R. THEODORE MARIER is a man I highly revere. I first heard his name mentioned by my friend David Hughes more than a decade ago. I recently paid a lot of money to obtain one of his first major productions, long out of print, called The Pius X Hymnal (McLaughlin & Reilly Co., Boston, Mass., 1953). But I am sorry to admit it was a huge disappointment.
UPDATE: The choir, organist & congregational versions can now be freely download here.
Readers will probably recall that I have often written about an inexcusable flaw of many early Catholic hymnals: viz. their failure to list the TUNE NAME. Since I have written about this so many times, in long articles that painstakingly explain all the reasons this defect is unpardonable, I will not “shoot my mouth off” here. Suffice it to say, Ted Marier does not list the TUNE NAMES in The Pius X Hymnal. So, for instance, when Dr. Marier uses the hymn tune STUTTGART, he neglects to list the name of the melody. Nor does he do so in the indices. Not good, my friends.
I am also unhappy with other things. The ranges seem to me, on occasion, to be placed way too high. The entire book seems to be a hodgepodge of polyphony, simple chants, complex chants, and congregational tunes. As Bill Watterson said in his Calvin and Hobbes Cartoon: “A good compromise leaves everybody unhappy.” In other words, seeking to please everybody, the results end up pleasing nobody. As an editor, I can attest that it’s quite easy to create a book with lots of stuff inside. However, creating a book containing only those things useful for a particular group (choir, organist, congregation, etc.) is a much harder task.
One last point (and this was also pointed out by many people who reviewed this book in the 1950s): so few congregational hymns were included in this book . . . and many of those included lack inspiration.
In conclusion, although I have tremendous respect for Dr. Theodore Marier, I expected a lot more from this book based on its “reputation.” I hope my honest observations do not offend anyone, but I’ve learned that pretty much everything I write will offend somebody so I guess I should get used to it.