The more things change…

Having spent a couple of days pondering the aversion which some express toward the use of hymnody at Mass, I have found these comments by Percy Jones in his 1952 introduction to the Hymnal of St Pius X most apt:

In the second part of the hymnal, the English hymns chosen are not intended to be exhaustive. The thorny question of English Hymnody will apparently never be resolved. In these circumstances, it is necessary to steer a middle course. We have around us only too many evidences of the blight of the mawkish sentimentality of several generations reared on the romanticism and self-satisfaction of the Victorian and Edwardian age. It was not confined to hymns; it was a plague infesting a whole civilization. But in reacting to vulgar taste, care must be taken not to go to the other extreme. In the reaction, we have been equally plagued by intellectual “puritans” in art to whom sentiment is abhorent. This approach can do as much damage as the mawkish. For this reason, particularly in hymns to our Blessed Mother, I have chosen words and music which have a certain dignity, but, more important, have the glow of filial love. “A lover must sing,” says St Augustine, and when he does, it is lyricism, not “four-square pomposity”, that will express his love.

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5 responses to “The more things change…

  1. Matthias

    I watched SONGS OF PRAISE today ,did anyone else? 1130am on Auntie 1. The manner in whivh the very last hymn (?) ditty more likely ,was sung by a youth choir. When they were not singing they were gyrating as if this was a disco and not a worship song. Liturgical dancing bah humbug more like dirty dancing.
    Then i realised who they were -HILLSONG LONDON Youth choir.four square pomposity exactly as the Bishop of Hippo puts it

  2. PM

    Percy was very balanced. Although he was the driving force at St Patrick’s for decades, he knew cathedral standards were beyond most parishes. And, although some purists disapprove, his trascriptions of Missa Orbis Factor and other settings into the five-line stave did put them within reach of ordinary parishes.

  3. I actually love good hymns! Which may not be apparent in my last lost of comments to you in the other combox.

  4. Lance Eccles

    The thing to be said in favour of “four-square pomposity” is that it’s generally very singable. Even people who can’t usually sing get sucked in by it.

    • I agree with you, Lance. That is the great advantage of metrical hymnody, as the reformers discovered! The fact is though, that the reformers didn’t invent it – it was already going on in the worship life of the Catholic Church before the Reformation.