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New Roman Catholic Hymnal Aimed at Black Parishioners

November 8, 1986 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) _ A new Roman Catholic hymnal aimed at making worship services and music more meaningful to black parishioners will be published early next year, church officials say.

The hymnal, entitled ″Lead Me, Guide Me,″ was designed to replace a mixture of musical sources, including imported Protestant publications, used by some predominantly black parishes.

For the first time, such gospel favorites as ″Balm in Gilead″ and ″What a Friend We Have in Jesus″ will be available in a publication approved by Catholic officials.

″It’s going to unify not only our local churches, but our churches on the national level, and it will spark creativity in their liturgies,″ predicted Marjorie Gabriel-Burrow, director of black Catholic affairs in the archdiocese of Detroit and one of the project’s coordinators.

Hymns for services in other Catholic churches are contained in a missalette printed by each archdiocese.

The hymnal project was initiated in 1983 by Auxiliary Bishop James P. Lyke of Cleveland, who asked black clergy, educators and laity to suggest music that might be included in such a book.

Lyke received 1,300 song titles in response and appointed a committee in 1984 to select the 400 intended for ″Lead Me, Guide Me.″

The new hymnal includes spirituals and gospel tunes, traditional Catholic hymns, several original compositions by black American musicians and worship music with African and Caribbean influences, Lyke said.

″What will result is that more and more black worship will fit more comfortably in the life of the church,″ said Auxiliary Bishop Wilton Gregory of the Chicago archdiocese.

What also will result, church officials say, is a reduction in the confusion now common in predominantly black parishes.

During a recent mass at St. Columbanus on Chicago’s South Side, the choir sang ″The Lord is My Light and My Salvation,″ but most of the worshipers could not join in because neither the words nor the music were in the archdiocesan missalettes.

Choir director Alan Rucker said that he did not use the songs from the missalette very often and that he relied instead on tunes from one interdenominational and two Baptist hymnals.

When ″Lead Me, Guide Me″ comes out, however, Rucker said, he plans to use it. ″I’ll change my style and choose different songs that everybody will know. I’ll probably limit my selections to songs out of the hymnal,″ he said.

Edward Harris, president of GIA Publications, said the first printing of 20,000 copies of ″Lead Me, Guide Me″ will come out in early 1987.