Category Archives: Music Pages

Christian music, mostly from the 1960’s and 1970’s, the “Jesus Music” era.

Paul Quinlan: Run Like a Deer

FEL  S-092 (1967)

The ink (printed or handwritten) had barely dried on the Second Vatican Council’s documents when Catholic composers and artists began to write songs for what we call the “old folk Mass” but what was revolutionary then.  Leading the pack (in quantity at least) was Paul Quinlan, S.J., who produced an enormous number of songs that resonated in many Catholic churches during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Most of the songs on this album are drawn from the Psalms, which was a favourite well for Quinlan to draw from.  It’s hard to expect even output from someone as prolific as Quinlan, but some of his songs are very memorable; I know that my group at Texas A&M made good use of “Song of Thanks.”

As far as his style is concerned, it’s a very sparse, mid-60’s folk style.  That will go down well with some people but many who came after him performed his work in a richer style.  An interesting comparison can be made with his “Glory to God,” which appears (albeit in rehearsal mode) on this recording.

As the 1970’s wore on and NALR’s productions slowly came to dominate the folk Mass scene, much of Quinlan’s work fell by the wayside.  Today of course we have the #straightouttairondale people who ban the folk Mass altogether, but this album is a nice reminder of what people can do when they start with a “clean slate.”

The songs:

  1. Lord You See Me (Ps 139)
  2. Run Like A Dear (Ps 11)
  3. Glory To God (Ps 122)
  4. O Praise The Lord (Ps 150)
  5. Glory To The Father (Ps 92)
  6. God Arises (Ps 68)
  7. Clap Your Hands (Ps 47)
  8. The Lord Is My Shepherd (Ps 23)
  9. Not To Us O Lord (Ps 115)
  10. Come Let Us Sing (Ps 95)
  11. Song Of Thanks (Ps 118)
  12. Father Bless This Work (Jn 17)
  13. Halay! When To God I Send A Plea (Ps 4)

DL

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Reflection: Sounds of Salvation

Reflection RL 310 (1974)

If there’s one genre that’s mostly AWOL from the “Jesus Music” era, it’s prog.  To a great extent that’s still the case; a major exception is this dance troupe, which sets their Christian dance to some very good prog music.  We’ve featured prog on this site (especially this.)  But at the top of the heap, without a doubt, is this masterpiece, from the UK.  It not only sets the standard for what progressive Christian music should sound like; it’s one of the most memorable productions ever undertaken in the era.

Commissioned by the Methodist Church, if their objective was to product a Christian album to appeal to a secular audience, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.  It goes from its noisy start to the hard-driving “Overseers” (which is probably what my students think of me) to a visit to Hell in “Many Regrets” to what is one of the nicest musical representations of the new birth in “What’s That I Hear.”  And that’s just the first side.

It’s an album that has to be experienced.  There’s an entire blog (something of a stub) about it.  This posting is based on the conclusion that the “distribution” that has been out there for a long time is a “needle drop” operation; there are also rumours afoot that same operator has passed on.  If this is not the case, let me know; I’d love to point to a full re-release of this monumental work.

The songs:

  1. Montage & Because My Mouth
  2. Jesus Is The Rock & Overseers & Psalm 94
  3. Who Am I
  4. Many Regrets
  5. For An Instant & In The Dark
  6. What’s That I Hear
  7. People I Live With
  8. Love III
  9. Kumbaya & Prayers
  10. What Is It Like, Lord
  11. Lonely
  12. For A Little Freedom
  13. Prayers
  14. Salvation Hymn
  15. Because My Mouth (reprise)

DL

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Jack Miffleton: With Skins and Steel

World Library  WLSM-36-SM  (1968)

Jack Miffleton started out at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore.  That shouldn’t be strange to regulars on this blog: it was also the starting point of the trio who produced Songs for the Masses.  It’s a pedigree that has largely been forgotten.  And that’s sad; this is a good folk production that needs a revival.

The title wouldn’t pass muster in this obsessive day of ours, but the “skins” part refers to percussion, something that didn’t always pass muster in a day when percussion was thought in some quarters to be secular at best and pagan at worst.  But Miffleton and his musicians make good use of it; the album is reminiscent, more than anything else, of God Unlimited, although some of the pieces echo The Keyhole as well.  There are some very powerful pieces on the album (“Cry Alice.”)  The Mass propers are at a minimum here.

If you’re looking to break out of the #straightouttairondale mould fashionable these days, this is an album you should consider.  The recording is out of distribution but the sheet music is definitely available and can be found here.

My thanks to Dennis for this music.

The songs:

  1. Well, It’s A New Day
  2. The Wind Blows
  3. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
  4. Yours Is The Kingdom
  5. Cry Alice
  6. Alleluia Response
  7. I’m The Good Shepherd
  8. Alle, Alle
  9. Lord, I’ve Come To Your Garden
  10. I Am The Bread
  11. Up To Jerusalem
  12. There Are But Three Things
  13. It Is My Faith
  14. But Then Comes The Morning
  15. I’m Ready To Follow

DL

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Tom Belt and the God Unlimited Singers: The Agape Factory

GIA M/S-142 (1971)

God Unlimited’s earliest works were a hard act to follow.  A group that, in some ways, set the pace for Episcopal/Catholic folk music sounds more “mainstream” than creative in this work.

Part of that was the inclusion of a set of “Mass ordinaries” (use of the term “Mass” wasn’t quite according to Hoyle in the Episcopal church of the day.) And those ordinaries showed that they were “in the groove” of the trial liturgies of the day and not the official 1928 Book of Common Prayer.  As a result they’re more in sync with Roman Catholic efforts than, say, The Winds of God.  It’s not the best Mass out there, and the multi-part harmonies almost guaranteed that it seldom saw daylight at the parish level.

The rest of the album is a good effort but a little of a let-down from their earlier heights.  The title track is an allegory of the “Jesus Music” era.  Unfortunately after the 1970’s most of American Christianity went back to making only grey bricks, with the disastrous result we have today.

The musicians:

  • Mavis Brechan
  • Jim Dumbauld
  • Tom Belt
  • Betsy Belt
  • Cindy Hofman
  • Robbie Bethancourt
  • Todd Sorensen

The songs:

  1. Kyrie Eleison
  2. Glory To God
  3. Creed
  4. Holy, Holy
  5. Our Father
  6. Lamb Of God
  7. The Agape Factory
  8. Light The Day
  9. Israel
  10. Free To Live
  11. I Am Here Lord
  12. This Is My Song Alleluia

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Ed Gutfreund: From an Indirect Love

Epoch VII EG100 (1974)

“The old folk Mass” has become the phrase used by teary-eyed, nostalgic Catholics (and some who left the Church) for the liturgical events of the 1960’s and 1970’s, when the organ gathered dust and the guitars–six and twelve string–were unpacked for the celebration of the sacred mysteries.  But was it really folk music?  Or was it just music done in a folk style and instrumentation?

Falling into the first group is this album.  Ed Gutfreund, familiar to many old NALR aficionados, is a real folk musician who put out this, a real folk album.  He’s best known for his rendition of the Baptist classic “How Can I Keep From Singing,” which introduced this to many Catholic churches. That alone made him memorable, but many of his other songs deserve much more play and performance than they get these days.

Gutfreund, in some ways like Sebastian Temple, is an upbeat composer and performer. That contrasts him with the more moody, minor key style we see in, say, a Roger Smith, and that should have made him more popular as a liturgist.  The problem, however, may be that, as a true folk musician, his work is harder to perform than many of those who simply use folk instrumentation.

And it doesn’t take much for Gresham’s Law to work in Catholic music.  Gutfreund, like many other good Catholic composers and musicians (like fellow folk musician Juliana Garza) got thrown under the OCP bus during the pontifical reign of John Paul II.  Coupled with the liturgical translation changes, much of the “old folk Mass” is pretty much history. And that’s a pity.

Note: this album is unusual in one other respect in that the music specifically for the Mass is interspersed with the other songs, as opposed to the time-honoured practice of putting these pieces at the end of Side 2.

