LOTH question - Protestant hymns?

Hello! I love Charles Wesley’s hymns, but I am surprised to find them in the Liturgy of the Hours. Can anyone help me to understand why they have been included in something so formal? It feels a little weird, like finding a Protestant Bible in a Catholic chapel. :o
Is it just an example of the Church accepting good stuff as its own regardless of its immediate origin?

This is just off the cuff and I am not an expert in this area but if the songs do not have anything in them that would contract Catholic teaching and theology and have been reviewed by an imprimatur then I believe they can be included. This would include a number of Christmas carols as well which are sung in Church during the Christmas season.

Charles Wesley was born and baptized a Catholic, received confirmation and communion, and formed in the Catholic Church by his parents.

So maybe some authentic Catholic Theology sneaked into his hymns.

But you do need to be careful

Dear SecretaryMonday,

The LOTH has different hymns in different countries, according to a culture’s own heritage. In America, England, and Canada, many protestant hymns were placed into the local version of the LOTH because there simply weren’t any other English-language hymns. It’s the same in France: they used Huguenot songs in their own LOTH because of a lack of French-language hymns in the 1960s. Remember that all liturgical singing was in Latin for many centuries, and the only liturgies in vernacular (which produced vernacular hymns) were Protestant. This is the reason.

Maybe some enterprising Catholic poet can write hymns for the next version of the LOTH, and supply the dearth. :slight_smile:

P.S. Charles Wesley was born into an Anglican family and baptized Church of England. His father was a minister in that church. No-one in that family was Catholic.

And to be honest, as robwar pointed out, I don’t really see why it’s a problem if a Protestant wrote a song. If it doesn’t conflict with Catholic teaching, by all means consider it.

Example: My copy of Christian Prayer attributes the lyrics of “I Am the Bread of Life” to Martin Luther. And if the birth/death years listed are anything to go by, it’s the same Martin Luther as started Lutheranism. Do I care? Not really. It’s still one of my favorite hymns. :shrug:

O goodie, I’m wrong. My wife says that never happens. :eek:

The whole son of a married pastor was kinda the tipoff :). His father even left his mother for a while.


only slightly off topic, but I could swear (not literally, of course) that I saw a prayer in the book of worship that was attributed to the Book of Common Prayer. Keep forgetting to double check that.
on topic, Protestants and Catholics have bunches in common, so why not? As long as it remains with the commonalities…

The “I am the Bread of Life” that I am thinking of came out of the Catholic charismatic movement and at least the song i am thinking of is just quoting a number of Bible verses from St. John’s gospel which emphasis what the Eucharist is, that Jesus is the bread of life. I am not sure what hymn by that title would be attributed to Luther, the only hymn attributed to him that I am aware of is “A Mighty Fortress is our God”.

John and Charles Wesley came out of a devote Anglican family. There were 15 children in it altogether. The mother was a very popular Bible class teacher in the church and John and Charles Wesley attribute there devotion and faith more to her than their father. I do not believe at all that the father left the mom at some point. When John was five years old, there was a fire in the home which John Wesley barely escaped from. His mother always attributed his escape as a sign that God had special plans for him. I think that some of Charles songs have alluded to the escape in being plucked from the fire. If someone wanted to look for a positive Protestant inspirational life story, the Wesleys would fit the bill. One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Hark the Herald” as Charles Wesley song and one which is sung in Catholic churches.

The most prolific Hymn composer ws another Methodist, Fannie Crosby. She wrote over 1000 hymns such as “blessed Assurance” and “God be the Glory”. She was totally blind and was taught to memorize the Bible as a child since she could not read it. She was the first women to speak before congress.

And let’s not forget all the Office Hymns translated into English and set to Plainchant by the Anglican JM Neale.

Some Protestant hymns are quite excellent. Others are implicitly heretical, despite the words having the potential to be twisted to be orthodox.

Amazing Grace is one example of a hymn that implicitly teaches Calvinism. I really detest hearing this hymn sung in Catholic parishes.

There are several beautiful Catholic hymns in English. High Mass would have Latin chants and polyphonic choral pieces, but Low Mass would often have hymns.

Here are two, and there are plenty more.



I am just curious, what in particular do you see as Calvinist in this song by John Newton?
I just reread the verses. John Newton use to be a captain of slave ships and did have a St. Paul type conversion to Christianity. He was also key in having slavery eventually banned in England.

“The Church’s One Foundation,” found in even the most reputable Catholic hymnals, was originally written to dispel the Catholic belief that the Church was founded on Jesus and the Apostles.

“We Gather Together” was written by a rabidly anti-Catholic Dutch clergyman. The “wicked oppressing now cease from distressing” refers to the Catholic Church.

“I Am the Bread of Life” was written by Sister Susanne Toolan in the 1970’s. I had no objection to the words until Oregon Catholic Press acquired the rights to Glory and Praise hymns and changed the words from the third person (“he who comes to Me”) to the second person (“you who come to Me”), thus changing it from a direct Scripture quote to a bad paraphrase.

It should be noted that virtually no Catholic hymnals have an imprimatur. Some have a “concordat cum originali” which states that the parts of the book containing readings and spoken Mass parts are in agreement with the originals.

I understand what you are saying. I thought the “We Gather Together” was more of a pilgrims song and some of the phrasing you mentioned was directed against the Church of England. I know the Quaker song “Lord of the Dance” has been often sung and while catchy and cute is a little new age for me. Sometimes, I wonder if some of the original intent or meaning in different songs take on a new meaning through the years than what the author first implied. Something like “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is more of a cultural song, part of our heritage than religious. We have other patriotic type songs in hymnals.
Something like “How Great Thou Art” was written by a Swedish Baptist in an underground Church but it is one very beautiful and all time favorite songs along with “Amazing Grace”.
I think some of these songs borrowed from Protestants and sung at Mass may tend to be more cultural than deep theological treatise.

Liber Hymnarius does :wink:

It’s always a sure bet, if one is not allergic to Latin.

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