Recommended Hymns and Songs Approved by the ACBC

At the May 2009 plenary meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the list produced by the National Liturgical Music Board, of Recommended Hymns and liturgical songs required by “Liturgiam Authenticam” was presented to the bishops, who endorsed and approved it, in order to seek the formal “recognitio” from the Congregation for Divine Worship.

This list has been sent to the Congregation in Rome and is awaiting recognitio. There will be further revisions to this list before final approval.

108……… the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing.

(From the Offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 28 March, 2001.)

The list is the result of consideration by the National Liturgical Music Board members and music consultant sub-committees, of several thousand pieces of liturgical music contained in the five hymn books most frequently used throughout the Catholic Church in Australia.  The titles constitute a list of recommended hymns and liturgical songs suitable for Catholic worship in Australia. This is the first stage of the ongoing NLC Music Resource  project to provide a liturgical resource in both hard copy and electronic format.

At this stage, the list does not include lectionary music, such as responsorial psalms, as the translation versions to be chosen are still unknown. This resource will contain not only liturgical hymns and songs but also ritual and service music. Details of recommended Mass settings may be found on the website here.

It should be noted that the proposed resource will include some items from the recommended list as well as material from other resources.

Hyperlinks to PDF Downloads

Recommended Hymns and Songs Approved by the ACBC

Review Process

The review process has been conducted by 3 separate Sub-committees [(1) Liturgical Evaluation (2) Textual evaluation (3) Musical evaluation] which review materials from the principal Liturgical music resources most commonly in use throughout the Church in Australia.

These include:

Catholic Worship Book,
Gather Australia,
As One Voice, (Volumes 1 & 2)
Together in Song,
New Living Parish Hymnal.

From these 5 Australian hymn resource collections, there are 1967 titles which have been evaluated. (excludes lectionary music and ritual music).

The National Liturgical Music Board examined and discussed the music reviewed by each of the subcommittees and accepted 1027 titles for inclusion into the Liturgical Music List.

Those titles which required discussion because of concern about musical, textual quality or liturgical suitability were discussed by the general editorial board, giving consideration to factors such as pastoral necessity, for including (or excluding) a particular title in the final list.   The issue of the sacred tetragrammaton was also discussed, and for pastoral reasons, some hymns remain on the list, but will require text adjustment to use an alternative name for addressing God.

In response to the concerns of some bishops about the need to consider some materials in use which are not in the main hymnal collections as listed above, the Editorial board established a 4th Subcommittee, for the purpose of examining such material.  A significant portion of the music used by youth and throughout Catholic Education systems also comes into this category.  In this area of music, there are approximately 800 titles in 50 “albums” of published music commonly used through the catholic education sector.

Evaluation Criteria

Textual Evaluation Criteria

  • Scriptural
  • Apt for the season
  • Theologically robust
  • Thematically and linguistically coherent
  • In ‘modern/classical’ language (rather than in archaic or temporarily   contemporary language)
  • In common possession and with likely appeal
  • With poetic power.

Those versions have been preferred which:

  • Use ‘you’ rather than ‘thou’.
  • Do not include words or phrases with an obsolete or archaic ring.
  • Use inclusive rather than exclusive language in reference to  human beings.
  • Do not conflate verses.
  • Have more effective rhyme.



Musical Evaluation Criteria

  • The music should enable the fostering of participation
  • The technical aspects of musical language – melody, rhythm, pitch etc. / instrumentation/ and accompanimental styles must enable participation.
  • Musical style must promote a sense of the “sacred” and avoid profane;
  • Music must reflect the ideals of true art and beauty.
  • Music must properly support text being sung, with the proper relationship of verbal and music accents etc.

Maintenance and promotion of traditional sacred repertoire – including chant and melodies especially where they remain in the collective consciousness of Catholics.

Liturgical Evaluation Criteria

  • Relationship of the hymn to the scriptural components within the official liturgical texts.
  • Seasonal Suitability.
  • Relationship to Liturgical action.
  • Ability to express the prayer of the community.
  • Currency of use in the Australian Church;
  • Pastoral suitability for a variety of situations.
  • Consistency with the dignity of the liturgical celebration.

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