINLANDIA...maybe On Great Lone Hills offers the best lyrics.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,360
    And how do you imagine these "best lyrics" are to be used in Catholic worship?
    On great, lone hills, where tempests brood and gather,
    Primeval Earth, against primeval sky,
    We, faring forth, possessed by fervent longing,
    Have found a throne, eternal and high,
    Have knelt at last in wordless adoration,
    Till fire and whirlwind have both gone by.

    With ardent song we greet the golden morning.
    By faith upborne, remember not the night.
    The whole wide world, triumphant hails the dawning.
    God walks abroad in garments of might,
    The hills, behold, are now a path of splendor,
    Transfigured all, and all crowned with light.

    By the way, the tune FINLANDIA is drop dead gorgeous, but with its many notes of three and four and five beat duration, it is not a congregational tune.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    How I wish that we music gatekeepers in parishes would cease predetermining what our congregations can or cannot sing. They will sing what they WANT to sing. Keep narrowing and lowering expectations and you'll reap what you sow.
    Hmmm, I thought "they" were among the priesthood of the faithful and thus, uh, capable. Going your way, Father, will inevitably lead us literally to rectonoland.
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 43
    I thought the On Great Lone Hills lyrics were a mixture of Elijah and the still small voice, lauds, and Hopkins's God's Grandeur. But it sounds like I missed something.

    My parish subscribes to the OCP seasonals, and everything we sing seems like it's either Haugen or Schutte. But there's a version of FINLANDIA in there that we do occasionally, and people seem to do fine with it.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    My congregation sings Finlandia to the text, "This Is My Song." They love it!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,737
    "On Great Lone Hills" is pretty, but I can't imagine it fitting in with the Mass. It's full of nature-inspired sentimentality, as is common in Romanticism.

    The author, Amy Sherman Bridgman, must have been very much not a Catholic, because she wrote a poem against infant baptism and the doctrine of original sin: http://www.poetryexplorer.net/poem.php?id=10041523
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • I agree wholeheartedly with Melo's comment above. Anyone who is given to saying 'the people can't sing that' and the like should not be a parish musical director. Part of our mission is to raise standards, fulfill potential and lead people to higher ground than they might have imagined they could stand on. To teach a congregation to do what it never thought it could do takes musicianship, vision, enthusiasm, belief in what one is teaching, paedagogical skills, and an infectuous manner that will leave people WANTING and GLAD (as Melo says) to learn. There are doubtless some other things that it takes (such as love and deep faith), but these will do for now. Don't ever say 'the people can't do this'... say 'we MUST teach them this, we really HAVE to learn this because it is so good'. Stop treating Catholics as though they were as hopeless as many clergy and staff would have us believe, and start treating them like the intelligent human beings that they are.
    Thanked by 2melofluent CHGiffen
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,360
    For heaven's sake, I offered an opinion about the way a tune is written. I certainly did not intend to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, insult your children, or back up traffic on the GW bridge.
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    In my opinion, the hymns listed in the Breviary/Liturgy of the Hours should be considered essential. In fact, I like to use hymns from here as the basis for selecting hymns for liturgical use.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    You can't expect to demur and get reprieve that easily, Father Krisman, can you really? This is your critique of Sibelius and his "tune,"
    but with its many notes of three and four and five beat duration.
    And our responses did not invoke the Holy Spirit, our children or call you Chris Christie.
    I stand by my comment. You did not contextualize or otherwise offer anything incisive, rather you offered more of a Prince Frederick bailout, "It has too many notes." For myself, for a fellow composer to jot such a curt dismissal towards a monumental melody is beyond my ken, for heaven's sake.
    If you want discourse at that level only, then offer up other examples as well. Is Roc O'Connor's JESUS, THE LORD, or Carey Landry's "ABBA FATHER" on the no-fly list as well.
    Get my point?
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,360
    No, Melo, I am not asking for any kind of reprieve. I stick to my opinion that FINLANDIA is not a congregational tune. I said nothing about too many notes in the tune; rather, note durations. I resent the implication that, because I think FINLANDIA is not a congregational melody, then I am belittling the PIPs. If I were to judge that my choir could not master Allegri's Miserere, I would not thereby be belittling them.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,412
    If you want discourse at that level only, then offer up other examples as well. Is Roc O'Connor's JESUS, THE LORD, or Carey Landry's "ABBA FATHER" on the no-fly list as well.

