by James E. Frazier

World Library Publications (WLP), the music and liturgy division of J.S. Paluch Company, Inc., of Franklin Park, Illinois, has published a new hymnal. Titled One in Faith (OIF), the volume joins several other mature hymnals published in recent years by other companies.

One_in_Faith_as_3D_bkgrndIn the preface to OIF, the hymnal committee declared that its chief aim was the same as the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, namely, to enable the faithful to participate in the liturgy. “We endeavored to do this by preparing and crafting a hymnal that would offer the finest from the whole spectrum of repertoire, styles, and genres used by today’s celebrating communities.” In this the committee has been successful. The hymnal contains everything from familiar chants, standard hymnody, new work by contemporary composers, and a few examples of global song. Moreover, the 2011 implementation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition had a major influence on the preparation of the hymnal.


OIF is available in several versions: pew edition (with readings); pew edition (without readings); choral/cantor edition (available June 2015); keyboard accompaniment (portrait edition); keyboard accompaniment (landscape edition); guitar accompaniment; C instrument edition (available December 2015); and B-flat instrument edition (available June 2016). It is worth noting that WLP refers to the volume as a hymnal, suggesting that hymns are more and more being called songs, and songs being called hymns.

The two pew editions and the keyboard accompaniment volumes are handsomely and sturdily bound in a deep purple hard cover (think Advent and Lent), with gold embossing, and they contain a wide range of chant, classic hymnody, gospel hymns, spirituals, contemporary and bilingual resources. The keyboard edition (portrait layout) is available in three humongous seven-ring binders (the landscape layout comes in two binders). Keyboardists have reason to bemoan the fact that the accompaniments of so many “songs” continue to take up two, three, or as many as eight pages, a characteristic of Roman Catholic songbooks. The publisher cannot possibly expect that keyboardists will be able to maneuver so many page turns without making (illegal) photocopies.

OIF has thirteen helpful indices: Acknowledgments; Authors, Composers and Sources; Languages (need something in German, Spanish, Latin, Polish, Shona, or Swahili?); Tunes; Meters; Service Music for Mass (need the Celtic Alleluia?); Lectionary Psalm Refrains; Lectionary Psalms; Scripture References; Liturgical (i.e., feasts and seasons); Topical (need something for the BVM, angels, Christian unity, deliverance, Good Shepherd, humility, or the Second Coming?); Hymns and Songs for the Church Year (i.e., three, four or five suggested hymns or songs for each Sunday of the three-year cycle); and Common Titles and First Lines. The editors have done an expert job of organizing their resources so that the parish musician can find what s/he needs efficiently and thoughtfully. The indices are also available in a stand-alone spiral-bound book.

The hymnal also contains the following liturgies and devotions: Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction, Baptism of Children, RCIA, Holy Communion outside Mass, Communal Reconciliation, communal Anointing of the Sick, Vigil for the Deceased, the Funeral Mass, and the Way of the Cross.

Moreover, the book contains a wide range of music from other publishers, some for the first time in a WLP publication, helping to break down the old and unfortunate distinctions among Oregon Press parishes, GIA parishes, and WLP parishes.

Repetition and Diatonicism

Something needs to be said about the unnecessary repetition of texts in OIF. Repetition in the liturgy was largely abolished in the reforms of Vatican II in an effort to restore a natural soberness to the Roman Rite, though a few repetitions were retained in the present translations (e.g., the Kyrie Eleison, the Lamb of God, and the line “through my fault” in the confession). In the centuries before Vatican II, the repetition of texts was most conspicuous in choral Mass settings, where the sopranos, altos, tenors and basses took turns delivering the same text.

But in the vernacular years that have followed the council, a new repetition of texts has sadly been reintroduced into the liturgy, not to “reverse” Vatican II’s preference for “once is enough,” but in order to accommodate lesser composers who lack the discipline and imagination to set a brief line of text, like a psalm refrain, to a tight and succinct melody.

The problem, really, lies with the unnecessary assumption that western diatonicism is the only way to set a liturgical text. In the case of short texts, such as dialogs or refrains, a modal formula is often to be preferred over a diatonic setting. The reason for this is that diatonicism naturally prefers a longer text that can “spread out” into the tonic-subdominant-dominant straight-jacket, taking more time than a short text warrants. The unfortunate result is that texts are repeated in order to accommodate a music that is out of control.

