NE OF THE RAREST hymnals we ever released was produced by Father Gabriel Aloysius Knauff (Saskatchewan, Canada) and Sister Pauline of Saint Clare Convent (Cincinnati, Ohio). I am speaking about the Christ the King Hymnal (232 pages), which Corpus Christi Watershed scanned and uploaded in October of 2015. The vast majority of these hymns will be unfamiliar to most USA Catholics since they come from the German tradition. Although the hymnal was unsuccessful, the effort they put forward was truly extraordinary: second to none! Many Catholics still don’t realize that in the pre-conciliar United States—that is to say, before the Second Vatican Council—it was extremely common to sing hymns in English during Low Mass. We have provided massive evidence of this:
* Vernacular Hymns during Traditional Latin Mass
—A series of articles by Corpus Christi Watershed.
If you scroll to the bottom of this article, you will see even more evidence, directly from the Christ the King Hymnal (1954).
Vernacular Hymns During Latin Mass?
It is true that—in a 1958 document—Pope Pius XII explicitly allowed vernacular hymns during High Mass:
However, as we have already discussed, the legislation before the Second Vatican Council never had in mind vernacular hymns during the distribution of Holy Communion at High Mass, because distributing Holy Communion at High Mass (except on Holy Thursday) was very rare. When Holy Communion was given to the Faithful, such a distribution usually took place outside of Mass. Writing in 1917, Father Adrian Fortescue reminded us that distributing Holy Communion to the congregation was extremely rare, although theoretically possible:
Some people believe the current situation—where 99% of Catholics receive Communion at every Mass with scant preparation—has caused Catholics to regard the SANCTISSIMUM in a “casual” way. In the 1980s, Father Valentine Young pointed out a glaring omission in the Ordinary Form’s Lectionary. As far as I know, Father Valentine is the first one to notice this—and I think his discovery needs to be dealt with in a serious way. Catholics should not treat the SANCTISSIMUM in a casual way. And the irreverence which is frequently shown to the Blessed Sacrament is heartbreaking.
See It For Yourself:
The 1954 Christ the King Hymnal—a fully Roman Catholic book—provides examples of hymns sung during Low Mass:
In Los Angeles, we often sing #814 from the Brébeuf hymnal during the distribution of Holy Communion:
Rehearsal videos for each individual voice await you at #814.