ECAUSE THE UNITED STATES was once a colony of Britain, some citizens continue to hold the Irish in contempt. If you doubt this, search Google for HIBERNOPHOBIA. When some Americans hear “Irishman” they immediately think of an unsophisticated, dirty, lazy alcoholic. For myself, I consider Irish culture to be quite beautiful—and very Catholic. (Readers might remember that John Henry Cardinal Newman was instrumental in the founding of the CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND in 1854.)
Superb Irish Melody • Below is an Irish hymn found in the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal. It’s called “Domhnach Trionoide.” I find it elegant and haunting … and singers love it!
Irish Catholic Hymnal • Father Jerry Threadgold (d. 2016) published an interesting Catholic hymnal in 1973. It’s called the VERITAS HYMNAL, and you can still find a copy of the pew edition online. When we consider the general state of church music in the 1970s, I would argue that Father Threadgold’s book was one of the better attempts. It has a 22 September 1973 IMPRIMATUR from the Archbishop of Dublin and a PREFACE by William Cardinal Conway (d. 1977). I find some of the pairings a little odd. For example, consider this text by Dom Gregory Murray paired with the melody for O Sacred Head Surrounded from the VERITAS HYMNAL:
Organ Accompaniment • A reader sent in some sample pages from the Organ Accompaniment to the VERITAS HYMNAL. I must say, the formatting in the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal is so much better, because each verse is written out, for when the organist must ‘double’ as cantor:
Gaelic Hymns? • It’s not easy to get a straight answer regarding whether Gaelic is spoken by the Irish people. When I spoke to someone in Ireland, she said: “Oh, we absolutely speak Gaelic here.” Another person told me Gaelic is not actually spoken, but it’s taught to children in Irish schools. In any event, the hymns in Gaelic look pretty funky! A few examples:
Same Question Again • I have asked this question a billion times, but I can’t help repeating myself: “What would Catholic music have been like if the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal had been available in the early 1970s?” Imagine if the innovations of the Brébeuf Choral Supplement had arrived back then! Imagine if the high quality and luxurious “feel” of the pew edition had been available back then, including the splendid color page sections. Imagine if the rehearsal videos had been (somehow) available back in the 1970s!