Brightest and Best

Stories of Hymns
Book cover: 'Brightest and Best: Stories of Hymns'
Fr. George Rutler
Ignatius Press
Sewn Softcover
Number of pages: 
230 pages

This book consists of a fine selection of favorite hymns, including musical notation, and rather detailed stories about the authors of the text, the composers of the music, giving the student a good idea of how and when the music came about. The author's purpose in writing the book "was to restore attention to some of the finest hymns, in the hope that they might replace the miserable afflictions that keep cropping up in ... "missalettes"... It seemed to me that hymns might be better appreciated if we knew a little more about the stories behind them: first of all, who wrote them and in what circumstances." (From the Introduction). Approximately 100 hymns are included. I'd like to note that the text of the hymns is often not the text that Americans today are most familiar with. There's a good reason for this. Over the years, the text of many hymns has been "simplified" which has often detracted from its meaning and significance. Fr. Rutler would like us to appreciate the songs as they were originally written.

What a wonderful Catholic resource for real music appreciation in the homeschool. What we give our children today in this realm may have a significant impact on turning back to more beautiful and reverent music in the future. Please note that there are some hymns that were not written by Catholics. Fr. Rutler explains in the introduction: "If the following selection of hymns joins to these great orthodox souls a Lutheran such as the war-ravaged Melchior Teschner ... this is testimony to the wonders God accomplishes through those who seek his goodness...some of these in their day wrote of doctrine more sturdily than [many of today's composers]."

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