Such repetitions remain in OIF, particularly in acclamations, psalm antiphons, and other Mass parts. We see it especially in cases where a short refrain is sung twice to the same melody, with the first iteration ending on a dominant chord, and the second ending on the tonic. Lacking better control over their material, lesser composers can’t complete their musical statement with a single iteration of text, so the text has to be elongated. In the refrain for Psalm 96 (275), for example, by Mark Mellis, the text is iterated three times. In Psalm 29 (239), by Richard Cheri and Jalonda Robertson, the text receives a whopping three and a half iterations. A case can nevertheless be made for the repetition of rhapsodizing words like “Alleluia” and “Amen.”

In OIF there are several examples of call-and-response songs where the cantor sings a phrase that is repeated by the congregation. A conspicuous example of this is I Saw Water Flowing (176), by Michael Philip Ward. Another is This is Our Faith (309) by Charles Gardner. The process is boring and tedious and it resembles a kindergarten exercise more than a liturgical moment. I suppose one could reasonably make the claim that the whole point of such a call-and-response formula is to enable the congregation to sing a text that they have never sung before and will never need to sing again. But is there any long-term value in being able to sing a once-only song?

On the other hand, repetition can be helpful in accommodating a bilingual congregation. In OIF,the psalmody, for example, has several instances of useful repetition, as in the bilingual antiphon for Psalm 27 (The Lord is my light, 236) by Mary Frances Reza, where the text is sung first in Spanish and then in English (but to thankfully different melodies). Successful variants of this form are presented by Eleazar Cortés, Peter M. Kolar, Lorenzo Florián, Michelle Abeyta, Lourdes C. Montgomery, and Pedro Rubalcava.

Mass Settings

Because the Mass settings lie at the heart of Sunday worship, and must survive the test of frequent usage, their role in the hymnal is more important than that of other parts, many of which will see only rare usage. OIF has fifteen Mass settings, which is more than the typical congregation will ever need, and probably more than the hymnal needs. One of the problems in many of the settings is the inept and frequent use of 3/4 or 6/8 meter. A skilled composer knows how to use such meters without allowing them to degenerate into trifling tunes, aware that liturgical music demands gravitas. Though few members of the typical congregation are professional musicians, they all deserve music that is artful and elegantly simple. It takes a skillful composer to write simple music.

The first Mass setting features the Roman Missal Chants for the Order of Mass (3), but it is confusedly interspersed with the various movements from the Mass of Redemption (5) by Steven R. Janco, which is nowhere identified as such, except in the table of contents.

The awkwardly named Sing Praise and Thanksgiving Mass (40) by J. Michael Joncas is carefully crafted overall, though there are parallel fifths at the end of the Prayer of the Faithful. Cleanse Us Lord has parallel thirds and sixths in sixteenth-note motion throughout all the verses and is not very easy to play on the piano; it works better on the organ. The Glory to God has much repetition in the refrain, extending the setting beyond its due.

The Mass for Our Lady (54), by Steven C. Warner and Karen Schneider Kirner, has much to recommend it, with its persuasive forays into related keys and its good craft (except for the parallel octaves in the Gospel acclamation). But the Lord’s Prayer, which appears at 205, is a good example of how music can overwhelm a text. Here it is no longer the Lord’s Prayer, but a “song” that features an eleven-measure piano interlude leading from the embolism back to “for thine is the kingdom.”

Misa Luna (Moon Mass?; 64) is a bilingual setting by Peter M. Kolar. Some parts of the Mass can be sung simultaneously in English and Spanish, while others, such as the Glory to God, must be sung in either English or Spanish, but not both simultaneously.

The well-worn Mass for Christian Unity (79) and the People’s Mass (89), both by Jan Vermulst, a prolific Dutch composer and organist, will be remembered from the earliest years after the Second Vatican Council, when he was invited to compose for the American church.

The Mass of Joy (99), by Kathleen Demny, with an accompaniment by Jeffrey Honoré, has a light-hearted feel over all—to be liked by some and deplored by others—which is reinforced by the glib modulation from D to E major for the final refrain of the Glory to God.

The Mass of New Beginnings (110), by W. Clifford Petty, explores an unashamed jazz idiom, with a few sections, such as the Glory to God, too syncopated for most congregations. The Holy, Holy and the Lamb of God, on the other hand, are straightforward and easy for the congregation, while the jazz elements are restricted to the accompaniment. Such an approach has a greater chance of success than do syncopated rhythms assigned to the congregation.

The Mass of St. Ann (120), by Ed Bolduc, tends to be repetitious from one part of the Mass to another; some will consider this tedious while others will value it as an encouragement for the congregation. The Glory to God is available in two versions, one through-composed and the other having a part for the cantor.

