LD AUSTRALIAN HYMNBOOKS are rather hard to find. I’m in awe of how many cheap old hymnbooks are available in America. We don’t seem to have the same volume of print runs here. I wrote a little while ago about the Living Parish Hymnbook from the 1960s, but today I have an earlier book in a similar vein.
Dr Percy Jones, choirmaster of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, put together this hymnbook back in 1952. To quote from the foreword:
This Hymnal has been compiled and edited to make it possible to carry out the expressed wishes of the Church that congregational singing should be a constant ‘living proof of the Faith,’ whether in large cities or in small villages. In the first section, containing the Gregorian Chant for sung Masses, Benediction and other occasions, an attempt has been made to solve the difficulty of reading the notation peculiar to the Chant. By retaining the Chant notation (with modifications which clarify certain obscure groupings) but using the modern staff and key signature, the Editor hopes that the advantages of both will encourage singers and choir directors to undertake Gregorian Chant.
Above is an example of Dr Jones’ hybrid chant notation. Groups of ascending notes, like the podatus, are spread out horizontally to remove any doubt as to which note is sung first. The porrectus is changed into something like an inverted torculus. I do not have a copy of this book aimed at the congregation, but it is available at the National Library of Australia in screen resolution colour.
I bought a copy of the organ book in a thrift shop some years ago. I recognised the music from photocopies from around our piano at home. Then I found a worthy cause to donate it to, but scanned it first. It was one of my first attempts at scanning a book. In frustration I left the files to languish on a hard drive. Today I was moving files over into a new computer and had another look. They are still better for printing than those of the National Library of Australia, so I finished the job and now you can have a copy too:
Page 120 (hymn number 43, page 106 by the printed page numbers, ) has a hymn to St Patrick suitable for singing outside the Emerald Isle:
Patrick! from your kindling
Lit on Slane’s green hill,
Faith’s pure fire undwindling,
Burns, all deathless, still.
Drear days could not hinder
Warm expanse of flame:
Travail gave new tinder,
New flint, penal shame.
Patrick! from this firing
Faith’s brave banners unfurled,
Borne by priests desiring,
For Christ’s sake, the world;
Hearts throbbed to their warming,
Hope glowed where they trod,
Exiles’ loss transforming,
To great gain for God.
Patrick! from this glowing,
Faith’s flame mounts and towers,
Knowledge full bestowing,
Eire’s feast is ours!
Hear us then rejoicing,
Rising young and strong:
Prayerful praise in song.
(Australia’s Salute to St Patrick by George D. Walton)