Replacing The Collegeville Hymnal – What do you think?

If you serve in music ministry, The LitPress wants to hear from. It’s about a replacement publication of The Collegeville Hymnal. The online survey will take about 12-15 minutes. Please complete it by June 18, 2010. In appreciation for your time, you will be able to download up to three FREE MP3 music files after you have completed the survey. To go to the survey, click HERE.


  1. When I tried to download the free mp3 files, I got files that were 0 bytes long and, obviously, don’t play. Am I the only one?

  2. Me too, Terri.

    I will comment on the criterion used for the use of particular pieces: seldom (less than six times a year) and often (more than six times). It was an interesting choice that places most of my parish’s repertoire below the “often” threshhold, as I strive not to program music, especially well-loved pieces, more than four times a year.

    I would be very interested in what a successor to the Collegeville Hymnal would look like. I suspect a lot of Psallite would be included. I also liked a good bit of the psalmody and hymnody used in the Benedictine books of prayer–wished we had seen more of that.

    I’ll echo an earlier comment that while I really loved the breadth of hymnody in the choir stalls at the abbey, I did find the tilt toward German and English hymn tunes to be a little distracting. I would hope to see more music of an American bent in CH’s successor: if not actual American folk tunes, then melodies and arrangements suggestive of the Sacred Harp, Ives, Copland, and the like. For psalm tones, maybe even jazz harmonizations.

    Are Benedictines still writing good material these days?

  3. Sorry about the problems trying to download the MP3s. The problem should be fixed now.

    Liturgical Press Web Manager

  4. There are some problems with the survey. It seems to presume that all Masses are cantor/congregation, perhaps with some choir backup with unison singing. True, this might be the pathetic norm, but some parishes are actually trying to build actual programs with scholas that sing propers and motets, and some of the Mass parts. The questions are hard to answer in this case. It is also odd to ask if we sing the offertory proper but mention nothing about the communion proper. I wonder who was involved in forging these questions. These are confusing times and cobbling together any music resource is tricky but we should keep the ideals of the Roman Rite at least as an option.

    1. I’m with David on this one. But I’m wondering if we took the same survey. I had no problem responding that my parish never uses cantors for Sunday liturgy (we have the norm of choir or schola leading the congregation at every weekend Mass). We do have psalmists, and that option was offered in the survey.

      We need look no further than the Roman Missal to read the rubrics and ascertain the priority of congregational singing. “Pathetic” is a poor choice of words, not to mention rather inflammatory. My friend, I think you can do better.

  5. While the cantor may not always be the norm – the CONGREGATION should firmly be the norm. To call it “pathetic” feels condescending, and an abandonment of seeing the participation of the congregation as primary. Let us remember that a hymnal, primarily, is a book for the singing assembly. Why is it that we seem to see this emerging campaign to promote choirs and scholas over the wonderful sound of a singing assembly? I personally would disagree that a hymnal should be an aid for building a parish program of choral motets. Don’t get me wrong – this is not an effort to bash choral programs or the development of scholas and motets and so forth.. but these efforts, sorry, in my opinion (and the documents do support this view when speaking about the true nature of communal liturgical worship), are far secondary to the empowerment of the singing community. Obviously choral renditions should be included, and I do agree that it would be nice to begin to see hymnals include more SATB versions in the people’s editions, as congregations are now becoming more and more able to sing more than just unison. But I do hope that the new hymnal does not move in a direction of including music that leaves the assembly behind, or might suggest that the ideals of participation are still at the center of our vision for such resources. I am not trying to be argumentative, but I worry about the principles of “full, conscious, and active participation” being compromised by the sacred…

    1. I am very puzzled by this analysis. Why do some perceive an essential conflict between a singing congregation and a choir? The conciliar documents speak not only to full, conscious, and active participation AND to the sacred treasury. Why can’t there be both?

  6. I agree with David. The more everyone can sing with our community, the better we like it. Does anyone else think chant is really appropriate for congregational singing??

    1. Depends on the chant. Propers? No, not usually. Ordinary? Yes. Remember the little pamphlet Paul VI made up called Iubilate Deo? He thought of this as the bare minimum. The idea that the congregation should sing some chant is not an idea that popped up in the last 10 years e nihilo.

      Moreover, what we like and what is best for us is not always the same thing. We also shouldn’t cheat ourselves out of the fullness of the liturgical tradition just because much of it is hard to sing. Some balance needs to be struck.

  7. While I’m far from being opposed to chant in its many styles, I do recognize that congregations have a hard time with it unless it is a simple refrain. But the word chant could be used in the generic sense of the actual introit, offertory antiphon and communion antiphon. I’m not a musician, but I have wondered why musicians couldn’t set the official chants of the Mass to metrical tunes that most laity know and love to sing. Is that possible? Wouldn’t that kill two birds with one stone and please those of us who would like the official Mass for each Sunday sung and please those who want the congregation to sing a metrical type hymn?

