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“Teaching children hymns in Catholic schools is a fantastic way to teach music, poetry, theology, and community all in one,” says Kathleen (Ellis ‘99) Goodrich, the music director at St. Sebastian Church in Santa Paula, California.  It leads children “down a road of liturgical participation — just as parishioners or as liturgists, choir members, cantors, organists — to spark that love of sacred music that the Church needs to have in the faithful if the musical tradition of the Church is to be preserved.”

cover - Classic Hymns for Catholic SchoolsTo aid Catholic schools in this effort, Mrs. Goodrich has co-edited Classic Hymns for Catholic Schools —  a collection of 50 traditional hymns suitable for congregational harmonic singing — along with a fellow Thomas Aquinas College alumnus, Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87). The chosen hymns “are doctrinally rich, poetically powerful; the imagery is tremendous,” says Dr. Seeley, a member of the College’s teaching faculty at the California campus. “They are scriptural. They draw from the rich liturgical traditions of the Church.”

Yet the two alumni were careful to select hymns that even young, inexperienced singers in a school setting could learn to master — and love. “Singing music in harmony is one of the most unifying, socially affirming experiences available to human beings,” adds Mrs. Goodrich. “There’s almost no joy in the world equal to singing together.”

To accompany the hymnal, Dr. Seeley has also authored Golden Treasures: Notes & Comments on Classic Hymns for Catholic Schools, which provides background on each hymn, its composer, its lyrics, and their underlying theology. Both works are published by the Institute for Catholic Education, of which Dr. Seeley is a co-founder and the director of advanced formation.

In a recent review, The Catholic Response declared that “the first booklet should be in the hands of every Catholic school student in the country, the second in the hands of teachers,” while calling the works “a genuine answer to prayer and a sign that Catholic education is truly being renewed.”