In This Sacrament, Sweet Jesus

Eucharistic revival

Father John Furniss, C.SS.R. (1809-1865), composed the words for this hymn for use at Mass and it first appeared in his HYMN-BOOK FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL OR CATECHISM published in 1861, and was sold throughout Dublin, London, and Derby by publisher Thomas Richardson and Son. It consisted of six verses.

Hymn-Book for Sunday School or Catechism, 1885
Hymn-Book for Sunday School or Catechism, 1885

John Furniss was born near Sheffield, England on June 19, 1809 where is father was a wealthy master-cutler. He attended Sedgley Park School, St. Mary’s College in Oscott, and Ushaw College, where he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1834. He was a resident priest at Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England for five years and afterwards traveled for eight years throughout Europe and the East. He returned home in 1847, and spent some time at Islington, a district in the North of Greater London. He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, the Redemptorists, at St. Trond (Sint-Truiden), Belgium in 1851. He served for a short time as a missionary in England and Ireland but eventually devoted himself completely to missions for children.

This devotion to children inspired him to write hymns and books for their needs in simple language. Among his more popular works are the Sunday-School or Catechism, the Hand-Book for the Sunday School Teacher, The Sight of Hell and What every Christian must Know and Do.

From Book 10, The Sight of Hell by Father John Furniss, 1874

What every Christian must Know and Do, published in 1857, which contained a condensed exposition on the moral and natural law, drew a critical review by the Protestant publication the Saturday Review. Father Furniss wrote a defense in response to this review.

What Every Christian Must Know and Do, 1857
What Every Christian Must Know and Do, 1857
What Every Christian Must Know and Do, 1857
What Every Christian Must Know and Do, 1857

Father Furniss continued to write hymns and books for children until his death on September 16, 1865 in Clapham, England. More than four million of his booklets were published and many of his booklets are still available today.

Other hymns written by Father Furniss which gained some popularity include:

In This Sacrament Sweet Jesus, found its way into other Catholic hymnals in America and England which include: the CROWN HYMN BOOK, 1862; the CROWN OF JESUS MUSIC, 1864; the CANTICA SACRA, 1865; PETERS’ SODALITY HYMN BOOK, 1872 and 1914; LAUDIS CORONA, 1880; the PAROCHIAL HYMN BOOK, 1881 thru 1897; MANUAL OF SELECT CATHOLIC HYMNS, 1885 and 1932; the SODALIST HYMNAL, 1887; CATHOLIC HYMNS, 1898; SUNDAY SCHOOL HYMN BOOK, 1887 thru 1935; ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL, 1888 thru 1953; CATHOLIC SCHOOL AND SODALITY HYMNAL, 1900; the HOLY FAMILY HYMN BOOK, 1904; YOUTH’S MANUAL FOR CHURCH AND SCHOOL, 1908; CROWN HYMNAL, 1913; DE LA SALLE HYMNAL 1913; the BOOK OF HYMNS, 1913; SURSUM CORDA, 1925; OUR LADY OF MERCY Volume 2, 1927; HYMNS USED BY THE PUPILS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME, 1921 and 1948; the ALVERNO HYMNAL, 1953; NEW ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL 1958.

Free downloads of many of the hymnals noted above can be found online at Corpus Christi Watershed website or at the Internet Archive.

The Melodies

Several melodies were composed for this hymn including by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791); a melody by Msgr. Lorenzo Perosi (1872-1956); William J. Marsh (1880-1971); a German melody; an Irish and French melody; a melody by Sister Mary Alexis Donnelly (1857-1936); a melody by E. F. MacGonigle; a melody by Joseph Mohr; a melody by J. Storer; a couple of airs identified as St. Alphonsus and St. Joseph; and a melody by Samuel Richard Gaines (1869-1945).

Of these melodies, two became popular, the German melody, and the melody by Samuel Richard Gaines.

Sunday School Hymn Book, 1907
Sunday School Hymn Book, 1907
Manual of Select Catholic Hymns and Devotions, 1885
Manual of Select Catholic Hymns and Devotions, 1885

The German melody featured here from the SUNDAY SCHOOL HYMN BOOK, 1907 was composed for the nativity carol Schönstes Kindlein, and appeared in the 1858 edition of Bern H. Francis Hellebusch’s Katholisches Gesang-und Gebet-Buch. This melody can be found in other American hymn books including:

  • The Catholic Youth’s Hymn Book, 1871; the St. Basil’s, (1906 thru 1918) and the De La Salle, 1913 hymn books for the text Hear Thy Children, Gentle Jesus
  • Laudate Choir Manual, 1942 for the text Dear Little Jesus, Sweetest Savior
  • The St. Mary’s Manual Chants and Hymns, 1924; the Mt. Mary Catholic Hymnal, 1937; the St. Rose Catholic Hymnal, 1940; and Manual of Select Catholic Hymns, (1885 and 1925) for the text Lovely Infant, Dearest Savior

The second melody for the text Come, Sweet Jesus, first appeared in the MANUAL OF SELECT CATHOLIC HYMNS AND DEVOTIONS, 1885. This collection of hymns was published for the parish services of the Redemptorists Fathers in the United States and was compiled and arranged by Father Philip Mary Colonel, C.SS.R. (1843-1925) *

The only clue that we have that points to a composer of the second melody are the initials S.R.G., or Samuel Richard Gaines. His name also appears in the Diocesan Hymnal of the Cleveland Diocese, Part Two, Devotional Hymns, as one of the musicians responsible for harmonization’s for the hymns Sweet, Mother Hear and On This Day O Beautiful Mother. The Diocesan Hymnal which consisted of three volumes, was compiled by Bishop Schrembs of Cleveland, Ohio. In addition, the melody appears in:

  • the ST. BASIL’S HYMN BOOK from 1888 thru 1953, for the text In this Sacrament, Sweet Jesus.
  • the NEW ST. BASIL HYMNAL, 1958 with a melody composed by William Marsh for the text In this Sacrament, Lord Jesus.

*About Father Philip Mary Colonel, C.SS.R.

Recently, I learned more about Father Philip Mary Colonel, C.SS.R., and his role in Catholic music from the Redemptorists Archivist in Philadelphia. Philip was born on September 8, 1843 in Kloster Ebrach, Bavaria. His father, who was born in France, was a staunch Catholic, and his mother, whose birthplace was Alsace Lorain, was a devout Lutheran. Philip was the youngest of nine children and as a boy served at mass and sang in the choir of his parish church. Afterward, he played the organ there.

His father died when he was young, and shortly after this his mother and siblings came to the United States and settled in New York. At age seventeen, Philip entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He professed his vows in 1860 and was ordained in 1869. On the day Philip was invested with the Redemptorists habit, his mother became a Catholic. He was stationed in Buffalo at St. Mary’s Church for 25 years, during which time he composed and published his hymnal of 1885. His brother Joseph was a member of the St. Louis Province of the Redemptorists. Their sister became an Ursuline nun.

Father Colonel died on March 1, 1925 while a member of the St. Michael the Archangel community in Baltimore. He was the oldest Redemptorists in the Province, he served fifty-six years as a priest and sixty-five years in religious life. I hope this short exposé on Father Colonel’s life, brief though it be, will find favor with him and his brother Redemptorists Father John Furniss, and bring awareness to many of you of their contribution to Catholic music.

Courtesy of the Redemptorists Archives, Philadelphia
Courtesy of the Redemptorists Archives, Philadelphia
Courtesy of the Redemptorists Archives, Philadelphia
Manual of Select Catholic Hymns and Devotions, 1925
Manual of Select Catholic Hymns and Devotions, 1925

Reflection

I remember singing this hymn at Mass on so many occasions when I sang in St. Mary’s Choir (1977-2010). This is a beautiful hymn to sing for Communion and during Eucharistic Adoration. The verses are clear and unmistakable in professing the Catholic belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

During Communion we ask Jesus to come so that we can receive Him and be united to Him and never more to be separated from Him. The hymn is even appropriate to sing after Communion because we thank Jesus for coming, and truly believe that He is present in our souls. Take a moment to reflect on these verses and ask your music director to incorporate this lovely hymn into your next Mass or Eucharistic Adoration. The arrangement I sang in St. Mary’s Choir was from the Revised Edition of the ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL, 1918.

St. Basil's Hymnal - 1918
St. Basil's Hymnal - 1918

I want to thank Peter Meggison, producer of The Devotional Hymns Project for granting permission to link to a recording by Vocalist Teri Kowiak and colleagues who joined organist Peter Krasinski at St. Joseph Church in Needham, Massachusetts. This is the German melody from the SUNDAY SCHOOL HYMN BOOK.

A special thank you to Noel Jones, AAGO in granting permission to link to A Catholic Book of Hymns & Chants with nearly 300 time-honored traditional Catholic hymns and Chants including In this Sacrament Sweet Jesus.

Also, to the Redemptorists Archives, Philadelphia for their help in providing details of Father P. M. Colonel.

A Catholic Book of Hymns & Chants, 2020
A Catholic Book of Hymns & Chants, 2020
A Catholic Book of Hymns & Chants, 2020
A Catholic Book of Hymns & Chants, 2020

Below are recordings from The Devotional Hymns Project website featuring St. Joseph Church in Needham, Massachusetts, and a recording from A Catholic Book of Hymns. Also, a computer generated piano arrangement of the Samuel Gaines melody. The tempo is approximate but should provide the listener a good sense of what the hymn sounds like. All the hymns are in the public domain.

Hide Thou Me

Hide Thou Me

This short write-up is about a local musician from Cleveland, Ohio. His name was Louis (Ludwig) Adolph Imgrund (1873-1950). Louis was an immigrant and organist at two Catholic parishes, a composer of both secular and sacred music, a teacher of organ technique and composition for more than forty years. He traveled to Germany on more than one occasion and applied for US Citizenship and took the Oath of Allegiance in 1913. The narrative of this work has been kept to a minimum to allow the documents to speak for themselves.

Louis (Ludwig) Imgrund is the composer of the hymn Hide Thou Me. Louis Imgrund immigrated to the United States with his father, mother and siblings and settled in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1880, he was six years old. His father was a wagon maker and as a young man Louis studied music at various academies and by his early twenties went to Cologne, Germany to complete his studies.

In 1902, while in Germany completing his studies, he received a commission to be the organist at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On May 6, 1903 he married his first wife Catherine Newberg. St. Augustine’s was a new church and was dedicated on May 12, 1901 and was under the jurisdiction of the Franciscan Friars.  A detailed history of the Diamond Jubilee of St. Augustine Parish can be found online, a reference to Louis Imgrund can be found on page 163 and this is the only mention of him in this historical account. He was the choir director of the Casino Choral Club, a group of thirty-five singers consisting of both men and women. The Choral Club was established by the St. Augustine Casino Society which took their name from the old school hall.

The Pittsburgh Press - March 24, 1902 
Courtesy of Lawerenceville Historical Society
The Pittsburgh Press - March 24, 1902
Courtesy of Lawerenceville Historical Society

Between 1910 and 1913, Louis was involved in directing and accompanying various organ recital’s, holiday concerts, and charity benefits including directing the first Pittsburgh Opera Concert. During this time, a musical piece, A Song of Old Pittsburgh, was published. The words were by Dr. H. Asthalter, and the music was composed by Louis Imgrund. He served as organist for St. Augustine’s Parish for about 15 years.

The Pittsburg Daily Post - January 12, 1913
The Pittsburg Daily Post - January 12, 1913
The Pittsburgh Press  - February 4, 1912
The Pittsburgh Press - February 4, 1912
The Pittsburgh Catholic - December 28, 1911
The Pittsburgh Daily Post - July 3, 1910
The Pittsburgh Daily Post - July 3, 1910
The Pittsburgh Gazette Times - May 28, 1911
The Pittsburgh Gazette Times - May 28, 1911
The Pittsburgh Daily Post - June 27, 1913  Courtesy of Lawrenceville Historical Society
The Pittsburgh Daily Post - June 27, 1913
Courtesy of Lawrenceville Historical Society
The Pittsburgh Gazette Times - March 24, 1913
Song of Old Pittsburg - Catalog of Copyrights, 1911
The Pittsburgh Gazette Times - October 6, 1911

Around 1914/15, Louis, his wife, and two children moved to Cleveland, Ohio where he took the job of organist at St. Agnes Church. St. Agnes Parish was established to meet the pastoral needs of the German and Irish immigrant neighborhoods. The Rev. Gilbert Jennings was the first pastor, and the school was staffed by the Congregation of Saint Joseph. St. Agnes Parish was established in 1873 and by 1894 the growth of the parish necessitated expanding the church and construction of a new school building in 1904. St. Agnes High School for girls opened in 1911. The parish continued to grow and in March of 1914, ground was broken for a new church.

St. Agnes Church
Cleveland Catholic Diocese
St. Agnes Church Post Card
Courtesy of The Devotional Hymns Project

The new church was completed in 1916 and Louis Imgrund, organist and choirmaster directed the music at the dedication. A news article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer documents the event.

St Agnes Dedication - Cleveland Plain Dealer 1916
St Agnes Dedication - Cleveland Plain Dealer 1916

On August 15, 1929, just a few weeks after the family returned from a trip to Bremen, Germany, his wife of twenty-six years, Mary Catherine, died at home from cancer. She is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

After his wife died, Louis opened his home to lodgers and according to the April 1930 census, Louisa Singuf and her daughter Margaret Singuf were lodgers. Louisa was well-connected with the larger music scene in Cleveland. Her name and that of her late husband Adolph Singuf appears in an advertisement from the 1919-1920 Second Season of Cleveland Orchestra which was conducted by Nikolai Sokoloff. Later that year, on October 11, 1930, Louis married Louisa A. Singuf. On January 22, 1932, Louisa’s daughter Margaret Mary died after suffering from a long illness. She is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ad from Cleveland Orchestra's Season Two Program - 1920
Ad from Cleveland Orchestra's Season Two Program - 1920

On June 3, 1934, a three-day celebration took place for the Golden Jubilee of Msgr. Gilbert Jennings the first pastor of St. Agnes Church. Prof. Louis Imgrund conducted a choir of sixty-five boys and twenty men.

