GIA is a leader (or is it the leader?) in the area of hardbound hymnals (see our interview with Bob Batastini). All eyes are on GIA’s new hymnals for use with the revised missal translation. I hear that Gather, 3rd ed. will be available in time for the NPM convention in July, but Worship, 4th ed. will arrive on the market later. G3 is 70% piano/guitar-based, 30% organ-based. (I know, I know, the category boundaries are oftentimes fuzzy.) Where Worship, 3rd edition (1986) was pretty much entirely organ-based, W4 is 80-20, weighted toward organ-based. This means that W4 is GIA’s primary classical hymnal, but its usability is enhanced by the availability of contemporary repertoire used in many or most parishes.
GIA has put online for our examination the preliminary contents of W4. (BTW, the online sample pages look very attractive.) I’ve spent a bit of time with the hymn list and also compared it to W3. I like what I see.
I count 517 661 hymns in W4. (Here and throughout, keep in mind that minor changes are still possible before publication. I don’t see our national anthem anywhere – is that still coming?.) W3 had 410 hymns, so the expansion is considerable. [UPDATE: Fr. Ron Krisman from the W4 editorial team notes below that several things have changed since the preliminary listing went online in February.]
W4 draws heavily on the work of contemporary poets and throws the net wide ecumenically. Herman Stuempfle comes in with 42 entries, followed by Sr. Delores Dufner OSB (30), Mel Bringle (20), John Bell (16), Marty Haugen (16), Adam Tice (15), Ruth Duck (13), Fred Pratt Green (13), Tom Troeger (13), and Sylvia Dunstan (11). Some might say that a few people are over-represented, and I have minor quibbles here and there with the quality of some texts. But overall, the selection seems to be very strong indeed. Here is my tally of all the text sources in W4′s hymnody in order of frequency.
Some great texts from W3 didn’t make it into W4. Before we critique the elimination of this or that gem, though, we should realize the challenges faced by hymnal editors. The list of texts they wished they could include is probably about three times as long as there was room for – or is it ten times? Difficult choices have to be made. One can’t go only by the poetic or theological value of a text – you have to look also at the topics to be covered, the availability of suitable hymn tunes, and other considerations as well. Perhaps a really great text had to be cut because there were already too many in that category – just as some really-good-but-not-great text perhaps had to be included because nothing better was found in the category.
Here is my tally of the hymn texts in W3 not in W4. I see that the “his” has been changed in the titles of “God Has Spoken by His Prophets” and “God is Here! As We His People” – to “the” and “your” respectively. “Faith of our Fathers” is now “Living Faith.”
Some texts are altered in the other direction – restored to a more original form. I think I’m glad that the clunky “good” in “How Good the Name of Jesus Sounds” has been changed back to the traditional “sweet,” though that’s not my favorite word either. The editors are clearly exercising care to preserve and improve poetic value, which of course sometimes must be balanced against other concerns.
I’m glad that W4 goes back to the more familiar forms of “The Church’s One Foundation” and “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
I’m delighted to see that the text commissioned by the National Catholic Youth Choir from Sr. Delores Dufner, OSB a few years ago, “Mary, First among Believers,” is in W4. I recall that we had NCYC sing the 87 87 D text to RAQUEL, since Sr. Delores told me she is rather tired of the old Marian tune PLEADING SAVIOR. But in W4 her text is paired with… PLEADING SAVIOR. I admit that I don’t mind that tune, and rather like it.
Now here’s an interesting textual editing conundrum, one we’ll also encounter in the collects of the new missal translation. What sounds right to your ear, “You, who have…,” or “You, who has…”? Many people think English usage has shifted to the latter, but some purists say the former is more correct for second-person vocative address. And it’s what our collects will have in the new missal. W4 is following the style of our collects, and swimming against the stream of most others who have edited F. Bland Tucker, in giving us “Father, We Thank You, Who Have Planted” (rather than “Who Has Planted”).
Really, really impressive is W4’s hymns for the lectionary – a hymn for every Sunday based on the readings, especially the Gospel. Just from the list of titles, one recognizes familiar lectionary themes – “A Blind Man Sat Beside the Road,” “As Servants Working an Estate,” “If Christ is Charged with Madness,” “Martha, Mary, Waiting, Weeping,” “Not Alone, but Two by Two.” I have high hopes for a renewal of biblical piety for Catholics who sing these texts.
In 2001, GIA put out Hymns for the Gospels by W. Thomas Smith and Bob Batastini. It’s a ground-breaking collection of lectionary hymns, put for the most part to well-known (or that deserve to be well-known!) hymn tunes. Of the 159 hymn texts in HftG, 74 will be in W4. This tells us that the W4 editorial committee carefully put every hymn text on the scales, and didn’t simply carry over everything from HftG. HftG is good, and W4 will be even better.
I was curious how many of the HftG texts were brought over into W4 with the same hymn tunes. Many are, but I count 32 (out of 74) hymn texts which are paired with a different hymn tune in W4. Again, this reflects careful examination on the part of the editors.