The Mass of Wisdom (131), by Steven R. Janco, tends to be repetitious and trite-sounding. Every section is in E-flat. But the Sanctus and the Memorial Acclamation both end cleverly on the dominant, reinforcing the unity of the Eucharistic Prayer. By leaving those two sections open-ended and “unfinished,” they help to convey the unity of the Eucharistic Prayer which draws to a close only with the tonic finish of the Great Amen.

Missa Simplex (143) is a modern chant setting, whose Gloria was composed by Richard Proulx, while after Proulx’s death Michael O’Connor wrote sympathetic adaptations of all the other Mass parts. Its genius lies in the implication that not every Mass needs to be a major production with acclamations in D major starting and stopping with trumpet blasts. By reducing the music to an unmetered recitative, the simple unity of the liturgy is preserved and the slight difference between speech and truly ritual music is retained.

The Iubilate Deo Mass (153)…will sound familiar to older members of many congregations, and will especially be welcomed by younger clergy, musicians and laity who have been following Sing to the Lord, the bishops’ document which has called for a minimal use of Latin chant Mass settings.

The Danish Amen Mass (162) is an abbreviated setting by David Kraehenbuehl whose Holy, Holy is based on the so-called Danish Amen. The setting contains only the Eucharistic acclamations and the Lamb of God, so the Gloria and other parts of the Mass must be taken from another source.

The Pope Paul VI Mass (168), by Edward E. Connor, is a sturdy setting, though it is repetitious and lacks melodic invention, except perhaps in the Lamb of God.


In addition to the lectionary psalter for the Eucharist, the hymnal contains a broad selection of random psalmody that can be used for other parts of the liturgy, or for morning and evening prayer, or for other occasions. Most of it is intended to be sung responsorially, with a cantor or choir singing the verses. In some instances, however, the pew edition includes the music for the verses, allowing the congregation itself the happy occasion to sing the psalm proper.

Singing Range

A basic question needs to be asked about what musicians call the tessitura, meaning the basic range within which a melody lies. Because the typical congregation includes both sopranos and tenors, along with altos and basses, every congregational melody needs to be confined to the lowest notes that amateur sopranos and tenors can comfortably sing, and to the highest notes altos and basses can easily sing, remembering, of course, that amateur singers cannot reach the upper and lower ranges of professionals. In general terms, this means that a congregational melody should not exceed a high E at the top, nor a low A at the bottom. But the tessitura of a good melody will be more narrow than this, not exceeding a high D or going lower than the B a tenth below it. Necessity sometimes requires exceptions to this, but the range of a tenth is where a congregation sings its best.

I am not the first to observe that Catholic hymnals generally have lower tessituras than, say, the hymnals used by Lutherans and Episcopalians. There are two reasons for this: first, in the struggle to get congregations to sing at all, lower tessituras seemed wise and merciful; but secondly, much of the so-called contemporary music is published in a key that the composer is able to sing, which is usually a low one. As an example, Joe Mattingly’s The King Shall Come (341) frequently drops to a low B and never goes higher than a G-sharp, giving it an extremely low tessitura. On the other hand, a congregation should never be asked to sing the first note of a phrase at a very high pitch. The much-loved and widely-used On Eagle’s Wings offends against this rule by asking the congregation to sing the first note of every verse at a high C-sharp or D, which is almost impossible for a normal congregation, while the first notes of the refrain extend to a low A, giving this song the tessitura of a whopping octave and a half—too high for altos and basses, and too low for sopranos and tenors. This is the reason that the verses of this song should be sung by a capable cantor, not by the congregation, though OIF (789) assigns it to the congregation.

Labelling Problems, Canticles and Otherwise

OIF is almost free of error or poor judgment. But unfortunately the canticles of Zechariah, Mary, and Simeon, for daily common prayer, are titled inconsistently, with different titles given for the same canticle, e.g. the Magnificat appears as Our Lady’s Song of Praise, Mary’s Song, and Canticle of Mary (nos. 301-303), but only no. 302 is identified as the Magnificat. Similarly, the Canticle of Zechariah appears twice, once as Benedictus: O Chosen Children (no. 299) and the second time as the Canticle of Zechariah (no. 300). The excellent paraphrases of the canticle texts are by Alan J. Hommerding, James Quinn, and Anne Carter, with two other writers unnamed. Most of the tunes are exemplary and are (or should be) known by most congregations.

A similar inconsistency of titles occurs with the Way of the Cross. It is so named at 335, which contains only a rubric, while 336 is titled Stations of the Cross and has the actual service. One stanza of the Stabat Mater is printed after every station, along with an alternate text that is sung to the same melody. The hymn at 440, called The Way of the Cross, uses the African-American tune Were You There, for fifteen verses of text, one for each station, including the one added for the resurrection.