The songs:

  1. Good Morning, Zachary
  2. Lord, Have Mercy On Us All
  3. Alleluia, Praise To The Lord
  4. When We See
  5. Back And Forth
  6. In The Day Of The Lord
  7. How Can I Keep From Singing
  8. When We Gather We Proclaim
  9. The Children Of Sunlight
  10. Your People Of Faith
  11. The Lights Of The City
  12. From An Indirect Love

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Sandi Yonikus: Building the Earth

Liturgical Press  11468 (1968)

This “pre-NOM” album (which means we’ve had one and a half liturgical upheavals since then) is, despite its pretentious title, a mixture of a children’s’ album and early Catholic folk.  Or maybe the pretentious title is reasonable: children are the future, something that the dropping birth rate of the time tended to lose sight of.  In any case, it’s a reasonable effort in both respects.  It’s also a composite effort: in addition to the children from the parish school, it includes seminarians from St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and some help from the Catholic Student Centre at the University of Texas.  (That’s hard to take for an Aggie, but…we knew how to deal with Catholic students from Austin.)

In addition to this effort, Sandi Yonikus (1936-1988) was also a writer of children’s books.

The songs:

  1. Building The Earth
  2. Our God Is Good
  3. Spirit Of God
  4. Gio (The Little Yellow Bird)
  5. We Come As Your People
  6. I’ll Find Me A Mountain
  7. He’ll Come Again
  8. Knock On Any Door
  9. Sing Alleluia
  10. Teach Me
  11. Christ Takes His Throne
  12. Sing With Joy
  13. Gather ‘Round The Table

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The Outpouring: Alive at the Community Coffeehouse

OUTA1 (Fall 1993)

The coffee-house ministry was the gathering par excellence of the Jesus Music era.  Although there are live recordings out there of concerts, coffee-house recordings are few and far between.  This site features only two, both from Texas: the Answer (and that was a rehearsal) and the Latter Rain.  And both of those were recorded from the floor, with all the reverberance to go with them.

Outpouring is no stranger to this blog; their 1979 album is probably the most progressive American album on the site, although this and this are not far behind.  It represented a push into the artistic, a push notoriously lacking in most American Christian music.

This production, fourteen years later, isn’t exactly in the Jesus Music era, but the performers certainly are, and they’re in the same community they were for the first production, too.  The idea of doing a live coffee-house recording from the board is an improvement in and of itself.  And, of course, Outpouring and their community had the task of proclaiming the gospel in the toughest part of the U.S. to do so (except for you know where…)

And the music? It isn’t as “artsy” as the first album, and it’s more directly evangelistic than the first too.  But it’s on a good level musically; there are some fun pieces, some jazzy ones, even a little country.  It’s a great representation of the genre, one that is way too few and far between.

The songs:

  1. A Matter of Heart
  2. Like a Seed
  3. Self-Rejection Blues
  4. Maybe
  5. Heart Divided
  6. Standing Still No More
  7. Not Your Fight Alone
  8. Heart of Hearts
  9. Choose to Believe
  10. Time to Get Serious
  11. Lord’s Prayer
  • Songs (2) and (9) written by Jim Albano and Fran Rosato
  • Song (1) written by Jim Albano and Donna Albano
  • Song (5) written by Jim Albano and Cliff Natoli
  • All the rest written by Jim Albano
  • Produced and engineered by Cliff Natoli and Mark Grasso
  • Mastered by Tom Rucktenwald
  • Outpouring logo by Barbara Christopher
  • Coffeehouse logo by Vinne Albano

Thanks to David for this music.

DL

 

Road to Freedom

New Wine/Wine Skin LP 259-08 (1973)

I’ve said more than once–too many times, perhaps–that South Florida is one of the toughest places in the U.S. to be a Christian.  So it’s good to see that someone was trying to make a dent in the situation, just down the road from where I grew up and at the same time.

Road to Freedom is the product of just such an effort, headed up by Bob Heiple.  By standards of the Jesus Music era, he put together a strong team to make it happen, including Cheryl Heiple and Steve Powell of Rainbow Promise.   It’s a good album, a mixture of covers and original compositions.  From a personal standpoint, to get ahead of the region’s “curve” one would like to see a more progressive bent to the album–in old South Florida terms, one more for the WSHE listener than the WQAM one.

The covers shows the group going down a straight road headed into the scrub.  With the development that has engulfed the region, scenes like that are mostly a thing of the past.  But it’s a good thing to remember things like that–and the Jesus Music era that went with them, in the land where the animals are tame and the people run wild, and need to take a straight road other than one that leads to the Everglades.

