A Great Catholic Hymn Book That Focusses on the Liturgy of the Hours, and Discourages Hymn Singing In Mass
The Lumen Christi Hymnal is the hymn book that those who chant the Office in English will have been waiting for. Here we have liturgical hymns appropriate for the Office, translated well into English so that they can be sung to the chant melodies from the Liber Hymnalis. There are hymns for Lauds, Vespers and Compline for a four-weekly cycle in ordinary time, as well as hymns that are proper to the seasons, the commons and to particular days. The translations are from a variety of sources including the 19th century Anglicans and more recently, the community of St Cecilia’s Abbey at Ryde in the Isle of Wight. These hymns and melodies suit the Offices for which they were designed far more than devotional hymns, ancient or modern, that most psalter seem to want to direct you to.
One great advantage is that, as with the ancient Latin hymns, the pattern of the texts hardly vary. This means that even if I am not skilled at sight reading the music, provided I know even just one melody then I can sing many other hymns to that melody. This possibility of interchanging so many melodies and texts suddenly opens up the possibility of the musically challenged, like myself, being able to sing very quickly a hymn for each Office each day. As I learn more melodies I can gradually increase the variety so I don’t need to bet bored, but I am not bound to know all tunes before I can sing each hymn. The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours allows for flexibility in choosing the hymns for Offices (within defined limits) and their melodies, so one does not need to feel absolutely bound by the format what is given here. This makes it a very adaptable and therefore practical resource for those who are beginning to learn to sing the Office.
As with the Lumen Christi Gradual it is attractively bound, a pleasure to hold and handle and comes at the reasonable price of $14.95. It is relatively thin, so could easily fit into the racks on church pews without putting strain on the carpentry. All of this is, I hope, is going to make it something that will make it desirable to parishes and families.
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