ISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN famously wrote in 1938: “Once there were lost islands, but most of them have been found; once there were lost causes, but many of them have been retrieved; but there is one lost art that has not been definitely recovered, and without which no civilization can long survive, and that is the art of controversy. The hardest thing to find in the world today is an argument.” I would like nothing more than to ‘argue’ to Catholic bishops the importance of having excellent hymn tunes, elegant hymn texts, exemplary typography, and theological depth for Roman Catholic pew books…but I’m met with apathy. I would absolutely love to participate in a public debate, making the case against the sad deficiencies in most Catholic hymnals. But some priests just want “a flashy cover and charming slogan.”
“Sine Qua Non” In Truth: The Brébeuf harmonizations and hymn tunes have become utterly essential to my work as a choirmaster. I cannot think of a single book available today that comes close to offering what the Brébeuf hymnal offers. What other publication comes close? The hymnal by Theodore Marier was quite nice, but it’s been unavailable for almost half a century. The New Westminster Hymnal was splendid in many ways, but it’s stupendously deficient compared to the Brébeuf—which is only natural when we speak of a book from the 1930s. I’m aware of all hymnals published recently, and I contributed to publications such as: the SAINT MICHAEL HYMNAL, the SAINT EDMUND CAMPION HYMNAL, and others. The Brébeuf hymnal contains three times as many hymns as any competing publication. 1
An Example: My professor often said: “An example is worth a thousand words.” Let’s take an example (#756 from the Brébeuf hymnal) which can be used for tons of different feasts. It’s a hymn to Christ the King by Father Ivor Daniel, and is extremely popular in countries such as Australia. Choristers absolutely love singing this hymn.
Rehearsal videos for each individual voice await you at #756.
Brébeuf Versatility: Once you teach your singers this melody, you can use it with many other hymns in the Brébeuf hymnal, such as #818, #841, and #856. Just last Sunday, we used that melody for Brébeuf Hymn #860, “Glorious Things Of Thee Are Spoken,” which also appears in the New Catholic Hymn Book (published by the London Oratory). Here’s how that came out, although microphones always distort the true choral sound:
* Live Recording • Hymn #860
—Brébeuf Hymn Number 860.
Church Music Association of America: In 2019, an article appeared on the blog of the Church Music Association of America called “What a Catholic Hymn Should Be.” Here is what the author wrote about The Saint Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal:
The Brébeuf Hymnal’s “copious selection of hundreds of tunes and texts, including favorites, forgotten gems, and new commissions, all beautifully formatted and presented in a surprisingly compact hardcover volume, is not only unparalleled by any other current hymnal, but well exceeds that of any hymnal I have seen from any period. […] It is such a fantastic hymnal that it deserves to be in the pews of every Catholic church.”
I would like to sincerely thank C. N. Reilly for directing me to that article. To be 100% clear, I had nothing to do with that column—in any way whatsoever. I only learned of it after it had been published.
