Ritual Song

Some Protestant denominations have one hymnal that all their churches are expected to use. In some countries, this is true even for Catholic parishes. In the United States, however, the universal church does not have a universal hymnal. There is an approval process controlled by the US Catholic Bishops, but there are multiple publishers that offer hymnals for use in American Catholic parishes.

Choosing from the many options can be difficult, but is an important decision for the life of a parish. The hymnals that we have now have been used for worship here over 25 years. An entire generation has been shaped by the music contained in these books. These books have served us well, but they are now out of print, falling apart, and no longer have the proper texts for the readings or prayers of Mass. A portion of the funds returned to the Cathedral from the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal will be used to secure new hymnals for the parish. Which hymnal will shape the next generation of worship?

After several meetings, discussing different options and the benefits and drawbacks of each, the Music Committee has selected Ritual Song as our next hymnal. This hymnal was released in the fall of 2016 by GIA Publications, Inc (who also published our current Worship and Gather hymnals). It includes the most recent translations for the Sunday readings as well as the current texts (with musical settings) for the celebration of Mass.

Ritual Song contains almost 600 hymns and songs in addition to psalms, Eucharistic Acclamations, and other service music for a total of over 1400 musical selections. Worship and Gather each have just over 400 hymns each. By going to one book, our total hymn count goes down, but based upon a survey of music ministers at the Cathedral, rarely did anyone recognize more than 200 titles in either of our present hymnals. There will be plenty of music for us to sing in our new hymnal.

We expect to have our new hymnals by August and are planning a series of events to introduce, explore, learn about and sing from them. If you have questions about Ritual Song, please let me know. I hope you look forward to the new hymnals as much as I do!