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.

Friday, January 20, 2006

St. Louis Jesuits reunite: Time to tune my guitar




As a former church “folk musician,” I am happy to hear that the St. Louis Jesuits – all of them – have reunited to produce their first album in 20 years.

For those too young to remember, the Jesuits were the Beatles of liturgical music during their heyday.

A CNS article notes, “Fans of the St. Louis Jesuits' music will find comfort in the songs on Morning Light as its sound is much the same as their earlier sound. But there are some challenging and surprising pieces included as well, arising `from life experience and the ups and downs that we've all faced,' Father O'Connor said."

I’ll check it out.

Maybe we’ll see them on a PBS (or EWTN) fundraising special soon - like so many other golden oldies.

Perhaps we can even get Joe Wise to put in an appearance.

11 Comments:

Blogger tom said...

being from the oldest city west of the Mississipi, I am thrilled to hear of the SLJ starting up again...a lot of guys on Catholic websites have little nice to say about their "genre" of music, but being an older dude, their songs are music to my ears figuratively and literally....fond memories of the red booklet, and the simplicity of chords that I try to repeat on the old gee-tar.

1:08 PM  
Blogger CafeCath said...

OMG, I just posted about this today, indirectly. I'm smiling to see that you, too, are a former folk musician. I spent many a Sunday in the '70s strumming my six-string and leading the congregation in some of those SLJ classics.

Ah, the red booklet and the simple chords! To this day, if you give me a C, an A-minor, an F and a G, I could sing and play my way through many a mass.

It's definitely time to tune the ol' Gibson!

9:17 PM  
Blogger Karen Marie said...

Back in the late 70s and the 80s, the parish choir I sang in [Gesu Parish, Milwaukee] was one of the sites where their music was beta-tested before being chosen for publication. One of them, I won't say which, has totally atrocious notation handwriting, and we all cheered when he got a music processor.....

Wish that Tim Manion and Fr. John Kavanaugh were with them, though.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Karen Marie - According to the news article, Manion did join them to sing on some of the songs on the new record.

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Forgive me if I don't wallow in all the wistful nostalgia for the music of these gentlemen. Having been compelled to listen to, sing and/or play along to their thoroughly undistinguished ditties for most of my adult life, I think I'll pass.

Besides, don't we mean the St. Louis EX-Jesuits? These men were ordained priests of Christ's church who walked away from their vocations. They are in no way praiseworthy.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous archangel said...

For those too young to remember, the Jesuits were the Beatles of liturgical music during their heyday.

Right "during their heyday." That's the key phrase. The heyday for this kind of musical mediocrity has long since come and gone. Unfortunately, we're still stuck with listening to their stuff every sunday in thousands of parishes around North America.

Imagine that we were were all forced to wear bell bottoms and leisure suits every Sunday and drive Ford Pintos...(Listening to endlessly looping 8-track tapes of guys who didn't make the first cut at tryouts for a Kingston Trio tribute band.)

Woohoo. Try to control your enthusiasm....

That's how many of us view these guys and their execrable stuff, which has all the musical and spiritual distinction of a 35-year-old box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

Besides, why would EWTN invite a bunch of former priests who are now married or with homosexual male "partners" on their network?

Thanks, but, er...no thanks.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Hmm. Accordign to CNS, four of them are still priests.

Let's not let charity - or facts - stand in the way of wallowing in vitriol, eh?

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Archangel said...

Lee,

If I'm wrong on what I understood to be the facts about their laicizationen masse, than I'm more than happy to admit it, and to be so. Thank God for the commitment to their priesthood of those four SLG's, if this indeed be the case.

On the other hand, I will agree that my "vitriol"[ic] claim that any comparison between the musical mediocrity of the SLG's and the Beatles is indeed uncharitable... to the Beatles, that is.

I find it interesting that young people in their 20's through early 40's are leading a revival of interest in Chant and traditional liturgical musical forms, while the ubiquitous SLG's, Marty Haugen and the like (all supposed to appeal to "youth") are now the provice of aging 50 and 60-something baby boomers.

Again, (and in all charity), thanks but no thanks.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

From the CNS article:

"In the spring, Fathers O'Connor, Foley and Dufford and Schutte will do four live performances in Washington, St. Louis, Chicago and Anaheim, Calif. The group hasn't done any public performances together in nearly 20 years."

That seems to me to indicate that the first three (not all four, I erred) are still priests.

I have heard that Schutte did leave, and may be gay, but I don't know that for certain.

The homosexual dig, by the way, was offensive. Bearing false witness again? Or do you have proof of that - the same sort you did for falsely claiming they were no longer priests?

Still, spreading false information about people without checking facts seems to me to be a violation of that little rule about bearing false witness.

