One Tuesday in the late 1960s, we met my Dad at the chapel in the Commerce Building at the University of Detroit for the five o’clock evening Mass.
The Archdiocese of Detroit had been an “early adopter” when it came to the implementation of the new Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and the prescribed reforms of the Mass. We saw Father’s face, we listened to and responded in English, and we sang. Boy, did we sing!
Even at a weekday Mass in that chapel, someone played guitar as we sang the small number of songs then available in English—“Sons of God,” “Here We Are,” or “Let Us Break Bread Together on Our Knees.” Gradually, the repertoire grew to include the early St. Louis Jesuits’ compositions, including sung Mass parts—a complete revolution! Eventually, the music leaders began to play organ hymns on more contemporary instruments, blending ancient and new, a delight to my ears as a child.
Music has been the glue that has kept me bound to the Catholic Church as I have grown and moved around the country. A song, hymn, or psalm has always been the music that ushered me through life’s darker moments into the lighter, joyous times, reminding me that there is a God, a family, and a community that love me.
This week’s CatholicsRead books resonate with the musical thread of my faith development as well as the growth through life’s challenges we all experience.
I can imagine my mother picking up a copy of Catholic Book Publishing’s Songs of Joy and Praise Piano Book during my childhood, had it existed then! This book includes a small keyboard so that little singers can learn not only the words, but the music for the included songs, and perhaps foster an interest in learning to play the piano. I can say conclusively that it is a wondrous moment to walk into a Catholic church and be able to instantly join in singing classic songs like “This Little Light of Mine,” “Now Thank We All Our God,” and “Amazing Grace.”
We so often think of songs as only words and music, so GIA Publications’ book based on best-selling composer Marty Haugen’s song Child of Wonder is an incredible gift that brings Haugen’s song to life. In this wonderful book, artist Stephen Nesser accompanies the lyrics of this song with scenes of birth and new life rituals from faith traditions and cultures around the world and then shows these growing children as they play together to form a community. It would make a delightful gift for parents of the newly baptized.
The music of the seventh-inning stretch comes to mind as I glance at the cover of Batter Up: Answering the Call of Faith & Fatherhood by James Walters from New City Press. Filled with personal anecdotes and stories, Walters focuses on the intersection of baseball, faith, and the unique vocation of fatherhood to help readers seek a closer relationship with God, their children, and their fellow dads.
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Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.