ATHER POPPLEWELL, who served on the faculty of the Sacred Music Symposium several years ago, pointed out that Australian hymnals from the 1950s and 1960s had “a curious admixture of grand and grotesque.” When I served as a member of the team which produced the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal, each of us made a conscious commitment to produce a collection which (as much as possible) included hymns known and loved by Catholics for decades. In other words, we had no interest in creating a book of hymns filled with hymns nobody knew.
Delightful Discovery • I was absolutely delighted to come into contact with a rare ORGAN ACCOMPANIMENT BOOK, published by a Capuchin Franciscan named Father Irvin Udulutsch, who taught music at Saint Lawrence Seminary (Mount Calvary, Wisconsin). The book has been out of print for almost seventy years:
* Accompaniment Book • By Father Udulutsch (233 pages)
—That powerful online viewer (with its convenient “thumbnail” option) was created by my colleague, Mr. Frederes, who knows more about computers than anyone else in the world!
Blowing One’s Own Horn! • Father Valentine Young used to say: “If you don’t blow your own horn, nobody else is going to come around and blow it for you.” Why did I claim to be delighted to find Father Udulutsch’s hymnal? I did so because almost every single hymn can be found in the Brébeuf Hymnal. Do you remember how I said our editorial team wanted to stress the CONTINUITY between the Brébeuf and other Catholic hymnals? Looking through these pages almost knocked me off my feet. If you haven’t spent years looking at hymnals, it’s possible you won’t realize the diverse ways hymn melodies can be “disguised.” For example, when you look at page 11 in the book by Father Udulutsch (“At That First Eucharist Before You Died”) you might not realize that same melody is also favored by the Brébeuf Hymnal. Inexplicably, Catholic hymnals for many years disguised (“failed to identify”) melodies and texts: click here to see what I mean.
Three Examples • I could go through the entire hymnal by Father Udulutsch and demonstrate that 90% of the melodies and texts found a home in the Brébeuf Hymnal. That’s very important—as you’re probably sick of hearing me say—because we ardently wanted to avoid producing an “untraditional” book. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to go through the entire thing right now, although I might do that someday, if provoked! Until such time, the first three pages will have to suffice:
Udulutsch Hymn #1 • Hymns written in triple time can be dangerous. They tend to become tedious very quickly. This hymn is an exception. In the the Brébeuf Hymnal, it’s #853, but the Brébeuf Hymnal includes all the verses—whereas Father Udulutsch omits many of them.
Udulutsch Hymn #2 • The first thing I noticed about this hymn is how many verses Father Udulutsch omitted. When this same text and tune was included as #36 in the Brébeuf Hymnal, no verses were omitted. Moreover, Father Udulutsch has put this melody into a low key. Some bass singers would struggle to sing it well. On the other hand, he seems to have done a halfway decent job simplifying the harmonies, thereby making easier for the person on the pipe organ to play all the correct notes.
Udulutsch Hymn #3 • The harmonies by Father Udulutsch appear to be simplified. They’re still quite beautiful (although sometimes all voices move in the same direction at the same time, which isn’t good). Nevertheless the Brébeuf harmonies—with their powerful “circle of fifths” movement—strike me even nicer. Father Udulutsch eliminates tons of verses, whereas the Brébeuf Hymnal leaves the text intact. This melody is “mysterious” and compelling, although certainly somber. In the Brébeuf Hymnal, this hymn tune is called COBLENZ, and can be found on page 229.
Note On Names • In Kansas many years ago, there was a book in the pews called “Our Parish Prays And Sings,” produced in 1966 by the ORDER OF SAINT BENEDICT. I would like to point out that Father Udulutsch’s hymnal is similar but not identical to that book. Sadly, switching book titles is nothing new. For example, in his Comparison of Fifteen Catholic Hymnals, Daniel Craig points out that Omer Westendorf originally called his book “THE PEOPLES HYMNAL” (1955) but in 1964 changed its title to “THE PEOPLES MASS BOOK.” (As someone interested in grammar, Westendorf’s omitting of the apostrophe drives me bonkers.) Dom Suitbertus Birkle published a book called: “A Complete and Practical Method of the Solesmes Plain Chant.” Later, he removed the PREFACE and published the self-same book, this time calling it: “The Vatican Plain Chant; A Practical Manual for Teacher and Student.”
No Accounting for Taste • Everyone has certain words they like or dislike. In my humble opinion, it would be difficult to come up with a worse title than “Our Parish Prays And Sings.” It reminds me of that famous book intended to help children learn to read: See Spot. See Spot Run. Run, Spot! Run! I can’t help thinking: See our parish. See our parish pray. See our parish sing. Our parish prays and sings. I’m also not a fan of trendy titles for Masses: Mass for the City, Mass for the Community, Mass for the People, and so forth. For the record, the very first Mass setting in “Our Parish Prays And Sings” (1966) is called “Mass for World Peace.” The second setting is called “Mass for Social Justice.” I assure you I’m not making this up. Indeed, I can’t think of a better illustration of what Father Popplewell was getting at (“curious admixture of grand and grotesque”) than looking at the musical setting for the OUR FATHER in that same 1966 hymnal:
“Barbaric” Lyrics? • In 1960, someone using the fake name “P.P.” in the Dominicana Journal wrote as follows regarding Father Udulutsch’s hymnal: