November 21, 2008

New hymn text celebrates archdiocese’s 175th anniversary

By Sean Gallagher

HymnOn May 3, 2009, thousands of Catholics across central and southern Indiana will gather at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for a Mass that will celebrate the 175th anniversary of the founding of the archdiocese.

At that time, they will join voices in singing a hymn text composed by Benedictine Father Harry Hagan

specifically for the anniversary.

“Come and See the Many Wonders,” which is set to the hymn tune “Beach Spring” by B. F. White, alludes to the theme of the 175th anniversary, “We have seen the Lord: Come and see.”

In a recent interview with The Criterion, Father Harry spoke about the hymn text.

“It tries to celebrate this fact that many people have created this tradition, which we, today, have inherited,” he said. “Therefore, it is up to us to hand the tradition on and also to add to the tradition.”

The text includes references to the first bishop of Vincennes, the Servant of God Simon Bruté, and Indiana’s first saint, St. Theodora Guérin, the foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

“I thought about trying to name all different kinds of people or different kinds of occupations,” said Father Harry, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad. “In the end, it became clear that I was going to leave out somebody. So I limited myself to Bishop Bruté and St. Theodora.”

Charles Gardner, executive director for the archdiocesan secretariat for spiritual life and worship, asked Father Harry to compose the text.

“I think it’s a great match and a great opportunity,” said Gardner about the text. “I think it works. It just works.

“As a pastoral musician, I’m dedicated to having texts that are strong, that really say something but that also work.”

Father Harry said he is looking forward to when many people across the archdiocese sing the text.

“It will make me happy,” he said. “When you write a text like this, it’s nice when people use it. You try to make it so that it will serve well.

“The test is kind of in the eating of the pudding.”

For Sandra Bierly, the “pudding” tasted pretty good.

“I think it’s going to change their hearts and make a difference,” said Bierly, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany. “It’s just such a beautiful hymn. Father Harry Hagan, who wrote it, just touched everything.”

Bierly sang the text when she was present at a Mass on Oct. 28 at Huber’s Winery in Clark County to celebration the successful conclusion of the Legacy for Our Mission: For Our Children and the Future campaign.

As Bierly was singing the hymn at the end of the Mass, her thoughts turned to how the Church in Indiana began in a small way, but has grown over the past 175 years.

“I could only think about how that little mustard seed has spread all over the state,” Bierly said. “It’s huge, and it’s going to get bigger.”

Father Harry intended the text to help those who sing it turn their thoughts to the future of the archdiocese.

The first three stanzas of the hymn text begin with the word “come,” but Father Harry chose to begin the fourth and final stanza with the word “go.”

“It kind of invites people to come and see what’s happened, but then to go forth,” Father Harry said. “So I hope people will go forth and carry on the tradition … which [they] have inherited.”

For Gardner, part of adding to that tradition is helping the Church in central and southern Indiana to grow.

“The last verse is future oriented,” he said. “I think it should help people to be confident and look to the future, where we’re still going, and to have a sense of mission.”

(To learn more about the anniversary hymn and to read its text, log on to

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