NE MAJOR FLAW in too many Catholic hymnals has to do with editors who delete verses. They do it constantly—as if it’s a type of compulsion. 1 Verse expunction has a deleterious effect on the poetry and causes great inconvenience to choirmasters. We need all those verses! For example, we need them to fill up the time when the congregation is receiving Holy Communion. In 2018, the Saint Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal did something wonderful by restoring all the missing verses to the Roman Catholic treasury of hymns.
Many people believe the Antiphonale contains hymns, whereas the Graduale does not. They are wrong; the Graduale does contain hymns. An example would be “Jesu Nostra Redemptio” (the title was changed by Pope Urban VIII to “Salutis Humanæ Sator” in 1631AD). You can see that this hymn is also found in the 1908 Graduale. Page 256 of the Brébeuf Hymnal provides a marvelous English translation, courtesy of an FSSP priest who assisted with the project. The second verse will give you a taste of this hymn’s power and beauty:
What mercy conquered thee,
so as to bear our misdeeds,
suffering a cruel death,
so as to lift us from death?
The Brébeuf hymnal has many versions of this ancient hymn for the Ascension—and here’s one:
Rehearsal videos for each individual voice await you at #260.
The same melody is used in another place, at a higher key:
Which key do you like better? Higher or lower?
Every Mass Commemorates the Ascension
Immediately after the Consecration, the priest says:
Wherefore, O Lord, we, Thy servants, as also Thy holy people, calling to mind the blessed passion of the same Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, His resurrection from the grave, and His glorious ascension into heaven, offer up to Thy most excellent majesty of Thine own gifts bestowed upon us…etc.
Father Leslie Audoen Rumble (d. 1975) helps us understand the Ascension better in his famous “Radio Replies,” Question #1007:
1007. Christ ascended to heaven beyond the clouds. To the moon? Or did He continue beyond the sun and the stars? Or is heaven everywhere?
The ascension of Christ until a cloud received Him out of the sight of the Apostles was a phenomenon sufficiently clear to impress upon them some higher state of being. As a matter of fact He ascended only relatively to those who were watching Him. Our notions of ascent and descent are regulated by direction from the center of the earth. To the man on the opposite side of the earth the direction taken by Christ would be in the direction of descent. However, relatively to those watching Him, Christ ascended, and after a few moments they found themselves looking at a cloud. How far did Christ go? He merely allowed His supernatural qualities to assert themselves, and His body took upon itself a nature independent of all earthly conditions and limitations. He simply passed into another state of being, even as the thoughts incorporated in these words on paper are passing into another state of being within your mind as you read. And His new state at once renders useless all calculations based upon visible qualities as we know them. You might just as well try to measure abstract beauty with a wooden ruler. Christ’s glorified body is not subject to conditions of which we have experience.
One last time, here’s what the priest says at every Mass:
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 Even the good Catholic hymn editors mutilated and decimated hymns in a most inexplicable way. If you look through the Mediator Dei Hymnal (1955), you will see that J. Vincent Higginson (a.k.a. “Cyr de Brant”) deleted 70% of the verses for almost every hymn in his book. Achille P. Bragers had a very good reputation, and his harmonizations for certain hymns (such as “Holy God We Praise Thy Name”) are quite clever. Yet, look how Bragers eliminated most of the verses from “Jesu Nostra Redemptio” in English and Latin! That example comes from “The Monastery Hymnal,” published by Achille P. Bragers with a 1954 IMPRIMATUR by Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York.