T WOULD BE extremely difficult to find a more powerful book than the one below. Numbering 167 pages, it was titled by Fr. Adrian Fortescue as: “Latin Hymns sung at the Church of Saint Hugh in Letchworth.”
Fortescue’s book was produced with great care. I have some experience here, since I was a consultant for the Jogues Illuminated Missal. (You can view samples of our typesetting by going here and scrolling to the bottom.) Moreover, Fortescue adds fantastic notes about the writers; notes which are extremely succinct yet valuable. And the translations by Fortescue are truly splendid. I cannot help but think of this hymn collection as his life’s great masterpiece.
Compline is included. These sixty-seven hymns represent the basis of Catholic hymnody. Among them: O Lux Beata Trinitas (St. Ambrose); Luminis Fons (Alcuin of York); Te Decet Laus (Apostolic Constitutions); Corde Natus Ex Parentis (Prudentius); Alma Redemptoris Mater (Herimann the Lame); Vexilla Regis (Venantius Fortunatus); and so many more.
An excerpt from the Introduction by Fortescue:
E HAVE ALSO a number of beautiful hymns about the Blessed Sacrament, our Lady, the Church, and so on. But if people do not understand what is sung, to them all this is lost. To find each hymn and antiphon you would need quite a large collection of books. So I have gathered together all the hymns and chants which we usually sing, with a double purpose. First, that anyone who knows the tune may join the singers; secondly, that those who do not sing may be able to follow, to know what is being sung. Every text has an English translation on the opposite page. If anyone does not understand Latin, he can use the translation as his own prayer and so join in intention with those who sing.
Here’s a photograph of Fr. Adrian Fortescue circa 1922.