Glory and Praise vol 1

I hesitate to do this. Inevitably, someone will see this post, jump to a self-satisfied conclusion, and say, “Aha!”

Liam challenged me in one of the Musical Style threads what I would consider “great” in the body of Glory and Praise music. I offer my personal subjective judgment for the music I like, and my best guess of a pastoral judgment on what will last beyond our post-conciliar upheaval.

“Be Not Afraid” and “You Are Near” have the best chance of lasting use in Catholicism. I think they’re decent pieces of liturgical music. The use of the former at funerals will tip the song into a general acceptance for decades. There’s no denying that music done at particularly moving times will tend to catch on.

Psalm 139 is a mysterious, wonderful prayer. As of yet, Dan Schutte’s setting has no competition in the Catholic imagination. If someone were to try to set the psalm for general use (like David Haas’ “You Are Mine” tries to coopt “Be Not Afraid’s” Isaiah 43) it might get some company near the top of the people’s choice list.

The texts of these two songs are so appealing liturgically and spiritually, I don’t see them dropping from use, unless some really, really outstanding alternate were to come along.

I have three favorites in GP 1, two songs I do think are outstanding, and one a guilty pleasure I have never done at liturgy.

“Take Lord Receive,” John Foley’s setting of a portion of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises is great music. The problem is that it takes better-than-average musicians to pull it off. On most of his songs, I think Foley takes the tempi too slow. But not on this one. I think this is a good, memorable melody, set to music that is suitable on any instrument(s), and a prayerful, top-notch text for liturgy.

I like “Dwelling Place,” too. The voice-guitar-instrument interplay has always been fun and fulfilling. But like #53, it can be easily butchered, which is why I don’t think it will catch on. Though I do think it is a better song than the two I think will last.

My guilty pleasure is another Foley piece, “Rise Up Jerusalem,” which has some flaws, but I loved the liturgy-live recording on Neither Silver Nor Gold. Despite a pretentious text, I think it sets an Advent mood quite well. Other than that, I can’t be rational about my attraction to the song, so I just leave it that I just like it.

The red book gave guitarists basic notes for reproducing the songs well at Mass. It was one of the first to address the need for musical development among non-professional church musicians. Certainly nobody else was doing that in these days before NPM.

There are sixty songs in the first section of the book, thirty-nine of which are based in whole or in part on Scripture. That’s a good sign of where things were heading in non-professional church music in the mid-70’s. I can appreciate the step this was from FEL hymnals–which, by the way, were fairly ample in their Scripture settings, too; more than I thought when I looked at an old copy a few months ago.

I don’t begrudge two songs out of eighty pieces in this book.

About these ads

About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Liturgical Music. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Glory and Praise vol 1

  1. Gavin says:

    “You are Near”

    Musically, the ending upsets me. It lacks a feel of being over. Not every hymn has to have a V-I, but most Western music has a feeling where you know it’s over at the last note. In fact, on a practical level, one can’t end it quickly because it still sounds like it’s going to go on. In fact, half the congregation will probably go to the next verse. I myself don’t cut hymns short, but for those that do it’s bothersome. And again, 7 beats? Isn’t that a bit much? If accompanied well, a congregation can get it, but often it’s “Yah wayyyy I knowww (yyyyy)ouare nearrrrr (sssssss)standing…”

    Textually, it is excellent. I could go with more of a paraphrase so that it rhymes, but still it is a fine text.

    “Be Not Afraid”

    Now that one is bad. Textually, it’s not a very comforting text. Not that a hymn HAS to mention Jesus or God outright, but this one could use it. It’s vague about “I” “me”, etc. I really can’t tell, is it referring to God? The Holy Spirit? Christ? “Blessed are your poor,” while I may live below the poverty line I am still rich compared to people starving in Africa or India. It keeps telling me I’m blessed and speaks of safety, but never says why. People at funerals don’t need platitudes, they need Christ. I always try to get “I know that my Redeemer Lives” in to funerals so that people have a REASON for hope! As I said, when I had that “hit parade” funeral, I had to wonder where Jesus was in all that. Another reason I also don’t mind “I Am the Bread of Life” at funerals. Some of the G&P music is comforting for funerals, but BNA is not.

