Catholic Book of Worship -- becoming more protestant?

I converted to the Church from being an Anglican so I haven’t noticed a number or things until lately.
Our parish uses the Catholic Book of Worship as its hymnal. We also have Glory and Praise in the pews but it isn’t really used anymore (at least for the Mass I assist at).

Here’s an example of what I’m noticing:

When looking for the hymn Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence on YouTube I found this comment for one of the videos:

Context is everything. This is actually a communion hymn but many Protestant churches leave out the stanza referring to the Eucharist. It is based on the theology that the Eucharist brings the very presence of God to the faithful. Hence the images of the seraphim with veiled faces. The fear and trembling is not “you better be good” but the awe felt in the very presence of the beatific vision.

The second and third stanzas (left out here) are the ones I mentioned and they explain it:

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture,
in the Body and the Blood
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of Light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.

I looked the hymn up this morning right after Mass. Much to my surprise the stanza that I’ve put in bold was missing!

This is the only example that comes to mind right now but I’m sure I’ve notice other protestant influences. (Eg. Amazing Grace, now with the word ‘wretch’ removed.)

On top of that our parish rarely sings Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence – we always sing Christians Let us Love One Another to the same tune. The music is too much about us rather than being directed to God.)

Anywho… Has anyone else noticed this or am I just too picky?


I’m not sure which CBW you are using, but the most recent (CBW III, 1994) which is not that new, has the verse you mention, as well as the one below it.

Is it possible you are confusing it with “Christians Let Us Love One Another”? Same tune, different words.

Your question about the possible Protestantization of the CBW is an interesting one.

I do know that a great effort (rightly or wrongly) was put into making sure there were hymns in it that would be considered inclusively Christian, so that when Protestants visited our parishes, they could sing, too.

This is arguable, as we must be careful not to ever compromise our Catholicity, particularly during the Mass. Also, it’s hard enough getting our own congregations to sing!

A more controversial point about the ‘new’ hymnal is that it relies heavily on supposedly gender-neutral wording. What this means is that old hymns suddenly have lyric changes. This can make them more difficult to sing, particularly for those who rely on memory for the lyrics.

OTOH some traditional Marian hymns had lyric changes that actually made them more useful liturgically, by referring to Mary’s role in salvation, as opposed to singing to her for her own merits, which is not generally very appropriate during Sunday Mass.

I have met some of the people who were involved in choosing and even writing some of the music in the CBW. Interesting and sometimes heated discussions were had by all, I think.

This is probably way more than you wanted to know. But honestly I don’t recall much discussion about the CBW becoming Protestant. There are so many issues…I can tell you that although some lovely old hymns were not reprinted in the CBW III, also omitted were some songs that were among the worst the post-Vatican II era produced…IMHO.

And for those who are puzzled, the Catholic Book of Worship is a Canadian hymnal.

While there are problems of inclusive language and changed text, my biggest problem with the CBWIII right now is the Foreword.

Hm, that is a little weird. I have a copy of Breaking Bread 2010 at my side and looked up “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” and the verse in bold and the other verse that was not in bold were in there. Is the verse removed in CBW replaced with another verse? Or is it 3 verses? The one in my Breaking Bread has 4 verses with the bold included.

About “Christians Let Us Love One Another”, it does talk about us in most verses, but it is also centered around Christ as well.

Just about everything in The Church today is becoming more protestant :frowning:

OCP did a hatchet job on this beautiful hymn and pretty much killed off the Eucharistic elements. At least GIA does not do that.

Speaking to our choir director I found that he shared another one of my beefs:
The way it appears to me is that the wording of some hymns were changed simply to make them new for the new CBW.
I may not like it but I can understand the reasoning behind gender-neuteredchanges.
But what`s wrong with When I Survey that Wondrous Cross?
Or “…this our Sacrifice of praise…?”
Or …

I think some of the changes are due to a perceived change in the language. “Survey” is a case in point. Many years ago one surveyed one’s surroundings. Today most people associate ‘survey’ with annoying phone calls at the most inopportune times.

