Just what we need: another “new” song book…

In today’s Cathnews comes the annoucement that there will be a new third volume of the “As One Voice” song books.

I wish someone would tell publishers of new “liturgical songs”: ENOUGH ALREADY! We have have more than we can cope with at the moment. The constant bombardment of new material for use in the liturgy means that there is never enough time for us to assess the quality of the new material. For that matter, there is hardly enough time to reflect on the music we already have.

Not that that important task has gone unattended. In response to the request in Liturgiam Authenticam, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has commissioned the National Liturgical Music Board to compile a list of “approved hymns” for use in the liturgy. The task that this group was faced with was so immense that they simply had to put some limits on it. In the end, they decided to go through five readily available collections, “As One Voice”, “Gather Australia”, “Catholic Worship Book”, “New Living Parish Hymnal”, and “Together in Song”. The result was quite a long list (well over a thousand titles) of titles that got a “yes” vote. Of course, the point of such a document is not so much those items that got a tick, as those that failed to meet the (rather wide) criteria.

Although the resulting list has been sent to Rome for approval (as LA required), it is, I understand, now a public document. Unfortunately, it is not yet available on the ACBC website (I understand this is due to external factors beyond the control of the ACBC office). If you want a copy, I suggest you email Bernard at bfk at ozemail dot com dot au .

I have gone through the whole list and intend to post a review on it in the near future, but (as one of the compilers told me this afternoon) it is unlikely that in its current form this list will make much impact on what we sing on Sunday mornings. And this for several reasons:

1) It is not complete. It doesn’t include ritual music (for the reason that the new mass translations etc are not yet available) and they did not look at the much wider pile of “resources” used by our parishes and schools beyond the five collections named above (they are currently working on that, but it is, as you understand, a huge undertaking)
2) What is really required is a list of those songs that DID NOT get a tick. Such a list can be inferred from the positive list that the Board has produced, and it is my intention to publish this list when I get a Round Tuit (if you have one in the cupboard, please send it to me).

The practical usefulness of such a list is really as a basis for a future resource to be published. As of this moment in time, there are no more available copies of three of the hymnbooks surveyed: New Living Parish, Catholic Worship Book, and Gather Australia (I understand that the remaining copies of the latter two went up in smoke when the Feb 7 bushfires burnt down the publisher’s storehouse).

But the last thing we need in this climate of rapid change is a new volume of music that has not been through this exhaustive process of evaluation.

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5 responses to “Just what we need: another “new” song book…

  1. With regard to the incineration (by Act of God) of all remaining unsold CWB’s 😦 and GA’s 🙂 , I am reminded of the alleged remark: “God will know His own”.

    Once upon a time I worshipped in a chapel that had both books – I always put GA on the left: Et ab hædis me sequestra.

    Has anyone ever read the description of what Mass is in GA? It’s verging on the heretical, and I’m not joking!

  2. PM

    Inevitably the old canard about making it relevant to young people will emerge. An Anglican friend of mine who goes to a nearby ‘high’ parish says his parish choir does indeed attract meny young people – with a mix of traditional Anglican music, Roman chant and polyphony, and intellectually stimulating preaching!

  3. If only I had access to a parish with:

    – traditional music;
    – Roman chant;
    – polyphony;
    – intellectually stimulating preaching.

    ******

    But remember Gresham’s Law: bad money drives out good. I think there is a law of philistine liturgy too (call it Haugen’s Law) – the bad music will drive out or turn off the good, but it will be embraced by many…

  4. If only I had access to a parish with:

    – traditional music;
    – Roman chant;
    – polyphony;
    – intellectually stimulating preaching.

    Amen.

    In today’s Cathnews comes the annoucement that there will be a new third volume of the “As One Voice” song books.

    O joy.

    • I agree, Josh, but I wouldn’t mind some new music in the liturgy. The problem is not with “modern” or “traditional” music/songs, but rather that so much new music is simply not suitable for the liturgy.