ESTERDAY, I SUGGESTED seven solutions for getting Catholics to sing again, declaring that we must avoid “goofy, uninspired hymns with extremely predictable rhymes” and posted an elegant hymn translation by Monsignor Knox to demonstrate elevated, dignified, inspiring language. But what would be an example of an uninspired hymn with vapid rhymes? Completely out of the blue, my colleague (Mæstro Fritz) texted me an Anglican “Halloween” hymn this morning:
This Is Real: At first, I thought my friend was pulling my leg—but it turns out this isn’t a spoof. This hymn appears in Anglican and Episcopalian hymnals, and I’m told some people use it as a “Communion Song” on Halloween (October 31st). In my view, such predictable rhymes are unworthy of the House of God; and incidentally there’s no need to “dumb down” language for children. Children respond very well to quality; we must never feed them garbage.
A Better Solution :
Fix The Problem: Instead of “spooky kooky” songs, why not choose hymns from the Brébeuf hymnal, which is the #1 Catholic hymnal available? It contains countless Catholic hymns: Ave Maris Stella, Lux Alma Jesu Mentium, Ad Cenam Agni Providi, A Solis Ortus Cardine, Adeste Fideles, Aeterna Caeli Gloria, Angularis Fundamentum, Caelestis Urbs Jerusalem, Nunc Sancte Nobis Spiritus, Omni Die Dic Mariae, Quicumque Christum Quaeritis, Verbum Supernum Prodiens, Non Abluunt Lymphae Deum, Conditor Alme Siderum, Rebus Creatis Nil Egens, Rex Sempiterne Domine, Corde Natus Ex Parentis, Salve Caput Cruentatum, Sancti Venite, Victis Sibi Cognomina, Agnoscat Omne Saeculum, Hoste Dum Victo Triumphans, Jam Desinant Suspiria, Ave Vivens Hostia, Pange Lingua Gloriosi, and tons more!
Here’s a live recording from the Brébeuf hymnal. It’s an English translation of “Placare Christe” (a.k.a. Christe Redemptor), which is the traditional hymn for the Feast of All Hallows—a.k.a. All Saints’ Day on November 1st:
Here’s the same hymn using a “common tune.” (The Brébeuf hymnal utilizes common tunes in a truly marvelous way.)
The hymns contained in the Brébeuf hymnal are incredibly ancient. The hymn on that video (see above) looked like this in 1053AD:
Why does the Brébeuf hymnal translate the hymns into English, we well as providing the Latin versions? There is nothing strange about this! Catholics have been doing this for a millenium. Here’s that same hymn (see above) translated into the vernacular—which at that time was “Anglo-Saxon”—about 400 years before Martin Luther was born:
Conclusion: The fast and painless way to improve the music at your church is to pick up a copy of the Brébeuf hymnal.