The New English Hymnal

I don’t know if this has been asked before, but is it alowed that the New English Hymnal be used in our Catholic churches? I think it is used in the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Westminster Cathedral…so I don’t know if that answers my own question or not, but is it allowed? Thanks :slight_smile: God Bless.

“I don’t know” is the only honest answer I can give. Here in the United States, pretty much anything goes. It is my understanding, subject to correction, that the situation in England is like that here in the US, pretty much anything goes. It is my understanding, subject to correction, that all Catholic parishes in Canada have to use a certain hymnal. Not sure about Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, and other English speaking regions.

I hope someone can clarify this.

While Canada has a national hymnal, Catholic Book of Worship III, we are not limited to using that particular book. Many parishes use, either alone or in tandem with CBW III, Glory and Praise, Songs of Praise, Breaking Bread and CBW II (which for the most part has much less ‘gender neutral’ and updated language than *CBW III *but still too much 60s & 70s era pieces).

I don’t think this is an issue of whether or not a particular hymnal is allowed, so much as whether or not a particular hymn is allowed. Some perfectly legitimate Catholic hymns can be found in non-Catholic sources (of course).

Universal law says that the conference of bishops for each region determines what hymns may be used. Here in the US, the USCCB has decided to do nothing on this, at least at-present, but instead to leave that matter to the decision of the local bishop. Could it be the case that the same happened in England?

Who publishes the “New English Hymnal”? Pardon my ignorance here, but I don’t know if it’s a Catholic book or an Anglican one.

Just as a general point, over the years I have become familiar with a variety of non-Catholic hymnals used by mainstream denominations, and the only texts I can think of that might have been controversial (and there have only been a couple) were also considered questionable by the churches for which the hymnals were written (in fact the texts were later changed or suppressed). It should be remembered that Protestantism is in large part a reduced Christianity, i.e., it took away things that were and are in Catholicism. The few though important areas where it introduced affirmatively antagonistic doctrines tend not to come up in hymn texts. That does not mean that some diligence should not be observed when using non-Catholic hymnals.

At the parish in my hometown, I’ve seen the CBW III and G&P, and I’ve seen the CBW II used at others. Breaking Bread is used at our college chapel, but Campus Ministry is thinking of changing that.

A problem that you can run into with the New English Hymnal is that several of the copyrights which have expired in the UK are still legit in the USA and therefore you run the risk of a copyright violation. Its the same problem with the CBW II and III. My parish some how obtained CBW II decades ago and while it is a great resource for non-inclusive language in hymns, there are still some copyright issues to deal with.

Another problem I have experience with the New English Hymnal is that the text of the hymns are not placed under the musical notation as with the majority of American hymnals. I’ve used a collection which used to be published by Oxford called “Hymns for Choirs” which is a wonderful collection of Willcock’s arrangements of about 50 hymns for all seasons and my choir always complains because the text is on a different page than the music and it involves constant looking back and forth for the notes, then the text, then the notes, ect.

It’s true that the CBWIII is not available for use in the US. One copy can be purchased for personal use but the CCCB will not fill large orders to be shipped across the border.

It is published by SCM Canterbury Press. It was published for the Church of England and it is preferred by that branch of the Church of England known as “Anglo-Catholic”.

Thanks! You’ve all helped me alot. I do not like te CBWIII because of the inclusive language, and I don’t like Glory and Praise. I was asking about the New English Hymnal because I love the British hymns! Thank you and God Bless!

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