    Musically, I have expressed often my strong dislike of that melody. Well, the melodic content is good, but the rhythm is the problem. Before you again pull out the “elitist with his music degree” card, I’ll say that I don’t have a degree or a conservatory education. However, even if I had a graduate degree I doubt I could ever play the rhythms for that song correctly. And of course, I speak as someone who does know how to read music. If your congregation sings this well, I must know your secret.

    Some of my favorite music to play is in the “contemporary” genre. Hass’s music can be quite fun, as are mixed-meter tunes. However, their musical and textual merit should be carefully considered first. “Be Not Afraid” is great for a choir to sing at a funeral. “We Are Called” is fine for a congregation good at singing or a bunch of pop-music saturated youth. But given the state of Catholic congregational singing, it’s nothing but a pastoral nightmare that these songs were introduced. I intend to introduce “Savior of the Nations, Come” at my church on Sunday. This tune is as easy to sing as it gets. It’s probably the most sightreadable tune out there. And the text, of course, is straight out of the Liturgy of the Hours. That’s part of what motivates my selections for Mass: music which is singable and texts which speak effectively.

  2. KiwiNomad06 says:

    I am not much of a pray-er, but I often play some of the ‘religious’ music I have while I have breakfast at the start of my day. Strangely enough, “Be not afraid” was one I played this morning, and it stayed with me through the day.

  3. Liam says:

    Todd:

    Before I head out for a week of travel during which I will return to the mid-20th century (that is, my parents’ home, an Internet-free zone)

    You Are Near has a catchy refrain and the verses are not bad, but the odd cadences (Gavin took the words right out of my mouth) and some of the scanning keeps it out of Great, in my estimation.

    Take Lord Receive is a personal favorite text of mine, but it is limited musically to a choir with great top voices (please sing the descant, but only if you will be on top of the pitches; so many Catholic choirs are unable to do this, sadly) and it has very odd pauses. Listen to it without instruments, and it’s weaknesses become a bit more apparent. Good. Not Great.

    Be Not Afraid. Lives mostly on its liminal associations. But, musically, it’s a bit of a parody piece. Not even Good.

    Don’t know your other two pieces. My guitly pleasure used to be “How Glorious Is Your Name”, but my friend and I had to muck that up a bit (we had women sing vv 3 & 4 with a male descant beneath; also we reworked the refrain for SATB). Fun, but not Great.

    Merry Christmas (Merry formerly meaning Blessed, which makes “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” (remember that comma!) read differently, doensn’t it?)

  4. Todd says:

    Thanks for the commentary. I tend to agree with you on your assessments of BNA and YAN. Regarding the latter, I never said I played it as written. I find that a V11 chord (or C/D) works to give it resolution.

    And yes, TLR does have odd pauses. I guess I’ll have to drop it a notch. Wait for GP2: what will I come up with there?

  5. F. C. Bauerschmidt says:

    I’m glad you mentioned TLR — it’s one of my favorite SLJ pieces but, in my experience, almost never heard outside Jesuit circles. But it is hardly a congregational song, with its dramatic pauses, even in the refrain.

    “You are near” is OK, but I have a prejudice against texts that use the divine name (YHWH). While some things Christians say will undoubtedly give offense to our Jewish brothers and sisters (e.g. calling Jesus “the Christ”), use of the divine name does so needlessly. It is a practice that has no precedent in Catholic tradition prior to the Jerusalem Bible, and, given the New Testament’s habitual following of the Septuagint’s use of Kyrios, I think you could even argue that it is counter to Catholic tradition.

  6. Pingback: spiritual view

  7. Pingback: Glory & Praise: The Next Generation | Catholic Sensibility

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s