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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Much of the beauty of the older forms was lost and the hymns did not really become classical. We have reason to hope that the present reform of the breviary will also give us back the old form of the hymns. But meanwhile it seems necessary to keep the later text. This is the one best known, it is given in all hymnbooks and is still the only authorized form. Only in one case have we printed the older text of a hymn, number 57, “Urbs Jerusalem.” The modern form of this begins: “Caelestis urbs Jerusalem.” But in this case the people who changed it in the seventeenth century did not even keep its metre; so the later version cannot be sung to the old, exceedingly beautiful tune.
— Fr. Adrian Fortescue (1913)

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.