In the decades that have passed since the Second Vatican Council there has been much experimentation in liturgical music, as well as the advancement of various political and ideological agendas. The St. Michael Hymnal aspires first and foremost to be faithful to that original vision of sacred music presented by the Second Vatican Council.
Originally, 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 original 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 St. Michael Hymnal was the result of this initial desire to promote the musical treasures of the Church’s tradition and to maintain unadulterated language in traditional hymns. The hymnal is unique among most contemporary hymnals precisely because of its concern for authentic texts and its particular promotion of Gregorian chant.
At the same time, the hymnal stands out among the smaller collection of more traditional hymnals because of its realistic assessment of the present state of liturgical music and its prudential judgment of how to address this situation. Fundamentally, the St. Michael Hymnal is predicated on the belief that what is most useful at the present time is a hymnal which provides for taking a decisive step forward, rather than one which prematurely tries to achieve the final goal.
The third edition of the St. Michael Hymnal proved to be very 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 a decade 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, the St. Michael Hymnal happily moved forward in producing a new fourth edition of an already well-loved hymnal.
The fourth edition of the hymnal contains more Latin Gregorian chant mass settings, many new and beautiful settings of the Mass in English, as well as an even better selection of the classic, traditional hymnody that is treasured by parishes across the country. In addition to hymnody, the new edition contains a complete collection of Entrance Antiphons for Sunday Mass.
We are very excited about all that the fourth 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 only 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.