Cleveland Plain Dealer - 1934
Cleveland Plain Dealer - 1943
Cleveland Plain Dealer - 1934

In 1936, Louis composed and arranged the hymn HIDE THOU ME. This hymn was published by Kollie’s Music House in Cleveland, Ohio. Kollie’s Music House was located along the 9700 block of Lorain Ave and was established on December 1, 1920 by J. P. Kollie and his sons. It was at first a small neighborhood store with a small stock of records and a small stock of instruments. It would become the recognized musical instrument place on the West Side of town and a leading supplier of Catholic Church Music. A second location was established on Hemlock Ave around 1923. Based on a review of archived city directories Kollie’s Music House continued operations until 1944.

Hide Thou Me - Catalog of Copyrights 1936
Hide Thou Me - Catalog of Copyrights 1936
Hide Thou Me - Male Quartette
Hide Thou Me - Male Quartette
Hide Thou Me - Solo or Chorus
Hide Thou Me - Solo or Chorus

The hymn was not featured in any of the main stream Catholic hymnals, and there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that Louis wrote the words of this hymn after reflecting on the death of his wife, his stepdaughter, and other personal hardships. 

In 1943, St. Agnes celebrated its 50th Anniversary as a parish with Coadjutor Bishop Hoban presiding at the solemn pontifical jubilee celebration. At this event Louisa Singuf Imgrund directed a choir of forty-five youths and two men with Louis Imgrund as the organist. All the music for this event was composed by Louis Imgrund and dedicated to St. Agnes.

St. Agnes Jubilee
Cleveland Plain Dealer - 1943
St. Agnes Jubilee
Cleveland Plain Dealer - 1943
St. Agnes Jubilee
Cleveland Plain Dealer - 1943

On July 31, 1950 after a long and fruitful career, Louis died. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. Louis was organist at St. Agnes Church for over 30 years. A memorial of his death appeared in the 1950 November – December issue of the Caecilia Magazine and in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The prayer card has a lovely and prayful sentiment which you don’t find very often today.

Louis Imgrund Prayer Card  Courtesy of Lawerenceville Historical Society
Louis Imgrund Prayer Card
Courtesy of Lawerenceville Historical Society
Louis Imgrund Obituary Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1950
Louis Imgrund Obituary
Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1950
Caecilia Magazine - Nov-Dec, 1950
Caecilia Magazine - Nov-Dec, 1950
Imgrund - Singuf
Calvary Cemetery Cleveland, Ohio

Not long after Louis’ death, St. Agnes parish suffered many hardships. In 1962, the Cleveland Diocese placed the parish in the care of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, an order dedicated to serving African-American and Latino Catholics. The week-long HOUGH RIOTS, which ravaged the Hough neighborhood in July of 1966, exacted a heavy price, both physically and psychologically, on the St. Agnes community. Problems continued to plague the parish in the 1970s which included the parish school closing in 1973, and costly repairs to the church building. Faced with renovation and a dwindling congregation, the Diocese of Cleveland opted to demolish the church building in a controversial decision. St. Agnes Church was torn down on November 24, 1975. All that remains of the church is the bell tower.

St Agnes Church - Cleveland Catholic Diocese
St. Agnes Bell Tower
Google Maps Street View 2023

On March 30, 1980, the Cleveland Diocese officially merged St. Agnes with the neighboring Our Lady of Fatima Parish to create St. Agnes – Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

I contacted the parishes mentioned in this short write-up during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and from St. Agnes – Our Lady of Fatima Parish there was little interest in knowing about the organist Louis Imgrund. The new parish serves the African-American community and celebrates with gospel music.

St. Augustine’s Church in Pittsburgh is now Our Lady of Angels Parish and is staffed by the Capuchin Franciscans. Their interest in learning more about Louis Imgrund was more fruitful. Brother John Harvey, OFM Cap., passed my request to their local historian James Wudarczyk and eventually to Tom Powers, President of the Lawrenceville Historical Society who provided me with the photo of Louis Imgrund’s prayer card and newspaper clippings.

I was also put in contact with Ann Larabee, great-granddaughter of Louis Imgrund. She was quite happy to have the chance to share with me some family history of her great-grandfather. She told me that Louis once played for the Pope, was especially interested in Gregorian chant, and that he composed a Mass.

Reflection

This is how I became familiar with this hymn. It so happened that one day during my time singing in St. Mary’s Choir (1977-2010), my Grandma France, my mom’s mother, asked me to inquire of the organist if he had music for a hymn with the lyrics In Thy Sacred Heart my Jesus, Hide Thou Me. So, I asked Mr. Jordan who was the organist and sure enough he opened the file cupboard in the choir loft and reached in and pulled out two copies of the hymn, one was the Male Quartette arrangement and the other the Solo or Chorus arrangement. Later, when I next saw grandma, I presented her with the two copies and her eyes welled up and I could tell she was deeply touched and wished me to convey her many thanks to Mr. Jordan.

This is an exceptionally beautiful hymn to the Sacred Heart which expresses love and confidence in Jesus Christ and implores his help, guidance, and protection throughout our lives. Sometimes we forget that Jesus Christ, His Mother and His Saints are real people and not just statues, paintings, icons, or figments of our imaginations but real people who have feelings and even though they know all our needs, they still like to be told that we love them.

I like the Male Quartette version the best. When we sang this in the choir at St. Mary’s, the men would sing the baritone part and the choir would join in and sing the harmony parts. We sang this great hymn as a prelude before Mass, as an Offertory hymn, and at Communion especially during the month of June, a time which the Catholic church sets aside for the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

May the hearts of those known only to God find refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and may this hymn hidden for so many years become known again and sung by choirs everywhere.

A special thank you to Peter Meggison, producer of The Devotional Hymns Project website for allowing me to link to a recording of the hymn Hide Thou Me as sung by the Bel Canto Singers of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Volo, Illinois. 

Daughter of a Mighty Father (Macula non est in te)

Eleanor Cecilia Donnelly (1838-1917) is the author of this hymn. Eleanor began to write poetry at an early age. Her older brother, the Honorable Ignatius Donnelly, former Lieutenant-Governor of Minnesota, and an author in his own right, taught Eleanor the mysteries of meter. On page 352 of the 1917 June issue of The Catholic World a monthly magazine published by the Paulist Fathers is a memorial to Eleanor Donnelly written by Father Thomas M. Schwertner, O.P., S.T.L., (1883-1934) within this memorial is an anecdote in Eleanor’s own words that recounts being taught by her older brother. She herself, speaking of her childhood, relates how she used to go to her brother’s study to be trained in the occult mysteries of poetic meter. What can a child of eight or ten know of prosody or poetic feet? Yet I have a distinct remembrance of standing—a tiny girl—by Ignatius’ writing table, and of being shown by him with great kindness and patience how to reckon on my fingers the correct number of syllables in a given line.

Eleanor C. Donnely - ca. 1900
Eleanor C. Donnely - ca. 1900
Hon. Ignatius Donnelly - ca. 1897
Hon. Ignatius Donnelly - ca. 1897

I found two sources which show that Eleanor is the author. The first source is from  her own collection of poems CROWNED WITH STARS published by Notre Dame University of Indiana in 1881. This collection of poems was published to aid in placing on the dome of the new University of Notre Dame, Indiana, a colossal statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, crowned with twelve stars of electric light.

There are twelve poems that Eleanor wrote for each star in the crown, and each was given a particular virtue. Purity, Simplicity, Generosity, Recollection, Humility, Fraternal Charity, Poverty, Obedience, Detachment, Fidelity, Self-Immolation, Divine Love and Eternal Union with God. The statue of Our Lady atop the dome is over eighteen feet tall and both statue and dome are gilded in gold. The poem was for the second star – Simplicity.

Crowned With Stars, 1881
Crowned With Stars, 1881
Crowned With Stars, 1881
Crowned With Stars, 1881

The second source is GEMS OF CATHOLIC THOUGHT, a collection of poetry and prose by various Catholic authors which was published by the Redemptorist Fathers of Boston, Massachusetts in 1908.

Gems of Catholic Thought, 1908
Gems of Catholic Thought, 1908

There are other accounts indicating that she started writing poetry at an early age. One such account says she was a young girl of eight or nine when she wrote a hymn to the Blessed Mother. In an article that appeared in the 1917 summer issue of ARISTON, published every quarter by the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, there is a brief memorial to Eleanor Donnelly and a passage that reads, When she was ten years of age, she took first prize for a literary composition. Two hundred children competed for the prize. Miss Donnelly’s closet rival was her sister, Eliza.

Ariston - Summer 1917
Ariston - Summer 1917
Ariston - Summer 1917

After a careful review of her many works of poetry which are available online, I found the hymn she wrote as a little girl in her book of poetry Little Compliments of the Season and other Tiny Rhymes for Tiny Readers published by Benziger Brothers in 1887. It is captioned A Little Girls Hymn To The Blessed Virgin.

Compliments of the Season, 1887
Compliments of the Season, 1887
Compliments of the Season, 1887
Compliments of the Season, 1887

Eleanor was born on September 6, 1838 to Dr. Philip Carroll Donnelly and Catherine Frances (née Gavin) Donnelly. Her father emigrated from Ireland, settled in Philadelphia, and married Catherine Frances Gavin. For a time he was a traveling salesman of small dry goods and later owned a pawnshop. He studied medicine in the 1830s at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and received his medical degree in 1839. Her father became a distinguished physician, and he held a number of important positions in and about Philadelphia and was one of the founders of the Philadelphia College of Medicine. He came down with typhus after treating a patient and died a few years after Eleanor was born. Her mother was an exceptional woman faith who continued to operate the pawnshop and saw to the education of the children.

Eleanor had four older siblings: Sarah T. Donnelly, her oldest sister, and Eliza; her older brothers John G., and Ignatius Donnelly, and her younger sisters: Agnes (Mrs. Samuel Kilpatrick), and Philipanna Donnelly. Agnes was the only one of her sisters who married and had children. The entire family was musically and literary artistic. Sarah, Eliza, and Philipanna were school teachers. Besides being an authoress, Eleanor possessed a beautiful contralto voice and served for fifteen years as the leading soloist at St. Augustine’s, St. John the Evangelist’s, and St. Joseph’s choirs in Philadelphia.

As young woman, Eleanor fell under the influence of Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., who was the first editor of The Ave Maria, a weekly journal devoted to the Honor of the Blessed Virgin which he first published in 1865. Eleanor was a regular contributor to The Ave Maria and helped to enlist other men and women in the field of Catholic literature to contribute. The Ave Maria grew quickly, and by the turn of the twentieth century, it had become the most popular Catholic magazine in the world. The magazine was published on Sundays until 1970. Today The Ave Maria is known as Ave Maria Press.

She also contributed to the success of other Catholic periodicals including: The Messenger of the Sacred Heart; Nova et Vetera, a homiletic magazine for the clergy. She was for a time chief editor of the magazine, Our Lady of Good Counsel, conducted by the Augustinian Fathers. In The Catholic Standard and Times, a Catholic weekly of Philadelphia with which she was connected for some time as associate editor, much of her work appeared, even as late as a month before her death. She was also a very devoted member of the American Catholic Historical Society, and the author of the Memoir of Father Felix J. Barbelin, S.J., founder of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Philadelphia, and the Life of Sister Mary Gonzaga Grace of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul.

She published a collection of hymns in Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1883 and the again in 1912. In this rare hymnal several other hymns can be found which later became popular: Sacred Heart, In Accents Burning; Hear the Heart of Jesus Pleading; and Like a Strong and Raging Fire. Eleanor Donnelly is one of the very few American Catholic hymn writers besides Father Jeremiah Cummings who published volumes of original hymns.

Hymns of the Sacred Heart, 1883
Hymns of the Sacred Heart, 1883
Hymns of the Sacred Heart, 1883
Hymns of the Sacred Heart, 1883
Hymns of the Sacred Heart, 1883

In addition to her Sacred Heart collection, Eleanor is the author of the following hymns:

  • Behold the Month of Mary – found in the Sacred Wreath, 1863
  • Glorious Mother, from High Heaven – found in the Catholic Youth’s Hymn Book, 1871
  • Mary, Dearest of All Mothers – found the Manual of Select Catholic Hymns and Devotions, 1925
  • O Virgin Mother, Our Lady of Good Counsel – found in Our Lady of Mercy Hymnal, 1899
  • ‘Tis the Month of Our Mother – found in St. Basil’s Hymnal, 1918
  • Vision of the Wounds – found in the Sunday School Hymn Book, 1887

Eleanor died between April 30 and May 1, 1917 during the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, whose name she had taken upon entering the Third Order of St. Dominic (Lay Fraternities of Saint Dominic or Lay Dominicans since 1972). She spent her last days in West Chester, Pennsylvania among the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with whom she was affectionally dedicated to. She was clothed in the Dominican habit and her Requiem Mass was attended by relatives, scores of priests and religious, and thousands of admirers. Before and after the mass her own hymns to the Sacred Heart were sung by the novices of the Community and the boys from St. Aloysius’ Academy.

She published some fifty volumes of poetry and prose most of it from a Catholic perspective. Some thirty volumes were given a place in the British Museum Library. Her poetry influenced the minds and hearts of other great poets such as Longfellow, Wordsworth, and Tennyson. She was often compared to Adelaide ProcterQueen Victoria’s favorite poet, and of her religious poems which could be described as sacred hymns, she stands next to Father Frederick Faber.

It is difficult to encompass the whole spectrum of Eleanor Donnelly’s poetical output. Hopefully, this small tribute to her will be enough to encourage others to explore her many books of poetry and prose, and who knows what gems may be waiting for the Catholic composers pen.

