When we left off with the Glory & Praise series, we were looking at the first three volumes. Glory & Praise volume 3, which in my assessment was the shark-jumping moment for NALR, was soon rivaled by GIA’s entry into the contemporary paperback hymnal market, Gather To Remember.
GIA scooped up the better remnants of Pastoral Arts Associates’ bevy of composers, notably Joe Wise and the up-and-coming Marty Haugen, who had already produced three albums, the last of which was soon to be distributed by his new publisher. David Haas was still a babe in the woods and contributes some beginning efforts here. Mike Joncas gets service music and a Vespers canticle midden in the mix while he rides out his contractual agreement with NALR.
As a publication, this music booklet shows the lazy side of GIA: a different typeface and manuscript for almost every composer. Such an approach was to be a fault that GIA would repeat (in different ways) in just about every contemporary hymnal they would publish in the last century. It did them no credit.
The music itself included fifty-one identified “songs,” eleven “seasonal psalms,” and seventeen items in the “service music” section. It’s hard to sort out how some of these determinations were made. Some psalm settings (like Haugen’s nice settings of Psalm 25 and 63, which are common responsorial psalms in the Lectionary) are included with “songs” and Haas’ “Send Us Your Spirit,” listed in the psalm section, and subtitled a “Psalm for Pentecost,” is clearly not even a psalm paraphrase.
Thirty-three of fifty one “songs” are Scripture-based, and ten of the eleven “seasonal psalms,” a ratio of nearly seventy percent that improves on the 70’s NALR material.
That’s not to say some throwaway material isn’t included here. There’s some Joncas, Haugen, and Haas pieces that the composers themselves thought little of and never bothered to record or publish in any other format. The usual GIA suspects (including four from Taize) are rounded out by a dozen Weston Priory offerings, ten or so Worship II refugees (including the overlooked Wilson setting of Dudley-Smith’s “Sing A New Song to the Lord”) plus a representative sampling of “crossover” material like “Let There Be Peace On Earth” and “Lord of the Dance.”
The psalmody contains the best of the musical lot here. “Your Love Is Finer Than Life” has always been fun to play on keyboard or guitar. Dennis Vessels’ “My Refuge” is also a pleasing setting, but because it was buried on a late recording of Joe Wise’s, it never got the exposure it deserved. I liked it enough to score it for SATB choir and instruments many years ago.
What in this collection might have staying power? “Gather Us In” certainly seems to be going strong from what I see. “I Am The Bread of Life” too. “Jesus Remember Me” and “Ubi Caritas” from Taize, maybe. Probably a half-dozen of the psalm paraphrases.
This collection would set the table for GIA’s entry into the contemporary hymnal scene six years later. Maybe if I can summon the energy, I’ll keep these hymnal reviews rolling. Meanwhile, comments welcome.