Academic journal article The Hymn

Les Chants Du Pèlerin/Songs of the Pilgrim

Academic journal article The Hymn

Les Chants Du Pèlerin/Songs of the Pilgrim

Article excerpt

Les Chants du Pèlerin/Songs of the Pilgrim Geneva: Editions Les Cahiers Liturgiques, 2001. 346 pp. www.lescahiersliturgiques.com $40.00

This paperback volume is the tenth in a series of workbooks begun in 1989 by Swiss liturgical musician and editor Jodle Gouel. Her aim is "to reach all readers interested by art and music in the experience of worship and liturgy," both in group settings and as a resource for private devotions. Earlier volumes were thematically organized collections of hymns, editorials, choral compositions, liturgical responses, and scholarly treatises on hymnody; these are available both in French and in English.

The volume under review is another such compendium. In addition to 206 hymns there is an extensive musical history from plainchant to Vatican II and a rationale for the conservative selection of items; there are also performance notes on the musical and liturgical contents, a monthly cycle of daily morning and evening prayers with twenty-four related psalms and seven canticles, a complete Evening Prayer in the Anglican tradition, and a newly-composed liturgical suite for choirs.

In a spirit of intercultural dialogue various musical styles and traditions were included, chosen for their proven quality and accessibility. North American worshipers might find these styles somewhat restricted in scope; there is no hint of global repertoire or of Christian contemporary music, for example. The psalms are mostly in Anglican or Gelineau chant, Goudimel settings, or English-hymn format. Tradition is also the basis for the hymns and Christmas carols: with few exceptions both text and tune derive from classical Anglo-Saxon heritage. The first hymn is "Holy, Holy, Holy." Any French offerings are mainly in Taizé style by Jacques Berthier; there is a small group of new hymns by contemporaries of the editor but these, too, are resolutely traditional in style. I miss the colourful enrichment of African, Hispanic or Asian hymnody; a small number of American spirituals is the extent of the book's globe-trotting.

Among the liturgical responses there is an attractive set by Jean Langlais (next to Merbecke, Schubert, and Bach). …

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