"Make a joyful noise to the Lord."
New National Hymnal in the Works:
Local composers could be a part of it
By Fr. Conrad Edwards
For almost 25 years the Canadian Church has been using the Catholic Book of Worship III (1994) as the national standard for our Catholic liturgical worship. A national hymnal unifies us as a Catholic people and the CBW III has given us a repertoire of material that is accessible for a range of competencies and congregational worship settings. Additionally, the work in preparing the CBWIII ensured that Canadian Catholics of a work that was not only liturgically appropriate and worthy musically, but as the official liturgical book the hymn texts "teach what the Church teaches". The creation of the CBWIII was a daunting task indeed!
At present we are exposed to, and have access to, more music than ever, including worship music. The digitization of music and proliferation of websites such as YouTube allow a ready access to all kinds of new music. Recent advances in technology also make it easier for musicians to produce high quality recordings of their own musical creations and compositions. With diminished numbers of individuals interested in formal keyboard and/or organ training, coupled with the popularity of guitars, drums and such, our liturgies have tried to accommodate a variety of musical styles and instrumentation. We also witness a marked rise in the popularity of what is often referred to as "praise and worship" music which also have an impact on Catholic liturgies.
Given these changes and influences in our popular and religious culture, the Canadian Catholic Church desires to respond in a way that is respectful both of the worth musical creativity and expressions that allow for a more "full, conscious and active" liturgical participation. The Church, of course, has a remarkably rich heritage and tradition of worship music and any new movements and influences must fit well within this tradition.
In the light, the National Commission for Liturgical Music, with the support and approval of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has begun preliminary work preparing and new and updated national hymnal for Canada. This work, of course, will take a number of years to complete, but this work has begun in earnest as Leo Marchildon, Director of Music for St. Dunstan's Basilica in Charlottetown, PEI has been appointed to chair the working group for this hymnal. The National Liturgy Office has also issued a call to Catholic music composers to send their work to the National Office for review. Like the CBWIII before it, this new hymnal will be produced to ensure that the music used in our common worship, whether contemporary in style or more traditional, remains faithful to what we believe as Catholics.
Those who wish to have their music considered for the Hymnal and/or who are using music that has not yet been approved, are invited to send it electronically or by mail to the National Liturgy Office, as soon as possible. Music being sent electronically should be sent to email@example.com .
Fr. Terry Fournier
Director - National Liturgy Office (English Sector)
This is an exciting development for our Church and the Liturgy Office for the Diocese of Antigonish encourages as many of our folks who are writing their own worship music to send their work to the National Liturgy Office for consideration. It would be a wonderful thing, given our own rich local musical heritage, to have "local flavour" added to this new hymnal. Most importantly, let us continue to worship our God with the generous offering of our gifts and talents, holding fast to the call of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians that,whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8)
Fr. Conrad Edwards
Director of Liturgy, Diocese of Antigonish