Hymns and Hymnals, II: Vatican II and Beyond
HYMNS AND HYMNALS, II: VATICAN II AND BEYOND
The promulgation of the Constitution on the Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium [SC ]) on Dec. 4, 1963, profoundly affected the development and publication of hymnody and hymnals in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Responding to the Vatican Council II 's call to promote the active participation of the assembly, composers, text writers, and publishers began researching traditional hymnody, revising and adapting Latin hymn tunes to vernacular languages, composing new texts and melodies, and adapting contemporary musical styles to church music from a variety of cultural contexts. This entry will provide a summary of what has been a complex development. Its primary focus is Roman Catholic hymns and hymnals in the United States since Vatican II. In addition, some general remarks will be made regarding trends and developments in some mainline Protestant churches.
The Introduction of the Vernacular. Permission to introduce the use of the vernacular in the liturgy was the catalyst for far-reaching changes in Roman Catholic hymnody. In the majority of parishes in the United States, this meant the introduction of English into the Eucharist, followed by Spanish and other ethnic languages. Although the liturgical reforms did result in some bitter divisions regarding the direction of church music, there was, in general, widespread enthusiasm for singing hymns and service music in the vernacular.
Nevertheless, in the late 1960s, there was little available repertoire for singing either the Propers or the Ordinary of the Mass in English. Hymnody available in the vernacular had been composed for popular devotions rather than for liturgical celebrations. Almost overnight, there was a demand for hymns in the vernacular that would promote the active participation of the assembly and appropriately serve the reformed liturgy of Paul VI. In an effort to preserve the rich heritage of church music, composers and translators set about the work of adapting traditional chants and translating the Latin texts. The results of early efforts were mixed. Some later efforts, notably the work of such arrangers and composers as Robert Batastini, David Hurd, and Paul Ford have been more musically and linguistically satisfying. Because vernacular hymnody had been an important component of Protestant worship since the Reformation, it was natural that Roman Catholics turned to Protestant resources for vernacular repertoire. Many Catholic hymnals incorporated a large percentage of original Protestant hymns in their early editions. Later editions continued to include Protestant hymnody, but often with new texts or translations. As part of the reform, the new emphasis on the centrality of Sacred Scripture encouraged composers to set scriptural texts. The biblical hymns and psalm settings of the French composer and liturgist, Lucien Deiss, and the Canadian composer, Stephen Somerville, helped to set the standard for new vernacular hymn texts.
Folk Music. In addition to the publication of traditional hymnody in the vernacular, a style of music developed that was commonly referred to as "folk." Within the Catholic context, these songs, inspired by the secular folk-music culture of the time, often included trite texts and simplistic music. Singing congregations were often led by self-taught amateur guitar players who could not read music. Folk music's major contribution to liturgical renewal was its success in coaxing congregations to sing. It also convinced Roman Catholics that contemporary cultural expressions could have a meaningful place in liturgical prayer.
The earliest "folk" or "guitar" hymnal was Hymnal for Young Christians, Volume I: With Roman Catholic Mass Supplement, published by F.E.L. Publications of Los Angeles in 1966. It included early folk hymns, e.g., "They'll Know We Are Christians" by Peter Scholtes, "Here We Are" and "Of My Hands" by Ray Repp, and "Sons of God" by James Thiem. Early folk groups used this hymnal, reprinted several times, well into the 1970s when it was eventually superseded by the "Glory & Praise" hymnals published by the North American Liturgy Resources in Phoenix.
Glory & Praise: Songs for the Worshiping Assembly, Volume 1 was published in 1977. This hymnal included 60 contemporary folk hymns and 20 pieces of service music. Settings of the lectionary psalms were not included. Two additional volumes were published in 1979 and 1982, respectively. Glory & Praise: Comprehensive Edition, published in 1987, added for the first time 50 traditional hymns to the usual repertoire of contemporary music. This edition was soon followed by Glory & Praise: Volume 4 and Glory & Praise: Classic Edition in 1990. The 1998 edition was entitled Glory & Praise: Second Edition, published by Oregon Catholic Press.
