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How This Book is Arranged
THE 154 hymns are divided into four main sections within which there are further
subdivisions. Each group of hymns is preceded by a short introduction. Then
follow the Latin hymns with adjacent English translations in prose and further
notes on details of each hymn with references to individual lines of the Latin.

For the convenience of users, the typographical layout has been arranged with
the principal object of ensuring that, as far as is practicable, both the English
translation and the notes shall appear on the same page-opening as that part of the
Latin text to which they refer. This has made necessary a slightly unusual typo-
graphical layout in which the following are the main points to be noted:
1. Invariably the completion of the entire material connected with any hymn is
indicated by a rule
across both pages of the book, even at the foot of a page.

Where no rule occurs at the foot of pages this means that some part of the

material is continued on the next page-opening.
2. Frequently the introduction to each group of hymns is continued on the
right-hand page in a position level with that occupied on the left-hand

(e.g. pp. 2–3, 58-59). An arrow indicates the continuation of the introduc-
tory matter on to the right-hand page, only when the left-hand page ends with

the completion of a paragraph.
3. Occasionally, owing to the length of some notes, it has been necessary to con-

tinue them from a right-hand page to a left-hand page first, and then on to
the following right-hand page as usual (e.g. pp. 111-113). In such cases

warning is given at the appropriate point.
Where, in the Breviary itself, portions of a whole hymn are used as separate
hymns, the divisions are here shown in the Latin texts by an asterisk at the begin-
ning of the first line of Latin text (and at the opening of the corresponding para-
graph of English translation) and similarly in the index of first lines.

Where a new paragraph appears in the English translation, this is placed oppo-
site the equivalent Latin passage.




HIS book is the outcome of some private classes that I used to take on the
Breviary hymns. When for various reasons the classes had to be given up, I

began to elaborate my notes with a view to their publication. But the work had to be put aside completely two or three times for quite long periods, and it was only recently that I was able to return to it and complete it. Thus in one sense the book has been long in the making, but the length of time was due to circumstances and

spent in hope rather than in preparation of the book. So it may be that the notes are not as full nor always as up-to-date as a full-time hymnologist would expect, but I hope readers will pardon any deficiency in this respect. The circum

, stances in which the book was written and the requirements of a good number of those who may use it have prompted the plan of the book and the form and contents of the commentary.

Originally no translations of the hymns were provided, but those whose judgment I respect thought that their addition would make the book more useful. As the work of translation had to be done quickly, there was little time for the reflection and revision that translations of this kind seem to require, and I can only hope that my English versions have not suffered too much as a result. In a work like the present book incorrect references are a nuisance to the reader

a but hard for the writer to avoid. I am therefore very grateful to those who went through the original manuscript and removed all such mistakes. But the providing of translations made many of the notes, in whole or in part, unnecessary and a revision of the notes had to be undertaken. It is no fault of those who checked the original if there are now any incorrect references; they will have occurred in the process of the later revision.

I also wish to thank all who helped in the work of typing, especially of the translations, and to all others who, each in their own way, have made the production of the book possible. I hope the book may prove useful and so bring a sense of reward and satisfaction to all these helpers for their work and patience.





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GOOD hymn is a religious poem; and if the dictionary is correct when it describes a poem as a metrical composition expressing the powerful emotions which arise from the contemplation

contemplation of the beautiful and the sublime, then a good hymn is one which clothes with beautiful language our thoughts about the Blessed Trinity and our heavenly Father's love for us.

Such indeed are the hymns of the Liturgy. They speak of the love of God, of the consecration of each hour of our waking day to Him, of our abiding sorrow for the sins we have committed against Him. They invite us, at the end of the day, to take our rest secure through our trust in Him. They express worthily sentiments which we cannot always find words to express at all. They are poetry. But they are also prayers.

They are intended to be recited, not merely read, and to be recited with attention. And even if that were not true by the nature of things, it would remain true by the Holy Father's expressed desire, that the hymns of the Divine Office, like the psalms and the lessons, should be read in such a manner as to yield up their ideas to the minds of those who take part in this public worship of God by the Church.

But the pity of it is that they occur, many of them, precisely at that place in our daily office where attentive recitation is most difficult. We hurry past them, conscious that there are many more pages to turn before our duty of prayer is done; and before there is leisure to turn back again the next instalment of this never-ending obligation is upon us.

This book is one which will commend itself to those of us already ordained who have often longed to know more about these poem-prayers but have found little leisure in which to do it. To those who are new to the recitation of the Office or who are not yet bound by its obligation but hope to be one day, it hardly needs commendation. It is the sort of commentary, I feel, that makes all the difference between early comprehension and the lack of it.

The table of contents is broad and comprehensive, and was planned to include some mention of as many as possible of the hymns most frequently recurring. It is not a


book that will be read straight through by very many, I imagine. Rather it is the sort of book that finds a place on the bedside table, to be dipped into and browsed upon, now here, now there, as the pattern of the day's Office may indicate.

All of us who are priests or who are preparing to be priests welcome anything that will help us to understand more fully the liturgy that is put into our hands to perform. This book should help us all very much. I commend it heartily.


2 November 1955

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