HE MEDIATOR DEI HYMNAL was published in 1955, eight years after Pius XII promulgated his encyclical on the liturgy and three years before the death of Pius XII. It was the work of J. Vincent Higginson, who published it under the pseudonym CYR DE BRANT:
Higginson had the reputation of being a “walking encyclopedia” of American hymnology, and served on the board of directors of the Society of St. Gregory. To see a photograph of Cyr de Brant, look at #1 here.
Over the next few months, we will release many more rare hymnals, in preparation for the release of the forthcoming Jogues Hymnal. We need everyone’s help in choosing the ABSOLUTE BEST Catholic hymns. More info regarding this exciting project will be released soon, and the Missal is already available!
MR. HIGGINSON DESERVES A GREAT DEAL of credit for his Mediator Dei Hymnal. It’s one of the first Catholic hymnals to include tune names, which are very important. He also chose only dignified, solid, respectable hymns—no easy task! His ingenuity is admirable, and he sometimes employed variations of excellent tunes (such as what he calls Paschal Lamb, Ave Virgo, and Victorious King) to make the melody fit the text he desired.
Finally, I’m amazed at how similar his choices are to the contents of the Pope Francis Hymn Book. After all, choosing hymns can be incredibly divisive … and sometimes brings musicians close to exchanging blows. That’s why it’s refreshing & rare to find someone whose choices are so similar!