In many ways, the history of the publication of the various editions of Glory & Praise provides a record of the development of folk music in the United States since the early days of the liturgical renewal. The more elementary guitar accompaniments of many of the early folk hymns were gradually replaced by accompaniments that required more guitar skill. Additional instrumental accompaniments, including parts for piano, woodwind, brass, string, and percussion were gradually included by many composers. Texts improved significantly, not only in the quality of the poetry and their use of Sacred Scripture, but also in their attention to inclusivity. Instead of serving as a "folk" resource exclusively, Glory & Praise eventually included a significant amount of traditional hymns and an expanded selection of higher quality service music.
G.I.A. Publications contributed to the development of "folk" hymnals in their publication of Gather in 1988. Contemporary composers who published in this hymnal include J. Michael Joncas, Marty Haugen, and David Haas. In addition to offering comtemporary hymns, the various editions of Gather include contemporary psalm settings, a more generous amount of service music, and settings for morning and evening prayer, all easily located through extensive indices.
Traditional Hymnal Development. Since the promulgation of SC, an unusually large number of hymnals—over 100 new and revised hymnals—have been published in the United States for use in Roman Catholic worship. The People's Mass Book, published in 1964 by World Library of Sacred Music in Cincinnati, was a postconciliar version of the People's Hymnal originally published in 1955. This hymnal, probably the first major response to the renewal of Vatican II, included hymns, psalms, Mass settings, and Bible services to enable the active participation of the faithful as mandated by SC. It was particularly important because it included European music, especially from the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. It was through the People's Mass Book that most Catholics were first introduced to the biblical psalms and canticles of Lucien Deiss. The hymnal also helped to popularize several Protestant hymns among Roman Catholics, including such traditional hymns as "A Mighty Fortress" and "Lord, Who at Thy First Eucharist."
It was the hymnal entitled Worship, however, which eventually was to set a new standard for Roman Catholic hymnals, especially in its later editions. The first edition, published in 1971, printed 351 items, including extensive ecumenical hymnody, the Gelineau psalms, and such contemporary hymns as "I Am the Bread of Life" by Suzanne Toolan. A second edition, entitled Worship II, appeared in 1974. This hymnal set a new standard for Catholic hymn texts by its inclusion of such noted poets as Fred Pratt Green and Brian Wren. Worship, Third Edition: Hymnal and Service Book for Roman Catholics, was published in 1986. The arrangement of this hymnal by seasons, topics, and liturgical themes with its numerous and comprehensive indices, settings of morning and evening prayer, and other ritual music, again raised the standards that other publishers have since emulated. G.I.A.'s publication of Ritual Song in the 1990s is an example of a trend toward the more comprehensive hymnal as opposed to the more specialized book. Whereas in the past, G.I.A. published Worship as its traditional hymnal and Gather as its more "folk" oriented hymnal, Ritual Song and Gather Comprehensive are hymnals that contain both styles in significant proportions, including African American, Hispanic, and other ethnic entries from around the world.
While periodic worship aids, often referred to as missalettes, cannot properly be considered an example of hymnals, Music Issue and Breaking Bread by Oregon Catholic Press represent a new development for providing congregations with inexpensive, albeit disposable hymn books. These publications, issued annually, provide the publisher with the opportunity to update the collections more easily and more frequently. Generally, such annual hymnals do not provide the exhaustive indices of the more permanent hymnals. We Celebrate by World Library Publications, on the other hand, is an example of a softcover hymnal of a more permanent nature.
The traditional hymnal is becoming increasingly an expression of the global church. More and more hymnals, not only in the Roman Catholic tradition, but also various Protestant traditions, have begun to include not only traditional and contemporary African American and Hispanic music, but also Asian and African hymns. The Taizé music by Jacques Berthier and the music of the Iona Community by John Bell are also increasingly found in traditional hymnals.
Texts and Translations. Vernacular texts immediately after the council were often only partially successful as translations of Latin texts or attempts at contemporary expression. Gradually, the poetic quality of hymn texts improved and attentiveness to giving expression to a wider gamut of both Christian and human concerns became more evident. Increasingly, Scripture became a primary source of inspiration for text writers. Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, inclusive language emerged as an important issue.
Hispanic Hymnals. The first Hispanic hymnal, Cantemos al Senor: Himnos para Celebración Liturgica, was published in the United States by Our Sunday Visitor in 1974. Alleluya, Alabad al Señor, edited by Elias Isla, followed in 1977. In addition to the Ordinary of the Mass and a format for morning and evening Prayer, this hymnal included hymns from 14 Spanish-speaking countries. Other hymnals followed in the 1980s, including Canticos de Gracias y Alabanza published in 1982 and Flor y Canto in 1989, both by Oregon Catholic Press.
