In just two weeks, my parish will begin using the Vatican II Hymnal. I am so happy to be rid of the OCP “Today’s Missal and Music Issue“. Just before Advent every year, we removed the old “Music Issue” and the “Today’s Missal” is removed and changed about 3 or 4 times a year. All of these missallettes are put into a recycle bin, and in some places probably just placed in the trash. In a time that everyone is so concerned with saving the environment, why are we using these disposable Liturgy aids? And, why is the Word of God and words of the Mass treated in such a way that we dispose of it every quarter or year? So much for the dignity of the words of the Mass and the Word of God.
Now, don’t get me wrong! I’m not getting rid of the OCP subscription service just because we change it so often. Here at Holy Ghost, we have gradually moved away from the whole idea of sandwiching the Mass in 4 hymns. When we began using the New and Improved translation of the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal last year, we also began following the rubrics of the Mass for Sacred Music. Some might ask what that means. We began using the Music of the Sacred Liturgy. There is no need to create and in fact, we are never to create the Liturgy of the Church. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has music built into it.
We have not thrown hymns out altogether, however, we have begun using the Mass propers. A hymn is sung as the procession approaches the sanctuary and altar. When the priest arrives at the altar, the Introit Chant is sung. Following the prayer of the faithful, the Offertory Chant is sung and followed by a hymn. The Communion Chant is begun as the priest drinks from the chalice. Once the chant is completed at traditional hymn is sung.
Every Sunday Mass, we sing the Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Acclamation of Faith in Latin Chant and during Feasts and special Liturgical Seasons such as Christmas, Easter, Advent and Lent, we sing the more solemn Sanctus and Agnus Dei, when approbate, we sing the Gloria from the Missa de Angelis and the traditional Kyrie.
This week, the Holy Father established a new office for Liturgical music, art and architecture. The only way for this office to have any effect on the life of the average Catholic is for priests and music directors to gradually make a change for the tradition of the Church in accord with Sacrosanctum Concilium.
So why the Vatican II Hymnal? To begin, the VII Hymnal is beautiful. The art is traditional and sacred, there are no stick figures that someone has to figure out what or who it is. There are no hymns (songs) with a questionable theology. All of the hymns are tried and true, time tested. The hymnal has the order of the Mass for the the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form. Vatican II Hymnal includes the St. Noel Chabanel Responsorial Psalms, a nice change from the psalm responses found in your every day missalette and hymnal. The Chabanel Psalms are based on traditional Gregorian Chant.
My one gripe was that it had no ribbons for the congregation to keep their places. We solved this by purchasing ribbon and creating our own book marks.
I applaud Corpus Christi Watershed Music and Jeff Ostrowski for giving us a beautiful and well thought out parish hymnal. If your parish is looking for a good alternative to the big business, Catholic Hymnal, take a good look at the Vatican II Hymnal. In the mean time, you can find all of the psalms and propers on the Corpus Christi Watershed website for free use.