Ecumenical Kudos

Too many liturgists and musicians restrict themselves to Vatican II’s document on the sacred liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, in fashioning a vernacular liturgy and drawing inspiration for it, while ignoring other equally important documents of the council that also bear on congregational life and worship. The revolutionary Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, for instance,urges Catholics to participate with other branches of the church in an earnest dialogue at the highest levels, with unity as its goal. Musicians can make salubrious contributions to church unity by borrowing appropriately from the hymnody of her sister churches of the West, especially Anglicans and Lutherans, just as the latter have borrowed from Roman Catholic contemporary music. We are foolish to imagine that Catholics have little to gain from them, or that Protestant hymnody has no place in the Roman liturgy. Anglicans and Lutherans have already proven the usefulness of such hymnody in the liturgy that we share, and contemporary Catholic songs have proven useful in the repertoire of Protestant traditions.

Like other Catholic hymnals published recently, One in Faith takes ecumenism seriously in borrowing both texts and tunes from the major hymnals of Anglicans and Lutherans. Indeed, Catholics should be able to sing hymns with their fellow Christians at times of common worship; in doing so they help to advance the cause of Christian unity.

OIF takes ecumenism serious, as it contains two Byzantine chants, several selections from classic and contemporary Lutheran sources (A Mighty Fortress, 732; How Great Thou Art, 863; Festival Canticle, 834) and others from Anglican sources (O Waly, Waly, 794, 798; Thaxted, 849, 921; Engelberg, 857, Laudate Dominum, 883; Ar Hyd Y Nos, 893). The hymnal also borrows from French musical sources (Une Vaine Crainte, 863), Irish (Slane, 872), Scandinavian (Finlandia, 876), Welsh (Ash Grove, 895), and Dutch (Zie Ginds Komt de Stoomboot, 905)

Long Hymns, Interesting Texts

OIF makes no apology for long hymns. There are seven stanzas each for All Creatures of Our God and King (853) and for We Acclaim the Cross of Jesus (677). Praise, O Zion, Voices Raising (561; a fine translation by Alan J. Hommerding of the Corpus Christi sequence written by St. Thomas Aquinas) has eight stanzas, as does For All the Saints, while Yes, I Shall Arise (584) and Remember Me (563) have ten stanzas each, plus a refrain. In parishes that never sing more than two stanzas of any hymn, some effort needs to be made to make it clear that hymn-singing is a “moment in itself,” in addition to accompanying the action at the altar. Several of these long texts can be used during the distribution of communion.

The hymnal includes several imaginative hymns with variant stanzas. Two hymns, for example (By All Your Saints Still Striving, 898; and We Sing of the Saints, 905), provide optional second stanzas that can be used for particular saints days. A similar effort is found in the hymn From Ashes to the Living Font (420; text by Alan J. Hommerding), where the third stanza provides variant texts for the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent.

Where appropriate, each of the hymns and songs includes complete information about the origin of its text and tune: specifically, the name and source of the tune, the meter, the source of the text, and the scriptural source (where relevant). Many of the so-called contemporary songs appropriately lack tune names and meters. One of the faults is the hymn Lord, Make Us Servants of Your Peace (794), where James Quinn is listed as the author of the text without any mention of its being based on the familiar and much-loved prayer of St. Francis (nor is it listed as such in the author index). As it turns out, Sebastian Temple’s paraphrase of the Francis text, Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace (797), appears three numbers later, where the complete attribution does credit the saint of Assisi. It’s a pity that the two versions of the Francis text could not have been printed adjacent to each other.

OIF contains familiar devotional texts and tunes (Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All, 934; Jesus, the Very Thought of You, 939; O Lord, I Am Not Worthy, 940; and Panis Angelicus, 942), but it also takes seriously the cause of environmental concerns (Touch the Earth Lightly, 879). The hymnal features eight mostly familiar hymns for national occasions, including the national anthem. Over all there are 612 hymns and songs, a goodly number for any hymnal.

A Mature Guide

Kudos to the WLP hymnal committee for providing the church with so worthy a “worship aid” as One in Faith. The book presents today’s congregations with a mature guide into a distant future.


James E. Frazier retired from church music after serving nine years as the Organist and Director of Music at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, having previously served Episcopal churches in Hartford, Connecticut, and Rumson, New Jersey. For ten years he was the Director of Music for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and served as Visiting Lecturer in Liturgical Music at the School of Theology and Seminary of Saint John’s University in Collegeville.

Send to Kindle