About my only regret in the changed hymns tunes is that Peter Scagnelli’s excellent versification of Gregory the Great, “Again We Keep this Solemn Fast,” is no longer matched with the weighty ERHALT UNS HERR, but is now with the weaker OLD HUNDREDTH, which of course is better known. For the most part by far, cheers went up when I saw the changes made.
Here are just a few of my favorite alterations:
- “Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice,” SALZBURG → ABERYSTWYTH
- Your Hand, Though Hidden, Guides Us: ST. THEODULPH → KING’S LYNN
- “A Blind Man Sat Beside the Road,” NEW BRITAIN → ST. ANNE
- “The Call is Clear and Simple,” PASSION CHORALE → MERLE’S TUNE
- “Our Savior’s Infant Cries Were Heard,” WINCHESTER OLD → ST. COLUMBA
- “To Love Just Those Who Love You,” PASSION CHORALE → AURELIA
- “The Thirsty Cry for Water, Lord,” NEW BRITAIN → WIDOW’S GOLD
- “The Church of Christ in Every Age,” WAREHAM → EISENACH
The editors seem to have realized that the associations were too strong to make some matchups workable – PASSION CHOARLE with Holy Week, ST. THEODULPH with Palm Sunday, NEW BRITAIN with “Amazing Grace.” They have found better matches in each case. I rejoice any time WAREHAM is eliminated – it must be among the dullest hymn tunes ever written, threatening to become interesting only in the 4th to 6th measures from the end – and I’m especially happy when its replacement is as strong as EISENACH. Here is my tally of all the changed hymn tunes from HftG to W4.
From all the wonderful new texts in W4, it must suffice to tantalize you with this excerpt from a particularly well-crafted hymn:
Shall tribulation or distress,
Shall persecution, fire, or sword,
Or any perils of this world–
Or even death,
Or even death–
Shall any pow’r of earth or heav’n
Divide us from your love, O Christ?
No, neither angel hosts nor thrones,
Nor height nor depth of evil’s reach,
Nor present things, nor things to come–
Not even death,
Not even death–
Not any pow’r of earth or heav’n
Can part us from your love, O Christ.
– Mary Louis Bringle, b. 1953, © 2006, GIA Publications.
I’m excited to see the breadth and variety of hymn tunes in W4. Here is my tally of W4‘s hymn tunes in order of frequency. Now before you raise criticisms, keep this in mind. Some tunes appear an awful lot – KINGSFOLD wins with 7 appearances – but that doesn’t mean congregations will have to sing the tunes too often. Some tunes are used because they’re well known, but a given usage might be for a lectionary hymn used only once every 3 years, or for occasional rites.
Here is my tally of new hymn tunes in W4. There’s a lot to rejoice in here. I suppose my favorite addition is WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT, followed closely by ABERYSTWYTH, MIDDLEBURY, and CWM RHONDDA. I admit there are plenty of new hymn tunes on the list I don’t recognize. It will be fun to see whether they are contemporary classical tunes I haven’t yet encountered, or the tune names the GIA folks gave to piano/guitar-based songs, or old classics I somehow missed until now.
Scandinavian Lutherans will be interested to see that A STORE GUD is in W4. Here in Minnesota, judging from funerals in Catholic parishes, “How Great Thou Art” has long since become “an old Catholic hymn.” And we just sang it this morning at the Stearns County jail, where I celebrated Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Easter.
Of course some of W3’s tunes had to be cut. Here’s my tally of the hymn tunes cut for W4. There are bound to be some howls of pain here, probably even more from the editors than me. I regret the loss of SONNE DER GERECHTIGKEIT, and also ALLEIN GOTT IN DER HOH’, but I understand that metrical Glorias are out now. The editors did the right thing in cutting the original funky-rhythm versions of EIN’ FESTE BURG and WIE SCHÖN LEUCHTET – it always felt like they were there more for scholarly cred than usefulness to real Catholic congregations. It’s a shame that the only hymn tune by the great liturgical reformer Joseph Gelineau in general circulation, LE CENACLE, had to be cut, but I understand that you include tunes for their usefulness to real Catholic congregations and not as tributes to great reformers. I regret that Calvin Hampton’s highly interesting DE TAR and ST. HELEN got cut, but apparently the difficulty of these hymn tunes prevented them from catching on with Catholics. Probably the same is true for Richard Proulx’s lovely ALDINE. The old Catholic ditty SWEET SACRAMENT is gone – or will this appear in the worship order for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament?
There you have my initial impression of the hymnody in Worship, 4th edition. I’m impressed. I am convinced that this hymnal will set a new industry standard for primarily organ-based Catholic hymnals. I very much look forward to seeing the full hymnal in print.
Now look, everyone. I’m an absent-minded professor, not an accountant or bookkeeper. I’m very thankful that monks don’t have to fill out tax returns. I’m sure I got some details wrong in all this list-making. I welcome your corrections.
And of course, I welcome your opinions!