N MORE THAN ONE OCCASION, members of the Brébeuf hymnal committee have questioned whether we are placing too much emphasis on language. Before choosing a hymn translation, we study all that have been made—especially those by Catholic priests. 1 Sometimes the committee will argue over a single word for weeks. Contrariwise, in other Catholic hymnals we observe an insane amount of sloppy choices—and it sometimes makes us wonder if people will appreciate our unprecedented effort.
For example, a popular translation of the “Adóro Te Devóte” was published in People’s Mass Book (1964), which was very widely disseminated in Catholic churches. How can people claim this is a translation of the hymn by Saint Thomas Aquinas?
This “translation” even appears in reputable hymnals, such as the Saint Michael Hymnal.
Does nobody care this translation is a total fraud?
UR COMMITTEE has discovered several breathtaking translations of the “Adóro Te Devóte,” and these have been set to marvelous melodies in the Brébeuf hymnal. Some of the melodies were composed specifically for our book by excellent composers.
By the way, in the Brébeuf Hymnal, we provide the actual Latin (with literal translations) so people can know what the authentic prayers say. You would be astounded at how often Catholic hymnals—even very good ones—delete and omit verses, sometimes more than 70%. But that’s another topic for another day.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 The St. Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal will soon be released, and people will be astonished by the interesting hymn translations by Catholic priests we have discovered. Many have never been published before!