A note concerning hymn texts.
The Sarum hymns represent the original liturgical texts of the Latin church. Reference to chant editions from the period of plainchant revival, such as the Liber Usualis, will reveal that the Roman texts of many hymns were altered from the medieval forms as found in the Sarum Rite. This revision was undertaken by Pope Urban VIII and published in the Breviarium Romanum 1632. ‘The religious and monastic orders who had their own rites, the Benedictines, Cistercians, Carthusians, Premonstatenians, Dominicans, the Calced Carmelites, and the Franciscans of the provinces of France kept the traditional Hymnarium.’ (Gabriel Díaz Patri, ‘Poetry in the Latin Liturgy’, Uwe Michael Lang, ed., The Genius of the Roman Rite (Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2010: 75).) Following the Second Vatican Council, in the new Liturgia Horarum (1971), these revised texts were put aside ‘to enable the liturgical texts to be returned to their original beauty’ (Acta synodalia sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II. Vol I: Periodus prima. Pars 2: Congregationes generales X-XVIII (Civitas Vaticana: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1970): 463-465. These texts are found, for example, in the Liber Hymnarius (Solesmes, 1983). However, as Patri points out, these hymns do not always reflect the original texts: ‘. . . quite a few textual changes were made (more than 140 corrections in some 250 hymns), although this time they were not inspired by the classical prejudices of the Renaissance but rather by other motives, some of them very debatable. Let us cite some criteria for these changes; there was an aesthetic or literary motive behind a great number of them . . . other changes include the elimination of certain turns of phrase that could sound profane or that were associated with “paganism”; elsewhere it was a desire for a certain “theological” correction . . . some phrases were modified if they were not considered “politically correct”; certain “antiquated” expressions or concepts . . . or “scholastic” terms . . . were thus changed, and in particular concepts regarded as “antiquated”, such as any reference to the link between “night” and “sin” . . . or the traditional discipline of fasting . . . In the same way, those phrases that expressed a negative attitude toward the world . . . or could represent difficulties for ecumenical relations . . . were modified or simply removed.’ (Patri, ‘Poetry in the Latin Liturgy’: 78-79.)
The translations selected for this edition are intended to reflect faithfully the original hymn-tests. Pride of place is given to those of J. M. Neale. Other celebrated translators include J. D. Chambers, G. H. Palmer, J. H. Newman, Percy Dearmer, Robert Bridges, and Ronald Knox. Where two (or more) excellent translations are available, different translations appear in the Performing and Scholarly Editions. Where a fitting translation from the Roman Catholic tradition is available, that is used in the Scholarly Edition. Users are of course at liberty to employ any suitable translation that is at hand.