About the Hymnal
In the decades following the Second Vatican Council and the vision presented in its documents, there was much experimentation in liturgical music, as well as the advancement of various political and ideological agendas. The St. Michael Hymnal has aspired first and foremost to be faithful to that original vision of sacred music presented by the Council.
Early in the early 1990’s, St. Boniface Parish in Lafayette, Indiana, in response to a gradual politicization of traditional hymn texts, searched for a hymnal or missalette that preserved the traditional language, but could find none; and so the parish began working to produce for its own use a simple supplement with traditional hymns. However, this idea soon took on a life of its own and came to be seen as a tremendous opportunity for a much larger project.
The first edition of the St. Michael Hymnal was the result of this initial desire to promote the musical treasures of the Church’s tradition and to maintain the traditional language of the hymns. The hymnal was unique among contemporary hymnals precisely because of its concern for traditional texts and its promotion of Gregorian chant.
At the same time, the hymnal stood out among the small collection of more traditional hymnals because of its realistic assessment of the current state of liturgical music and its prudential judgment of how to address this situation. Fundamentally, the St. Michael Hymnal was predicated on the belief that what is most useful is a hymnal which provides for taking a decisive step forward, rather than one which prematurely tries to achieve the final goal.
Each edition of the St. Michael Hymnal proved to be more successful in providing hundreds of parishes throughout the country with a middle ground between the political ideologies of contemporary hymnals and the unhelpful extremism of some of the more traditional hymnals. For over two decades now, pastors and musicians alike have rejoiced in the unique collection of “old and new” offered by the St. Michael Hymnal. This hymnal has indeed made it possible for many parishes to gradually move forward and embrace more deeply the Church’s vision of the sacred liturgy.
After the decisive direction set by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, along with the implementation of a new translation of the Roman Missal a decade ago, the St. Michael Hymnal was happy to produce a new fourth edition of an already well-loved hymnal.
The fourth edition of the hymnal contained more Latin Gregorian chant mass settings, several new settings of the Mass in English, a collection of Entrance Chants, and an improved selection of the classic, traditional hymnody that is treasured by parishes across the country.
Happily, in the ten years since the new translation of the Mass, many beautiful new Mass settings have been composed, and we are happy to have the opportunity to include the best of them in this new fifth edition of the hymnal. We are also pleased to present a new collection of Entrance Chants composed by Charles Thatcher, as well as his already published Communion Chants. We have also revised and further improved the hymn collection.
We are very excited about all that the fifth edition of the St. Michael Hymnal has to offer and we are convinced that it represents a real contribution to the renewal of the sacred liturgy in this country.
In the end, our hope is that the music offered in this hymnal will adorn the Church’s liturgy with grace and beauty and will move hearts and minds to the praise and worship of Almighty God.