Sometimes we have numerous Solemn High Masses during the week, and it’s impossible to expect the full choir to sing for all of them. That means we have a “smaller crew”—and that’s okay because there’s tons of music that can be done with limited performing forces. On the feast of All Saints (November 1st) we sang hymn #165 from the Brébeuf hymnal using just the SOPRANO and ALTO lines:
The text is the traditional hymn for the feast of All Saints:
Christe, Redémptor ómnium,
Consérva tuos fámulos,
Beátae semper Vírginis
Placátus sanctis précibus.
O Christ, Redeemer of all,
appeased by the holy prayers
of the ever-blessed Virgin,
do Thou protect Thy servants.
When Pope Urban VIII “corrupted” all the breviary hymns in 1631AD, here’s what he did to this particular hymn:
Placáre Christe sérvulis,
Quibus Patris cleméntiam,
Tuæ ad Tribúnal grátiæ,
Patróna Virgo póstulat.
Be merciful, Christ, to Your servants,
for whom our advocate, the Virgin,
asks the Father’s mercy
at the throne of grace.
A very simple (yet beautiful) piece is “Lux Alma, Jesu, Mentium” which comes from a long poem by Saint Bernard: “Jesu Dulcis Memoria.” Notice that—courtesy of the Brébeuf hymnal—a very special organ accompaniment has been included:
* PDF Download • Lux Alma Jesu Mentium
—Including an organ accompaniment.
The poem reminds us that we believe in a God whom we cannot see. Father John Connelly translates the second verse as: How happy the man that is host to You, for You are the companion of the Father at His right hand. You are the light that consoles heaven, but is unseen by man on earth. By the way, this verse doesn’t mean we cannot see Jesus under the forms of bread and wine. Nor does it mean we cannot see Jesus in the face of the poor, or the purity of a snowflake, or the magnificence of the universe.
The next hymn is really wonderful. It’s called “Jesu Nostra Redemptio,” and it’s appropriate throughout the liturgical year. Just like the previous hymn, numerous versions of this hymn were included (in English) in the Brébeuf hymnal. Moreover, the Brébeuf hymnal contains important addenda, such as theological explanations.
* PDF Download • Jesu Nostra Redemptio
—An organ accompaniment has been included.
My favorite verse addresses the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity:
What mercy conquered thee,
so as to bear our misdeeds,
suffering a cruel death,
so as to lift us from death?
The following tune was used in The Pope Pius XII Hymnal (1959) which we have spoken about in the past. It’s a famous melody—from around 1440AD—called “BRESLAU,” and Felix Mendelssohn wrote a famous arrangement of it for Saint Paul Oratorio (1836).
The special way the verses are notated in the Brébeuf Choral Supplement makes it possible to add parts instantly; it’s incredible that no book ever did this until the Brébeuf hymnal came along.