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The St. Louis Jesuits

It occurred to me this morning just how often as I read the Scripture for the day I hear words and melodies in my head. In the 1970s Catholics experienced a new phenomenon that came to be known as “guitar Masses” or – usually spoken of by those who found the movement distasteful – “hootenanny Masses.” It was an attempt after the Second Vatican Council for liturgists to find new ways to praise God during ritual that would appeal to new generations of worshippers. Some of the results of this “experiment” were dismal but as serious musicians and theologians entered the scene the beauty of voice and instruments – from guitars to entire orchestras – produced some wonderful compositions that are still beloved almost 50 years later. One of the most prolific and talented groups of that era was the St. Louis Jesuits, five young men who were studying for the priesthood at St. Louis University. Many of their compositions sing of God’s care for us in the words of the Hebrew Scriptures and for me they are always illustrative of the adage, the one who sings prays twice. Even here alone this morning I can feel the surge of love and faith within me as I sing silently the words of the prophet Isaiah (40: 25-31).

We will run and not grow weary, for the Lord will be our strength and we will fly like the eagle. We will rise again!

Today I thank God for all the musicians who lift my spirit or comfort me in times of darkness. Any genre of music is miracle to me and I am grateful to give voice in praise. Whether loudly accompanying a CD in my car or silently swaying to the music of my heart, I bow always to the Master Musician.

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