HOSE WHO TURN to the final pages of the Brébeuf Hymnal will discover three versions of the Stations of the Cross: one by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, one by Cardinal Ratzinger, and one by Fulton J. Sheen. The version by Sheen was published about 20 years before he was made a bishop; it was given IMPRIMATUR twice (!)—see the Brébeuf Hymnal for details. I have always loved listening to Fulton J. Sheen, and I love reading his books. As I grow older, I have begun to understand just how rare he was: Sheen was smart, eloquent, and wonderful.
Fulton J. Sheen • Stations of the Cross
Using my iPhone, I took photographs of the Brébeuf Hymnal printing of Father Sheen’s stations. The drop caps are gorgeous:
I use a purple “sticky note” so I can keep track of which verse we’re on—as I play and sing from the Brébeuf organ accompaniment:
The layout in the Brébeuf hymnal is elegant—there’s just no other word for it:
The Brébeuf Hymnal is the only book I know which provides a literal translation (into English) of the “Stabat Mater Dolorosa,” as you can see:
If you look carefully at the Brébeuf footnote, you’ll notice something special:
The editors found a solution for something which has puzzled many authors with regard to Father Caswall’s translation: he begins in one meter but quickly switches to another, making it awkward to sing. The Brébeuf hymnal version begins with Caswall, but supplements it with other (magnificent) translations so that it can be sung well:
The organ accompaniment volumes conveniently print each verse, which has an interesting (unintended) result: it shows how closely the poet matched the meaning of the original Latin:
The organ edition also provides an (optional) lower key:
Here is a shot of the opening page, as it appears in the Brébeuf hymnal:
When the Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan was dedicating our stations, he chose the version by Fulton J. Sheen. Toward the end, the bishop broke down and began to sob openly. It was very moving.