    Yes, and yes.

    But that's just my opinion.

    I am exceptionally proud of the congregational singing at my parish. I wouldn't program either of those pieces for them.

    I'm not sure about FINLANDIA. I might try it. But I can see why @ronkrisman thinks it could be a problem. I think it isn't exactly the note lengths, but being able to find balance between the restfulness of the tune, the tendency of most congregations to drag tempo, and the need to push congregational singing forward so that it doesn't drag too much could all be a bit much.

    But that all depends on the congregation's specific tendencies, as well as the MD's musical preferences.

  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Resent away, I remain amazed at the hubris (but should I be?). And yes, you did say many notes, don't confuse my caricature of Prince Frederick's quote in AMADEUS with your actual words. They are a non-starter for me.
    But in this day and age, with the world of melodies at our fingertips and in YOUR (GIA) hymnals, such banality in criticism might as well extend to THAXTED, SALVE FESTA DIES, EBENEZAR ad infinitum, and likely a few of your compositions and mine as well.
    By all means, resent away. Many of us are quite used to it.
    And as if Sibelius gives a rip.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    Hmmm! Saints Snarkibutt and Bitchnmoan preserve us. It must be Lent again. ;-)
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,744
    Melofluophonous, dear friend.

    The original statement that you seem to have issue with includes the phrase:
    with its many notes of three and four and five beat duration, it is not a congregational tune
    does not reflect the snippet (snipette?) which you posted:
    yes, you did say many notes
    Either you misread and misunderstood the original text, thereby reacting to something that was not implied, or else - and I hope I'm wrong - this smacks of quoting it out of context (by omitting the fact that the intention in the original quote was to point out that Finlandia has several long notes of varying durations), for some unknown reason.

    This is all too similar to the political ads that are already hitting the airwaves. Sample original statement:
    If you think we should legalize heroin in our state, you are sorely mistaken. I would never vote for that.
    Political "excerpt" used by talk radio show pundit or appearing in a campaign ad:
    Senator Nancy Drew was quoted as saying, "We should legalize heroin." And, "I would vote for that."

    Context, context, context!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    Sigh. Is there some reason WHY criticism offends you, Charles? I really don't understand the problem. I will repeat what I've often said before: aesthetic critique of sacred music is one of the basic purposes of this board.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • You can't expect to demur and get reprieve that easily, Father Krisman, can you really? This is your critique of Sibelius and his "tune,"

    but with its many notes of three and four and five beat duration.

    And our responses did not invoke the Holy Spirit, our children or call you Chris Christie.
    I stand by my comment. You did not contextualize or otherwise offer anything incisive, rather you offered more of a Prince Frederick bailout, "It has too many notes."

    Hard-to-sing rhythm makes a composition inapt for the congregation? Gee, that sounds an awful lot like your critique of Be Not Afraid. "Dotted 8ths?!" Ack! Too much spice! Too many notes! Or did you contextualize and offer something incisive somewhere, and I missed it?

    For what it's worth, in this case, as it happens, I don't think all the long notes in FINLANDIA are liable to be confusing, since they merely have the effect of making the following phrase, like the beginning the the tune, begin on the upbeat.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Chuck, you're right, I misread. Apologies to Fr. Krisman.
    Kathy and Mark, points taken. Where there is some departure is to what extent ought serious aesthetic critique of musical works be subjected to be of true value to the board (and beyond, eg. to the congegation's abilities?) The example, Mark, you cite of mine regarding the "quandry" of the double-dotted quarters in BNA contains more information, per se, than did Father's assessment of the Sibelius.
    It was the paucity of that criticism that I found irksome, not offensive, Kathy. And Father upped the ante with his response. It happens.
    Everybody OK now?
  • What's this!!??? Our (often long-winded) computer experts, engineers of all stripes, artists, musicians, dentists, professors, teachers, bankers, booksellers, grocers, administrators, students, biologists, researchers, mechanics, parents, & cet., & cet., can't count to five????? (Not that I'm all that fond of 'Finlandia'.)