NTIL the Westminster Hymnal appeared, the “best” Catholic hymnal for English-speakers was probably ARUNDEL HYMNS, with an Introductory Letter by Pope Leo XIII. It appeared around the year 1899, after several experimental versions. The official title was:
Arundel Hymns. Chosen and Edited by
Henry, Duke of Norfolk, and Charles P. Gatty.
In 1900, a fascinating review of “Arundel Hymns” was published in a Jesuit Magazine:
HAT THESE HYMNS will achieve immediate popularity with the Catholic masses can hardly be expected. The musical settings to the hymns at present in vogue in our churches are for the most part greatly inferior to those in this volume, but they have obtained a hold upon the affection of the congregations. Their sentimentality, their “sweetness,” their catching rhythms, appeal to the multitude; they are regarded as appropriate at popular services. To the musician, the lover of art, the man of cultivated taste, they are displeasing, and in some cases even offensive; and yet one hesitates to speak harshly of them. They are often the work of earnest, pious amateurs, and they would seem to stir genuine religious emotion in simple hearts.
Nevertheless our sympathy is with the Editors of the Arundel Hymns, who hope to introduce dignified, well-written hymns into our services. Most of the tunes in the collection are old, and their arrangement and adaptation is the work of musicians. We recommend them to the clergy, who, we trust, will not be discouraged if at first they hear complaints that the “new” hymns are drier and colder than the “old.” After all, the public likes what it is accustomed to, and hitherto, in the matter of hymns in our churches, it has too often been given sentimentality and violent rhythmic effects. Possibly it can be taught to appreciate solid worth and artistic restraint; in any case these are more suitable to divine service.
This review almost sounds like it was written in 2018—and I am being very serious!
There is quite a history behind the Arundel Hymnal, and I believe the one who paid for it was a relative of St. Philip Howard, who was martyred in 1595AD. The person to ask about “Arundel Hymns” is probably Veronica Brandt, who has made available a reprint.
Once upon a time, THE MONTH published some really awesome stuff. For example, “Dream of Gerontius” by Cardinal Newman first appeared in its pages. Later, an interesting Jesuit named Fr. Philip Caraman (d. 1998) became the Editor. We have often mentioned Caraman, who edited the Fulton J. Sheen Missal.