We got word tonight from a friend in Kansas City that Father Bill Bauman has passed into eternal life.
Bill hired me in 2002, and I worked with him for two years. The confluence of strong-headed liturgists from different generations wasn’t always a serene one. But I respected his approach to ministry and his unstinting commitment to good, participatory liturgy.
Bill was one of the clergy picked to “ghost-write” Music In Catholic Worship. Several years ago I spoke with him about it. The Bishop’s Committee on Liturgy (BCL) was concerned about raising the bar on church music wherever they could. Bill said they didn’t emphasize the dialogues or other priest chants because he didn’t sense it would get any traction from the clergy of the day. But they did think the people would read and apply a document giving them direction on church music.
Bill and his colleagues hoped that emerging folk groups and other grass-roots musical ensembles would begin to make good choices about repertoire. The focus was to insist on congregational singing, on improving the musical choices for people in the pew, and to attend to the vital connection with the liturgy. Hence the Three Judgments.
Modern day MCW critics miss the point totally on the importance and value of the judgments. But most liturgists and musicians were weaned on them, and still see their value–hence the inclusion in the USCCB’s most recent document on music. Undeniably, the MCW heritage is a lay musical leadership much more engaged in the liturgy than non-singing presiders.
Bill and his colleagues provided that heritage, a new tradition that enabled the Church in the US to move out of the 50’s and 60’s and bring a pastoral, scriptural, and ritual sensibility to the Roman Rite. I’m grateful for that effort. It has enabled us to move forward in spite of naysayers and others who have yet to match Bill’s faith in the voice of the people and the direction of liturgical reform.
As you are carried over the waters of death, Fr Bill, may you find a home in the choir of the saints and angels in heaven.