The earliest appearance of the hymn is found in THE CATHOLIC VOCALIST, 1860 compiled by Henry T. Rocholl and captioned Macula non est in te. THE CATHOLIC VOCALIST was a small periodical of sacred music consisting of litanies, anthems, motets, and hymns for churches, schools, and private families. This collection of sacred music highlights Marian hymns from THE SACRED WREATH. The hymn generally appears in hymnal index’s as Daughter of a Mighty Father but has also been found in some hymnals as Macula non est in te or indexed under both titles.

The next appearance of the hymn is found in THE SACRED WREATH, 1863, a collection of hymns for the use of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the oldest sodality in the United States and was first established in Philadelphia in 1841 by Father Felix Barbelin, S.J., he prepared the first Manual for the Sodality. This Manual contained the Office of The Blessed Virgin, the Office for the Dead, the origin and rules of the sodality, and various prayers.

This Sodality gradually developed a collection of hymns, THE SACRED WREATH. The hymns began as a small private collection that was published in the early 1850’s and eventually was followed by a second edition in 1863, and a third in 1881. The third edition contains over three hundred pages of hymns. The hymnal was compiled by Father Edward J. Sorin (1808-1888), and Father Felix Barbelin, S.J., (1808-1869) and published in Philadelphia by Eugene Cummiskey. The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary was originally approved by Pope Gregory XIII in 1584. Copies of THE SACRED WREATH are exceedingly rare today.

The hymn also appeared in the following Catholic hymnals:

The CATHOLIC YOUTH’S HYMN BOOK, 1871 compiled by the Christian Brothers of New York; the ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL, 1888 thru 1953, compiled by the Basilian Fathers of Toronto; the MANUAL OF THE SODALITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, 1893 published by H. L. Kilner & Co.; the CATHOLIC SCHOOL AND SODALITY MANUAL, 1900 published by George W. Gibbons of Philadelphia; the CROWN HYMNAL, 1913 compiled by Father L. J. Kavanagh & James McLaughlin and published by Ginn and Co.; the DE LA SALLE HYMNAL, 1913 compiled by the Brothers of the Christian Schools; the 1921 & 1948 HYMNS USED BY THE PUPILS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME; SELECTED HYMNS, 1930 published by Angel Guardian Press; the CATHOLIC SCHOOL HYMNAL, 1930 compiled by Joseph P. Donnelly and published by Emil Ascher Inc.; a CATHOLIC HYMN BOOK, 1932 published by The Paulist Press; a MANUAL OF HYMNS FOR THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL, 1948 published by The Voshardt Press; editions of CATHOLIC CHAPEL HYMNAL, 1944 thru 1968 published by McLaughlin and Reilly; and A CATHOLIC BOOK OF HYMNS, 2020 published by the Sacred Music Library in Kentucky.

Many of the hymnals listed above are available for download at the Corpus Christi Watershed website.

Melodies

The melody traditional to Daughter of a Mighty Father is found in the ENGELSHARFE GESANGBUCH, 1866, hymn No. 411, by the composer Father Georg Schöller for the hymn O Maria, Gnadenvolle (O Mary, Full of Grace). Fr. Schöller was born in 1813 Obernzell, Germany and ordained a Catholic priest in 1836. He never became a pastor, but held small assistant priestly positions, his last post was at Thurnstein Castle near Postmünster in 1854. He remained there until his death in 1863.

Engelsharfe Gesangbuch, 1866

Another melody is featured in the periodical mentioned above, THE CATHOLIC VOCALIST, published by Henry T. Rocholl and is based upon Gaetano Donizetti’s (1797-1848) opera Lucrezia Borgia / Act 1, Maffio Orsini, singnora, son io. The opera, one of about seventy by Donizetti, was written in 1835.

The Catholic Vocalist, 1860
The Catholic Vocalist, 1860
The Catholic Vocalist, 1860

Reflection

In Miss Donnelly’s generation, most Catholics read a good deal of poetry, it was part of their everyday life and part of their early education. Early Catholic hymn writers like Miss Donnelly, were well educated in their Catechism and possessed the gift of poetry so much so that they could present these Catholic beliefs in a poetic way. As a result, hymns became more like prayers rather than just poetry. That’s why today we need good Catholic poets to write hymn lyrics instead of musicians who think they are poets!

I learned to sing this hymn using the arrangement from the ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL. This hymnal was one of the most popular and most widely used Catholic hymnals in the United States and Canada. The hymn is a profession of the tenants of Catholic belief regarding Our Lady and her Immaculate Conception. We can see this in the refrain Macula non est in te, which means, there is no stain in thee. The hymn was a favorite among the choir members and parishioners of St. Mary’s. It is a lovely hymn to sing during the month of May or anytime we honor Our Blessed Mother.

Looking back over my long tenure in the choir and the last several years of studying about Catholic hymns, the authors, and composers, I’ve come realize how important it is to have hymn lyrics that profess our Catholic beliefs and how important it is that they present those beliefs in a meaningful way. Hymns like Daughter of a Might Father help to remind me of my Catholic faith and the teachings of the Catholic Church. For example, in St. Mary’s above the High Altar there is a beautiful painted fresco of the Assumption of Our Lady surrounded by angels. I can see this in the phrase, Angel forms around thee gather.

A weekly infusion of devotional hymns during Mass will help to erode away the alarming statistics that there is a failure of Catechism in our Catholic Church. Even though these devotional hymns are from a different time and a different generation, they can still be used in a very efficacious way to instruct children, young adults, men, and women of all ages about our Catholic faith. Take a moment to read the verses and I think you will agree.

St. Basil's Hymnal, 1918
St. Basil's Hymnal, 1918

A special thank you to Peter Meggison, producer of The Devotional Hymns Project for allowing me to link to a recording of Daughter of a Mighty Father by the Seraphim Singers at Holy Name Church, Boston.

Also, a special thank you to Noel Jones, AAGO in granting permission to link to A Catholic Book of Hymns with nearly 300 time-honored traditional Catholic hymns including Daughter of a Mighty Father

A Catholic Book of Hymns & Chants, 2020
A Catholic Book of Hymns & Chants, 2020
A Catholic Book of Hymns & Chants, 2020
A Catholic Book of Hymns & Chants, 2020

Below are recordings from The Devotional Hymns Project website featuring the Seraphim Singers, a recording from A Catholic Book of Hymns, and a computer generated sound file of the melody from The Catholic Vocalist. 

Regina Coeli

This beautiful Eastertide anthem of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is sung from Easter Sunday until Trinity Sunday, is thought to have originated when, according to legend, St. Gregory the Great (d. 604 A.D.) heard the first three lines chanted by angels on a certain Easter morning in Rome while he walked barefoot in a great religious procession and that the saint thereupon added the fourth line: Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia.

The Regina Coeli ranks among the other great Marian antiphons Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina Caelorum, and the Salve Regina.  A translation of the Latin text is given below.

Regina coeli laetare, Alleluia,
Quia quem meruisti portare. Alleluia,
Resurrexit, Sicut dixit, Alleluia,
Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia.

Queen of Heaven rejoice, Alleluia,
For He whom thou didst merit to bear. Alleluia,
Has risen, as He said, Alleluia,
Pray for us to God. Alleluia.

Of all the melodies composed for this anthem including the great Gregorian melody there is one that stands out from all the rest that was used by St. Mary’s Choir in Akron, Ohio. It was a melody composed by Anthony Werner (1816-1866).

Anthony Werner was the Organist and Director of the Choir of the Cathedral of The Holy Cross, Boston, in the 1850s and 1860s. He was born in Bavaria, Germany, on October 9, 1816, to parents Domonic and Eve. He married Catherine Habnich (Hobnich) around 1847. She was born in Prussia, Germany, in 1823. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States on October 16, 1848. Anthony and Catherine had four children.

  • Julius D. Werner (ca.1847 – 1903) died from heart disease, occupation a trader
  • Cecilia M. H. Werner (ca. 1852 -1873) died from pulmonary tuberculosis (phthisis)
  • Louis A. Werner (1853-1905) died from cancer, occupation a musician
  • Catherine Louisa Werner (1861-1861) she was only twenty-four days old.

Anthony Werner died December 21, 1866, in Boston at the age of 50. He was still married to Catherine when he died.

The first appearance of his melody for Regina Coeli is found in THE MEMORARE, so named in honor of the Memorare prayer of St. Bernard. It is a collection of Catholic Music for Morning and Evening Services and for Daily or Private Devotions. It was compiled by Anthony Werner and published by the Oliver Ditson Company of Boston in 1857.  The MEMORARE contains eight other compositions by Anthony Werner including an Asperges Me, Ave Maria, Ave Regina, a Mass in C, an O Salutaris, O Salutaris / Haec Dies, and two settings for Veni Creator. The MEMORARE saw later printings in 1885 and 1896 with contributions by Albert H. RoSewig, Director of the Choir of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Philadelphia.

The Memorare, 1857
Regina Coeli by Anthony Werner, 1857
The Memorare - 1896
The Memorare - 1896

The MEMORARE is unique in that it contains no Gregorian music and special care was taken by Anthony Werner to make sure that the music could be sung by the average church choir. Here is an excerpt from the Preface found in the MEMORARE that explains his reasoning behind the exclusion of Gregorian music.

Excerpt from The Memorare Preface, 1857
Excerpt from The Memorare Preface, 1857

Werner’s Regina Coeli was also published as a separate choral piece in 1885 by Oliver Ditson Co., with copyrights held by Mrs. A. Werner.

Werner's Regina Coeli, 1885
Werner's Regina Coeli, 1885

Later it was published by McLaughlin and Reilly Co., of Boston in 1922 were it was revised by James A. Reilly and again in 1952 were it was arranged for two voices by Edward Grey, a pseudonym for Father Joseph Portelance (1900-1979).

Werner's Regina Coeli - 1922
Werner's Regina Coeli - 1952

It was approved by the Society of St. Gregory and appeared in their White List of 1932. It was also used in Easter music programs of the 1930s. 

Caecilia Magazine – July-August 1932, pg. 218
Caecilia Magazine – June 1933, pg. 222

Other publications by Anthony Werner include THE CANTATE. This was sold in two volumes beginning in 1862 and 1863. Also, Werner’s EIGHT EASY PIECES of Sacred Music for four voices – Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass with Accompaniment for the Organ.

The Cantate, 1862
The Cantate Volume 2, 1863
Eight Easy Pieces - Dwights Journal of Music, 1862

Anthony Werner’s most significant contribution to Catholic hymnody is his Benediction hymn O Salutaris Hostia / O Saving Victim which has become traditional and is found in most Catholic hymn books and some of today’s missalettes. By the 1970s, the English translation by Father Edward Caswall (1814-1878) was added. 

Laudis Corona, 1880
Lyra Catholica, 1849

Reflection

The Regina Coeli by Anthony Werner was regular Easter favorite of St. Mary’s Choir from 1977 through 2005 under the direction of organists Ralph Jordan and later Mary Leary. The choir sang the 1885 edition mentioned above. However, it wasn’t the only Regina Coeli the choir sang.  I remember singing the following choral arrangements:

I have often referred to St. Mary’s Choir in my hymn write ups and so I thought I might share a short anecdote on the organist Ralph J. Jordan (1916-1996). Mr. Jordan began playing the Austin organ at St. Mary’s on Christmas Eve for the Children’s Mass in 1929, he was only thirteen years old at the time. Of course, I didn’t meet Mr. Jordan (Ralph) until many years later in my Sophomore year of high school in 1977.

You see, the Howe family sat a few pews behind the organ near the front of the church on Mary’s side. I had good tenor voice and was not shy about singing. Anyway, Mr. Jordan was looking for new members for his choir and asked if I would like to join. I said, I would have to check with my Mom and Dad and see if they would approve. My brothers and sister didn’t do anything without Mom and Dad’s approval. Well they approved and I joined the choir in the fall of 1977. Practice was on Wednesday nights at 6:30 in the evening.

Mr. Jordan sang Bass, and he was a great musician and really knew how to make the Austin organ sing. I sang many solos under his direction including The Christ Child, one of my favorite Christmas anthems.

Below is a newspaper article from 1996 that appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal. It is wonderful tribute to a great man and a good friend.

Tribute to Ralph Jordan, Organist of St. Mary’s
Tribute to Ralph Jordan, Organist of St. Mary’s

I would like to thank Peter Meggison producer of The Devotional Hymns Project for allowing me to link to two new recordings of the Regina Coeli. The first is a recording of Anthony Werner’s Regina Coeli sung by a quartet of vocalists from Blessed Sacrament Church in Providence, Rhode Island. The second recording of the Regina Coeli was composed by M. A. Melvil and arranged by Eduardo Marzo. It was sung by the Advent Choir from The Church of the Advent, located in Boston’s Beacon Hill section. Take a few minutes to listen to these beautiful recordings by clicking on the links above.

How Pure, How Frail, and White

How Pure, How Frail, and White

Adelaide Anne Procter (1825-1863) was the author of this hymn. The verses of this hymn first appeared in her book of poems, A CHAPLET OF VERSES published in 1862, in London for the benefit of the Providence Row Night Refuge for Homeless Women and Children, located at the back of 14, Finsbury Square and a narrow street called Providence Row (now Worship Street). This was the first Catholic refuge in England or Ireland and was open to both Catholics and Protestants.

The refuge was founded by a Catholic priest, Rev. Dr. Gilbert in 1860, and the Sisters of Mercy saw to the needs and comfort of the homeless which opened from October to April. More than 14,000 lodgings had been given by the time A CHAPELT OF VERSES was published. A footnote in the table of contents reads, that some of these poems were written twenty years ago, but only three of them have been previously published.

