The decision to publish a brand new hymn book for Catholic schools emerged during a CISC conference back in 2014. We had just completed a lovely new book for St Mary’s Ascot and had very much enjoyed the process of putting together a collection of Catholic hymns for the school, to replace their previous book which had been put together by a former, Anglican, Director of Music. This got us to thinking about what it was that made hymn selection amongst Catholic schools distinct from Anglican ones, and we decided to do some research. We analysed the hymns chosen by Catholic schools in the previous 4-5 years, and found that there was a definite consensus. We then put together a survey and canvassed opinion on which 200 hymns would feature in a collection for the present day – and sure enough, it was remarkably easy to narrow down from a list of 350 or so to a body of 200 which most Catholic schools had on their list of favoured hymns. The result was the Catholic Schools’ Hymn Book.
We then worked with the Music departments of a number of schools to determine the tunes and arrangements, and huge thanks must go to Ratcliffe College and New Hall School for their input during this phase. Having initially decided on a melody edition for the book, it soon became apparent that there was demand for a Full Music edition, not least for the accompanist, and a Words only edition was also called for. As a result, the project grew in complexity but in September 2016 all three editions were ready and copies rolled off the presses.
The joy of the project was enabling those schools who supported the idea to enjoy the benefits of a fully bespoke hymn book, with their crest and name on the front, at a fraction of the normal cost for such an undertaking. The first round of copies went out with six different covers, and the feedback has been extremely positive.
We are really grateful to everyone who helped to support the project, and are delighted to be able to supply a fresh new hymn book to Catholic schools, complete with the new translation of the Order of Mass, the Missa de Angelis and much more besides.