African American Hymns and Hymnals. Beginning in the 1980s, both Roman Catholic and Protestant churches began including a significant number of African spirituals, hymns, and gospel songs in their principal hymnals. Some have also published separate African American hymnals. In 1981 the Church Hymnal Corporation published Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Collection of Afro-American Spirituals and Other Songs as a supplement to the hymnal of the Episcopal Church. In 1987G.I.A. Publications published Lead Me, Guide Me: The African-American Catholic Hymnal. This hymnal, a response to the small, but growing black community within the Roman Catholic Church, features gospel songs, spirituals, African and Caribbean material, plus hymnody from Catholic, Protestant, and evangelical traditions. It also includes new compositions by such leading black composers as Edward Bonnemere, Leon Roberts, Grayson Warren Brown, and Clarence Rivers. In 1999 Augsburg Fortress Press published This Far by Faith: An African American Resource for Worship. This hymnal was a joint project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Like the Episcopal hymnal, Lift Every Voice and Sing, This Far by Faith can be considered a supplement to the Lutheran Book of Worship.
Protestant Hymnals. Enthusiasm for liturgical renewal generated by Vatican II spilled over into mainstream Protestant denominations. In the United States, Canada, and Great Britain most of the major denominations have published a new hymnal, sometimes even a revised edition, since the mid-1960s. Similar to the Roman Catholic hymnals, the Protestant hymnals offer a broad range of offerings, including psalmody, both metrical and responsorial; international hymnody, especially from non-European areas of the world, including Central and South America, Asia, and Africa; African American spirituals and gospel songs; music from the Taizé community; and new mainstream hymn writers from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. The new hymnals have been designed to focus on the following: the celebration of the Christian year, the celebration of the Lord's Supper, the need for responsible stewardship of Earth's resources, a belief in the Church as an expression of the presence of Christ on Earth, the incorporation of more scripturally based hymn texts, and attentiveness—in varying ways—to inclusive language.
Divergent Efforts to Retrieve Traditional Catholic Hymnody. In the decades that have passed since 1963 when article 114 of SC stated that "the treasury of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care," divergent views continue to critique the direction church music has taken. Some have worked to adapt the ancient treasury of sacred music to the requirements of the reformed liturgy. An example of this approach is Paul Ford's By Flowing Waters published by the Liturgical Press. Others have looked to contemporary musical vocabulary to discover a voice for worship. A great number of new hymnals include a generous number of selections that reflect this approach. Still others have maintained the "classicist" view that sees in the ancient treasures of chant, hymnody, and polyphony the only authentic means for worship. The Adoramus Hymnal embodies this approach.
Future Developments. Shortly after the close of Vatican Council II, there was much speculation regarding the potential for creating a national hymnal for the United States. Since then, there seems to be no evidence that such a hymnal is on the horizon. Using an official hymnal in the United States has not been mandated by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. While some conversations have occurred among publishers and within the forum of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians regarding the feasibility of a national hymnal, no concrete steps have been taken to make this a reality.
Bibliography: c. m. hawn, "A Survey of Trends in Recent Protestant Hymnals: African-American Spirituals, Hymns, and Gospel Songs," Hymn 43:1 (Jan. 1992) 21–28. c. m. hawn, "A Survey of Trends in Recent Protestant Hymnals: Mainstream American, British, and Canadian Hymnody since 1960," Hymn 42:3 (July 1991) 17–25. f. a. piscitelli, "Thirty-five Years of Catholic Hymnals in the United States (1962–1997): A Chronological Listing," Hymn 49:4 (1998). j. m. kubicki, "The Role of Music as Ritual Symbol in Roman Catholic Liturgy," Worship 69 (1995) 427–446. g. black, "Gather and Worship: One Concept in Two Books and Many Editions," Hymn 42 (1991) 12–15. e. foley, "When American Roman Catholics Sing," Worship 63 (1989) 98–112. w. f. smith, "Lead Me, Guide Me: The African American Catholic Hymnal," Hymn 40 (1989) 13–15.
[j. m. kubicki]
"Hymns and Hymnals, II: Vatican II and Beyond." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 22, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hymns-and-hymnals-ii-vatican-ii-and-beyond
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