A New Hard-bound Hymnal on the Horizon for WLP

Did you see this? World Library Publications is going to put out a new hard-bound hymnal, as Jerry Galipeau reported this week. Close to 900 titles.

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  1. I think it was wise to wait a year for the new Mass settings to be field tested before publishing a hardbound hymnal. A room full of editors is an important part of the selection process, but so is the lived experience of assemblies trying out new settings.

  2. THIS WEEKEND MY FAVORITE PARISH INTRODUCED A NEW HYMNAL

    They are replacing the Glory and Praise hymnals that they have used for 21 years with Journeysongs which has 80% of the hymns in the old hymnal. The parish does not provide a Missalette. The cover of the bulletin received when entering church has on the front page the list of music plus any extra music, which is usually the responsorial phrase plus perhaps one other hymn not in the hymnal. In other words typically 3 or 4 of the “four hymns” are usually from the hymnal.

    One of the things that makes this my favorite parish is that they almost always choose hymns that I know and like. This is true even though I go to this parish about a third of the time. My nearby parish which I attend more often and which uses a Missalette is much more likely to choose an unfamiliar hymn or one that I do not like very much.

    Someone donated the new hymnals in memory of a family member. Presumably this person liked the music of the past 21 years and was glad to underwrite another ten to twenty years

    I was curious about the new hymnal, and went to OCP’s website where I found I could download the list of contents from the back of the hymnal. When I did that and began to go through it to find the list of titles, I was surprised how long the list of scriptural references was.

    This led me to question the argument sometimes voiced here that the Propers are better because they are more scriptural, and that by depriving the congregation of the Propers we are reducing scripture in the Mass.

    Of course, the mere fact that many of the hymns have a scriptural background does not mean they are the ones that are used. Fortunately in this case, the parish publishes its hymn selections for the next two months on its website.

  3. DATA ON SCRIPTURE IN PARISH HYMNS: TWO MONTH SAMPLE IN ONE PARISH

    I was able to compute the average amount of scripture for the coming eight Sundays. There were 24 hymns from this hymnal. This is typical for this parish since one of the four hymns is usually from elsewhere. It also makes for an easy comparison with the three Propers (Introit, Offertory, and Communion) although some of these hymns were from the recessional.

    AVERAGE AMOUNT OF SCRIPTURE PER MASS IN HYMN VERSES

    Psalms 5.124 verses
    Gospels 3.5 verses
    Isaiah (sometimes called the 5th gospel) 2.75 verses
    Other NT 1.5 verses
    Other OT 1.25 verses.

    Total scriptural : 14.125 verses

    Subtotal NT: 5 .0 verses
    Subotal OT not including psalms: 4.0 verses
    Subtotal OT including psalms: 9.125 verses.

    CONCLUSIONS

    If the practice of this parish is typical, it appears that the substitution of hymns for the Propers does not reduce the amount of scripture.

    If parishes would do what this parish does (namely sing all the verses of the hymns) hymns probably increase the amount of scripture. If parishes do what many parishes do, namely sing a couple of verses of the hymns, then the total amount of scripture probably turns out to be similar. Of course you can increase the amount of scripture in the Propers by singing many verses of the psalms.

    It looks like the verses of the psalms that are sung are about what one would hear if the Propers were sung without extra psalm verses; the increase in the amount of Scripture from hymns comes in terms of more Gospel verses and more verses from Isaiah.

    Now the pastor of this parish is a scripture scholar and the hymns obviously are planned sometime in advance so this parish may not be typical.

  4. TWO PERSONAL EXPERIMENTS

    I have long admired the Gregorian Propers for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and the great feasts. Not only are the Propers well chosen, actually the full psalm is also well chosen. The idea that these should continue to be an option, and maybe even a preferred option, seems very reasonable to me.

    However I never had access to the sung Propers for Ordinary Time until I learned on this website that they were available on the internet. So for about a year somewhere about two years ago, I included the sung Latin Propers as part of my weekly prayer in preparation for Sunday liturgy.

    What I learned is that the Propers for Ordinary Time seem to be mostly a way of getting the people to learn the psalms. I was very surprised how many of the psalms were covered, and that they were often covered in a somewhat numerical order. My conclusion from the year of experience was that while it would be good to have the scripture of the Propers, it did not really matter which Proper one used. The Propers were really not coordinated with the old readings so we don’t really need to coordinate them with the New Lectionary. Any Proper will do. Of course that also meant any scripture based chant or hymn would do.

    Now that I have found out that most of the hymns of my favorite parish are scriptural based, I plan to monitor their scripture content for a year to see what the spread of scripture looks like over a longer time period. I suspect it will be similar to the two month sample in terms of parts of Scripture. I suspect it will have a much richer non-psalm content than the Propers. It will be very interesting however to see if it has as varied a psalm content as the Propers. Of course a good psalm comparison would probably have to include the Gradual/Tract/Alleluia and the Responsorial Psalm/Alleluia comparisons.

    I also plan to include reading the actual scriptural references before Mass along with the readings for the Mass and see if that enriches my experience of the Mass.

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