Jeffrey Tucker of The New Liturgical Movement has an essay in the Fall issue of Sacred Music called "The Mystery of the St. Louis Jesuits." The article is in reaction to the coffee table book put out on the St. Louis Jesuits by OCP earlier this year. The article gives a history of them and how it al involved. There is a lot of interesting information on the genesis of this group and how they evolved. He also relates what he calls " a scene worthy of the movie "Spinal Tap,"
I would love to see a mockumentary in the vein of Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind done on the St. Louis Jesuits. There is just so much to mock that the script would write itself just by paralleling their true history. There is one quote from Spinal Tap that could be used almost directly in a mockumentary on them In fact if you substitute the words Spinal Tap for St. Louis Jesuits this quote is perfect.
[Reading a review of Spinal Tap’s latest album]
Marty DiBergi: "This pretentious ponderous collection of religious rock psalms is enough to prompt the question, ‘What day did the Lord create
Spinal Tap the St. Louis Jesuits, and couldn’t he have rested on that day too?’"
Too bad church amps don’t go to 11. 🙂
Though at least then can be set to zero.
The St. Louis Jesuits were a big improvement on what came before. For a sense of what came before, take a quick flip through the first book of Glory and Praise. The very best songs in there are by–the St. Louis Jesuits. No, it’s not Palestrina. But it wasn’t the Byrds, the Beatles, and Fiddler on the Roof, which, I kid you not, were part of my parish’s “folk Mass” repertoire in the 70s, along with some obviously campfire songs. We used to sing five or seven songs from “Godspell” alone. The Jesuits sang from Scripture, with some understanding of what the Scriptures meant. No, it wasn’t good enough. But they were a step in the right direction.
It’s interesting to read about what happened to the St. Louis Jesuits- one became a Buddhist and left the Seminary, one was ordained but left the priesthood.
Roc O’Connor, Tucker claimed, was the only one to continue as a musician, and he eventually came to appreciate traditional music and claimed to be “bored” with all the stuff he had done in the ’70s, expressing happiness at the new focus on tradition.
It’s fascinating, because the music, which supposedly was an effort to “rejuvinate” the Church, couldn’t even keep the composers in the Church- and they went to a seminary! How is this music supposed to keep the lay faithful around if it can’t keep the composers around?
At least they don’t do a song for 3 to 4 bass guitars.
When I was in the early years of grade school, must have been 1974 or so, the good sisters and lay guitarists taught us kiddies a little ditty called “The Answer is Living in Amen”. It was “Blowin’ in the Wind”, but with even more banal lyrics. Folders of mimeographed lyrics of this and similar poetry put to popular and folk melodies were produced. Eventually the folders disappeared and we sang those songs no longer. It was my first exposure to intellectual property rights. Thank God for Bob Dylan’s lawyers.
I found it interesting that the rationale they kept using was “this is the voice of the people” and “this is what the people want.”
In both choirs I’ve participated in (note the irony of my vast experience–they were both college choirs) the biggest problem we faced was that *the congregation would not sing.* No matter how we did the song, no matter how we pleaded, the congregation was inaudible. And we were doing almost exclusively this type of music because guitar was what everyone played.
In our new parish, we are not part of the choir, but one of the choir members approached me to say thank you for singing. (!?!) She noticed me, eight rows back, singing. Apparently it’s still an issue in my church, that the “people” are failing to sing with “the voice of the people.”
If the people aren’t going to sing anyhow, why NOT use polyphony and Gregorian chant?
Comments are closed.