The songs:

  1. Road To Freedom
  2. Long Live God
  3. Bring Back The Springtime
  4. A New Song
  5. It’s Been A Long Time
  6. Spread A Little Love Around
  7. Sacrifice Lamb
  8. Revolution
  9. I Had A Dream
  10. By His Love

DL

Parousia: Sedona

Daystar DS 1001 (1975)

Arizona was the birthplace of God Unlimited, probably the best college-based group of the “Jesus Music” era (although this group did the same kind of ministry).  God Unlimited was an Episcopal group; this Arizona gathering was Roman Catholic, connected with the Spiritual Life Institute and Fr. William McNamara.

This is a very pleasant album, but somehow one gets the impression that it’s reaching for some things it just can’t grasp.  It’s tries in spots to be progressive, but ends up being as much MOR as anything else.  It also edges into some very “New Age” types of music and lyrics, but mercifully (with the lyrics at least) doesn’t make that either.  (A lot of that can be explained by Fr. McNamara’s own spirituality, which you can read about here). In the reaching part it resembles A City Set Upon a Hill Cannot be Hid, but that album (which really puts Our Lord’s parousia front and centre) has a stronger orchestration and is more creative than this production.

R-3128696-1317103287.jpegThe songs:

  • Sedona
  • Ladies Of The Sky
  • Passion Father
  • Steadfast Love
  • Praise Be The Lord
  • Friends In My Life
  • God Is Our Friend
  • It’s Called Faith
  • Take A Long Loving Look
  • Good Lady’s Love Song
  • Kingdom

DL

Frances Mary Hunter Gordon: The Woldingham Folk Mass

(1968)

It didn’t take long after Vatican II for new forms of the Mass to emerge.  This not only included the Novus Ordo Missae in 1970 (which is still in place, albeit with the Latinate English translation now in force) but also with new music.  On this side of the Atlantic, we had Peter Scholtes breaking new ground in the South Side of Chicago.  But across the pond–and really on the opposite end of the socio-economic spectrum too–things were happening, and this album was one of them.

There is an interesting account of how this album came into being (and it has its own lastfm page too).  Its prime mover, Frances Mary Hunter Gordon, tells us that the motivation for it was as follows:

Before I wrote The Folk Mass, the Catholic Mass was in Latin and all the music was old fashioned, traditional stuff – very beautiful – but – it was not our music. We were the swinging 60’s – the world of the Beatles. So The Folk Mass really broke new ground. The guitar had never been used in church in that way before. We sang the Mass in English for the first time and the style was our style, for our age. At the time it was a big thing, selling to many parts of the world. Meanwhile, I was in my last few years at school, trying to pass exams to get into medical school (I am a doctor), having turned down an offer from EMI to write pop songs for artists such as Cliff Richards!

And its recording pedigree went along with that bold goal:

The Mass was recorded on Saturday 18th November 1967 at Studio 3, Abbey Road, London – the same Abbey Road that The Beatles recorded in. That year the Beatles produced Sgt Pepper. They took over 700 hours at a cost of about £25,000!

All that said, the music style is sparse.  It is simply a harmony of female vocals with acoustic guitars.  With the vocalists coming from an Abbey, one expects a “Nun-Plus” style like this, and the album doesn’t disappoint.  That ethereal style, which the English excel in, would be brought to a different level by Cloud in the next decade.  In addition to Scholtes and the Americans, the Continent was busy pushing things ahead with more adventurous productions like The Mass for Peace and the Beat Mass.  (OTOH, this Mass would fare better in real liturgy use than these two…)

The album also has an “upper crust” feel to it, underscored by the following:

It was a private record pressing although there did not seem to be a charge for the recording. EMI said “we are intending to absorb this ourselves”. This may have had something to do with my uncle knowing Sir Joseph Lockwood (Chairman of EMI)!

Would have been nice if they could have stopped by my home church…but I suppose that stuff like this helped EMI to back its claim that it was “the greatest recording organisation in the world”.

My thanks to Pascual for putting me on to this music.

The songs:

  • Introit
  • In God alone
  • Kyrie
  • Gloria
  • Gradual
  • God My Hope
  • Creed
  • Offertory
  • Sanctus
  • Our Father
  • No not one
  • Agnus Dei
  • Where has the word of God gone
  • Hail Mary

DL