Hymn #396: Where Charity and Love Prevail

This early ninth-century Latin hymn began “Ubi caritas et amor.”  It was traditionally sung during the Maundy Thursday foot-washing service, at which the ranking church official washed the feet of lower-ranking individuals, recalling Jesus’ act of washing the feet of the disciples in John 13.

Omer Westendorf (1916-1997) created this paraphrase of the traditional Latin liturgical text in 1961.  Westendorf, a lifelong resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, completed several hymnals including the People’s Mass Book (1964), which met the need for new Roman Catholic liturgies and hymns following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), called by Pope John XXIII.

Paul Benoit (1893-1979) composed this tune, named CHRISTIAN LOVE after the topic of the text.  The melody, to be sung freely and in unison, is reminiscent of the chant style used in the ninth century when the Latin text was written. Benoit composed many organ works during his ministry.

 Paul Benoit was a Benedictine monk of the Roman Catholic Church.  As a Benedictine, he followed strict rules of the order established by Saint Benedict on Nursia around 500 C.E.  The main emphasis of the order was seven daily celebrations of the Divine Office.