A hymnal for use in the celebration of daily prayer in churches and communities throughout the Christian year
Provisional details are shown here; more will follow soon.
This book contains a comprehensive anthology of hymns in English suitable for use in the daily prayer of the Church throughout the liturgical year. It is intended for use in monastic and religious communities of differing traditions, spiritualities and denominations, and also in any church or community which observes a pattern of daily corporate prayer with music.
Hymns for Prayer & Praise is part of a long tradition of hymnals for the daily Office dating back to the Middle Ages, but takes as its model the recent Latin hymn book, Liber Hymnarius, published by the monks of Solesmes (1983). It mirrors this book in a number of ways.
First, it provides a comprehensive collection of hymns for the whole of the Church’s liturgical year. Second, it includes ancient and medieval hymns of the Church, though here in English. Third, it makes frequent use of the traditional metres which dominate the Latin repertory; and consequently, it includes some of the great plainsong hymn melodies. In other respects, its theological, spiritual, metrical and musical ethos and content are broader than the Latin hymn-book.
It represents the largest collection of Office hymns available in English, exceeding the scope of The English Hymnal (1906), Songs of Syon (1923) and A Plainsong Hymnbook (1932). It differs from recent books (e.g. The Hymnal of the Hours, 1989, The Mundelein Psalter, 2007) both in the ethos of the texts, and by providing two tunes for every hymn.
This book is the work of the Panel of Monastic Musicians, a group of monastic and religious men and women from Roman Catholic and Anglican communities in Great Britain assisted by a small group of professional advisers.
Since the major liturgical changes of the 1960s and early 1970s the Panel has sought to support and help musicians in communities to find, compose, adapt, and learn new repertory for the re-formed, vernacular liturgy. One of the early fruits was the hymn-book for the daily Office, A Song in Season (London, Collins, 1976).
After twenty years of exploring the new, the Panel became aware of the need to consolidate the best of what had been achieved; to circulate more widely what had proved durable in individual communities; and to re-establish liturgical and musical continuity from before the liturgical reforms, not in a spirit of nostalgia, but of renewal within the context of a living English liturgy.
Fifteen years after the first appearance of Hymns for Prayer & Praise (1996) this enlarged and revised second edition continues that process.
Reviews of the Revised Edition (2011, 2012)
Company of Voices
Hymns for Prayer and Praise is the best source for plainsong or equivalent tunes for use at the Office.
Fr Richard Peers SCP
High quality hymnal.
As a convert to Anglicanism, this has provided me with insight into the rich history of worship through music within the Anglican tradition. *****
The Good BookStall
Reviews of the First Edition (1997)
HYMNS FOR PRAYER AND PRAISE
ed. John Harper, the Panel of Monastic Musicians and Canterbury Press, 1996, lxi + 559 pp. hbk. ISBN 1-85311-126-0
The three-volume Divine Office (1974) in English was, in one respect, a great disappointment. It was weak on hymnody. Gone were many of the ancient and mediaeval hymns. Others were summarily abbreviated. The translations of Ronald Knox were often chosen, as if the stern anti-Protestant policy of Dr Terry's Westminster Hymnal were still in force. Instead of office hymns with ancient pedigree, we sometimes had to make do with 'pot boilers' or brave new verses.
There have been attempts to improve things. A Song in Season (1976) was one such. Another was The New English Hymnal (1986), which made extensive provision for the office but in some of its liturgical decisions ignored contemporary revision, Catholic and Anglican. A third was the American The Hymnal for the Hours (1989).
Hymns for Prayer and Praise is the latest and perhaps the definitive collection. Starting from the Solesmes Liber Hymnarius (1983) and scrutinizing some 5000 hymns from English speaking countries, the Panel of Monastic Musicians (Roman Catholic and Anglican) has produced a collection of about 270, divided into the Temporal (89), the Diurnal (66), the Common (12), the Common of the Saints (30), the Proper of the Saints (57) and Latin Hymns (15).
Each hymn has two tunes, a simple plainsong melody and a modern tune. The plainsong melodies, unlike some in, for instance, the English Hymnal, do not require the assistance of a monastic schola cantorum or trained choir. Tunes and words, as befit an office hymn, have the quality of bearing repetition.
There are few 'big hymns' in Hymns for Prayer and Praise and this is not, therefore, a parish church hymnbook, as such. It will be used with great success in religious communities, I predict, and far-sighted cathedrals will employ it for the daily office hymn at choral evensong. But there is a third use: I could envisage the little groups that gather in churches up and down the land to celebrate the Daily Office using this collection. Two men and a dog might feel self-conscious singing `big hymns' in draughty side chapels. Yet gently to enter into the common heritage of office hymns day by day, by using this book, would be very satisfying.
Are there enough well-known tunes? Yes, I think so.
Is there enough variety for the green seasons? Three settings of Phos Hilaron, 14 ferial hymns for Evening Prayer and seven compline hymns which could be pressed into service would provide a repertoire of 24 for evening ferial use (each with two tunes). The bias of Hymns for Prayer and Praise is still towards translations of Latin and Greek hymns but there are plenty of new original texts. Stanbrook Abbey and Mount St Bernard Abbey are major contributors to the collection, as are Ralph Wright OSB of Saint Louis Abbey, Missouri, and Fr James Quinn SJ. Most of the words have been translated or written in the last quarter of a century and this is the particular strength of the book. A classicist of my acquaintance seemed well satisfied with the translations and the literary quality of the English.
When The Divine Office was produced in 1974, the vernacular office hymn was in its infancy in the Roman Catholic tradition. The religious communities, Anglican and Roman Catholic, were working hard then, and have been working hard since, at renewing the office. Anglican religious had a vernacular inheritance, Roman Catholics have been discovering the vernacular as a medium for worship.
Hymns for Prayer and Praise is a joint harvest of the fine fruits of their labours.
Andrew Burnham teaches liturgy and music at St Stephen's House, Oxford, and is a member of the Church of England Liturgical Commission
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