Catholic Common Worship

Whether wesleyan or lutheran, the evangelical coming into the Roman rite of the Church via The Catechism of the Catholic Church is apt to be disconcerted by the hymnal in use at their parish. This is the case whether that hymnal is Glory & Praise or The Parish Book of Chant in that the hymnal does not represent the entire communion, though it may well represent the particular parish community.

The vital core of Wesleyan spirituality is, I might argue, best represented in the 1780 Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists which well deserves a place among the many spiritual resources of the church catholic and which is at the core of subsequent Methodist hymnals. The modern United Methodist Hymnal in the USA and the British Methodist hymnal, Hymns and Psalms are symbols of the unity and coherence of Methodism.

Likewise, the Lutheran Book of Worship used by various Lutheran communions here in the United States “expresses the unity of the people of God and their continuity with Christians across the ages. In the liturgical tradition are the gestures, songs, and words by which Christians have identified themselves and each other” (from the Introduction). Rather then representing a particular agenda or segment among Lutherans, the Lutheran Book of Worship aims to represent the entire communion. Interestingly, this hymnal includes Thomas Aquinas’ Adoro Te Devote and Pange Lingua, albeit in English translation, neither of which are in Glory and Praise, a hymnal popular in many Roman Catholic dioceses.

My point is not to criticize any particular hymnal in the pews of any Roman Catholic parish but rather to point out that those hymnals are not instruments of unity in the way that Methodist or Lutheran hymnals are. Also, my Wesleyan background is obvious in thinking of the hymnal not as just a Sunday songbook but rather as a resource for spiritual formation second only to the scriptures. Neither is it my intention to urge the creation of such a hymnal. Rather, the functional equivalent of those protestant hymnals is to be found elsewhere within the Catholic Church.

Throughout the world among both laity and religious, the liturgical unity of the Catholic Church, beyond the Mass itself, is represented not in commercial hymnals but rather in The Liturgy of the Hours or, as it is alternatively known, The Divine Office. This is the basis of common worship within the Catholic Church, although its use is scattered outside the clergy. It is the one liturgical document which crosses various various internal boundaries in a manner similar to the protestant hymnals mentioned above.

The four volume edition, while expensive, is more useful than one volume abridgments. There is also a fairly complete version http://universalis.com/ available online.

In a recent general audience, Pope Benedict XVI remarked: “I would like to renew my call to everyone to pray the Psalms, to become accustomed to using the Liturgy of the Hours, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline.”

Conveniently, at the Cathedral of the Madeleine on weekdays:

7:30am – Lauds
8:00am – Mass
5:15pm – Mass
5:45pm – Vespers

This entry was posted in Church, liturgy of the hours, Worship. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Catholic Common Worship

  1. Pingback: Knowledge of the Father « Maude's Tavern

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