Monsignor Barnes shows that we cannot take Hymn-singing for granted

Wind in the Willows: the Exaltation of the Cross

Oh dear, caught again. Celebrated this morning at our local Catholic Church in Lymington (Our Lady of Mercy and St Joseph). So, being a Feast, I thought we might begin with a hymn;


What a swelling chorus we made of it in the glory days of Forward in Faith! And here it was in our Catholic Hymnal too.

Now today was special for another reason; I had been asked to say the Mass with particular intention for a dear lady whose 80th anniversary, not of her birth, but of her Baptism, falls today. What better than sing:

Each newborn soldier of the Crucified
bears on the brow the seal of him who died.

And since this was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, we could have a good second verse:

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
as thou hast promised, draw the world to thee.

Before announcing it, I made the mistake of not asking if everyone knew the tune. In the event it was apparent they did not. After Mass they told me, very kindly, that they had never even come across the words. So I was left rendering three choruses and two verses as a sacred solo. I was horribly reminded of Toad of Toad Hall – Speech by Mr Toad; only worse: hymn by Mgr B. Oh the shame!

imagesMaybe our Patrimony requires that we should offer Catholic parishes courses in Hymnody? Surely many would be pleased to have a change from “Colours of Dawn”, wouldn’t they?

(from Mgr. Edwin Barnes’ blog “Antique Richborough”)

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2 Responses to Monsignor Barnes shows that we cannot take Hymn-singing for granted

  1. EPMS says:

    Far from taking hymn-singing for granted, digs at the poor hymn selection and lack of congregational participation in Catholic parishes seem to be a subtext of many discussions of the Anglican musical patrimony. I often find it class-based and it makes me uncomfortable. Although there is the odd laugh, as when the “Anglican patrimony” is represented by Palestrina or Finzi, with perhaps some hymns by Watts.

  2. EPMS says:

    The Facebook page of St Timothy’s, Catonsville, MD has reposted Msgr Barnes comments and noted the importance of hymn-singing to that congregation—including respecting the integrity of the hymns by singing all the verses. This group has started posting complete videos of their Sunday masses, which can be seen here

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