ARDLY A WEEK GOES BY when I don’t receive an email seeking repertoire ideas for volunteer choirs. Without question, the sine qua non is the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal, especially if your choir members struggle with reading music. So many of today’s ‘traditional’ hymnals—which shall remain nameless—are basically “leftover” versions of Protestant books. In other words, the editors choose a Protestant book, eliminate anything heretical, and whatever is leftover becomes the hymnal. To make matters worse, they often revive 19th-century hymns which (although not heretical) are musically ‘schmaltzy’ with saccharine lyrics. I do not believe such attempts will ever be accepted by today’s congregations.1
Hymn By Flor Peeters • Did you know Baron Flor Peeters, the famous Belgian organist, composed hymns? They can be found in the Brébeuf Hymnal. Many hymns written in 3/4 rhythm sound ‘sing-songy’ after a few verses, but this melody by Flor Peeters is a fabulous exception. Here’s an example from last Sunday, recorded by a volunteer choir:
Organ Interlude • You can also download a 2-part “Tantum Ergo” Organ Interlude (Manuals Only) by Flor Peeters, which is extremely fun to play:
* PDF Download • 2-Part Setting (“Tantum Ergo Sacramentum”)
—Organ Interlude by Flor Peeters based on “St Thomas (Webbe)” • For Manuals Only.
Article By Peeters (1965) • If you can’t get enough of Flor Peeters, you can read this article, which is four pages in length. Arthur Cardinal Roche, the highest-ranking English-born priest to serve in the Roman Curia since Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, recently said (28 August 2022) that Vatican II is “the highest legislation that exists in the Church.” Cardinal Roche would be pleased, because this article by Flor Peeters explores what Vatican II mandated vis-à-vis liturgical music:
* PDF Download • “For Choirmasters & Organists” (1965)
—By Flor Peeters • English translation by Emmanuel Leemans.
Variety Is Important • Because the hymn by Flor Peeters was somewhat in a ‘minor’ mode, we ended the Mass with a thrilling (and very happy) descant, taken from #868 in the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal:
‘Live’ Rec. By Symposium • Sacred Music Symposium 2022 was granted permission to reproduce (and sing) this hymn a few weeks ago. The text by Father Dominic Popplewell, FSSP, is nothing short of brilliant. It incorporates splendidly ‘paradoxical’ verses addressed to our Savior, JESUS CHRIST. Father Popplewell’s use of beautiful language (e.g. “let unfaltering acclaim” etc.) comes across as fresh and resplendent. He deftly avoids ‘horse-and-buggy’ (and stale) clichés. Here’s how it sounded—including the descant—when sung by the participants:
1 Now that the Saint Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal (Sophia Institute Press, 2018) is available, there’s no reason to resort to such “leftover” books. The Brébeuf Hymnal does not mimic or ‘build upon’ Protestant hymnals. From first to last, it’s a Catholic publication. Its core is the ancient tome of Roman Catholic hymns, stretching back more than 1,700 years.