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 lives with his wife and two children.
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"What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."
— His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI (7 July 2007)

PDF Download • “Woodward Hymnal” (1913) … Outrageously Rare!
published 2 March 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

717 Songs of Syon Hymnal ESTERDAY I began a 5-part series hoping to convince readers to give $5.00 per month. You can access PART 1 by scrolling to the bottom; today is PART 2. At Watershed, we love to scan & upload rare hymnals. As usual, the following hymnal has never been available online—until today!

    * *  PDF Download • “WOODWARD HYMNAL” (613 pages)

There is confusion about this hymnal’s name. The official version is: “Songs of Syon: A Collection of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Canticles.” But Theodore Marier also published a hymnal called “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Canticles.” To avoid confusion, some refer to this book simply as the WOODWARD HYMNAL.

GEORGE RATCLIFFE WOODWARD (d. 1934) was an Anglican priest who (I’m told) was a disciple of J. M. Neale. However, the vast majority of hymns in this book are English translations of Roman Catholic texts—from Latin, Greek, and other languages. Some are metrical, others are plainsong. Many are quite interesting. For example, consider how the 2nd verse of the AVE MARIS STELLA is rendered into English, wonderfully conveying the meaning of the original Latin:

715 Woodward

Fr. Matthew Britt (1872-1955)—a Roman Catholic benedictine priest—says this about Woodward:

WOODWARD, REV. GEORGE RATCLIFF, M.A. (b. 1848), was educated at Harrow, and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He is the editor of the excellent hymnal, Songs of Syon, to which he contributed many translations from the Latin, Greek, and German. His translations from the Latin do not include any of the Breviary hymns. He is also the author of the widely known Cowley Carol Book.

Fr. Britt was quite impressed with an original translation Woodward made for the AVE MARIS STELLA. Incidentally, here’s what Fr. Britt says about the translators contained in his monumental work on hymns:


It is interesting to record here the religious affiliations of the translators whose hymns find a place in this volume. It will be observed from the biographies given above that among the Catholic translators fully one-half are converts. Among those classed as Anglicans the writer believes that all are of the High Church party.

CATHOLICS : Aylward, Bagshawe, Bute, Campbell, Caswall, Donahoe, Dryden, Faber, Garesche, Hall, Henry, Hunter-Blair, Husenbeth, Leeson, McDougall, MacCarthy, Newman, Oakeley, O’Hagan, Oxenham, Paul, Potter, Wallace, Walworth, and Wingfield. The translations in the Primers are all by Catholics.

ANGLICANS: Ball, Blacker, Blew, Chadwick, Chambers, Copeland, Courthope, Dearmer, Ellerton, Hort, Housman, Irons, Julian, Lacey, Littledale, Neale, Palmer, Riley, and Woodward. [The religious affiliation of Doran is not definitely known to the writer; he was probably an Anglican. Scott was nominally a Presbyterian with a leaning toward the Episcopal Church.]

This article is part of a series:

PART 1 • Simple SATB Kyrie by Guerrero

PART 2 • 1913 Woodward Hymnal … Outrageously Rare!

PART 3 • Rehearsal videos for Lenten Hymn

PART 4 • New Westminster Hymnal … For the first time ever!

PART 5 • Rehearsal Videos for Forty-Three (43) Pieces