Extract from Newsletter 104, published September 1998
The Adoremus Hymnal (Ignatius Press. Pew Edition 328pp, £11.95; Choir Edition, 424pp, £18.95; Organ Edition, 375pp, £24.95).
This substantial new missal/ hymnal is a joint production by Adoremus, the Society for the renewal of Catholic Liturgy and the Church Music Association of America. The missal part of the book presents the order of sung Mass printed in Latin and English on facing pages, with the rubrics in red. It is very clearly and handsomely set out. The sung English responses, set to adaptations of the Latin chant, are the sort of thing that will be familiar to English readers who have occasion to attend sung Eucharist of a traditional type in an Anglican church or cathedral, though the text is of course ICEL. And indeed, how many Anglicans these days are given the chance to sing ‘And with thy spirit’?
A short musical supplement to this first section gives the chants for the Asperges and Vidi Aquam with English adaptations by ‘a Cistercian monk.’ There are also four indifferent English settings of the acclamations after the Elevation and of the Amen after per ipsum. Two of these were composed in 1970, the other two in 1997: in style these are all equally banal.
The second part of the book gives the Chant (square notation) for Masses VIII, X and XI, and two ‘anthology’ Chant Masses, christened Missa Jubilate Deo and Missa Primitiva, with Credos I and III. There follow settings of the ICEL version of the Ordinary, of varying merit. The one that has the greatest degree of success with this notoriously unrhythmical English is Theodore Marier’s ‘English Chant Mass’, in which the melodies are convincingly adapted from Gregorian originals.
The third and final section actually occupies half of the book and is a large and comprehensive collection of hymns, mainly vernacular, but some Latin. This collection of solid, good quality hymns will give pleasure to many; there is a marked and welcome absence of the vacuous effusions that are even now frequently encountered, alas, in English parish churches, many of them tawdry relics of the ’60s, which still drag out their pathetic existence to the strumming of ill-tuned guitars and primitive electronic organs. Nothing of that here, we are glad to see.
This is a well produced and extremely useful book. With the exception of a few of the English Mass settings, the music is of high quality and very well printed. It deserves, and indeed is already enjoying, success.