Excerpt from Cantica Sacra, or Hymns for the Children of the Catholic Church, Set to Original Music
With the object, then, of rendering the universal introduction of these Hymns practicable, by bringing the work within the reach of all, the words are printed separately, in a small, cheap book, bearing the same title, cantica sacra. Thus, the great bulk of those who will use the work have no occasion to buy the necessarily expensive book containing the music - they will learn the melodies by ear, at the dictation of the director or teacher, while the music-book will be required only by the latter, and by the few more skilful singers chosen for the alto part.
In regard to the execution of the Hymns of this collection, the compiler has three favors to ask of those whom it may concern: First, that the sentiments of the differ ent Hymns, or of the different verses of the same Hymn, be carefully studied, and faithfully rendered. The various shades of musical expression, loud, soft, diminish ing and increasing in power, slackening and accelerating the time, etc., etc., cannot always be indicated, once for all, by the composer, - much is left to the judgment and taste of the director, who is supposed to understand and feel that which is to be sung, in order that under his direction it may be faithfully and artistically rendered. Second that the alto part of the Hymns, if it cannot be sung exactly as written, be omitted altogether, not being, strictly speaking, essential to their effect, though its addition greatly enhances it; and that every attempt at improvising an alto part (which is done mostly by singing thirds below the melody) be repressed, promptly, firmly, and persistently - Third that the organist, unless he be a thorough har monist, play the accompaniments as they are written, without any addition, except perhaps that of strengthening the bass by octaves, where it can be done.
The courtesy of Rev. Dr. Cummings, Pastor of St. Stephen's Church, New York, in allowing the pages of this work to be enriched by extracts from his Hymns for Catholic Schools, is hereby gratefully acknowledged.
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