N LATE OCTOBER, the Brébeuf Hymnal was officially sent off to the printer. Within a few weeks, it should be available for purchase. Folks, I’ve got to tell you: this book is a game changer. The world of Catholic music will never be the same after its release. It is a million times more powerful than any of us could have dreamt. Please stay tuned…I have much more to share.
I was recently sent a fascinating hymnal from 1959:
The 1959 editors placed a serious emphasis on excellent hymn tunes, similar to what we did in the Brébeuf hymnal. However, they were more bold and daring than the Brébeuf committee. They mixed Advent and Lent tunes with “general” texts in ways that—in my humble opinion—went too far.
In the Brébeuf hymnal, we carefully emphasized the very best, most traditional, most Catholic melodies. We placed them strategically, so they can be used at various times throughout the liturgical year. We realize too many Catholic congregations don’t have in their repertory an abundance of excellent tunes. They must be taught—but this is no easy thing. When it comes to the strategic repetition of hymn tunes, no effort was spared by the editors of the Brébeuf hymnal.
Were you shocked to see the Pius XII Hymnal assigning vernacular hymns to different parts of the Mass? This was common at Low Mass in those days. Indeed, I own numerous Catholic hymnals (from the 1940s and 1950s) which promote the same exact same thing. 1
“During a Low Mass there is usually time for four hymns—one from the beginning of Mass up to or through the Gospel, but certainly to be finished by or before the end of the Gospel, so as not to interfere with or delay the making of announcements or the preaching of the sermon. A second hymn can be started at the Credo; another after the Elevation, and the last one during Communion, to end with the last Gospel for the prayers after Mass.”
—Caecilia Magazine of Catholic Church Music, 64:4 (1937)
This was not just done in America. Look at this example from a 1913 hymnal by Fr. Gregory Ould, OSB.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 Customs such as this helped pave the way for the liturgical reforms of the 1960s. Vatican II wanted to have Catholics “sing the Mass” instead of “singing at Mass.” Unfortunately, things got even worse after the Council—and we’ve reached a point where nobody has a clue what it means to “sing the Mass.” There is much work to be done…