About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“In spite of what it is currently called, the music of these songs is not modern: this musical style is not new, but has been played in the most profane places and surroundings (cabarets, music halls, often for more or less lascivious dances with foreign names). The people are led on to rock or swing. They all feel an urge to dance about. That sort of “body language” is certainly alien to our Western culture, unfavorable to contemplation and its origins are rather suspect. Most of the time our congregations, which already find it hard not to confuse the crochets and the quavers in a 6/8 bar, do not respect the rhythm; then one no longer feels like dancing, but with the rhythm gone to pieces, the habitual poorness of the melodic line becomes all the more noticeable.”
— Unnamed choirmaster (Northern France) circa 1986

PDF Download • Hymnal by Fr. John Selner (1954)
published 19 November 2015 by Jeff Ostrowski

102 Mantelletta Image ODAY, FOR THE FIRST TIME, you can download a rare 1954 hymnal by Fr. John Selner. In the past, I’ve mentioned that some of the old Catholic hymnals were pretty awful, but this one is splendid. Since part of my involvement with a special hymn project requires searching through rare hymn books, I decided to share this one with you:

    * *  PDF SELNER HYMNAL (1954) — 134 pages

English versions of ancient hymns (e.g. Rerum, Deus, tenax vigor) are included along with a nice mixture for the different seasons. 1

Fr. Selner often stressed that Church music must be sacred. This even extends to the priest’s vestments, which are descendants of ancient Roman clothing.

The desire to dress in a special way for a special event—the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—is only natural, although I suspect women understand this better than men. On a purely practical level, I’m so glad priests and bishops don’t dress in secular clothing. The nicest clothing we Americans have is a suit and tie…how boring! Have you ever watched television from the 1950s? Every single actor is dressed in suit and tie—enough already! 2

The symbolism behind many of the vestments is deep, and hopefully we can continue to explore this topic as time goes on. I know Fr. Friel has already created an eight-part series about the vesting prayers, which our readers appreciated.


1   So many hymnals have a billion Advent and Christmas hymns but are extremely deficient when it comes to the other seasons. Fr. Selner avoids this pitfall fairly well.

2   Whenever possible, I wear the Barong Tagalog—from the Philippines—which is made from pineapple fiber.