Dr Paul Taylor on the New Catholic Worship Book

Dr Paul Taylor, Executive Secretary of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) offers an appreciation of the history and content of the new Catholic hymnal for Australia. Catholic Worship Book II —A new liturgical music resource for Catholic Parishes and Communities in Australia.

Parishes around Australia are beginning to take up the Catholic Worship Book II. Considered to be the ACBC’s official collection of liturgical music, CWBII contains music for the Order of Mass in the revised Roman Missal (2010) (e.g. ministerial and congregational chant settings of the dialogues between celebrant and assembly, Kyrie/Lord Have Mercy, Gloria/Glory to God, Credo III, Sanctus/Holy, Holy, Agnus Dei/Lamb of God), a selection of 6 “Mass Settings” recommended by the ACBC [e.g. Mass Shalom by Colin Smith CFC (rev. Paul Mason), Mass of Our Lady Help of Christians by Richard Connolly and Missa Magis by Christopher Willcock SJ], a selection of service music for other parts of the Liturgy (e.g. Rite of Sprinkling), music for the Church’s Rites and Sacraments and liturgical hymns/songs for the Church’s liturgical year (ranging from Advent through to Christ the King). Unlike the first edition, CWBII does not contain Responsorial Psalms for each Sunday of the 3-year Lectionary cycle as the question of which translation of the psalms will be printed in the revised Lectionary for Australia has not been finalised.

CWBII was prepared by the ACBC’s National Liturgical Music Board – an advisory board to the National Liturgical Council. The NLMB was formed c. 2005 under the chairmanship of Fr Peter Williams VG (Parramatta) to prepare a list of liturgical music that the ACBC could recommend for liturgical use around Australia (http://tinyurl.com/zyv973z). Such a list of liturgical music was called for by the Holy See’s document on liturgical translation entitled Liturgiam authenticam (2001). From this list of recommended items, it was intended to prepare a collection of liturgical music that would eventually form CWBII. The Catholic Worship Book was first published in 1985 and edited by much loved Melbourne priest and musician Fr Bill Jordan who, sadly, died in August 2013 before CWBII was completed. Thirty years is a long time between revisions, however, a second edition was also necessary so that the translations of texts from the Order of Mass in CWBII matched those in the revised Roman Missal (2010). The revision process provided a chance to add some traditional items such as chant settings of liturgical texts in Latin and English, metrical hymns, and new post-conciliar compositions from local and overseas composers, and to omit other items no longer widely used or considered appropriate.

The format, range of styles and planning indices make CWBII significant and somewhat different from CWB (1985). Whilst a Peoples Edition is published for the congregation and a Full Music Edition for musicians, it is anticipated that CWBII will be the first local Catholic collection of liturgical music to be made available in both hard-copy AND digital format for parishes and schools (due c. April 2018). The Full Music edition also contains some harmony parts for choirs and chord symbols for keyboard players and guitarists. Unlike the 1985 edition, CWBII Full Music edition is published in two volumes which sit well on the keyboard. The sturdy covers should ensure durability for years to come. CWBII is really an investment in a parish’s music ministry for the next twenty years. There is a pleasing range of styles of texts and music from the words based on the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels, Pauline letters, through to compositions by Marty Haugen, David Hass, Michael Joncas, Jenny O’Brien, Christopher Willcock, SJ, Bernadette Farrell, Michael Herry, FMS, Bernard Kirkpatrick, Geoffrey Cox, Michael Mangan and Delores Dufner OSB.

Some of the highlights include being able to find traditional and contemporary (generally post-conciliar) settings of the texts for the Mass, Rites of the Church and seasons and feasts of the Church’s year, plus the Divine Office. Learning from the structure and approach adopted in ocher hymnals [ e.g. The English Hymnal (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 1986), Ritual Song (Chicago: GIA, 1996), et al] the NLMB was able to structure the book in such a way that users can easily identify the liturgical context for various items (via page headers), such as ministerial chants, Mass settings and liturgical songs. The Sunday by Sunday Index of Liturgical Hymn/Songs is a special highlight. Never before has a collection of liturgical music for parishes in Australia included an index of hymns/songs for each Sunday with an indication of the link between the suggested item and the Reading/ processional Antiphon or general focus of the scriptures of the day. Another highlight is the Service Music section, particularly the provision of music for the Gospel Acclamations and the Gospel verses of many Sundays. This section will help Cantor’s sing the Gospel verses and keep the musical atmosphere heightened surrounding the procession of the Gospel Book from the Altar to the Lectern in preparation for hearing the Lord’s words.