Biographical Note: The priest who wrote the lyrics to that hymn was Father Ivor Daniel (1883-1967). Could this priest—who was born in England—have possibly been related to the great Father Antoine Daniel, the Jesuit Martyr? Father Ivor J.E. Daniel was a Roman Catholic priest who was a chaplain overseas during World War I—often called “The Great War”—in Edmonton (Canada), and as a missionary in British Columbia. Born in England in 1883, he moved to Edmonton sometime after 1906. Father Daniel was ordained in 1913 and assigned as an assistant priest at Saint Joachim’s Church. With the outbreak of the Great War, he was sent overseas to serve as a chaplain. When he returned, he served at St. Joseph’s Church before accepting missionary duties in British Columbia. Father Daniel also served as a justice of the peace, acted as a juvenile court judge, translated the “Appendix to the Roman Ritual,” and was the author of Traveling for Christ and a series of missionary sketches that appeared in the Catholic Register in 1912. A park is named in his honor (“The Father Ivor Daniel Park”) in Edmonton, Canada:
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 For example, a partial list of foreign hymn texts—for which the Brébeuf hymnal provides at least one English translation—would include: A Solis Ortus Cardine; Ad Cenam Agni Providi; Ad Preces Nostras Deitatis; Ad Regias Agni Dapes; Adeste Fideles; Adesto Pater Domine; Adoro Te Devote Latens Deitas; Æterna Cæli Gloria; Æterne Rex Altissime Redemptor; Agnoscat Omne Sæculum; Alto Ex Olympi Vertice; Amor Jesu Dulcissime; Angularis Fundamentum; Anima Christi Sanctifica Me; Auctor Beate Sæculi; Audi Benigne Conditor; Aurora Cælum Purpurat; Aurora Lucis Rutilat; Ave Maris Stella; Ave Vivens Hostia; Cælestis Urbs Jerusalem; Christe Redemptor (both versions); Clarum Decus Jejunii; Conditor Alme Siderum; Consors Paterni Luminis; Corde Natus Ex Parentis; Creator Alme Siderum; Crudelis Herodes Deum; De Profundis Exclamantes Audi; Deus Judicium Tuum Regi Da; Die Parente Temporum; Discendi Amor Santo; En Clara Vox Redarguit; Ex More Docti Mystico; Gloria Laus Et Honor Tibi Sit; Gloriosi Salvatoris; Gott Vater Sei Gepriesen; Herzliebster Jesu; Hoste Dum Victo Triumphans; Hostis Herodes Impie; Hymnum Canamus Gloriæ; In Dulci Jubilo; In Principio Creavit Deus; Instantis Adventum Dei; Jam Christe Sol Justitiæ; Jam Desinant Suspiria; Jesu Nostra Redemptio; Jesu Redemptor Omnium; Jordanis Oras Prævia; Lasst Uns Erfreuen Herzlich Sehr; Laudes Creaturarum; Lavacra Puri Gurgitis; Lustra Sex Qui Jam Peregit; Lustris Sex Qui Jam Peractis; Lux Alma Jesu Mentium; Maria Durch Ein’ Dornwald Ging; Mater Facta Sed Intacta; Mundus Effusis Redemptus; Non Abluunt Lymphæ Deum; Nunc Sancte Nobis Spiritus; O Amor Quam Ecstaticus; O Bello Dio Signor Del Paradiso; O Esca Viatorum; O Filii Et Filiæ; O Gloriosa Virginum; O Gloriosa Femina; O Heiland Reiss Die Himmel Auf; O Pater Sancte Mitis Atque Pie; O Salutaris Hostia; O Sanctissima O Piissima; O Sol Salutis Intimis; O Sola Magnarum Urbium; O Splendor æterni Patris; Omni Die Dic Mariæ; Pange Lingua Gloriosi (Aquinas); Pange Lingua Gloriosi (Fortunatus); Panis Angelicus Fit Panis Hominum; Pendens In Crucis Cornibus; Per Te Mundus Lætabundus; Placare Christe Servulis; Puer Natus Est Nobis; Quem Terra Pontus Sidera; Qui Procedis Ab Utroque; Quicumque Certum Quæritis; Quicumque Christum Quæritis; Rebus Creatis Nil Egens; Regina Cæli Jubila; Regina Cæli Lætare; Rex Gloriose Martyrum; Rex Sempiterne Cælitum; Salutis Humanæ Sator; Salve Caput Cruentatum; Salve Mundi Domina; Salve Regina Cælitum; Salve Regina Mater Misericordiæ; Sancti Venite Christi Corpus Sumite; Schönster Herr Jesu; Splendor Paternæ Gloriæ; Stabat Mater Dolorosa; Stille Nacht; Summi Largitor Præmii; Summi Parentis Filio; Surrexit Christus Hodie; Tantum Ergo; Te Deum Laudamus; Te Gestientem Gaudiis; Te Sæculorum Principem; Urbs Jerusalem Beata; Urbs Sion Aurea Patria Lactea; Venez Divin Messie; Veni Creator Spiritus; Veni Redemptor Gentium; Veni Sancte Spiritus; Veni Veni Emmanuel; Verbum Supernum Prodiens; Vergine Madre Figlia Del Tuo Figlio; Vexilla Regis Prodeunt; Victimæ Paschali Laudes; Victis Sibi Cognomina; Vita Sanctorum Decus Angelorum; and Vox Clara Ecce Intonat.