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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

June 9, 2012

Two ways of Going Home

evelyn @ 2:31 pm

Continuing the subject of the previous post, here’s yet another example of what can happen as a result of the dire state of our hymnody.  This episode was especially awkward, as it involved a funeral.

It wasn’t my own church, and it was a big, big funeral.  The attendance was so great that half the congregation was without a Hymns Old and New hymn book.  This particular church was just about to change to Liturgical Hymns Old and New, and the new books had already arrived.  So the priest decided to break open the boxes and distribute the LHON copies to those people without a hymn book.  It meant doubling up the numbers on the hymn board, but that didn’t matter.  It was done, and I was given organ copies of both books.

All went well until just before the final hymn, ‘Going home’.  While automatically checking the two books to see which had the better accompaniment, I suddenly froze in horror.  The words in Liturgical Hymns Old and New were completely different from those in Hymns Old and New.  Someone at Mayhew had re-written the text of the entire hymn.

There was absolutely nothing that anyone could do. The priest was incensing the coffin, the undertakers were waiting to advance.  Even if someone had been able to make an announcement, what could they say?

All I could do was pull out more stops in an attempt to cover the fact that conflicting words were being sung.  It didn’t work.  The hymn is a popular one, and the singing was strong.  The result was indescribable.

The family, following immediately after the coffin, left the church quickly, and I don’t think they ever knew.  But there were some very bemused looks as the rest of the congregation filed out – people could tell something was wrong, but couldn’t quite work out what it was.  It was only after the hearse and following cars had gone that one of the parishioners tidying up the church looked at me in puzzlement and said ‘Odd. People seemed to be singing two sets of words to that last hymn’.  Then he shrugged unbelievingly, and moved on.


  1. How embarressing for you and everyone concerned.

    We have just received the latest version of the Laudate Hymnbook for the congregation, the musicans have the had the older version for some time, and have music for new Mass parts in paper booklets. Since there is some re-numbering of hymns, some ommissions and additions in the new book, we seem to have the same situation as you with the Hymns Old and New editions, but we will not give the publishers the satisfaction of ordering new full music versions from them. I have noticed different wording in some hymns and the cutting of some verses in the new books.

    My question – what are the publishers doing ‘messing about’ with ‘our’ hymns? OK perhaps to make them acceptable to non-Catholic congregations. But have they asked the people what they want? and what is the official view of the Catholic Church?

    The reviews on Amazon.co.uk are interesting for the new editions of Laudete and Liturgical Hymns Old and New

    Comment by Gill Hogarth — June 12, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

  2. Gill, I couldn’t agree with you more about Laudate. The Amazon reviews are very interesting – I agree with most of the criticism. But no-one seems to pay any attention to it, do they? I don’t know why the Church doesn’t take control of our hymns. Maybe I’ll formally ask that question sometime …

    Comment by evelyn — June 16, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

  3. ‘formally ask that question’ – in your position, you might just have more clout than the rest of us!!

    Comment by Gill Hogarth — June 19, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  4. Oh, I think my clout is pretty limited, Gill. But I just might have a go, once I get answers to some other questions I have formally asked! Tell you more about that in a future blogpost.

    Comment by evelyn — June 19, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

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