ODAY, FOR THE FIRST TIME, you can download a rare 1954 hymnal by Fr. John Selner. In the past, I’ve mentioned that some of the old Catholic hymnals were pretty awful, but this one is splendid. Since part of my involvement with a special hymn project requires searching through rare hymn books, I decided to share this one with you:
English versions of ancient hymns (e.g. Rerum, Deus, tenax vigor) are included along with a nice mixture for the different seasons. 1
Fr. Selner often stressed that Church music must be sacred. This even extends to the priest’s vestments, which are descendants of ancient Roman clothing.
The desire to dress in a special way for a special event—the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—is only natural, although I suspect women understand this better than men. On a purely practical level, I’m so glad priests and bishops don’t dress in secular clothing. The nicest clothing we Americans have is a suit and tie…how boring! Have you ever watched television from the 1950s? Every single actor is dressed in suit and tie—enough already! 2
The symbolism behind many of the vestments is deep, and hopefully we can continue to explore this topic as time goes on. I know Fr. Friel has already created an eight-part series about the vesting prayers, which our readers appreciated.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 So many hymnals have a billion Advent and Christmas hymns but are extremely deficient when it comes to the other seasons. Fr. Selner avoids this pitfall fairly well.
2 Whenever possible, I wear the Barong Tagalog—from the Philippines—which is made from pineapple fiber.