T WOULD BE DIFFICULT to think of a text treated more thoroughly by the Brébeuf Hymnal than “Cónditor Alme Síderum” (changed in 1631AD to “Creátor Alme Síderum” during the Urbanite reform). It is fully dealt with in the “Ancient Hymns” section, but then it’s given even more space on Color Plate 19, which makes some fascinating observations. Needless to say, I’m not going to reproduce all that information in this article.
A famous Advent melody is called “O Heiland Reiss,” and the Brébeuf Hymnal uses that melody with several different texts, including an English translation of “O Heiland Reiss” by an FSSP priest. I played the tune on the piano 5-6 times, and a girl in 2nd grade was able to pick up the tune. (She has never studied music formally, but does have “music class” in her school).
I’ve said many times the Brébeuf melodies are simple enough to be learned by anyone:
You can hear the individual tracks if you visit the Brébeuf website and scroll to #188.
MORE TIMES THAN YOU CAN SHAKE a stick at, it turns out the people who claim to be “the world’s experts” on hymnody actually know very little. One such person wrote to us, saying that “O Heiland Reiss” can be used for one text only—and any other approach is wrong.
He clearly was ignorant of examples like these:
* * O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Pope Pius XII Hymnal (1959)
* * O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1957)
* * O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1936)
* * O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1910)
* * O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1885)
* * O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1989)
I promised not to repeat what is contained in the Brébeuf Hymnal, and I won’t. Let me just say that what Monsignor Knox did with this ancient Latin poem is spectacular.