A Chaplet of Verses, 1862
A Chaplet of Verses, 1862
A Chaplet of Verses, 1862

Adelaide was born in 1825 and was a prolific poetess, philanthropist, and a soul of good charity. She labored extensively helping the homeless and unemployed women of 19th century England. Her first poem submitted under the pseudonym of Mary Berwick, was published in a weekly journal Household Words whose principal editor and publisher was Charles Dickens. Later, Charles Dickens learned that Mary Berwick was none other than the eldest daughter of his close friend Byran Waller Procter better known as Barry Cornwall.

Adelaide joined the Catholic church 1851, her journey to Catholicism and the poverty of the poor that she saw around her heavily influenced her poetry. She was a highly educated woman for her time – fluent in German, French and Italian. It is said that she was Queen Victoria’s favorite poet. In 1862, because of her tireless work on behalf of suffering women and children she contracted tuberculosis. She struggled against this illness for 15 months and died at the young age of thirty-eight.

Adelaide Anne Procter (1825-1863)

Her poems were extensively read throughout England and America and appeared in various publications and Catholic magazines including the AVE MARIA. Three collections of her poems were published: Legends and Lyrics, The Poems of Adelaide A. Procter, and A Chaplet of Verses. Many of her poems were composed into songs and several into hymns that appeared in both Catholic and Protestant hymn books including:

This brief write-up is but a small tribute of the life of Adelaide Procter. A comprehensive biography on the life of Adelaide Procter can be found at the website Minor Victorian Poets and Authors.

The hymn How Pure, How Frail, and White first appeared in the Catholic hymnal MAY CHIMES and was published the Oliver Ditson Co., in 1871. This is a collection of hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary compiled and arranged by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur of Cincinnati, Ohio and captioned The Annunciation.

It also appeared in the following Catholic hymnals: MAY BLOSSOMS, 1872; PETERS’ SODALITY HYMNBOOK, 1872; LAUDIS CORONA, 1880 and 1885; MANUAL OF SELECT CATHOLIC HYMNS, 1885 & 1925; ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL from 1888 thru 1918; ST. MARK’S HYMNAL, 1910; St. JOSEPH’S HYMNAL, 1930 and HYMNS USED BY THE PUPILS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME, 1921 & 1948.

1871 May Chimes - The Annunciation
1871 May Chimes - The Annunciation

The Melodies

Two melodies have been found for this hymn. The first was composed by a Sister of Notre Dame. It was a customary practice in many religious communities not to give credit to individuals but to the whole community. In some rare cases authorship has been known in a verbal tradition and meticulously reconstructed by hymn researchers for example:

  • Sister Mary Xavier or sometimes S.M.X. (Sybil F. Partridge) and one of her most famous hymns Just for To-day.
  • Sister Mary of St. Philip (Frances (Fanny) Mary Lescher) and her translation of Venez, divin Messie which gave us O Come Divine Messiah.
  • Sister Mary of St. Joseph (Mary Winfield) who gave us the hymn O Infant Jesus.

Recently, I learned of another sister that is generally considered the leader in the publication of all the American hymns and songs found in the hymn collections that bare the credentials Music by S. N. D. – Sister Aloysius (Josephine) Dorman (1835-1913).

Sister Aloysius was born in Washington D. C. on August 2, 1835 to parents Albert and Adelaide (ne D’Ancour) Dorman who both came from France. She entered the postulancy of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the Sixth Street Convent in Cincinnati on May 1, 1854 and professed her perpetual vows in 1861.

She spent twenty-five years at the Sixth Street Academy in Cincinnati, seventeen years at the Notre Dame Academy in W. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, twelve years in Dayton, and a short time in Columbus, Hamilton, and Summit. She was a teacher of music and orchestration publishing songs and hymns for the schools. After a long and fruitful service to her Lord she returned to the Notre Dame Convent in Hamilton, Ohio in November of 1912.

She was known to have a lively disposition and would often charm the hearts of those around her, but little did she know how close the end was near. On one occasion in March of 1913, she wielded the baton for an orchestra of many instruments and sang a gypsy song accompanying herself with tambourine dancing with as much agility as if she was twenty years of age. The next day she was not well and for two weeks came only to Mass and Holy Communion but, finally she had to confine herself to her room which was just above the sacristy. Sister Aloysius Dorman died April 1, 1913 and is buried in the Notre Dame Cemetery in Reading, Ohio*.

*On March 25, 1913, there was a terrible flood that struck the cities of Hamilton and Dayton which left them in ruins, this is why Sister Dorman is buried in Reading, Ohio and not Hamilton.

This short narrative of Sister Aloysius Dorman was drawn from the research provided by the Ohio Unit Archives of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Cincinnati. The research included an excerpt from a letter written by Sister Agnes Immaculata Guswiler who was the first archivist in Cincinnati serving from 1970 to the mid-1990s. The letter dated September 29, 1989, gave an outline of Sister Dorman’s service, and identifies her as the composer of all the American hymns and songs.  Also, excerpts from the Hamilton Annals were provided where Sister Dorman spent her last days, plus a few other details.  

P. Sleath composed the second melody, and it was found in the ST. MARK’S HYMNAL published in 1910 exclusively for the parish of St. Mark’s in Peoria, Illinois by J. Fischer & Bro., of New York. No information could be found on this composer.

St Marks Hymnal, 1910
St Marks Hymnal, 1910

The editors of the hymnal were Grace M. Kanne and Julia C. Dox. Either Grace or Julia or both were converts to Catholicism. Julia C. Dox authored more than sixty of the hymns in this collection with the initials J. C. D. in the lower right corner. Ten of the hymns were composed or arranged by Grace M. Kanne. Other tunes in the hymnal are by various composers including those by J. B. Dykes, Sir Joseph Barnby, and Sir Author Sullivan.

This hymnal is perhaps one of the first Catholic hymnals to use tune names and give the meters of the texts, a practice more commonly found in non-Catholic hymnals. The hymnal had a fair amount of success with a fifth edition being published in 1925 and some years later a ninth edition was published.

St Marks Hymnal - Papers of the Hymn Society, 1948

Reflection

This hymn was written for the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. It is a common theme by poets to use flowery images in hymns to Our Blessed Mother and this hymn is no different. Adelaide Procter used snowdrops to represent our prayers and so we gather a garland bright, our wreath of prayers and bring it to Mary. In this hymn, a garland is very reminiscent of a rosary.

I can see the Angelic Salutation in the second verse, for on this blessed day, she knelt at prayer, when lo! before her shone an angel fair. Just as the Archangel Gabriel announced the Good News to our Blessed Mother so to, we can bring our salutations and prayers and give them to Mary.

What can you see in the verses?

Snowdrops are a very popular flower found in Mary Gardens and along foot trails that bloom by February or March and fade as summer approaches. Sometimes the flower is referred to as The Flower of Purification, Pure Maids of February, and Candlemas Bells. They are a white flower which symbolizes the purity of the Blessed Mother.

I hope this hymn and one of the two melodies featured in this write-up will make its debut in your choir for the Feast of the Annunciation.

Snowdrops in Westport, Massachusetts

A special thank you to Peter Meggison producer of the Devotional Hymns Project for allowing me to link to a recording of  How Pure, How Frail and White, sung by a choir of professional voices and the Blackstone Valley Catholic Youth Choir at St. Cecilia Church, Boston, Massachusetts. 

Listed below are computer generated sound files. The tempo is approximate but should provide the listener a good sense of what the hymn sounds like. All the hymns are in the public domain. Music directors, if you use any of these selections in your Sunday or weekly music programs and you make a recording, contact the author and I may feature it in the What’s New section of this website. 

Joy! Joy! the Mother Comes

Father Frederick William Faber (1814-1863) wrote the words of this hymn for the Feast of The Purification. The earliest appearance of this hymn was in the second edition of his JESUS AND MARY hymnal. This collection of hymns was published in 1852 by Richardson and Son of London. The second edition had more than twenty new hymns and was published throughout England and Ireland.

Jesus and Mary, 1852
Jesus and Mary, 1852
Jesus and Mary, 1852
Courtesy of The London Oratory https://www.bromptonoratory.co.uk/
From the book Life and Letters of Frederick William Faber, D.D., Priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri

Father Faber began writing hymns in 1848 and the very first two of his hymns, those on Our Blessed Lady and Corpus Christi, were written one night while on retreat during his stay at Scarborough. He wrote these at the request of Father Hutchison who was a close personal friend and whose conversion to Catholicism was in large part due to Father Faber’s instruction’s.

These first hymns and those that followed, eleven in total, were printed in a small collection for the congregation of St. Wilfrid’s in Staffordshire in 1848. More hymns were added, some thirty in total, and they were published in 1849 which was the first edition of Father Faber’s JESUS AND MARY hymnal. More hymns were given in the ORATORY HYMNS published between 1854 and 1860 which had ninety hymns.

These early collections were building to larger volume of one hundred and fifty hymns which corresponded to the Psalter a limit set by Father Faber himself. This complete collection known as HYMNS by Frederick William Faber, was published in 1862. Father Faber’s HYMNS were widely used in Catholic churches and wherever the English language was spoken. They had become universal, being published in England, Ireland, and America. Many of his hymns are to be found in Protestant collections. Among them, Hymns Ancient and Modern, published in 1861 which contain several, and the Hymnal Noted, published in 1851, which contains no less then twenty-four; the chief favorites being, O Come and Mourn With Me Awhile; The Precious Blood; I was wandering and weary; Sweet Savior! Bless us ere we go, and O Paradise! O Paradise!

Father Faber’s HYMNS saw later publications in 1867, 1871, 1880, 1888, and 1894. Some of these publications contained illustrations by artists derived from the LIFE AND LETTER’S of Father Faber published in 1869 but none are a complete collection and contain about ninety hymns each. Those hymns written for the Angels and Saints, the Sacraments, the Faith & Spiritual Life, those written for the Last Things, and a small collection of miscellaneous hymns are missing. Today, only a few of Father Faber’s hymns can be found in mainstream Catholic hymnals and missalettes.

Father Faber’s hymn Joy! Joy! the Mother Comes appeared in the following Catholic hymnals in addition to those mentioned above: THE CATHOLIC YOUTH’S HYMN BOOK, 1871 compiled by the Christian Brothers of New York; the PAROCHIAL HYMN BOOK from 1881 thru 1897 compiled by Father Antoine Police, S.M.; ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL from 1888 through 1925 compiled by the Basilian Fathers of St. Michael’s College in Toronto; ARUNDEL HYMNS, 1905 compiled by the Henry Duke of Norfolk and Charles Gatty; the AMERICAN CATHOLIC HYMNAL, 1913 and 1921 compiled by The Marist Brothers; SELECED CATHOLIC HYMNS, 1930; A DAILY HYMN BOOK, 1932 and 1948 compiled by the Society of St. John the Evangelist.

The Melodies

Six melodies have been found for the hymn. Augustus Cull composed the first melody. He was a German composer and arranger living in New York and was highly active during the American Civil War. His works included polkas, ballads, and various arrangements of hymns and national songs. Most of his compositions were published by Horace Waters, a music publisher living in New York City. The melody appeared in Catholic hymn books from 1871 through 1925.

Catholic Youth’s Hymn Book, 1871
St. Basil’s Hymnal, 1925

The second melody appeared in EASY HYMNS AND SONGS published in 1851 for the hymn Sing, Sing Ye Angel Bands, a hymn written by Father Faber for the Feast of the Assumption. EASY HYMNS AND SONGS was compiled by Henri F. Hemy, and copies of this small hymn book are extremely rare. This collection of hymns was designed to introduce hymnody to missions and schools. Later the melody appeared in the ORATORY HYMNS WITH TUNES published in 1854 for both Sing, Sing Ye Angle Bands and Joy! Joy! the Mother Comes as can be seen in the index of hymns. The melody went on and became widely used for Sing, Sing Ye Angle Bands but quietly faded away for Joy! Joy! the Mother Comes. Then a Marist priest, Father Antoine (sometimes Anatole) Police, S.M., introduced the melody once again for Joy! Joy! the Mother Comes and it appeared in his PAROCHIAL HYMN BOOK which saw publications in Dublin, London, and New York between 1881 and 1897.

Oratory Hymns With Tunes, 1854
Oratory Hymns With Tunes, 1854
The Parochial Hymn Book, 1897
The Parochial Hymn Book, 1897
The Parochial Hymn Book, 1897

Frederick Westlake composed a third melody which appeared in the POPULAR HYMN AND TUNE BOOK published in 1868. He was the editor of the hymn book, a convert to Catholicism, and a professor of music at the Royal College of Music in London. He was also an accomplished and prominent pianist who composed several Masses, hymns, and piano pieces. Two of his brothers, Philip and Nathaniel, were also converts to Catholicism.

The Popular Hymn and Tune Book, 1868
The Popular Hymn and Tune Book, 1868

A fourth melody was found in the SODALIST’S HYMNAL of 1887 compiled by E. F. MacGonigle and published by George W. Gibbons of Philadelphia. E. F. MacGonigle was an editor and composer of the late 19th century. This hymnal was renewed for copyright by Mary A. MacGonigle as widow of the author on January 30, 1915.

Sodalist Hymnal, 1887
Sodalist Hymnal, 1887

A fifth melody was found in the ARUNDEL HYMNS published in 1905. One of the editors Henry, Duke of Norfolk, sent a copy to Pope Leo XIII, for which he received a letter of congratulations and encouragement. This collection of hymns was drawn from English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, and Bohemian sources. Melodies from ancient and contemporary sources were chosen. Twenty were of Italian origins, several were from Bach, and more than a dozen from Robert Pearsall (1795-1856). Many of the hymns were given more than one melody and so the hymn book holds more melodies than it does hymns. One of the chief characteristics of the hymn book is its information on the old composers and the sources for the melodies. The hymn book did not achieve any great success but would become a source for American editors looking for new material. This melody also appeared in A DAILY HYMN BOOK which was published in 1932 and 1948.

Arundel Hymns, 1905
Arundel Hymns, 1905

A sixth melody was found in the AMERICAN CATHOLIC HYMNAL published in 1913. The early success of this hymnal which sold more 3,000 copies in the first six months provided the initiative for a later publication in 1921. In the 1913 edition the initials A. C. H. are given as the composer of the melody. These initials also appear for several other hymns and in the 1921 edition the initials were changed to F. M. S., meaning Fraters Maristae a Scholis. The composer of this melody was one the Marist Brothers whose identity remains hidden.

The AMERICAN CATHOLIC HYMNAL represents an important contribution to Catholic hymnody. Perhaps more than any other, the hymnal contains a number of hymns taken from Catholic periodicals that were widely read by Catholics including twenty from the Messenger of the Sacred Heart, the Ave Maria Magazine, the Rosary Magazine, the Catholic Voice, and the Sentinel of the Blessed Sacrament. A large number of Holy Communion hymns that were contributed by Isabel Williams of Boston were highly commended by the editors. A Sister of the Visitation contributed a few hymns under the pseudonym M. S. Pine – Sister Mary Paulina Finn (1842-1935). Several by S. M. X., who in religious life was known as Sister Mary Xavier,  and the translations of Monsignor Hugh Thomas Henry, Litt. D., were also used. The 1921 edition contains a full index of authors and sources, and it is quite mesmerizing to read through this index and see those who contributed to this great collection of Catholic hymnodies.

American Catholic Hymnal, 1921
American Catholic Hymnal, 1921

A handful of other hymns were written and composed for the Feast of the Purification / Presentation of the Lord.

From the WREATH OF MARY, 1883

  • Soft Breaks the Morn on Zion Hill’s, words, and music by a Sister of Notre Dame (SND)
  • Mother of God, unto the Temple Bring, words by a SND, music composed by Homan.

From the ROMAN HYMNAL, 1884

From ST. MARK’S HYMNAL, 1910 (these two hymns also appeared in the ICEL Resource Collection, 1981)

From the YOUNG PEOPLE’S CATHOLIC HYMN BOOK, 1910

  • #48 Behold In Mary’s Arms! author unknown, music composed by William E. Bergé.

From the WESTMINSTER HYMNAL, 1912

From THE NEW CATHOLIC HYMN BOOK, 1924 (also in the HALF A HUNDRED CATHOLIC HYMNS)

  • #38 What Joy Rings Out From Skies Above, author unknown, music composed by Louis Bergé.

Reflection

The story of the Purification can easily be found in the verses of Father Faber’s hymn. The requirements of the old Mosaic Law and Mary and Joseph’s fulfillment of the law in the Gospel of Luke (Leviticus 13: 1-8; Numbers 18:15; and Luke 2: 22-39.). In the last phrase of the first verse, And in her heart the while, All silently she sings, I am reminded of the passage, Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart (Luke 2: 19).

This wonderful hymn is a foreshadowing of Catholic mothers who bring their infants to church for baptism, and the fathers, like St. Joseph follows near. In verses three and four, I see the faith of Simeon and Anna. Simeon had waited his whole life to see the world’s true Light. In verses three and four, I see the faith of Simeon and Anna. Simeon had waited his whole life to see the world’s true Light.

Many of the characteristics of Father Faber’s hymns appear on the surface; but there are others which upon thoughtful investigation and close examination will reveal statements of theology and doctrine illuminating and touching the heart of those who take the time to reflect on the verses.

What can you see?

A special thank you to Peter Meggison producer of the Devotional Hymns Project for allowing me to link to a recording of Joy! Joy! the Mother Comes, sung by the Advent Choir of The Church of the Advent located in Boston’s Beacon Hill section.

Featured below are computer generated sound files. The tempo is approximate but should provide the listener a good sense of what the hymn sounds like. All the hymns are in the public domain. Music directors, if you use any of these selections in your Sunday or weekly music programs and you make a recording, contact the author and I may feature it in the What’s New section of the website. 

Having listened to the melodies many times over in preparation of this short write-up, I like the melody that first appeared in EASY HYMNS AND SONGS and later in the PAROCHIAL HYMN BOOK. For me, this melody easy to sing. When I hear it, it invokes the words, and when I see the words, it invokes the melody. These characteristics are the hallmark of a good hymn. I hope one of the melodies featured in this write-up will make its debut in your choir for the Feast of the Purification.

I’ll Sing a Hymn to Mary

I'll Sing a Hymn to Mary

Father John Wyse (1825-1898) an Irish Catholic priest wrote the text of this hymn. Little is known about this Catholic priest and hymn writer. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1825 and ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1851. He served as a parish priest at St Winefride’s, Shepshed from 1852-1853 and in 1884 was pastor of the parish of Tichborne, Hampshire. He died May 22, 1898 while at the Clifton Wood Convent in Bristol, England. The Clifton Wood Convent estate which was run by a religious order of nuns was sold around 1900.

Three other hymns have been attributed to Father Wyse including:

  • God the Father, Who Didst Make Me, a hymn to the Holy Trinity.
  • From Day-to-Day Sing Loud the Lay, which is a good translation of the Latin Omni Die Dic Marie.
  • God Comes to His Altar, a hymn for Holy Communion.

The earliest appearance of the hymn I’ll Sing a Hymn to Mary is found in the CROWN OF JESUS PRAYER BOOK, published in 1862 which was followed by THE CROWN HYMN BOOK published in the same year.

The Crown Hymn Book, 1862
The Crown Hymn Book, 1862
The Crown Hymn Book, 1862
The Crown Hymn Book, 1862

There was a series of THE CROWN OF JESUS publications which included the CROWN OF JESUS PRAYER BOOK, THE CROWN HYMN BOOK, THE CROWN HYMN BOOK MUSIC, and THE CROWN OF JESUS MUSIC. These were all published beginning in 1862 and continued to see publications for several years afterwards including by publisher P. J. Kenedy of New York in 1882.

P. J. Kenedy Ad - NY, 1882
An advertisement found in an 1870 publication of The Wrecked Homesteads by Evelyn Clare.

The first edition of the CROWN OF JESUS MUSIC containing all four parts was published in 1862. However, as can be seen above it was available in separate parts, and this explains why we find page references in parentheses under the hymn names. The CROWN OF JESUS MUSIC editions you find on Google, or the Internet Archive only contain the first three parts and exclude the Gregorian and English Masses. Finding a copy with all four parts is exceedingly rare.

All the music for the CROWN OF JESUS collection was compiled by Henri F. Hemy (1818-1888) one of the great composers of the nineteenth century and best known for his melody for Faith of Our Fathers. Henri was born in 1818 Newcastle, England. He was the organist at St. Andrew’s Church in Newcastle and later professor of music at St. Cuthbert’s College now Ushaw College in Durham. He sang baritone, painted artwork, and composed more than seventy different works of music including his Modern Tutor for Pianoforte, 1858. He also compiled the EASY HYMNS AND SONGS, 1851.

The Melodies

Thirteen melodies have been located for this hymn and they appeared in Catholic hymnals throughout America, England, and Ireland. The most widely used melody was composed by Henri F. Hemy and can be found in the CROWN OF JESUS MUSIC, 1864. This melody appeared in more Catholic hymnals than any other including: the PAROCHIAL HYMN BOOK, (1881 and 1897) compiled by Augustus Edmonds Tozer; the WESTMINSTER HYMNAL, 1912, compiled by Sir Richard Terry; the BOOK OF HYMNS WITH TUNES, 1913 compiled by Dom Samuel Ould, O.S.B.; the CROWN HYMNAL, 1913 compiled by Father Kavanagh and James McLaughlin; the ST. BASIL’s HYMNAL, (1918 thru 1953) compiled by the Basilian Fathers; and the HOLY GHOST HYMNAL, 1954 compiled by the Holy Ghost Fathers, Dublin.h

Crown of Jesus Music, 1864

A second melody which gained some popularity first appeared in the 1901 edition of the PSALLITE compiled by Father Alexander Roesler, S.J., (1875-1904) which list the composer’s name as Benjamin Hamma (1831-1911). Benjamin Hamma compiled the CATHOLIC YOUTH’S HYMNAL, 1891 and made other contributions to Catholic music. When Father Roesler died, Father Ludwig Bonvin, S.J., (1850-1930) became the editor, he altered various hymn texts, added some new tunes, and issued a revised collection as HOSANNA, 1910. The PSALLITE continued to be published as a separate collection until twelfth edition in 1925. The same melody appeared in THE PARISH HYMNAL, 1915 compiled by Joseph Otten (1852-1926). Joseph Otten was hunchback who came from Holland to Canada. When he was in his early twenties, he moved to St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Diocese of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where he was the organist until his death. Other hymnals include: the CATHOLIC HYMNAL, 1920 compiled by Father John G. Hacker, S.J., (1877-1946), and the PAROCHIAL HYMNAL, 1951 compiled by Father Carlo Rossini (1890-1975).

Psallite, 1901
Psallite, 1901
The Parish Hymnal, 1915

Michael Haydn (1737-1806) composed a melody, and it is from a Mass, composed for the use of Country Churches. J. Vincent Higginson (1895-1995) (aka Cyr De Brant) in his HANDBOOK FOR AMERICAN CATHOLIC HYMNALS, 1976 he indicates that in Christian Latrobe’s SELECTION OF SACRED MUSIC, 1806, Vol. 1, there are excerpts of the Mass for Country Churches. However, the melody is not present in these excerpts. Michael Haydn composed more than forty Masses for the Catholic Church.

The earliest that the melody composed by Michael Haydn appears in a Catholic hymnal for the hymn I’ll Sing a Hymn to Mary, is in the CATHOLIC HYMNS, 1898, compiled by Augustus Edmonds Tozer and published by Cary & Co., London. The CATHOLIC HYMNS collection by Tozer is a musical edition of the ST. DOMINIC’S HYMN BOOK of 1886; the melody appears later in the CATHOLIC CHURCH HYMNAL, 1905 and 1933, also compiled by Augustus Edmonds Tozer; The NOTRE DAME HYMN TUNE BOOK, 1905 compiled by Frank Birtchnell and Moir Brown and published by the Rockliff Brothers of Liverpool, England; and the STANDARD CATHOLIC HYMNAL, 1921 compiled by James A. Reilly of McLaughlin & Reilly Co., one of the most successful Catholic music publishing companies of the twentieth century.

Catholic Hymns, 1898
The Standard Catholic Hymnal, 1921
The Standard Catholic Hymnal, 1921

During the first half of the twentieth century editors began changing the text of the hymn. An example of these alterations can be seen above in the PARISH HYMNAL, 1915 and in the ALVERNO HYMNAL BOOK 3, 1953 below compiled by Sister Mary Cherubim Schaeffer, O.S.F., (1886-1977). The ALVERNO HYMNAL was published in three books. Book 1 – Advent and Christmas (1948); Book 2 – Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and the major Feast Days throughout the year (1950); Book 3 – Hymns for Low Mass (1953). As can be seen in the ALVERNO HYMNAL, the hymn text was altered to favor a May hymn.

These May hymn alterations appeared in the following Catholic hymnals: the PSALLITE, 1901, compiled by Father Alexander Roesler, S.J.; the 1925 and 1932 CANTATE, compiled by John Singenberger (1848-1924); the ST. MARY’S MANUAL, 1924 compiled by Christian A. Zitell an organist for fifty years at St. Mary’s, a Jesuit Church in Toledo, Ohio; and the ST. ROSE HYMNAL, 1940 compiled by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Perpetual Adoration of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Father Joseph Mohr, S.J., (1834-1892) composed the melody.

Alverno Hymnal Book 3, 1953
Alverno Hymnal Book 3, 1953

Sir Richard R. Terry (1865-1938) composed a melody which appeared in the WESTMINSTER HYMNAL, 1912. Sir Richard was educated at Cambridge and became a convert to Catholicism in 1896. He was the choirmaster and organist at the Westminster Catholic Cathedral for over twenty years, and  was knighted in 1922.

Westminster Catholic Hymnal, 1912
Westminster Catholic Hymnal, 1912

In the April 1919 edition of the CATHOLIC CHOIRMASTER, a bulletin published by the Society of St. Gregory and edited by Nicola A. Montani, sole owner of the St. Gregory Guild, there is an advertisement for a collection of TWENTY DEVOTIONAL HYMNS published by the Theodore Presser Co., This insert contains a sample of the hymns including I’ll Sing a Hymn to Mary with a melody composed by Nicola A. Montani. This collection was originally published around 1914 but was revised and the title changed to the O GLORIOSA VIRGINUM HYMNAL in 1951.

O Gloriosa Virginum Hymnal, 1951
The Catholic Choir Master, 1914

Other melodies were composed for I’ll Sing a Hymn to Mary, but they did not achieve any wide usage. They include a melody captioned Greek Air found in the CROWN OF JESUS MUSIC, 1864; a melody composed by E. F. MacGonigle an editor and composer of the late 19th century who compiled the SODALIST HYMNAL, 1887; a Marist brother known only as B.F.B., found in the AMERICAN CATHOLIC HYMNAL, 1913; a melody by DOM Anselm Schubiger, O.S.B. (1815-1888) found in the DIOCESAN HYMNAL PART 2, 1928 compiled by Cleveland Ohio Bishop Schrembs; a composition by Johann Crüger (1598-1662) found in the WESTMINSTER HYMNAL, 1939 and the ST. PAUL HYMNAL, 2015 published by the St. Paul’s Choir School of Cambridge, Massachusetts; a melody by Robert de Pearsall (1795-1856) that appeared in the MEDIATOR DEI HYMNAL, 1955; and an anonymous melody of German origin found in the NEW ST. BASIL HYMNAL, 1958.

Reflection

This is a wonderful hymn to sing and very appropriate for the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It’s also very appropriate any time we wish to honor Our Blessed Mother because when we honor her, we magnify the Lord!

When I reflect on the verses, I can see allusions to passages from the bible. In the first verse, I am reminded of the gospel account in Luke 1:27-28 and a reference to Isaiah 7:14. I’ll sing a hymn to Mary, the Mother of my God, the virgin of all virgins, of David’s royal blood. In all the verses, I see some of the most famous titles given to Our Blessed Mother including Mother of God; Virgin of all Virgins; O Lily of the valley; O Mystic Rose; Queen of all Angels, and My Mother and my Queen.

These titles are taken from the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and so when we sing this hymn, we are in a sense singing this beautiful Litany. I also see an allusion to Luke 1:46-55 in the phrase, O teach me Holy Mary, a loving song to frame. When I reflect on the last phrase of the verse, I’ll love and bless thy name, I am reminded again of the Magnificat in Luke’s gospel, 1:48, For he has looked upon his servant in her lowliness; all ages to come shall call me blessed.

Anyone who meditates on these verses will see something different or nothing at all.

What can you see?

Below is a selection of the melodies described above. These are computer generated sound files. The tempo is approximate but should provide the listener a good sense of what the hymn sounds like. All the hymns are in the public domain.

The Devotional Hymns Project, produced by Peter Meggison, includes a recording of this hymn used with the permission of the Schola Cantorum of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London.

Sleep, Holy Babe

Sleep, Holy Babe

Father Edward Caswall a Roman Catholic priest wrote the text of this hymn. The earliest occurrence of the hymn that could be located is in the Catholic journal THE RAMBLER published in 1850, and it is captioned To the Infant Jesus Asleep. 

The Rambler, 1850
The Rambler, 1850
The Rambler, 1850
The Rambler, 1850

The hymn also appeared in a literary review column on page 2 of the June 5, 1858 edition of THE PILOT, a Boston and New York newspaper. This was a review of the recently published MASQUE OF MARY, AND OTHER POEMS by Father Edward Caswall. This review was originally published in the London Weekly Register. 

The Pilot - June 5, 1858
The Pilot - June 5, 1858

Edward was a convert to Catholicism and was received into the Catholic Church on January 18, 1847, by Cardinal Charles Acton (1803-1847) at the Venerable English College in Rome. In attendance was Father John Henry Newman, Father Thomas Grant the Rector of the College, along with several others who had come with Edward that day. At this time Edward was married to Louisa Mary Stuart Walker who was also received into the Church of Rome a week later on January 25, 1847.

During the summer of 1849, England was in the grips of a vicious cholera epidemic which persisted even into the autumn season. Edward and Louisa had gone to stay at Torquay, a sea side resort. On September 14, early in the morning, Edward left for Mass and on his return from church he found Louisa and the landlady of the lodge where they were staying deathly ill with the cholera and by 11 o’clock that night Louisa Caswall was dead.

Edward was devastated and grief stricken as one could only imagine. He immediately sent word to Father Newman, and they arranged that Louisa’s Requiem Mass and burial would take place at St. Wilfrid’s in Cotton, Staffordshire. The pastor of St. Wilfrid’s was Father Frederick William Faber, a fellow convert and student at Oxford University. It is unclear if Edward or Father Faber knew each other before this time but certainly, they became acquainted at this Mass. Father Newman celebrated the Mass and Father Henry Formby a longtime friend whom Edward knew from their days at Brasenose College, Oxford, a fellow convert, and priest at the Oratory, sang the Dies Irae.

In the following year around February 1850, the Birmingham Oratory was established at its present address on Hagley Road in Edgbaston. It is also at this time that Edward was admitted as a novice to the Oratory and three days later he received the tonsure and was admitted to Minor Orders. Then on December 21, 1850 the anniversary of his wedding to Louisa, he was ordained as a subdeacon and a year later almost to the day on December 20, 1851 he was ordained a deacon. By April of 1852, the building in Edgbaston had been completed and all the Oratorians took up residence at the new location. On September 18, 1852, Deacon Edward Caswall along with Deacon Henry Bittleston were ordained as Catholic priest.

Father Edward Caswall – Courtesy of the Birmingham Oratory

Throughout his life, Father Caswall was a prolific writer. During his time at Brasenose College, a constituent college of Oxford University he published a number of literary works including The Oxonian – a series of papers on University life written with a humorist point of view. This was followed by his Pluck Examination Papers which he later published in a book The Art of Pluck – the caricature of these works was to enlighten the undergraduate on how to fail his examinations and in the lingo of the University to get plucked. The ability to write in satire and at the same time convey a moral point was a gift that Father Caswall possessed. These and several other publications where enormously successful and provided him a steady income which he would benefit from during his college days and in the future.

During his conversion journey to Rome, Father Caswall kept a journal that has remained unpublished, and its existence known only to a handful of people. He was a man of meticulous detail and observation and his eyewitness accounts of Roman Catholicism during his visit to Ireland in the summer of 1846 proved to be a turning point in his life.

On one occasion in 1846, on a summer evening, he witnessed a small group of poor worshipers praying in a Catholic chapel in Ireland. He observed that one person said the Lord’s Prayer as far as, as it is in heaven, and the others began at, give us this day our daily bread. Then the same person began another prayer, and the others began Holy Mary, and everything was in English. It was the first time he had heard any devotion to Our Blessed Mother and before the evening was over, he was kneeling down with them. Any Anglican preconceptions of idolatry left him, and he was consumed with the expression of love and humility of these poor men and women. From that point onward, he became devoted to the Rosary.

Almost two years after he joined the Catholic Church, Father Caswall published his first collection of hymns in 1849, the LYRA CATHOLICA, containing translations of all Breviary and Missal hymns of the Roman Breviary. Father Caswall was always working for the education of the poor and especially the children even during his curacy at Stratford-sub-Castle near Salisbury. A question that plagued him during his conversion journey was how the Latin liturgy could have any meaning for the average Catholic let alone the poor and uneducated.

During the summer of 1846 while in Ireland he attended a Requiem Mass for Pope Gregory XVI who had recently died. He was concerned and frustrated because he couldn’t follow the liturgy. How is it that the poor and uneducated understand the Latin liturgy and an Oxford graduate in the classics is lost? This was the underlying reason for his translations of the Roman Breviary – to publish in the English language for anyone who could read or to pray in private the Divine Office.

Father Caswall remained at the Birmingham Oratory until his death on January 2, 1878. Father Edward Caswall was named, along with Father Joseph Gordon and Father Ambrose St John, as one of the three Oratorians whom Newman deemed his greatest friends and most loyal and devoted laborer’s in St Philip’s vineyard.

There is so much more that could be written about Father Caswall but that is beyond the scope of this short write-up. His contributions to Catholic hymnody include such favorites as: At The Cross Her Station Keeping; Come Holy Ghost Creator Blest; Jesus the very thought of Thee; Joseph Our Certain Hope in Life; Joseph Pure Spouse; Sing My Tongue the Savior’s Glory; Ye Sons and Daughters of the Lord; Hark an Awful Voice is Sounding; Dear Maker of the Starry Skies; O Jesus Christ Remember; O Saving Victim Opening Wide; The Dawn Was Purpling O’re the Sky; See Amid the Winter Snow; When Morning Guilds the Skies; What a Sea of Tears and Sorrows; This is the Image of Our Queen; and many more hymns. He published several hymn books including LYRA CATHOLICA, 1849; the MASQUE OF MARY AND OTHER POEMS, 1858; and HYMNS AND POEMS, 1873.

Some of the details above were used with permission and were taken from EDWARD CASWALL: NEWMAN’S BROTHER AND FRIEND written by Nancy Marie de Flon and published by Gracewing in 2005. Nancy’s book is a wonderful biography of Father Caswall’s life and journey to Catholicism. An earlier biography of Edward Caswall was written by Edward Bellasis (1800-1873) an English lawyer and convert to Catholicism in the new edition of HYMNS AND POEMS published in 1908.

The Melodies

Thirteen melodies have been located for this hymn but only two were widely used. The other melodies appeared only once or twice in Catholic hymnals and quickly faded away. Four of these melodies are featured in this write-up.

The earliest and the most widely used melody first appeared in the Catholic hymnal EASY HYMNS AND SONGS FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, 1851 compiled by Henri F. Hemy (1818-1888). It is a Wiegenlied, literally cradle song or lullaby dated 1781 from Wilhelm Kothe’s GESANGBUCH FÜR KATHOLISCHE SCHULEN, 1882. The German text are not the words for the hymn Sleep, Holy Babe. 

This melody is found in these Catholic hymnals: WESTMINSTER HYMNAL, 1912 and 1939; CROWN HYMNAL, 1913; ST. GREGORY’S HYMNAL, 1920 and 1947; ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL, 1925; THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL HYMNAL, 1930; LAUDATE CHOIR MANUAL, 1942; SING TO THE LORD, 1944; PIUS X HYMNAL, 1953; MEDIATOR DIE HYMNAL, 1955; the NEW ST. BASIL HYMNAL, 1958; the CATHOLIC HYMNAL, 1966; and the ADOREMUS HYMNAL, 2011.

This melody is often attributed to Louise Reichardt who died in 1826. She is not the composer but instead is the daughter of Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1752-1814) who is the composer of the hymn. Both father and daughter along with her mother Juliane were composers.

Gesangbuch für Katholische Schulen, 1908
The New St. Basil Hymnal, 1958

The second melody appeared in the HOLY FAMILY HYMNS, 1860 published by Richardson and Son in London, Dublin, and Derby. The melody is attributed to Father Louis Lambillotte, S.J., (1796-1855) a French Jesuit Catholic priest. This melody also appeared in the 1883 and 1897 PAROCHIAL HYMN BOOK’s compiled by Father Antoine Police, S.M., and published in London, New York, and Dublin. It also appeared in the ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL from 1918 through 1953. The ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL was the most widely used Catholic hymnal and was published throughout the United States and Canada. Father Lambillotte is well known for the melodies of Come Holy Ghost Creator Blest; On This Day, O Beautiful Mother, and ‘Tis the Month of Our Mother.

Holy Family Hymns, 1860

The third melody is attributed to the Birmingham Oratory and can be found in THE BOOK OF HYMNS WITH TUNES, 1913 compiled by Dom Samuel Gregory Ould, O.S.B. (1864-1939). He was an organist, composer, and hymnologist. The majority of the hymn translations in this collection belong to Father Caswall.

The Book of Hymns, 1913
The Book of Hymns, 1913
The Book of Hymns, 1913
The Book of Hymns, 1913

John B. Dykes (1823-1876) composed the fourth melody, and it appeared in A DAILY HYMN BOOK, 1932 and 1948. His melody is also found in a number of Christmas carol collections starting around the 1870s. John Dykes was Cambridge educated and was ordained in the Church of England in 1847. 

A Daily Hymn Book, 1948
A Daily Hymn Book, 1948

Another melody appeared in the in the 1905 and 1933 editions of the CATHOLIC CHURCH HYMNAL compiled by Augustus E. Tozer (1857-1910), this melody was composed by Jacob H. Schloeder (1865-1919). Jacob was a composer of church music and the organist for the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Manhattan for twenty-seven years. This particular melody was used at St Mary, Help of Christians in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota where it was sung every year for nearly a century. It was arranged by Aaron Hirsch.

Catholic Church Hymnal, 1905
Sleep Holy Babe Arr. by Aaron Hirsch
Sleep Holy Babe Arr. by Aaron Hirsch

The other melodies mentioned earlier were composed by the following:

  • From the CROWN OF JESUS MUSIC, 1864 compiled by Henri F. Hemy (1818-1888) is a melody by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).
  • In the POPULAR HYMN AND TUNE BOOK, 1868 compiled by Frederick Westlake there are two melodies. One by Frederick Westlake (1840-1898) and the other by John Francis Barnett (1837-1916).
  • A melody by an unknown composer is found in the 1885 and 1925 MANUAL OF SELECT CATHOLIC HYMNS AND DEVOTIONS, compiled by Father P. M. Colonel, C.SS.R.
  • From the ARUNDLE HYMNAL, 1905 there are two melodies, an ancient Catholic melody, and a melody by Walter Austin (1841-1912), one of the editors of the hymnal.
  • In MOTETS AND HYMNS – Used by the Pupils of the Sacred Heart, 1908 a melody by a Sister of the Sacred Heart from the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Roehampton.
  • From the 1954 ALVERNO HYMNAL PART 1, compiled by Sister Mary Cherubim, O.S.F. (1886-1977), a melody composed by Sister Mary Cherubim. Copies of these melodies can be obtained by contacting Don Howe.

Reflection

For me, the melody attributed by Father Louis Lambillotte is the humblest and most moving of all the melodies. At St. Mary’s when I sang in the choir (1977-2005) this hymn was always part of our Christmas program and often times would be sung during Communion. We used the arrangement from the 1918 ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL.

When I meditate on the verses, I can see certain allusions to verses from the bible, Upon Thy mother’s breast, the Great Lord of earth, sea, and sky. Psalm 22:9-10, and Luke 11:27. I am reminded of the Annunciation and the Word made flesh in the phrase, Before the Incarnate King of kings, Luke 1: 26-38.

I am drawn into the joy of that Holy night in the third verse, While I with Mary gaze, In joy upon that face awhile, and with somber words, the foreshadowing of Good Friday unfolds, Ah, take thy brief repose, Too quickly will Thy slumber break, And Thou to lengthened pains awake, that death alone shall close.

Everyone who meditates on the verses may find other biblical references, what bible verses can you find?

St. Basil's Hymnal, 1918
St. Basil's Hymnal, 1918

Below is a selection of the four melodies described above which have been composed for the hymn. One of the recordings is from St. Mary’s Choir – Christmas Eve Midnight Mass from 1985. Nearly forty years have passed and my friends in the choir still sound wonderful! The others are computer generated sound files. The tempo is approximate but should provide the listener a good sense of what the hymn sounds like.

A special thank you to Peter Meggison producer of the Devotional Hymns Project for allowing me to link to new recordings by the choristers of St. Peter’s Church in Columbia, South Carolina and the beautiful recording of Sleep, Holy Babe

Also, On December 24, 2022 at the Midnight Mass, the Choir and Orchestra of the Cincinnati Oratory, Old St. Mary’s Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, along with the twenty-one member Laudate Pueri Children’s Schola Cantorum sang Sleep, Holy Babe.  A special thank you to Sean Connolly who is the Director / Organist of the Oratory Choir who provided a recording of this lovely hymn.  Please take a moment to read more about Choir and Orchestra of the Cincinnati Oratory

Sweet Name Which Makes The Dying Live

Eliza Allen Starr (1824-1901) wrote the words of this hymn in 1866, and they appeared in her collection of Poems published by H. McGrath of Philadelphia in 1867. The poem was captioned The Holy Name of Jesus. Eliza was a prolific poetess, art teacher, and lecturer. She grew up in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and studied art in Boston. She taught art in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Natchez, Mississippi, and under the auspices of Archbishop Peter R. Kenrick (1806-1896), she joined the Church of Rome in 1854 at the old Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston.

Eliza Allen Star
Eliza Allen Star

In 1856, Eliza moved to Chicago where she remained for the rest of her life devoting her time to authoring poems, teaching art, and giving art lectures and courses at schools and academies throughout Chicago. In 1876, her career as an artist took her Italy, France, and England; and in 1885, Notre Dame University conferred upon her the Laetare Medal, she was the first woman ever to receive this prestigious award.  In 1893, she received a gold medal from the World’s Columbian Exposition also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, as an art teacher. Pope Leo XIII honored Eliza in 1900 with a cameo medallion as a mark of his approbation of her literary labors.

Poems by Eliza Allen Starr, 1867
Poems by Eliza Allen Starr, 1867
Poems by Eliza Allen Starr, 1867

Eliza was the author of Patron Saints, Pilgrims and Shrines, Songs of a Life Time, Isabella of Castile, Christian Art in Our Own Age, Christmas-Tide, The Seven Dolors of the Virgin Mary, and Three Archangels and the Guardian Angels in Art. A short biographical sketch of her life was published in the 1893 Woman of the Century – Leading American Women by Frances Willard and Mary Livermore. Also, in the Who’s Who in America, 1901/1902 by John Leonard. Eliza was a well-respected author and art critic known throughout America and Europe.

She was also the author of the hymn, O Face Divine! found in the HOLY FACE HYMNAL, 1891 with music composed by Sister Mary Alexis Donnelly of the Sisters of Mercy at St. Xavier’s Convent, Providence, Rhode Island. Sr. Mary Alexis Donnelly was one of the major contributors to American Catholic music in the late 19th and early 20th century period. Eliza never married and later in life she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic. She died at the age of seventy-seven after a short illness while visiting her brother in Durand, Illinois. She was buried at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Chicago wearing the Dominican habit.

The earliest that Sweet Name Which Makes the Dying Live appears in any Catholic hymnal is in the ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL, 1904 8th ed., and it continued to appear in later editions until 1925; also SELECTED HYMNS ca. 1926, Church Academy School, published by Angel Guardian Press, Jamaica Plain, Mass; It also appeared in the ST. JOSEPH’S HYMNAL, 1930 compiled by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Nazareth, Michigan; the SAINT ANDREW HYMNAL, 1945 compiled by Philip Kreckel and published by McLaughlin & Reilly Co.; the HOLY NAME HYMNAL, 1947; and in the PARISH HYMNAL, 1954 of St. Francis Church, Cleveland, Ohio.

St. Basil's Hymnal 8th ed. - 1904
St. Basil's Hymnal 8th ed. - 1904
St. Basil's Hymnal 8th ed. - 1904
St. Basil's Hymnal 8th ed. - 1904

The Melodies

Two melodies have been located for this hymn, a melody composed by a Sister of Mercy from St. Xavier’s in Chicago, and a melody found in the JUBILEE HYMNS BOOK, 1942 compiled and composed by Monsignor John Edward Ronan (1894-1962). The Jubilee series of hymn books were published in three volumes between 1942 and 1952 in Toronto, Canada.

The Sisters of Mercy, St. Xavier’s, Chicago

On the authority of the Mercy Heritage Center archivist, very few records of the sisters exist before 1929. In many of the former provinces, researchers/archivists have gone back and recreated files for historical sisters. However, this was not done in Chicago. This brief account of the sisters and their musical talents is taken from the sources listed below.

The identity of the Sister of Mercy who composed the melody that is traditional to this hymn remains a mystery yet there are a few who are worth mentioning because their musical abilities were well known among the sisters.

  • Sister Mary Vincent McGirr (Mary Anne McGirr), a famous musician. Sister Mary Vincent entered the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh, She was one of the first novices who traveled with Mother Francis Warde and Mother Agatha O’Brien at the request of Bishop William Quarter (1806-1848) to establish the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago. Sister Mary Vincent professed her vows in 1846, and later she served as Mother Mary Vincent during the great Chicago fire of 1871. Sister Mary Vincent McGirr was under twenty-one when she professed her vows, and she died in 1909. Her father and brother were both doctors at Mercy Hospital.
  • Sister Mary Xavier McGirr (Catherine Cassie McGirr) sister of Sister Mary Vincent McGirr. Both were accomplished musicians according to the Illinois Catholic Historical Review, 1920, page 347 (see link below). Sister Mary Xavier went on to serve as Mother Mary Xavier the first superior for the Sisters of Mercy in Ottawa, Illinois. Mother Mary Xavier died May 2, 1876. Both her and her sister were born in Youngstown, Ohio, both entered the Order of Mercy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and both professed their vows in Chicago.
  • Sister Mary Angelica Mahon, whose eyes failed from constant daily copying of music to oblige others and giving music lessons by gas light. Eventually, she went blind. She died in 1907, after twenty-five years of religious life.
  • Sister Mary Louis Broderick, a music teacher of instrumental and vocal music. She died a few years later around 1912 but no date is actually given.

The Sisters of Mercy were quite influential in setting up schools and hospitals in and around the Chicago area. The Motherhouse was opened in 1846 and St. Xavier’s Academy in 1847. Mercy Hospital opened a few years later in 1851. Their nursing skills were called upon during the Cholera epidemic of 1854 and 1873, and during the Civil War they were summoned by Colonel Mulligan, who had organized the Irish Brigade and were placed in charge of the Jefferson City Hospital and the steamboat Empress. Many of the soldiers from both sides were still on the battlefield in tents deprived of every comfort, while suffering from wounds of every description. The steamboat Empress made many trips with suffering soldiers ferrying them to better care facilities including Pittsburg Landing near Shiloh, Keokuk in Iowa, Louisville, and St. Louis.

The great Chicago fire of 1871 which destroyed much of the city also destroyed the convent, boarding school and the Academy located on Wabash and Madison streets. Only small items which the sisters could carry out and some religious paintings cut from their frames were saved. Everything else was lost in the fire. The sisters were homeless. Mercy Hospital which had only recently been expanded survived and was soon over flowing with patients. The sisters saw to the needs of thousands of individuals, attending to people in numerous ways, the severely burned and those so covered with smoke and soot that they could not tell black from white or who was who. In a single night more than one hundred thousand people were rendered homeless.

from REMINESCENSES OF SEVENTY YEARS (1846-1916)
from REMINESCENSES OF SEVENTY YEARS (1846-1916)

There is much more that could be written about the Sisters of Mercy and their great accomplishments and trials in Chicago, but this is beyond the scope of this short write-up. A fascinating history of the Sisters of Mercy of St. Xavier’s can be found in the REMINESCENSES OF SEVENTY YEARS (1846-1916) published in 1916 by The Fred J. Ringley Co., of Chicago as well as the LEAVES FROM THE ANNALS OF THE SISTERS OF MERCY, published between 1881 and 1889, and the ILLINOIS CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW published in 1920.

Monsignor John E. Ronan composed the second melody. John Ronan was born in 1894 and studied music at St. Michael’s College in Toronto. He was drawn to the priesthood completed his seminary studies and was ordained in 1922. He continued to study church music in New York, Paris, Rome, Vienna, and Munich. He would go on to become a prolific composer of sacred music. He taught music in Catholic schools in Toronto and in time established the St. Michael’s Cathedral Choir School for boys in Toronto. In 1947, Father Ronan was given the title of Monsignor in recognition of his dedicated work in sacred music.

Though many of his compositions are unpublished more than nine hundred of his hand written manuscripts were discovered, catalogued, and digitized. Monsignor Ronan continued to teach music and served as principal of St. Michael’s Cathedral Choir School until his death in 1962.

St. Basil's Hymnal, 1918
Jubilee Hymns Book, 1942 (© St. Michael’s Choir School, 2015)

Reflection

St. Mary’s Choir sang this hymn at my grandfather France’s funeral as the recessional hymn when the funeral procession leaves the church and heads to the final resting place. Grandpa France died in March 1957 of a fatal heart attack while working for McNeil Machine & Engineering Co., in Akron, Ohio. I remember being told that grandpa died praying the rosary. He worked in the tool crib and often many hours would go by that no one signed out any tools and so he would pray his rosary. On this particular day I am also told that before going to work he and grandma had a disagreement about something, and heated words were exchanged between the two of them. I would like to think grandpa was praying the rosary that morning for any harsh words or remarks he may have said to grandma.

Roland & Margaret France 1943
Roland & Margaret France 1943

My grandfather was born in 1895 and raised Methodist and my grandmother was raised Catholic. He married my grandmother on April 17, 1917 in the Methodist church on North Arlington Street, Akron, Ohio and six months later after grandpa joined the Catholic Church they were married in St. Joseph’s Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. My grandmother was a wonderful Catholic woman, a mother of eight, and a foster-mother to twenty-eight children.

I remember being told that grandpa played the violin and grandma played the piano, and that they would often play together at home sharing hymns and songs that each of them knew. I wish I had known my grandfather, because from the stories I have heard, he was quite the character, but he died a year before I was born. Grandpa was also a member of the Holy Name Society at St. Mary’s in Akron, Ohio.

I learned the melody from ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL when I sang in St. Mary’s Choir (1977-2010). I really love this hymn and would like it to be the hymn the choir sings at my funeral. Every time I hear it the melody and words linger with me all day long and sometimes into the next day.

There are many poetic images from the bible in these verses, how many can you find?

The hymn is also a prayer, O Mary, teach me to pronounce that name of names most dear, and softly bend adoring head, when Jesus name I hear. This would make an excellent hymn to sing during November, for All Souls Day, and anytime a loved one is remembered.

In addition to my anecdotal evidence, there is other proof that this hymn and others were used at Catholic Requiem Masses either before Mass, when the funeral procession enters the church (ex., Sister Mary Rose – The Catholic Transcript, Thursday 3-24-1932, pg.7); as a recessional hymn (ex., Mary Gertrude Drumright – Drumright Evening Derrick, Monday 1-24-1921, pg1); and at the grave side (ex., Blazius Brozozowski, The Gonzales Inquirer 5-28-1931, Find-a-Grave); also (Daniel Daley Jr., The Lusk Herald (Lusk, WY), Thursday 2-27-1936, Niobrara County Library);  Other evidence was located in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) February 15, 1938, and August 17, 1953; however these obituaries were only available with subscription.

Other hymns were also listed in the evidence above including Miserere, Pie Jesu, Lead Kindly Light, Be Comforted Ye that Mourn, O Salutaris, Face to Face, Heaven is His Eternal Home, O Thou Sacred Heart, O What Could My Jesus Do More, and Nearer, My God to Thee – with verses written to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Though these funeral accounts highlight prominent citizens of some stature and one religious it does show that the hymn Sweet Name Which Makes the Dying Live was used at Requiem Masses throughout Catholic parishes in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.

A special thank you to Peter Meggison producer of the Devotional Hymns Project for allowing me to link to the choir of St. John the Guardian of Our Lady from Clinton, Massachusetts. Please take a moment to listen to this beautiful collection of hymns and the wonderful hymn Sweet Name Which Makes the Dying Live.

Below are the melodies composed for the hymn Sweet Name Which Makes the Dying Live. These are computer generated sound files. The tempo is approximate but should provide the listener a good sense of what the hymn sounds like. Music directors, if you use any of these selections in your Sunday or weekly music programs and you make a recording, contact the author and I may feature it in the What’s New section of the website. 

O Queen of the Holy Rosary

Emily Mary Shapcote (née Steward) wrote the words to this hymn in 1882 and it first appeared in ST. DOMINIC’S HYMN-BOOK published in 1885 by Burns and Oates and was sold throughout England and America.

St. Dominic's Hymn-Book, 1885
St. Dominic's Hymn-Book, 1885
St. Dominic's Hymn-Book, 1885

The history books have little to say about Emily, her early life, and her journey to Catholicism. She was born in Liverpool, England in 1828 and married the Rev. Edward Gifford Shapcote in 1856. He was a graduate of Corpus Christi College one of the constituent colleges of Cambridge University and the late curate of St. George’s-in-the-East. He was an English minister in the Church of England and a missionary in Africa. Emily joined the Catholic Church in 1866 and her husband joined a few years later in 1868.

Emily was a hymn writer with several hymns to her credit and is the author of several books including Legends of the Blessed Sacrament published in 1877; Among The Lilies published in 1881, and Mary: The Perfect Woman published in 1904. She co-authored a hymn collection with her sister and aunt – HYMNS FOR INFANT CHILDREN published in 1852 by Joseph Masters of London. Those marked E being by Emily Shapcote, those marked A by her aunt, Mary Steward, and those marked C by her sister, Eleanor Steward. A third edition with accompanying tunes was published in 1872, and was edited by the Rev. John B. Dykes, Vicar of St. Oswald’s in Durham, England.

Hymns for Infant Children, 1872
Hymns for Infant Children, 1872
Hymns for Infant Children, 1872

In 1873, Emily translated the Latin prayer Salve Mundi Salutare (O Saviour of the world, I cry to Thee) A Rhythmical Prayer to the Sacred Members of Jesus Hanging upon the Cross. This prayer is attributed to St. Bernard and is still popular today. A detailed look into the origins of this prayer can be found at the Hymnology Archive.

Emily died in 1909 while residing in the city of Torquay. Torquay is a seaside resort town on the English Channel in Devon, South West England.

In addition to ST. DOMINIC’S HYMN-BOOK above the hymn Queen of the Holy Rosary appeared in the following Catholic hymnals: SUNDAY SCHOOL HYMN BOOK, 1887 thru 1935 compiled by the Sisters of Notre Dame; CATHOLIC HYMNS, 1898 compiled by Augustus Edmonds Tozer (1857-1910); THE BOOK OF HYMNS WITH TUNES, 1913 compiled by Dom Samuel G. Ould, O.S.B., (1864-1939); ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL, 1918 thru 1958 compiled by The Basilian Fathers; DIOCESAN HYMNAL, 1928 compiled by Cleveland, Ohio’s Archbishop Schrembs (1866-1945); CATHOLIC CHURCH HYMNAL, 1905 and 1933 compiled by Augustus Edmonds Tozer; AVE MARIA HYMNAL, 1936 compiled by Father Joseph J. Pierron (1875-1949); the ST. CECILIA HYMNAL, 1928 thru 1960 compiled by J. Alfred Schehl (1882-1959); HOLY NAME HYMNAL, 1947 compiled by Father James J. McLarney, O. P., (ca. 1900s-1969);  and MEDIATOR DEI HYMNAL, 1955 compiled by J. Vincent Higginson (1896-1994) ( a.k.a. Cyr de Brant).

The Melodies

The first verse of the hymn began Queen of the Holy Rosary, the O being added to fit some of the melodies. Ten different melodies have been located for this hymn from Catholic hymnals listed above.

One of the first melodies to appear in American Catholic hymnals was composed by a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur from the Philadelphia Community and was published by the Oliver Ditson Company of Boston in 1887. During this time period the Oliver Ditson Company had become one of major music publishing houses and had offices in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The identity of the Sister who composed the melody is unknown. This is not at all uncommon because in those days’ authorship was not given to the individual but to the whole community. This melody continued to appear in later publications of the SUNDAY SCHOOL HYMN BOOK, 1907 and 1935; also the ST. PAUL HYMNAL, 1915; HYMNS USED BY THE PUPILS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME, 1921 and 1948; the LAUDATE CHOIR MANUAL, 1942.

Sunday School Hymn Book, 1887
Sunday School Hymn Book, 1887
Sunday School Hymn Book, 1887
Sunday School Hymn Book, 1887

A second melody appeared in CATHOLIC HYMNS compiled by Augustus Edmonds Tozer and published in 1898 by Cary & Co., in London and by the Frederick Harris Co., in Toronto, Canada. This collection of hymns is considered to be a musical edition of the ST. DOMINIC’S HYMN-BOOK noted above. Augustus Edmonds Tozer (1857-1910) was a convert to Catholicism and received his Doctorate from Oxford University and was named a Knight of St. Sylvester for his work in the reform movement in England. J. Hallett Sheppard (1835-1879) composed the melody, and little is known about this composer except that he died on January 11th of consumption in 1879 at the age of forty-three. His daughter, Teresa Madeleine Hallett who was only six months of age died a month earlier on December 30th.

Catholic Hymns, 1898
Catholic Hymns, 1898
Catholic Hymns, 1898
Catholic Hymns, 1898

A third melody appears in THE BOOK OF HYMNS WITH TUNES compiled by Dom Samuel Gregory Ould, O.S.B., (1864-1939) published in 1913 by Cary & Co., London and by the Edward Schuberth & Co., of New York. This is one of the most important Scottish hymn collections of the early twentieth century. Samuel Gregory Ould is a convert to Catholicism and joined the Church of Rome in 1879. He is best known for his CANTIONES SACRAE: MUSICAL SETTINGS OF THE ROMAN LITURGY published by Novello and Company of London, in 1899. William Sewell (1861-1942) composed the melody. He served as the organist of the Redemptorist Church of St. Mary’s, Clapham for twenty-five years and he composed a Mass setting for St. Philip Neri while he was in charge of music at Birmingham Oratory as well as other Mass settings. He was co-editor of THE BOOK OF HYMNS WITH TUNES in collaboration with Dom Gregory Ould. William was also a convert to Catholicism and joined the Church of Rome in 1885.

The Book of Hymns, 1913
The Book of Hymns, 1913
The Book of Hymns, 1913

The fourth melody which has become traditional to the hymn is from the WIRTEMBERGISCHEN KATHOLISCHEN GESANGBUCH, 1784. The tune name is known as ELLACOMBE. The melody has been used for various hymns and appeared in American hymnals as early as 1872. However, the first American hymnal to use this tune for O Queen of the Holy Rosary was the ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL, 1918. The hymn continued to appear in later editions including the NEW ST. BASIL’S HYMNAL published 1958.

St. Basil's Hymnal, 1918
St. Basil's Hymnal, 1918

Archbishop Joseph Schrembs, D.D., of Cleveland, Ohio composed the fifth melody, and it was arranged by Msgr. Peter Griesbacher (1864-1933), the melody appeared in the DIOCESAN HYMNAL PART TWO – DEVOTIONAL HYMNS published by J. Fischer & Bro., of New York in 1928. Archbishop Schrembs was the fifth Bishop of Cleveland and served from 1921 to 1945. He was named Archbishop by Pope Pius XII on March 29, 1939. Very few musicians and parishioners remember Archbishop Schrembs important contribution to Catholic hymnody. Below is a brief synopsis of his contributions.

He was a musician and lover of sacred music and composed several hymns. He was instrumental in producing manuals of Gregorian Chant and Catholic editions of music text books for elementary schools. He also envisioned a plan for Church music reform that would begin with young children. He compiled two Diocesan Hymnals and the Eucharistic Hymnal between 1926 and 1935. The hymns embodied in the Eucharistic Hymnal were taken from The Diocesan Hymnal, Books One and Two. Archbishop Schrembs was the Protector of Priests’ Eucharistic League in the United States and Promoter of the Eucharistic Congress in 1935 when the Seventh Eucharistic Congress met in Cleveland.

Diocesan Hymnal Part One, 1926
Diocesan Hymnal Part Two, 1928
Eucharistic Hymnal, 1935
Diocesan Hymnal, 1928
Diocesan Hymnal, 1928

The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Peter Griesbacher (P.G.) was responsible for a large number of the harmonization’s of the hymns found in the Diocesan Hymnal, Books One and Two. He was a German born music composer and ordained a priest in 1886. He edited a number of publications of Catholic church music and has composed numerous mass settings, a number of cantatas, various choral works, and organ manuals.

Victor Hammerel composed or arranged the sixth melody which is found in the CATHOLIC CHURCH HYMNAL compiled by Augustus Edmonds Tozer and published by J. Fischer & Bro., of New York and The Vincent Music Co., of London. The first printing of this collection was in 1905 and a second printing in 1933. Victor Hammerel was choirmaster for a time at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament and organist at St. John’s Church both within a few miles of each other in Providence, Rhode Island. He composed a number of mass settings, choral works, and hymn collections including HYMNS TO THE SACRED HEART AND HOLY NAME OF JESUS, 1898; DEVOTIONAL HYMNS TO OUR LADY, 1900; TWENTY-TWO CHRISTMAS AND EASTER CAROLS, 1900. This melody also appeared in the PAROCHIAL HYMNAL, 1951 compiled by Father Carlo Rossini for the hymn Queen of the Holy Rosary.

Catholic Church Hymnal, 1933
Catholic Church Hymnal, 1933

A seventh melody can be found in the AVE MARIA HYMNAL, 1936 compiled by Father Joseph J. Pierron and published by The Bruce Publishing Company with offices in New York, Milwaukee, and Chicago. The melody is attributed to Michael Haydn (1737-1806). The AVE MARIA HYMNAL saw several editions with the first edition published in 1929 and the last edition in 1941. The hymnal is a collection of English and older German melodies. Joseph Pierron was ordained a priest in 1905 and studied music in Europe for three years. He held assistant positions in various parishes and pastorship in several churches throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In November 1949, he went to Boys Town, Nebraska to serve as music director for Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home. Father Pierron was editor of the Caecilia magazine in 1930, and composed several hymns, hymn collections, and authored several articles on music.

Ave Maria Hymnal, 1936
Ave Maria Hymnal, 1936

Hans Newsidler (ca. 1508-1590) composed the eighth melody. This melody is often attributed to Michael Praetorius (1571-1621); however, it is his harmonization of the melody that should be properly credited to him. The melody is identified as Ich Will Ein Neues Singen in editions of the SONGS OF SYON published in London by Schott & Co. This collection of Anglican hymns was compiled by the Rev. George R. Woodward, M.A., (1848-1934) and saw four editions between 1904 and 1923. The melody appeared in the ST. CECILIA HYMNAL compiled by Joseph Alfred Schehl (1882-1959) and published by the Frederick Pustet Co., Inc., with offices in New York and Cincinnati. The hymnal achieved five editions between 1928 and 1960, and was the Official Hymnal for the Schools of the Archdioceses of Cincinatti. Joseph Schehl was a famous composer, choirmaster, and musician from Cincinnati. He dedicated more than sixty years to his musical career and served as organist-choirmaster for forty-seven years at St. Lawrence Parish, Prince Hill, Cincinnati. He composed eight mass settings, various motets, and several volumes of organ music.

St. Cecilia Hymnal, 1955
St. Cecilia Hymnal, 1955

Stefano Constantino Yon (1876-1956) composed the ninth melody, and it is found in the HOLY NAME HYMNAL, 1947 compiled by Father James J. McLarney, O. P., and published by McLaughlin & Reilly Co., of Boston. The Holy Name Society consists of thousands of chapters in the United States and remains active in Catholic parishes even today. Constantino Yon or as he was sometimes referred S. Yon, or S. Constantino, was the organist and choirmaster of St. Vincent Ferrer’s Roman Catholic Church in New York, a position he held for almost forty years. He was a composer of hymns and other sacred music, and his choir would perform annually at the Christmas parties given by Cardinal Spellman for the children of New York’s Foundling Hospital. Constantino was a teacher of voice and piano and gave lessons at his home, in his studio in Carnegie Hall as well as the Academy of Mount St. Vincent and Elizabeth Seton School in Yonkers. Pietro A. Yon, the famous organist of St. Patrick’s Cathedral of New York and best known for his choral work Gesù Bambino (When blossoms flowered ‘mid the snows) was Constantino’s younger brother.

Holy Name Hymnal, 1947
Holy Name Hymnal, 1947

The source for the tenth melody may be the MAINZ GESANGBUCH of 1661 or 1870. It is from this collection of German songs that the melodies for To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King and the Stabat Mater (At the Cross Her Station Keeping) are found. Another source is the CATHOLIC YOUTH’S HYMNAL compiled by Benjamin Hamma (1831-1911) and published by J. Fischer & Bro., of New York in 1891. Benjamin Hamma was a German composer and teacher with a number of hymns, choral pieces, and Mass settings to his credit. This melody is used in other Catholic hymnals for the hymns I’ll Sing a Hymn to Mary and I’ll Sing to Thee, O Mary. An examination of these arrangements did not reveal a composer’s name and it was found that only a few measures from each arrangement appear to be the same, suggesting a common melody which has been altered over time.

Mediator Dei Hymnal, 1955
Mediator Dei Hymnal, 1955

Reflection

There are two melodies that I learned while singing in St. Mary’s Choir (1977-2010), the traditional melody (Ellacombe) found in St. BASIL’S HYMNAL, 1918 and the melody found in the SUNDAY SCHOOL HYMN BOOK, 1907 by the Sisters of Notre Dame, captioned Our Lady of the Rosary. In the poetic imagery we can clearly see that our Pater’s and Ave’s recited with each bead we say are likened to roses in garlands, very poetic indeed since the beads of the rosary are strung together like a wreath. The help and grace we receive from praying the rosary are not to be trifled with or scoffed at, for the rosary has brought many souls to Christ.

As I was taught, each decade of the rosary is a journey in the sacred life of Jesus and every bead like a step toward Calvary. In singing this hymn, I have come to believe the author intended the words We gather to thine honor, buds white, and red and gold as symbols of the mysteries themselves. The Joyful mysteries are white roses, and Sorrowful mysteries are red roses, and the Glorious and Luminous mysteries gold roses.

It’s amazing to me that some of our best devotional hymns were written by converts to the Catholic Faith. At St. Mary’s when I sang in the choir, we would sing this hymn before Mass, at Offertory or as a second recessional. The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7, let us sing this hymn once again during the month of October in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary and make it part of our parish repertoire.

A special thank you to Peter Meggison producer of the Devotional Hymns Project for allowing me to link to the choir of Blessed Sacrament Church in Providence, Rhode Island. Five of the melodies listed above are beautifully woven together producing a wonderful and truly uplifting recording.

Also, to Noel Jones, AAGO in granting permission to link to A Catholic Book of Hymns with 295 time-honored traditional Catholic hymns, including two arrangements of O Queen of the Holy Rosary. This is a wonderful collection of hymns with text approved, having the IMPRIMATUR from the Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, which make them perfectly suited for Mass and devotions.

Listed below are computer generated sound files. The tempo is approximate but should provide the listener a good sense of what the hymn sounds like. All the hymns are in the public domain. Music directors, organist, and choirmasters, if you use any of these selections in your Sunday or weekly music programs and you make a recording, contact the author and I will feature your recording and choir in the What’s New section of the website.