Newly typeset books
A New Book of Old Hymns The impetus for this book came from attending the Maternal Heart of Mary Church where they had all this beautiful music in latin and I wanted to know what it all meant. Most of it is Gregorian Chant, but there are some of the simpler polyphonic pieces here and there. It is a handy book for teaching young choirs. Some pieces can be sung in either Latin or English.
The typesetting was done in the older package called OpusTeX - those with an eye for detail may note the difference with the more recent booklets on this blog. The hymn numbers were more of an after-thought, but have been used in a parish setting as hymnbooks.
Paperback 92pp. $12
Reprints of classic Catholic hymnbooks
Old Westminster Hymnal A hymnbook compiled by Richard Terry, choirmaster of Westminster Cathedral when it first opened. The book is subtitled “The Only Collection Authorized by the Hierarchy of England and Wales”. The story of how this hierarchy was re-established after so many years of suppression after the reformation is worth looking into.
The hymns are painstakingly researched to find the most authentic melodies - read the Musical Editor’s Preface for a fine discussion of the different variations across England in different hymns.
The book was gleaned from the Internet Archive and supplemented with pages scanned from a later edition - handy indices.
Treasury of Catholic Song This book is fun to browse. The editor Fr Hurlbut was from Maryland, USA, but also had spent time in Europe. It is the easiest to read and generally runs three verses worth of text under the music before printing any extra stanzas afterwards. The editor was an engraver, which might explain the better design of the book. He draws from Arundel Hymns and the Westminster Hymnal as well as many other sources.
There is a generous selection of tunes for the O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo for Benediction.
1915, Paperback 311pp. $18
St Basil’s Hymnal 1918 This one has been quite popular and there have been many editions over the years. This edition was the first to be really tidied up, newly typeset to be more easily read with numbering to leave room for expansion in future editions with some backwards compatibility.
The hymns were selected by a committee so tend towards the popular and sentimental sort, which have their place. It was published in Canada by the Basilian Fathers. It has a mixture of different sorts of hymns along with some Mass settings.
Paperback 351pp, $20
Arundel Hymns This book I love. It was put together by a Duke and a scholar so you get amazing historical treasures and all these great gems. It is more of a treasure trove than a hymnbook. It includes poetry without any attempt to match a tune. There are hymns for everything - even before and after meals.
It is an English book and includes lots from the Oratorians, especially Fr E Caswall and Blessed Cardinal Newman. Fr. John O’Connor is in there too - another great hymnist if I can call him that. He is credited with inspiring the Fr Brown of G K Chesterton’s short detective stories. The book features a frontispiece to the memory of the Earl of Arundel who died in the persecution of the Catholic Church. The book came at a time when the Church was just emerging from centuries of suppression. With the government finally allowing new Catholic churches to be built, the editor of this book also started work on the church pictured on the front cover which is now the Cathedral.
Paperback 574pp, $24
Other books by other people
The Vatican II Hymnbook by Corpus Christi Watershed
The Catholic Choir Book by Noel Jones