In the same way many of the hymns have had ‘thee’ & ‘thou’ replaced by you & your. While I dislike a great many of the '60s stuff we find in CBWII, I have to smile when our choir opts for the CBWII version of traditional hymns because the language hasn’t been updated in that edition.

I guess they try to adapt to how we use the words today. I don’t really know what would be wrong with “sacrifice”. “Survey” back when it was written probably meant “look, examine” and now people think of it as like another poster said, “annoying telephone calls”.

Just my opinion.

Now my opinion: do people not know survey is a verb as well as a noun? (The emphasis is on a different syllable in each.) You take a SURvey, but you surVEY your surroundings. In fact, surVEYing your surroundings is an essential part of surveillance.

Get their English teachers to teach them the language well, and let our worship and hymns use the language which the Church deems proper.

What hymn is that from, and what was it changed to?

I’m curious: how does your hymnal present the first verse/stanza of this hymn?

Does it end with “… Christ our God to earth descendeth our full homage to demand”?

Or does it end with “… Christ our God to earth descended our full homage to demand”?

It should be the first, but many modern versions have the second. The first is a faithful translation of the original hymn (found in a very ancient Divine Liturgy of the Church) and the second is a (possibly unwitting) denial of the Eucharistic nature of the hymn.

Can you figure out what the difference between the two is, and why this is not simply a matter of removing archaic language from a hymn?

The old language is present tense. The modern version is past tense.

In the CBWIII, that stanza ends “Christ our God to earth descending, our full hommage to demand.”

Not so much related to what you are talking about here specifically, but in general when I hear something along the lines of the church “becoming more protestant”, I become purturbed.

Unless the Church change her teachings to relfect “protestant principles” in opposition to what was previously believed an taught, I don’t know how the Church could ever “become more Protestant”.

Specifically as to what you refer above, is there anything in the song contained in your hymnal that is NOT catholic? That is, do the published lyrics violate any catholic doctrine? If not then it is not a “protestant” song - It protests or denies nothing Catholic.

As to what individuals believe - that might be another matter.


Yes. While this might not seem like a big deal, the hymn is about the coming presence of the Lord during the liturgy in the Eucharist:
Let all mortal flesh keep silent
and with fear and trembling stand.
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth
our full homage to demand.

This comes from the Cherubic Hymn of the Divine Liturgy of St. James:
Let all mortal flesh be silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and meditate nothing earthly within itself:—

For the King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ our God, comes forward to be sacrificed, and to be given for food to the faithful; and the bands of angels go before Him with every power and dominion, the many-eyed cherubim, and the six-winged seraphim, covering their faces, and crying aloud the hymn, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

I’m curious how that works grammatically… “Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessing in His hand Christ our God to earth descending our full homage to demand” doesn’t scan properly.

Oh dear! I wonder if Michaeldaniels would have liked what we sang last Sunday at Mass - The Old Rugged Cross!
Personally, I enjoyed joining in!:slight_smile:

Since folks are talking about changes to hymns, I have a question.

When I first learned the hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” as a Protestant, the first verse ended: “All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; Praise Him in glad adoration.” (The first bit was sometimes updated to “All you who hear” or “All those who hear.”)

When I hear this hymn in Catholic churches, the line has been changed to “All those who hear, brothers and sisters draw near.”

What is up with that? Obviously it was not changed to make it more gender inclusive, since “brothers and sisters” is no more inclusive than “all those who hear.” Is there some good reason that I don’t know to eliminate “now to His temple draw near”? :confused:

The CBW is very problematic. It is “inclusive”, I do not like “inclusive”. The parish in my area uses this along with Glory & Praise, and the CBW includes alot of contemporary Catholic hymns, and only a few traditional ones.

It’s supposed to be “now to His altar draw near”.

I think it’s the refrain from “For the Beauty of the Earth”.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit