The new “Spirit and Song” book is out, and it appears to be a significant improvement from the much-maligned (and deservedly so) original, based on the hymn listing (scroll down to the bottom to see it). Protestant standards are basically gone — sayonara, “Thy Word,” “Awesome God,” and “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever.” Favorites by excellent hymn writers such as Trevor Thomson and Sarah Hart are there, and there seem to be more singable hymns in there as opposed to meandering, weirdly syncopated songs. Is there rubbish in the book? Of course — I can’t imagine how the awful “Malo! Malo! Thanks Be to God” is well-liked, and I maintain my vendetta against “Go Make a Difference.” But there’s plenty of good stuff, even a little bit of chant.
So this is a cautious word in favor of the new “Spirit and Song.” It is, thankfully, much more Catholic. But anyone who uses it nonetheless should be willing to use some old-timey hymns that are in the Church’s DNA, as well, including chant (which I first learned to love in high school, which was run by Benedictines). And many of the hymns are better off as choir or solo pieces. If you have a lot of youth in your parish, go ahead and buy it.