5 English Hymns Every Catholic Should Know

Triumph, all ye cherubim,
sing with us, ye seraphim,
heaven and earth resound the hymn:
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

"The Rococo Basilica at Ottobeuren (Bavaria): architectural spaces flow together and swarm with life." Credit Wikipedia

1. Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All

Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!

This Eucharistic hymn was written by Fr. William Faber. A friend of Bl. John Henry Newman’s,
Fr. Faber was a prominent cleric in the Church of England, who converted to Catholicism in the
midst of the Oxford Movement. He wrote several hymns, including the ever-popular “Faith of
Our Fathers”.

2. Hail, Holy Queen, Enthroned Above

Triumph, all ye cherubim,
sing with us, ye seraphim,
heaven and earth resound the hymn:
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

This classic English hymn is really a poetic translation of the ancient “Salve Regina Coelitum”
of the Roman Missal. Thanks to Whoopi Goldberg’s rousing interpretation of this hymn in her
movie “Sister Act,” it is even recognized amongst many non-Catholics.

3. Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign!

Attributed to the hymnologist Fr. Ignaz Franz, this is an 18th century German hymn, loosely
based on the text of the great “Te Deum”, that has become closely associated with the modern
ritual of Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

4. Immaculate Mary

Immaculate Mary, Thy praises we sing,
Thou reignest in splendour with Jesus our King!

Also known as the “Lourdes Hymn,” this triumphant hymn of praise to our Lady is believed to
have been written by Abbe Gaignet and adapted to a traditional French folk tune. When sung at
the Lourdes Shrine, there can be as many as sixty different verses!

5. To Jesus Christ, Our Sov’reign King

Christ Jesus Victor, Christ Jesus Ruler!
Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!

This powerful hymn, associated with the Feast of Christ the King, was written by Monsignor
Martin Hellreigel in 1941. Msgr. Hellreigel was a German priest living in St. Louis, Missouri at
the time, and offered this hymn as a counter to the dark forces of Nazism and Communism
sweeping over the world.

  • Ken Jones

    Say it loud, I’m Catholic and proud! (Well, keeping in mind that pride can be sinful…)
    Great music. Brings goosebumps. Love it.

  • Eugenia

    We sing these regularly at our Masses. Love love love! :D

  • I think the words are slightly different in Sister Act, because every time we sing this at Daily Mass, I have to check myself. (yes, I do own the soundtrack to Sister Act, and it is an important park of my day!)

  • Excellent List! I wouldn’t change a thing. “Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above” is especially my favorite.

  • Anthony Rowe

    its good to hear a good latin hym coming from the latin church…. oh wait.

  • I was reeeeeeally hoping you’d have “Lead Kindly Light” by Blessed John Henry Newman on this list. (Maybe if you should have a list of top 5 English Songs all Catholics have to drop everything and learn right now! ).

  • Amelia

    Fr Faber and Cardinal Newman were both Oratorians, but they were hardly friends. In fact, they had many disagreements between themselves and between their two Oratorian communities (Newman in Birmingham and Faber in London). Just a fact check for you.

  • Amelia

    Also, Newman was beatified in September 2010, so he is now Blessed J.H. Newman.

    • We’ve made the correction, thank you. “Ven.” was out of force of habit. Cheers.

  • David

    Now THESE are great English language Catholic Hymns… not like much of the praise “songs” we hear these days.

    I mean, this is 2012… I thought “They will know we are Christians by our Love” had gone out of appropriate Mass music selections along with “Kum-ba-ya”

  • Jocille

    Now, how about a list of “hymns” that should be banned. Topping that list is anything written by Schutte (the ex-Jesuit and now living a gay lifestyle in SanFrancisco). I no longer attend my parish church because the priest & his lapdog women chose to insult me over my opposition to Schutte music.

  • enness

    Oh my…that is a great hymn, but I can’t say I’m loving the jazz take. It just seems like oil and water.

  • Hal

    I would rather hear these hyms at Mass than all this modern stuff that has horrible lyrics, a horrible “melody,” and no one can sing. These are the classics. Beutiful music!

  • YES! So tired of Protestant music played in the Catholic Liturgy. I was at a parish recently and one of the songs had a “swing” melody to it. Terrible! Reminds me of what I grew up with as a teenager in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I love swing music, but not in the Divine Liturgy. Great post and I will retweet it.

  • rita

    they are all beautiful and i love to sing them at mass. but my favorites were not on your list: Ave Maria and Holy is His Name.
    I would add those.
    thank you for asking.

  • Deacon Nick

    Hi Jocille
    I am sorry you have decided not to attend your parish church anymore. I can understand the hurt you have experienced at the hands of those who you regard as insulting you. Remember Jesus Himself said, ” Blessed are you when you are insulted and reviled for my name sake (Matthew 5:11)
    Pope Paul the 6th had to put up with a great deal of the same when he wrote his great Encyclical, “Humanae Vitae” but he said no matter what, “don’t desert the Mass and the Sacraments” . Good advice then and still now. Find somewhere else to go to Mass if that’s possible and don’t forget the words of Jesus own prayer “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

  • Edward L. Soberanes

    How about “A Mighty Fortress” I love it!

  • Tina In Ashburn

    Prefer no hymns that were listed on the Black List, such as the Schubert etc Ave Marias.

    See http://media.musicasacra.com/pdf/blacklist.pdf to get a gist of how the Church viewed show tunes, hymns that excite the wrong emotions [such as maudlin Irish songs], inaccurate texts and such.

    See http://media.musicasacra.com/pdf/whitelist1947.pdf to see what the Church promoted.

    Protestant hymns, written by people who expressly denied dogmas of the Church such as the Eucharist, the Papacy and Mary should not be sung. How can something like that be pleasing to God? If you enjoy a such a hymn, feel free to sing it in a bar, in the car, in the shower… Hymns are a replacement for the Propers of the Mass [Introit, Collect, Secret, etc], and are to reflect the sentiment of the Church and the prayers of the priest.

    Learn more about the mind of the Church and how liturgical music IS prayer and is intrinsic to the Mass at http://musicasacra.com.

  • the Old Biddy

    Fantastic! God bless you. Thank you.

  • vivian

    Love these classicals but please could you add ‘Praise to the holiest in the height’,thanks

  • Hannah Davies

    Fantastic hymns. They fill my heart with love and gladness. Great!!!!

  • Jonathan Hall

    Great list. Let me add “Tantum Ergo” and “O Salutaris” if I may! In reply to Tina, Protestant hymns do not necessarily deny Catholic doctrine. When they do, they can be edited or avoided. The mere fact that they were authored by Protestants, heretics, and/or schismatics is no obstacle, for every hymn is written by a sinner. Let’s avoid any appearance of hymnological Donatism! :-)

  • Hi I am proud to be a Catholic and I love singing…any new hymns I would give all my power to learn….in the meantime we are preparing for our episcopal ordination of our new archbishop and we are singing 3 of the hymns in this list..Hope and pray that God will showe down his blessing on us and help all our choir leaders and the choir member to be strengthen by the holy spirit….and special blessing to our archbishop elect…God bless Fiji and God bless Our Catholic Faith…

  • Emma Chigbogu

    She is the virgin most pure, and I hunour her.

  • sabas mwacha

    jesus your every thing

  • I love it

  • Tribo

    I like dis page

  • Br Kevin Dismas fsp

    It raises the soul to the love of God.

  • Brian

    We don’t go in for hymns. Just the seasonal Marian antiphons, the Rorate in Advent, the Te Deum and my favourite – the Pange Lingua on Holy Thursday.

  • mo7

    Thanks for these, I think O Sacrament Most Holy belongs on this list.