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.