Choirs and congregations will soon have the new hymnal to replace Catholic Book of Worship III, expected to be released in 2024. Michael Swan

New hymnal expected for 2024

  • April 19, 2023

By the time the Catholic Book of Worship III hits its 30th birthday in 2024, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops hopes to have its replacement sitting in the pews.

Music for Catholic Worship (it is not to be called CBW IV) “will soon be entering the layout stage, which will be followed in due course by printing and marketing,” National Liturgy Office director Christina Ronzio told The Catholic Register  by email. “The CCCB will announce a publication date when the manuscript goes to the printer, as there are many variables to consider when deriving that date.”

Planning for the new hymnal has been ongoing since at least 2016. Through COVID, weekly meetings of musicians and liturgical experts filled work calendars at the CCCB. Online meetings proved to be a win for the nation-wide network of liturgists working on the book.

“This (Zoom) proved to be beneficial for the hymnal’s production, not detrimental,” Ronzio said.

At the moment, the CCCB isn’t sure how much it will charge for the new hymnals, in part because it doesn’t yet have a final page count to determine printing costs. The bishops’ conference had been planning to survey parishes about their hymnal needs before COVID shut things down.

“As attendance continues to improve in parishes, we will be looking for a date to launch the survey,” said Ronzio.

Results of the survey will help CCCB Publications determine a price. The old CBW III still sells for $30 on the publication service’s website. Its major competition, Glory and Praise from U.S. publisher North American Liturgy Resources, sells for $24.66 on Amazon.

Ronzio is quite certain that in a digital age, where music and lyrics can be distributed cheaply and instantly to phones, tablets and computers, people will still want a hardbound book.

“Printed books will retain a place in society, including within the context of Catholic worship,” she said.

For Ronzio, lyrics projected on a screen, words and music accessed on a tablet or phone, or binders full of photocopied sheet music just won’t do.

“With a hand-held hymnal, there is continuity with the ancient tradition of the Church, in which the printed word has had a central place for centuries,” she said. “There is opportunity to discover texts and music that might remain hidden on a digital device or projection screen. One makes a conscious decision and physical effort to take up the book that is held in one’s hand, to touch the pages as one searches for the text that will aid spoken or sung participation in the sacred mysteries.”

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal is on Ronzio’s side.

“Special care must be taken to ensure that the liturgical books… should be truly worthy, dignified and beautiful,” according to GIRM paragraph 349 — though the GIRM’s main concern seems to be the Gospels, lectionaries and Roman Missal itself.

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