    1. And vernacular chant and chant set to the classic Roman tones also works well with congregations, in addition to the Latin ordinary and a variety of Latin hymns.

      I wish the USCCB would commission or authorize a metrical paraphrase psalter

  8. …”and the documents do support this view when speaking about the true nature of communal liturgical worship…”

    Musicam Sacram (the Church’s current authoritative implementation of SC for sacred music) 29-31 lays out a paradigm for congregational singing. The first level: essentially the “Order of Mass”, the second level: essentially the “Ordinary of the Mass”, the third level: the “Proper of the Mass”. According to this, the second level should not be sung without the first, the third not without the second.

    How many of our congregations adhere to this paradigm? Very, very few.

    The bulk of the “sacred treasury” of Gregorian chant consists of the Proper of the Mass (cf. Graduale Romanum). These musical settings are not congregational music, yet they are the first option for the singing of the Proper, as given by the GIRM–The sacred music “norm” of the Roman Rite, as given by Vatican II.

    There is nothing, David, that keeps congregations from “full, conscious, and active participation” in the “mysteries being celebrated” if they do not sing everything. But I would certainly hope that they would sing the Ordo and Ordinary, as given in MS, before they replace the proper with the last option: “another suitable song”.

  9. I like Latin and I like Gregorian Chant in Latin and English, but I also value the participation of the people (e.g. me). A number of years ago the Latin Mass association had their annual meeting in our city, and began with an OF Latin Mass with the bishop presiding. Most of attendees appeared to simply listen to the fine guest schola rather than sing the chant texts they were provided. I did not bother to attend the rest of the convention.

    Our choirs are getting better, led by fine musicians. We need an outlet for their talents so they do not take away the participation of the people.

    We should increase the parts of the Mass that are sung by the people. I never hear the Creed sung. I rarely hear the Lord’s prayer sung. Sometimes the Gloria is not sung, and sometimes it is sung with the people singing only a refrain. Rarely are the dialogues between priest and people sung. Often the responses to the Prayers of the Faithful are not sung. Turning all these into the best music sung by all the people should be the top priority of the new missal implementation.

    Once that is done, then we should rethink the four hymns, and consider chant by cantor/choirs with refrains by people, more choral pieces by the choir, etc. I love Latin, Russian polyphony, Anglican chant/ polyphony and a lot of contemporary music. But we all have the right when we go to Mass to be able to sing all the common parts regardless of what the choir does. That needs to be first priority.

  10. We throw around the word “participation” without defining it. Thanks to this many in my congregation think they are only participating when they are singing and not, for instance, when they are listening to the Word of God, the Eucharistic Prayer, or when the choir or cantor is singing alone. In Musicam Sacram the Church very clearly lays out how it understands participation, but this instruction has been distorted and misrepresented, so we have anxiety and confusion among the faithful. To say that full, active, conscious participation is compromised by the sacred treasury of music is to reject the Church’s instruction on participation. One would hope that the most influential individuals in the liturgical music industry would at least demonstrate they take Church instruction seriously. It’s troubling that many vocal advocates of congregational singing completely ignore the wise, common sense path that Musicam Sacram laid out for wider congregation singer of the actual Mass itself (very logically emphasizing the parts that would be repeated week to week), and instead emphasize the singing of various random hymns at Mass that change weekly and tend to be most divisive elements of worship.

    1. Actually, Jeff, most of us are quite aware of what we mean by “participation,” and more, we’re able to quote SC 30 and the Roman Missal for specific instances for both exterior and interior participation.

      I’ve also surveyed Musicam Sacram in detail on my own web site and discussed what it means by “participation.” In serious liturgy discussions, we don’t quibble about what the Missal calls for, and the instances it does permit choir-only music.

      So please don’t include me or other serious musicians or liturgists on this web site about “distorting” or “misrepresenting” church teaching. Doubtless, there are well-meaning amateurs out there who misinterpret SC, MS, MR, GIRM, and the other documents. But such are rare birds on this web site.

  11. Just to be clear.. I did not “bash” chant at all.. as chant is something that I implement on a regular basis at parishes where I have served. The musical repertoire that I promote is eclectic, and covers the galaxy of musical styles. While I agree that participation is more than “everyone singing all of the time,” at the same time, it is also too easy to “USE” the concept of “interior participation” as a ploy to promote the singing of motets, choral anthems, solo vocal renditions, polyphony – purely for the sake of doing this music. It is very easy also, to quote sections of documents to promote our particular positions on these and other issues (this includes myself at times). What trumps this particular quote or that particular quote from the pile of documents that we have (and that are very important, do not get me wrong), should be a stronger PASTORAL stance (which SC, MS, STL and the rest all have as their binding vision), that looks at the prayer life of our people, their partiicpation which should be “full, conscious, and active” and the overall nature of liturgical prayer itself. Bottom line, our quoting documents are not necessarily helpful to people struggling to connect to a liturgical celebration to their faith life, and to the common mission to “go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Documents are important, visionary, and GUIDELINES, not dicatates for us to follow in “lock step.” All of us have our aesthetic tastes (I know I do) –

  12. let’s just be honest, all of us, and admit we have these tastes (as Fr. Gelineau once said: “there are two kinds of music – music I like, and music I don’t like “) and be honest that we at times want to manipulate our reading of documents and guidelines to help support our particular musical and aesthetic leanings. Having a bias – there is nothing wrong with that – but let’s not use these biases for trying to sabotage the basic vision of SC and the entire council, which is pastoral, and concerned with engagement – not just in the liturgy – but in the life of Christ.

    1. Now, David, your argument here makes a broad, critical, and erroneous assumption about most who believe in the value of “the singing of motets, choral anthems, solo vocal renditions, polyphony”.

      Just as musical judgment is not an exercise in mere “tastes” (Fr. Gelineau sounds like he was channeling Duke Ellington’s two types of music: good and bad), the desire to use choir-only music is not concomitant with the desire to push ALL the people’s participation into the “interior” category. There are some antiquarians and reactionaries out there who think we in the pews should just shut up and listen, but they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the many, many parishes, campus ministry communities, cathedrals where music is focused on both interior and exterior participation. To tar the music directors at these places with the brush of using a “ploy” to have their personal desires met is inaccurate and unfair.

      Obiter dictum: Actually, there are some items in SC, GIRM, and the other documents that are “dictates” and not “guidelines.”

  13. Just some clarifications. When reading through what I posted, I really did not say “most” in reference to folks who are on the “campaign” that I spoke about. Through my travels presenting workshops at parishes 2-3 times a month, I meet so many parish music directors who are exactly as you said… truly approaching what they do in a balanced manner. I was just referring to what seems to be a loud group, mostly on the blogosphere and on other internet forums, who really are promoting a more retrenched approach to the choir/schola being primary, and who tend to have a musical snobbery which often bashes more contemporary genres. I accept your critique that I have to be careful not to sound as though these people are the majority – but they are loud, and very judgmental, and through their practice, seem to promote “interior” participation a bit out of proportion, in my opinion. But I do not think I am painting a broad brush.. but I do become a bit angry when the bashing of certain styles takes place, and where the singing assembly becomes a target, whether overtly or covertly. Maybe I am a tad defensive, because as a liturgical composer, I represent what some consider a banal, trite and cheap genre of music. But beyond what I compose, I implement all genres and styles – chant, traditional hymnody, choral music, gospel, contemporary, pop/rock – all of it. I am quick to challenge contemporary and “folk” liturgical musicians when they become judgmental of the organ,…

  14. chant, and choral music and more “classical” genres…. I wish more folks who represent the “organ/classical” world would do the same. But I am getting off the point… regardless of the style of music, the assembly must soar above ANY other consideration, period.

    A couple of other clarifications: Fr. Gelineau was NOT talking about good and bad… he was talking about the tyranny of taste… it was a talk in which I was present.

    Finally – I would still maintain that the overall spirit of the documents are pastoral, and even when the “dictate” – the pastoral consideration does not get tossed aside. I suppose some would think me a heretic for saying so, but our service and ministry is to people and their lives of faith and prayer, not to “dictates.” Even such statements need to be read in a pastoral. The three judgments that began in MCW (Musical-Liturgical-Pastoral) are held high in STL – and it should be of interest, that here they are re-ordered – with the Pastoral Judgment being listed first… the authors of STL (who include Fr. Anthony) I suspect saw that the re-ordering was on purpose.

  15. This of course, is way off topic about the topic of this post… I just believe that any hymnal of integrity, must hold the concerns and abilities and prayer of the assembly above any other consideration of style or musical taste.

    Sorry I went on and on here…

  16. Where else does one go and see David Haas and Jeffrey Tucker hold forth about liturgical music on the same blog? Thanks for providing this forum, Fr. Anthony.

  17. I noticed that the survey just wanted to know who and where you were, what kind of parish, and what kind of music you use. Not directly what you look for in a hymnal, nor what you think of the present Collegeville Hymnal.

    I think a few additional questions would have been useful, even if the answers would have been unprintable!

    1. I thought the same thing. There were a few questions aimed at “where you want to be” but most were “where are you now.” I was torn between answering with the current condition of music in the parish or where we would like to be and what kind of hymnal we would like to see.

  18. The only weird thing I noticed as I filled in the answers is that I had to choose “not in our current repertoire” for most of the songs. I had heard of a number of the titles from when I lived in Ohio and Minnesota, but I now live smack dab in the middle of OCP Land and we rarely see GIA stuff unless it also appears in Breaking Bread. I hope the results from people like me don’t make it look like we sing no songs at church!

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