ODAY I RELEASE a rare hymnal (123 pages!) which we’ve uploaded as a PDF file. A friend of mine sent me tons of German hymnals with harmonies. All together, they amount to thousands of pages. If you don’t see why this is significant, please remember that German hymn-books often contained lyrics only. Each organist would “harmonize at sight” (a skill valued by their culture). Indeed, different dioceses would put their own ‘twist’ on each melody. Releasing these rare hymnals is just one of many projects we have planned. If you wish to help us complete such projects, please consider donating $5.00 per month. Looking at the Corpus Christi Watershed bank account, I notice it’s dangerously low (which sometimes happens towards the end of the year). We have no major donors, no savings, and no endowment. We rely on your generosity to keep our website 100% free to all.
How To Download • I usually place the download link toward each article’s beginning, but today I’m doing something different. Today, the download link will be provided toward the end of the article. I hope this ‘technique’ will encourage everyone to read the full article. I have much to say about this MÜNSTER HYMNAL from 1953. For example, the diocese of Münster is famous for its bishop, called “the lion of Münster” because he strongly and publicly opposed Adolf Hitler. This bishop was made a cardinal by Pope Pius XII and beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. Because he was a nobleman, he had an insane amount of names. His name was: Very Rev’d Clemens Augustinus Emmanuel Joseph Pius Anthonius Hubertus Marie Graf von Galen.
Combating Foolishness • There’s an old saying: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” On the internet, certain loudmouths spread lies about hymns. For instance, they attack the strategy of shared melodies adopted by the Brébeuf Hymnal. This brilliant strategy allows congregations who don’t know many good melodies to ‘sing with gusto’ throughout the liturgical year as they slowly build their repertoire. [Choirmasters who work in the real world realize that teaching congregations new hymn tunes takes an awful long time.] For example, a loudmouth on the internet might know Neale’s To the Name That Brings Salvation married with REGENT SQUARE. But the Oxford Book of Descants (2012) doesn’t use REGENT SQUARE for that text. According to the internet loudmouth, the Oxford Book of Descants is “wrong.” (Never attempt to argue with such people; life is too short.)
The Truth • As a matter of fact, the “shared melody” technique used in the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal is nothing new. Its PREFACE explains how that technique goes back at least 1,000 years (and even provides color plates in support of this). Alas! Most folks don’t read the PREFACE. If you examine the MÜNSTER HYMNAL, you will see its editors often use a single tune for multiple texts, just like the Brébeuf Hymnal. The volunteer choir I conduct used this “shared melody” technique to sing an English translation of Cónditor Alme Síderum last Sunday, which was the 2nd Sunday of Advent. Here’s a live recording of how they sounded:
Germanic Musical Tradition • With each passing year, I become more impressed with the Germanic musical tradition. Personally, my knowledge of the German language is virtually zero. (I still have no idea how I passed two semesters of German in graduate school.) In spite of my grave linguistic deficiencies, I have been learning more about their musical culture. From what I can tell, Germany was basically divided between Protestant and Catholic. If a diocese remained Catholic, it tended to keep a strong Catholic ‘ethos’ or identity. Perhaps Dr. Lucas Tappan could tell us more about this.
Consider what the MÜNSTER HYMNAL did with the ‘Golden Sequence’ (which Father Valentine Young prayed every morning of his priesthood):
Below is what the MÜNSTER HYMNAL did with the Dies Irae. (I’m not sure why they named the piece after Mitt Romney’s son “TAGG” but to each his own.)
Or, consider what the MÜNSTER HYMNAL did with the famous hymn of Saint Thomas Aquinas:
The Same Tunes!!! • Father Valentine Young used to say: “The parts of the Bible I love most are those with which I’m most familiar.” I was utterly gobsmacked to observe how many melodies in the MÜNSTER HYMNAL were also included in the Brébeuf Hymnal. That is to say, the Brébeuf doesn’t represent a “new” tradition. Rather, it built upon the splendid Catholic traditions of the past. For example, the MÜNSTER HYMNAL contains “O Heiland Reiss.” The volunteer choir I direct presented that one last Sunday, and I feel they sang it well:
Gregorian Kyrie II • The Germanic people seem to hold in high esteem CARMEN GREGORIANUM (“Gregorian Chant”). For example, I have always had a special place in my heart for Gregorian Mass II, often referred to by its ‘trope’ name: Fons Bonitatis. Do you know the KYRIE from that Mass? Are you able to recognize what the MÜNSTER HYMNAL did here?
Perhaps you don’t have enough familiarity with Gregorian Chant to instantly recognize KYRIE II. In that case, here’s my attempt to jog your memory:
Thank You, Reader! • Thanks for reading what I wrote about the MÜNSTER HYMNAL. You can download the entire hymnal at the following link. Notice that it’s VOLUME II. While I don’t own the first volume, from what I can tell VOLUME I contains plainsong in Latin, whereas the second volume is dedicated to songs in German. The file is 149.2MB so be patient as it loads:
* PDF Download • MÜNSTER HYMNAL (123 pages)
—Orgelbuch zum Gebet- und Gesangbuch für die Diözese Münster (1953).
The German Tradition • I close this article with a recording by my volunteer choir singing a wonderful “German” hymn. I place “German” in quotation marks because it’s actually an ancient (Roman Catholic) plain-chant. But we’ve already spoken about that at length … so I’d better just go to the ‘live’ recording from last Sunday:
That same melody can be found on page 22 in the MÜNSTER HYMNAL.
Photograph Of Cover • Here’s a photograph showing the cover of the MÜNSTER HYMNAL: