Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The 1960 Westminster Hymnal

Ttony (of The Muniment Room) has kindly sent me the preface for the 1960 Westminster Hymnal, by +David Mathew, Bishop to the Forces.  As he says: 'it makes sense to keep discussion of modern hymnology in one place.'

He also adds some reflections of his own on it, which I include after the Preface, and also the Contents page, for purposes of comparison.

(In case you have been too indolent over Christmas to follow the story so far, the previous posts here, about PRAISE THE LORD, 1966,  and here about the original preface to the Westminster Hymnal, 1912, are relevant).





The revised Westminster Hymnal is intended to contain a representative selection of the body of Catholic hymn-writing in English. In the view of the Committee appointed after the Low Week meeting of the Hierarchy in 1936 the norm of a Catholic hymn is the ancient Office hymn of the Church. This view has guided the Committee in their choice. The late Sir Richard Terry was in process of forming a collection of melodies in preparation for the book. This collection has been completed and edited by the Rev. W. S. Bainbridge, and it is hoped that both words and music will help to raise the standard of Catholic vernacular hymns.

Care has been taken in regard to the translations from the Latin.  Many of these versions have been amended or replaced and the Committee considered that there was no objection in principle to the occasional use of a non-Catholic translation when this possessed outstanding merit. The encouragement which the Holy See has given to the development of the liturgical spirit among the laity was borne in mind in the choice of hymns. At the same time it is hoped that this new edition will be considered to include a truly representative selection of popular Catholic hymnology.

Among the hymns chosen a few are of Mediaeval English provenance, like the Veni Sancte Spiritus ascribed to Cardinal Langton and the Ave vivens hostia of Archbishop Peckham. It is fitting to begin with the acknowledgement of this debt to the See of Canterbury in the Catholic ages. William Dunbar's Christmas hymn represents the last years of the unbroken Catholic life, and among the Elizabethan writers who are included stand two martyred Beati, the Earl of Arundel and Robert Southwell. Verstegan represents the exiles of the end of the Elizabethan time and Sir John Beaumont stands here for the later Jacobean Catholic world. Crucial in the development of the English Catholic literary tradition is Jerusalem, my happy home, attributed to Laurence Anderton, alias BrereIy. In this hymn there breathes the tough, quick gaiety of the driven generations and their assurance of spiritual victory.

A very different spirit enters with the work of the Caroline converts Richard Crashaw and John Austin. They form a preparation for those hymns over which there hangs the name and touch of Dryden. The closing years of the seventeenth century are marked by Blount's translation of the Vexilla Regis.

The hymns included from the Primer of 1706 reflect, very soberly the integrity of the old Catholic spirit, so determined and yet terrestrially so unhopeful. In this connection it, is worth noting that the translation of O filii et filiae, which was first published in the evening office of 1748, does not in any way suggest the mood of Bishop Challoner. It is too faithful to the letter of the Latin original. The last hymn from the generations which grew up before Emancipation is that for the Vespers of the feast of St Michael and All Angels, which mirrors the confident, staunch faith of Provost Husenbeth.

It is always surprising to recollect that the first of modern English Catholic hymns, Hail, Queen of Heaven, the Ocean star, should have been composed so long ago by Dr Lingard. Coming next to this work in time is Cardinal Wiseman’s paean Full in the panting heart of Rome, with which he ushered in the rather different hymns of the convert Tractarian clergy. Among these Cardinal Newman and Canon Oakeley were the senior. It is curious that Faber, Caswall, Aubrey de Vere and Campbell should all have been born in the same year.  Bishop Chadwick, who represented the old Catholic writing, and Fr. Aylward, the Dominican translator of the Lauda Sion, were a few months older. Exigencies of space have forbidden the present compilers to make a wider selection from Fr. Faber and Fr. Caswall, who have left upon so much of Catholic hymn-writing the imprint of their thought and metaphor. Under another aspect the translation of Dem Herzen Jesu Singe, by Fr Albany Christie S.J., was very typical of the taste of just this period.

With Gerard Manley Hopkins' translation of the Adoro te and that solitary hymn of Digby Mackwork Dolben we reach an approach which is very much more modern.  But all the warmth of one school of one school of Tractarian converts comes through in Lady Catherine Petre's simple verses. The hymns of the next period are familiar to every Catholic childhood, Daily daily, sing to Mary, and Fr. Vaughan's God of mercy and compassion, and Fr. Stanfield’s Sweet Sacrament divine. Those who join the Church in later life find this range of hymns quite strange to them.  At the same time, the feeling and manner of J. M. Neale's Jerusalem the golden, With milk and honey blest, which is included in this edition, is at least equally alien to those who have been reared in the atmosphere of the homely Catholic services of the last fifty years, with their loud and draughty singing.

It is, perhaps, invidious to refer to living authors, but no student of this book can fail to realize the great debt that it owes to Monsignor Knox. From among the work of Catholic writers who have died within this century there are hymns by Francis Thompson, Gilbert Chesterton, Lionel Johnson and Canon Gray, and by the authors who wrote under the pen name of Michael Field. A hymn with an
Interesting background is that translated by Catherine Winkworth from the original of Johann Schleffer, Angelus Silesius. It is our hope that the supplement of Latin hymns will be welcomed. The constant and so varied translations from Latin liturgical sources throw a light upon the backbone of our Catholic tradition.  A clear and consistent unity marks the whole body of catholic hymnology. Native and redolent of the soil, yet so influenced in their style by changing taste, there was one factor constant in these writers. Serene or didactic, unflinching or flamboyant, they were all faithful to the See of Rome.



Ttony comments as follows: 

Two things stand out (to me at least): the structural unity with the 1912 edition (contents attached) and the continuing expectation that hymns are not part of Mass.

The preface is remarkable in the way it explains the chronology of the hymns, adding an extra dimension to the understanding of anybody who reads it. The compare and contrast between Jerusalem the Golden and Sweet Sacrament divine is really interesting as well: we think of a difference between Anglicanism and Catholicism that Catholics don't sing, but still, in 1960, Catholics did sing, but sang different hymns. The key is in the expression "the atmosphere of the homely Catholic services of the last fifty years, with their loud and draughty singing": whatever "draughty" means in this context, I know what "loud" means.  (And I can't believe that the Bishop meant Mass when he talks about "homely Catholic services": he means Parish Benedictions, Novenas, Holy Hours, Mens' Confraternity, Children of Mary etc.)

NB that Mgr Knox was brought in to improve the translations from the Latin: not to cast them out because they were of dubious merit.


Ben Trovato said...

I received this comment by email, from Mary F. who could not post it directly:

I was fortunate enough to sing a hymn from the Westminster almost every day of my seven years at a Convent
Grammar School. In 1966 when I was teaching in a Catholic Parish School the then PP.(R.I.P.) invested in ‘Praise the
Lord’ for both school and parish. He had already in about 1961 introduced Gelineau Psalms and had inflicted on us
Fr. Clifford Howell’s compilation of Mass hymns – The Mass Together - before Vatican 2. Incidentally Nos. 1—29
of Praise the Lord are the hymns from The Mass Together. I also seem to remember that Fr.Trotman was the PP. Of Pinner, Middlesex where the Grail headquarters were and from where the ‘Psalms’ emanated.

I believe it is a mistake to think that Catholics did not sing at Mass before Vatican 2. Most Catholic Parishes had a Children’s Mass. Ours was at 9a.m. Sunday and we always sang hymns. We also had to attend children’s service with Benediction on Sunday afternoons with more Hymns including the Latin benediction Hymns. All sitting in classes and supervised by teachers. This practice went on at least until the mid-fifties and in some places the
early sixties. I know from my mother(b.1901) that this was the norm in her childhood and earlier.

In 1976/77 another PP. changed to Celebration number 1 (yellow). Downhill all the way!

One more thing . Was the 1960 Westminster a new edition or a reprint? The introduction by Archbishop Mathew
Is dated 1939 as is the Imprimatur.

Bless Me Father said...

MF, it was a long planned almost light-handed revision (of what was already conceived of as unsatisfactory, which in part it was), and one that boded further revisions. All of this was before the Post-Vat-II cataclysm. A destructive joy which was, in fact, already long in the tooth and well established in many otherwise orthodox, traditional and even 'conservative' minds.

Singing hymns as a replacement entertainment (for the parts of the Mass), or as active participation therapy (or an integral part of pious Devotions, the Hours, Benediction, processions et al), was nothing new, of course. It was the sandwich of extraneous matter superimposed on the Low Mass that the Council Fathers seem to have sought to remedy (by having the priest and people sing the easier parts of the Mass, Introit, etc - the Gradual being reserved for more robust voices). I am impelled to turn to he LMS Chair's recent comment on handling papal and episcopal and conciliar and priestly opinions or statements or initiatives: 'As you build new Catholic institutions, the key thing is not to let the liberals get their hands on them: they will instinctively destroy them. They can't help it. It is their nature.'

Prophets, for example, don't always properly understand the jeremiadic pronouncements at the time of their speaking (or writing), not even if they go on to be Pope Benedict XVI; we can thank God that a few graciously-given commentators do sometimes have their heads well screwed on.

Ttony said...

I've done a bit of analysis between the 1960 edition of the Westminster Hymnal and Praise the Lord. There are sixty hymns in PtL which are also in WH, thirteen "old" Catholic hymns which had been missed in the WH, twenty-two "new" Catholic hymns, written to be sung at Mass, and thirteen non-Catholic hymns which were in fact translations of Catholic hymns. There are also seventeen Gelineau psalms and two Gelineau canticles. This doesn't sound very contentious, but there are also thirty-five non-Catholic hymns.

In a Michael Davies sense, the non-Catholic hymns and the "new" Catholic hymns are time bombs. The Catholic hymns are well-written, orthodox and eucharistic, and the non-Catholic ones aren't particularly heterodox. The problem is that the addition of a few carefully selected non-Catholic hymns opens the floodgates, so that a generation later I could hear students in a "Catholic" secondary school singing "And every offender who truly believes/that moment from Jesus a pardon receives". Of the new hymns, the only one I recognise is "Lord accept the gifts we offer"; the rest appear not to have survived in common use. I can only find one (bowdlerised) in the Laudate hymnal (it used the word "mankind") but I can't say I've checked carefully.

What PtL showed was that new hymns were welcome, and that meant everybody could write hymns. Look at the back of the Laudate hymnal at the copyright acknowledgements and you find that 85-90% of them have a date after 1970, and some among the older ones are egregiously protestant, such as "To God be the Glory". The "old" Catholic hymns have virtually disappeared in my lifetime, as has the tradition of singing them, and the services at which they were sung.