I’d rather be posting on Advent music, but when the call comes …
Overall, this 1980 volume is a disappointment over the first. Maybe a huge one. Scripture-sourced songs outnumber non- by 44-37, a drop of 10%. The editors at NALR used a lot of second-line material from the Jesuits. There’s lots of Carey Landry, Ellis & Lynch, Joe Zsigray: earnest stuff, but clearly not up to the standards of the best of GP 1.
The best crafted music is by Joncas, Donald Reagan, and Foley, but I can’t recall anything from this collection that strikes me as great. Nothing Like “Take Lord Receive,” at any rate.
As for long-term repertoire, I think you’re stuck with another three “good” songs from this collection: Foley’s “The Cry of the Poor” and “One Bread One Body,” and “On Eagles’ Wings.” Whether you should be stuck with them, that’s another question. “I Have Loved You” is on a par with these three in quality–maybe a tad higher, but I don’t think it will catch on.
In a way, you should be glad Mike Joncas came along when he did. Otherwise, I would see more of a trend to kitschy catechetical music coming out of NALR. If composers were paying attention to the Jesuits, they didn’t show it. Conry had a strong liturgical sensibility. Joncas, even in his twenties, brings the best composing chops to the barbecue. The Jesuits are drifting.
Donald Reagan’s Alleluia is the best bit of service music yet in this series. His “Shalom” is overlooked. I knew the man in the mid-80’s. He told me NALR wanted dumbed-down music and they weren’t interested in his good stuff. His Mass in a Jazz Style was finally published by NPM. His “Lamb of God” from this Mass is the best post-conciliar music I’ve heard and sung that was written for the fraction rite.
Mike Cymbala from GIA confided his surprise that Leon Roberts’ Mass of St Augustine was such a blow-the-roof-off smash for the closing liturgy at an NPM convention in 1986. I was surprised he was surprised. Catholic musicians wanted top-shelf music for their choirs and congregations. That NALR went belly up was due in part to their short-sightedness. Today, you can’t come to choir practice and expect to coast your way through most of the GIA, OCP, or WLP repertoire.
My guilty pleasure? “Like Cedars They Shall Stand.” I looked over that song for the first time in almost twenty years tonight. It was one of those second-line refugees from the Jesuits’ mammoth Neither Silver Nor Gold. I think the bare bones and warts recordings of these songs adds considerable spirit that is much harder to find on the studio recordings of later years.
Final verdict: nothing great here; wait for volume 3.