More about Bryan Hays, OSB

Father Henry Bryan Beaumont Hays is a man of many names. He was born December 10, 1920, in Tennessee to Lucy Beaumont Hays. His father, Henry Bryan Hays, abandoned the family, and his mother later married W. F. Dority. As a boy and young man, Father Bryan used his stepfather’s name and was called Bryan Dority. Upon entering Saint John’s in 1957, he took the religious name Hippolytus. When naming practices changed after the Second Vatican Council, Father Bryan reverted to Bryan Dority, but later reclaimed his mother’s maiden name and his birth name, becoming Henry Bryan Beaumont Hays, or more familiarly, Father Bryan.

Although largely self-taught as a boy, Hays went on to attend the Chicago Musical College, where he studied composition. In 1949 he won the George Gershwin Award which included both a Carnegie Hall performance of his composition “Pastorale and Allegro”, and funding for study in France. He later was a student of Aaron Copland, and in 1952 and 1953 received Guggenheim Fellowships to student composition in Italy. It was during his time in Rome that his interest in Catholicism emerged and eventually led him to Collegeville.

Henry Bryan Hays composed both sacred and secular music. While he ranged across multiple musical styles, he was most prolific in creating vocal music – solos, duets, and choral music; five operas; and more than two hundred hymns. He once described his compositions as “20th century” but “not avant-garde”.

Ross Parmenter, “3D MUSIC FETE HELD AT LOCUST VALLEY; New Works by Bryan Dority, Arthur Berger Mark First of Two Chamber Concerts” New York Times, September 8, 1952. p. 18.

John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. “Bryan Dority”.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Composers’ Forum, July 22, 1951. Copland conducts Dority’s chamber cantata “Romeo and Juliet”.

Henry Bryan Hays, Swayed Pine Songbook. Liturgical Press, 1981.

Saint Cloud Times [obituary]. Henry Hays. March 6, 2017.

Henry Bryan Beaumont Hays. Abbey Banner, Spring 2017. p.32.

Bob Filipczak, “Meet Father Bryan Hays”. The Record, October 9, 1981.

Neal Gendler, “In Silence of His Monastery Cell, Priest Creates Operas”. Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, March 6, 1977. p. 1D.

Don E. Saliers, “Swayed Pines Songbook” [review]. The Hymn, 1984. V. 35:2, p. 125-6.

Anthony Feuerstein, “A discovery: Thomas Merton's poetry as art song; compositions by Bryan Beaumont Hays, OSB: A bibliographical note”. Merton Annual, Nov. 2005, p. 72.

Additional resource

Brian Hays and JoAnn Shroyer, “Fr. Bryan Hays Interview: Transcript 09/26/01”. Archival document September 26, 2001.