OT LONG AGO, I posted a review of the American Catholic Hymn Book. I mentioned how blatantly honest they were about their guiding principles. I also discussed their “schizophrenic” approach to the liturgy: one minute saying our liturgical tradition was corrupt, while the next using that same tradition to justify eliminating prayers to the Holy Trinity. They insisted that “competent musicians” never choose texts of poor quality; but when we opened up the book, we beheld a compilation of hideous texts alongside songs foreign to our Catholic liturgical tradition, such as “When The Saints Go Marching In.”
HYMNAL FOR THE HOURS (GIA, 1989) is not much better. The same “schizophrenia” is apparent in the Foreword where they attempt to justify, for example, avoiding an emphasis on penance during Lent while at the same time claiming to be in harmony with “centuries-old traditions” of the Church’s liturgy. They seem to be quite bothered by certain verses from the Gospel of Matthew—e.g. 23:9 and 6:6—but their efforts to eradicate Scriptural ways of referring to God were awkward.
To be honest, I don’t understand many of the lyrics in hymnals by the major publishers. Consider the fourth stanza of No. 185, published in the WORSHIP II HYMNAL (GIA, 1975):
Jesus Christ has gone to heaven;
One day he’ll be coming back, sir.
In this house he will be welcome,
but we hope he won’t be black, sir.
What was so unacceptable about the texts assigned by the Church? Why was it necessary for them to be replaced with such lyrics? I challenge anyone to thumb through a book of Propers like THIS ONE and locate a single prayer—just one!—assigned by the Church which is defective, unacceptable, or unworthy of the Church’s public worship.
Here’s proof for those who are skeptical GIA actually did publish this hymn:
I’m not being “cute” here—I really have no idea what those lyrics mean. However, I do strongly agree with what GIA said in 1975:
Unfortunately, GIA reversed course quickly thereafter. The damages of “erasing” Thee & Thine are discussed HERE.
I HAVE OFTEN MENTIONED a theory I call “learn a new word, see it within 24 hours.” The phenomenon happens to me constantly. I can’t even turn on a Glenn Gould recording in the car without immediately passing a street sign that reads: GOULD AVENUE. I suppose it’s just coincidence I am discovering all this nonsense (see above) right around the Sunday when our Church contemplates the mystery of the Trinity. So many modern hymnal editors seem to reject anything mysterious in our Faith. Yes, I suppose it must be mere coincidence…
For the record, here’s what I did to prepare for Trinity Sunday: