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Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy

Introduction to

THE ADOREMUS HYMNAL

(Second Edition)

“The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgy”.  — Sacrosanctum Concilium §112.

“Music uncovers the buried way to the heart, to the core of our being, where it touches the being of the Creator and the Redeemer. Wherever this is achieved, music becomes the road that leads to Jesus, the way by which God shows His salvation”.  — Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “‘Sing Artistically for God’: Biblical Directives for Church Music” (1990), in A New Song for the Lord (1996).

Heavenly music can lead us to heaven. Through sacred music Christians both express and communicate — by their human voices, their human artistry offered in worship — their faith in God and in the glory of the risen Savior Jesus Christ. The Church’s hymn of praise is joined to the heavenly harmony of the angels and saints in worship of God.  “Such music must obey a stricter law than the commonplace music of everyday life: such music is beholden to the Word and must lead to the Spirit”, as Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) observed in a 1977 lecture in Germany.

The original edition of The Adoremus Hymnal was our response to the call for revitalization of reverence and beauty in Catholic worship, recognizing that “the musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art”, and that sacred music has the sublime power to unite beauty and truth in a profound way that resonates deep within our hearts, and can lead us to God.

In his Chirograph on Sacred Music (2003), Blessed Pope John Paul II reaffirmed, in continuity with the teachings of Saint Pius X and the Second Vatican Council, three fundamental principles to ensure that “liturgical music corresponds ever more closely to its specific function”: holiness, artistry (sound form of musical expression), and universality (Chirograph §4,5,6). These were our guiding principles in producing the original version of The Adoremus Hymnal — and our commitment continues in the new edition.

In the eventful years since the original edition of The Adoremus Hymnal was first published in 1997, the Church has seen many changes — among them many promising signs of revitalization of the sacred liturgy. With the strong encouragement of Pope John Paul II, and his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, we have witnessed a renewed commitment to the recovery of the sacred dimension of Catholic worship. The restoration of sacredness and beauty to the Church’s liturgy can be seen in art and architecture in churches, in revived devotional practices such as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and in a surprising recovery of sacredness in liturgical music evidenced in a revival of chant and choral hymns in the liturgy.   

 Among the most significant developments during this fruitful if challenging time is the new Missale Romanum, released by Blessed Pope John Paul in 2002, and now translated accurately according to the principles of Liturgiam authenticam, issued in 2001 as the fifth Instruction implementing Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. For nearly a decade, the Holy See and the bishops’ conferences and many translators, scholars, and experts have labored to produce an accurate, dignified and worthy English translation of the new Roman Missal. This work is now complete. And this is the proximal reason for this new edition of The Adoremus Hymnal.

The Adoremus Hymnal consists of three major sections: the Order of Mass, musical settings for the Ordinaries, and hymns. A final section is the form of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. 

The first section is the text of the Mass in both Latin and English, incorporating the liturgical music integral to the Mass, the acclamations and responses. 

The second section contains musical settings for the Ordinaries of Mass. In addition to a sacred text, Sacrosanctum Concilium stated that Gregorian chant is “proper to the Roman Rite” and urged that “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” (SC §54).  Thus The Adoremus Hymnal includes several of the most familiar Gregorian chant settings in Latin.  There are also newly composed musical settings for the Mass in English. Eight traditional Latin chant (two settings added to the original six) and four newly composed Mass settings in English, of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei — plus music for the new Acclamations.

The hymn section consists of a careful selection of some of the finest English and Latin hymnody ever composed, appropriate for every liturgical season and celebration. The collection also includes hymns — in Latin and English — for various devotions, such as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Marian devotions. The hymns were chosen on the basis of holiness, theological orthodoxy, beauty, Catholic tradition, and, insofar as possible, familiarity. A careful selection of hymns and chants for every season of the liturgical year (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, etc.), for other liturgical feasts and holidays, and for devotions. Many traditional hymns (and all the Sequences) appear in both Latin and English. The chants from Jubilate Deo, Pope Paul VI’s 1974 collection of Latin chant sent to all the bishops, are included in the new edition.

The numbering of the hymns in the new edition is preserved from the original edition; newly added hymns in sections such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, etc., usually placed at the end of the relevant sections, have been assigned new numbers. (See Index of hymns by liturgical season or occasion.)  

Many Latin hymns are given in both Latin and English versions set to ancient tunes, such as Veni, Veni, Emmanuel (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel). The hymnal includes very ancient hymns that were re-discovered, translated into English and set to music in the 19th and 20th centuries, for example, Salve Festa Dies (Hail Thee Festival Day). Among the composers of hymn texts are Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Ambrose, and Saint Francis.

The English-language hymns come from a variety of traditional sources. The collection includes music by J. S. Bach, German hymns such as Now Thank We All Our God (Nun Danket Alle Gott), beloved English Catholic hymns (e.g., Faith of Our Fathers), and some less known in America (e.g., Blessed John Henry Newman's Praise to the Holiest in the Height), as well as other beautiful hymns composed more recently. Adoremus has not tampered with the original English lyrics in this treasury of hymns. The texts have not been modified or usages updated to conform to any contemporary sensibility or ideology (see Liturgiam authenticam §27-31). Words such as “thee”, “thine”, “hast”, etc., in the original are also unchanged, as are words like “righteousness”, “beseech”, and “blessed”, which belong to the traditional Christian sacral vocabulary.

The hymnal also includes a basic service for Exposition, Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, in Latin and English.

From its inception, Adoremus has been dedicated to authentic implementation of the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council in continuity with the Church’s entire history, and to the recovery of sacredness and beauty in Catholic worship. We take to heart the words of the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “In the earthly Liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that Heavenly Liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a Minister of the Holies and of the true Tabernacle; we sing a hymn to the Lord’s glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part in fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our Life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory” (Sacrosanctum Concilium §8).

With this edition of The Adoremus Hymnal we hope to assist fellow-pilgrims on our earthly journey toward heaven by providing an essential treasury of sacred music for worship  — texts, chant, and hymns drawn from the historic patrimony of the Church — for the greater glory of God.  Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

Helen Hull Hitchcock, General Editor of the Adoremus Hymnal, Revised Edition

Adoremus — Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary,

August 15, 2011

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The Adoremus Hymnal
The Adoremus Hymnal Introduction
Index of Hymns - Liturgical Season
Index of Ordinaries (musical settings)
Sample Hymn
Text Sample

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The Adoremus Hymnal is published by Ignatius Press, San Francisco. Order by mail from

Ignatius Press, PO Box 3339, Ft. Collins, CO 80522

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