As for the rest of your comments, why are you so angry? Yes, a good deal of their music has not lasted the test of time, but some of it has. Did it really hurt you that much?

I'm sure if we looked back over the centuries to the eras when the classic hymns that we still sing were composed, we would find hundreds if not thousands of hymns that also did not last.

Personally, I enjoy a wide variety of hymns and chants.

And I suspect a few of the Jesuit compositions will still be sung 100 years from now - long after you and I have gone to face God's judgement.

As for me, I recognize I am a sinner. I would never presume to call myself an angel of any sort.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous archangel said...

Lee,

Well, so much for my feeble attempts at charity...

1a.) Expressing a defense of traditional forms of liturgical music (and a distaste for material such as the SLJs, Haugen, Schutte, etc.) in no way precludes openness to new, modern liturgical music that is both reverent and compositionally interesting.

1b.) There is an incredible and diverse body of innovative, high-quality sacred music from contemporary composers that rarely ever sees the light of day, while the same insipid material is played year after year.

The homosexual dig, by the way, was offensive. Bearing false witness again?

2.) First, I'm not certain what constitutes a "homosexual dig". Second, I don't appreciate being calumniated for "bearing false witness," in turn.

For the record, Dan Schutte evidently now publicly identifies himself as a "partnered gay man." References abound. Here's one: http://www.cruxnews.com/ftm/ftm-24sept04.html

As an aside, Marty Haugen (often inadvertantly mistaken for the SLJs) is described on his own website (http://www.martyhaugen.net) as a "composer-in-residence at Mayflower United Church of Christ in Minneapolis and serves as adjunct professor at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, Minnesota."

Why must the rest of us be compelled to listen every Sunday to "communion songs" written by a Catholic artist who associates himself with one of the most liberal protestant denominations, and even teaches theology at their seminary, no less? (Lex Orandi, Lex credendi, I say.) One example, from Mr. Haugen's WE REMEMBER: "We bring the bread and wine to share a meal...sign of grace and mercy." (Well, no, Marty. It's not just a "sign." Maybe in the UCC, but not the Catholic church.)

As for the rest, we'll simply have to agree to disagree.

As for me, I recognize I am a sinner. I would never presume to call myself an angel of any sort.

As for me, I consider myself the chief of sinners, in St, Paul's own words. Accordingly, please do not make any judgments about a complete stranger's intentions or beliefs about him or herself in choosing an online moniker.

Finally, some humor:

Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas

http://www.mgilleland.com/music/moratorium.htm

Pax + Godspeed.

12:40 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

1a.) Expressing a defense of traditional forms of liturgical music (and a distaste for material such as the SLJs, Haugen, Schutte, etc.) in no way precludes openness to new, modern liturgical music that is both reverent and compositionally interesting.

1b.) There is an incredible and diverse body of innovative, high-quality sacred music from contemporary composers that rarely ever sees the light of day, while the same insipid material is played year after year.

--- I agree. The choir I sing with does tap into these contemporary resources. And there is a lot of insipid music out there.

The homosexual dig, by the way, was offensive. Bearing false witness again?

- The particular comment that inspired this response was "Besides, why would EWTN invite a bunch of former priests who are now married or with homosexual male "partners" on their network? "

Three of them are still priests, and only one is gay. You said oin effect that they all either left and got married, or were homosexual. That is false - hence bearing false witness.

But what troubled me more is that this homosexual label is all too often a barb tossed into discussions to discredit the foes/despised ones. Sort of like the "commie" labels of the 1950s or the "get a job" cracks at war protesters.

And should we toss out all the music of people who engage in immoral activities?

I'd rather deal with the music and criticism of it, and not these ad hominem (and uncharitable) types of attacks.

As an aside, Marty Haugen (often inadvertantly mistaken for the SLJs) is described on his own website (http://www.martyhaugen.net) as a "composer-in-residence at Mayflower United Church of Christ in Minneapolis and serves as adjunct professor at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, Minnesota."

--- Hmm. I teach at a Plymouth Bretheran school. Does that disqualify me from singing in the choir? Or attempting to write liturgical songs?

Why must the rest of us be compelled to listen every Sunday to "communion songs" written by a Catholic artist who associates himself with one of the most liberal protestant denominations, and even teaches theology at their seminary, no less? (Lex Orandi, Lex credendi, I say.) One example, from Mr. Haugen's WE REMEMBER: "We bring the bread and wine to share a meal...sign of grace and mercy." (Well, no, Marty. It's not just a "sign." Maybe in the UCC, but not the Catholic church.)

-- Remember, he used to be a Lutheran, and the song was composed back around 1980. Maybe that is what he believed when he wrote it. And the verse goes on to say "presence of the Lord." that suggests to me that God is present in that "bread and wine."

- Lee

7:55 AM  

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