View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Before Glory and Praise

I recently uncovered an old folder that contained some songs I used to play back in the 70s. The songs included many of the hymns we used to play as part of the campus ministry “folk group.”

Mind you, the St. Louis Jesuit songs had begun to filter in, but these were the main songs with which we had to work.

Ah, the memories.

I found myself humming along with hymns I hadn’t played or sung in more than 25 years.

I also found myself quickly turning the pages as I came across some songs I was sick of even then.

One memory that surfaced was of a Mass at which only about half the group showed up, and I was the lone guitarist. (Well, it was a Sunday morning on a college campus back in the days when the drinking age was 18 and the college had an on-campus pub.)

I started a song and began singing. At that point I realized I was the only one in the group singing.

I looked over at the others. Some were moving their lips without sound coming out (in the way Catholics often “sing” at Mass.). Others had glazed looks on their faces. (Remember, it was Sunday morning on a college campus that had its own pub.)

In between verses I whispered to the group, ”What is this, a solo?”

Seems my “whisper” was more of a stage whisper. I suddenly realized the entire congregation was staring at me. I looked at the priest at the altar.

He was struggling to keep a straight face.

I kept singing. The group joined me. Some people in the congregation even started moving their lips.

Anyway, here’s a partial list of the songs. Maybe they’ll stir some memories in readers that AARP is trying to recruit. Perhaps a few of those folks might even be inspired to move their lips.
To Be Alive
Enter, Rejoice and Come In
I Am the Resurrection
Put Your Hand in the Hand
I Am the Bread of Life
Gonna Sing, My Lord
This is the Day
Sons of God
Allelu, Allelu
For You Are My God
Shout From the Highest Mountain
All That I AM
It’s a Brand New Day
Lord of the Dance
Alle, Alle, Alleluia
Be a New Man
Yahweh is the God of my Salvation
Prayer of St. Francis
They’ll Know We Are Christians
Take our Bread


Blogger Talmida said...

Oh my!! I remember those!

Still, it's nice to know that I don't have to sing about God's sons (since I'm not one), but I did like the tune of that one.

My diocese still sings quite a few of them, but all language is now inclusive, and many songs have had the name of God (Yahweh) edited in newer versions.

They take me back though - to childhood masses at the lake, or classroom celebrations sung a cappella. And it where is Kumbaya? Isn't that the great grand-daddy of "Jesus, he is a buff-dude" hymns? ;)

1:24 PM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas said...

We sing I Am the Bread of Life (in Korean) quite often at my parish. As far as modern songs go, it's one of my favorites.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Some of the songs are indeed still hanging around. Some I think got discarded but could still be useful.
By the way, I've never sung Kumbaya in a church, but did at Masses at a summer camp where I worked in the late 1970s! - Lee

7:59 AM  
Blogger MLA said...

I was part of the "band" was I was a teen w/ my Dad who played guitar and sister either played moraccas or tamborine. I played the flute. I do have to confess an affection for "They will know we are Christians by our love." I chose it for the final "hymn" at our wedding. I'm a Traditionalist now so it's funny to be reminded of these songs.

2:07 PM  
Blogger CafeCath said...

Ah! I, too, was the "lone guitarist" in many an early morning folk mass. I share your memory! I didn't see "Here We Are" on your's imprinted in my brain, along with the mind numbing Catholic folk song chord progression: C, Am, F & G.

Thanks for the memories!

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Dhyana said...

Ah, yes, such memories!

Anyone else remember "Israel, Rely On Yahweh" ? I'd love to get the lyrics to that one ... if you have a clue as to where I could find them, please contact me at . Thanks!

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Valerie Claussen said...

I remember those hymns too. I sung in Banning, CA's Precious Blood Catholic school's Choir back in the late 70's and early 80's. I've been searching high and low for the lyrics to I am the Resurrection. Do you have it? It would make my year as I've slowly forgotten parts of it and other songs.
Great site! Thanks!

9:06 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

I saw some song titles there that I haven't heard in years. Came right back though. Our music director is almost young enough to be my child, so the other night after a rehearsal, a couple of us starting singing "Alle Alle Alleluia" he looked at us like we had made it up on the spot. Never even heard of it.

But like some said, we are still singing some of them and they are still in "Gather".

Ah, yes, to be on the cusp of AARP.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Mary Kay said...

Is this Lee from Rochester? Wow, I was looking for someone who had these old "folk mass" songs from the 1970's! How can I get a copy of them? I want to plan a folk mass party and invite my old time (former and current)Catholic friends. -Mary Kay, formerly of Rochester

1:00 AM  
Blogger Mary Kay said...

Oh, please email me: I still have the caricature I did of you years ago (if this is the Lee I know.) "Tunes and Tales"...ring a bell?

1:03 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Mary Kay - I am that Lee. I still have that caricature!

As for getting copies of the songs, I might still have them (I'll have to search for that folder again!). There might also be copies out there, maybe on the internet.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

dhyana - I don't remember that title. I'll have to look through my old folders to see if that's in there. - Lee

6:51 AM  
Anonymous said...

OH WOW! I still play some of those songs at home and often thought how much they touched the people in my parish (young, mid-age, and the older folks). They remember events in their lives along with some of those songs. Here are a few more to add to the list:
I Lift Up My Eyes
Hear, Oh Lord
Pause Awhile
Turn Your Hearts
Peace I Leave With You
My Friends
(and of course the song played the loudest with the most feeling with every single type of instrument available ).....
Wake Up My People!

5:46 PM  
Blogger Loretta said...

I would love to get a copy of the lyrics to the songs listed in your list above. I also used to play the guitar and sing many of them during folk mass during the 70s. My sisters, cousins and I used to also remember singing them around the campfire while we were on family camping trips with extended family as we were growing up. If anyone still has the lyrics (especially to Sons of God and Here I am, Lord) I would love for you to send them to me @ We are planning an upcoming family reunion/camping trip and I would love to be able to pull out my old guitar and some of these old family favorites as a surprise! Everyone would love it!

9:51 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

One way to find them is to just go online and type in a title followed by "lyrics"

I typed in - "Sons of God" lyrics - and got several listings, including -

R- Sons of God: Hear His Holy word,

Gather around the table of the Lord

Eat His Body, drink His Blood

And we'll sing a song of love

Allelu, allelu, allelu, alleluia.

1- Brothers, sister we are one,

And our life has just begun,

In the spirit we are young,

We can live forever.

2- Shout together to the Lord

Who has promised our reward,

Happiness a hundred fold

And we'll live forever.

3- Jesus gave a new command:

That we love our fellow man,

Till we reach the promised land

Where we'll live forever.

4- If we want to live with Him,

We must also die with Him,

Die to selfishness and sin

And we'll live forever.

5- Make the world a unity,

Make all men one family,

Till we meet The Trinity

And we'll live forever.

6- With the church we celebrate,

Jesus coming we await,

So we'll make a holiday,

So we'll live forever.

5:56 AM  

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