I weep.

Over at The Crescat I read an interesting and consoling entry.

a tribute medley…

… dedicated to those who have a special place in their hearts for the Gather Hymnal.

You see…

With the new Mass translations coming out this year, the “Gather” hymnal will sadly become obsolete. With that in mind, I composed a tribute medley to some of the best songs contained therein….”

The video:


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Picture Me In My Grief and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Mariana says:

    Ouch. I was able to stand 10 seconds of this.

    Medleys are always a bad sign.

  2. Absit invidia says:

    I only wish I had the same optimism. Something tells me the tree people of yesteryear will cling tightly to their folk hymnals and the emotional rending of their garments in protest will ensue.

  3. cothrige says:

    I am sorry to say that I see no reason to be hopeful about this new translation, or any reason to imagine that the Gather hymnal is going anywhere. Instructions come and go from Rome, but nothing really changes in the churches. We were told that songs should not use the name Yahweh any longer and, if anything, we now sing them more often than before. Our priests, God bless them, make up the words of the prayers each week, take out what they don’t like, and add in what they think should be there. Some time back I was at a Mass in which the priest refused to read the Gospel as it was all “just made up stories,” and so he went straight into the sermon about how praying to saints is silly because there are no saints in heaven at all. I do hate to be cynical, but almost nothing I see week in and week out has anything at all to do with what is approved or orthodox, and these proposed changes hardly seem to matter. When just about nothing we do today is allowed why should new texts make any difference at all? Who is going to even make people use them? I am glad that they are out there, but I honestly don’t expect to see any real impact on my life in the Church.

  4. APX says:

    ROFLMAO!! But…

    The Gather hymnal isn’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re working on a 3rd Edition. The music isnt that bad…if you ignore anything copyrighted after 1990.

  5. ghp95134 says:

    New Mass setting ideas by Haugen and Haas:


    –Guy Power

  6. jflare says:

    I’m never entirely sure how to respond to something like this.
    On one hand, I grew up with some of these, er, hymns, when a choir of some 20 people sang them. I thought these works quite wonderful. I still like several of them. On the other hand, I’m stuck with certain difficulties. For one, I agree with APX that most music past 1990..needs serious help. In all seriousness, some of the works I’ve heard since late high school don’t qualify as music to me, never mind music for liturgy.
    Then too, I’ve learned a good deal of traditional music in the past five years. I’ve been genuinely horrified by our neglect of such a large body of work. I understand why the music I learned originally would’ve been such an afront to people.

    I CAN say this though: I will NOT miss the Gather hymnal. I tried paging through one while visiting our local cathedral once. I didn’t even make it all the way through the introduction before I became hopping mad: Essentially, the editors made the same “case” against “gender biased” language that I’d suffered through in during the early 9o’s. I’d thought we’d overcome our gender-neutral proclivities.

    Not too many years ago, I wound up buying a copy of Glory and Praise for organ/piano/guitar. I ultimately wound up tearing out the music that I liked from it, but tossing the rest.
    Must admit, I was rather shocked by the volume of music in there that I’d never heard. Even back in the 80’s when my then home-parish’s Glory and Praise books were new, we ignored probably 2/3 of what it had. Looking at much of it these past few years, I couldn’t imagine that I’d want to hear most of that, let alone play or sing it.

    Even so, I still enjoy Here I Am, Lord and some others now and then. Guess I still find some of that uplifting, even if it’s probably not very theologically sound….

  7. Joeski5651 says:

    You do see the joke here dont you ?

  8. Ellen says:

    Oh funny! My parish doesn’t use those, thanks be to God. I have warned my children that if they try to use Eagle’s Wings at my funeral, I will burst through the coffin and haunt them for the rest of their lives.

  9. Liz says:

    I used to sing these songs of my youth to my children to help them use up some of their purgatory while on earth. I was trying to be a good mother…really! Sadly, I’m afraid I’ve added to my own purgatory! “To you, Yahwehhhhhhh….” Sometimes I hear people say they actually like this music. I once did. There is nothing like bouncy, catchy, show tunes to liven up the day. I just don’t think it has any part in the liturgy. Now I know what truly beautiful music is and I will never go back. Blech! Thanks, Crescat, for the laugh!

  10. Liz says:

    p.s. Ellen, that’s a really good idea! :o)

  11. Kerry says:

    “…becoming obsolete”? Perhaps all Gather hymnals can be sent to Gitmo to both help loosen the lips of the terrorists, and to further clog up the toilets there. Heh.

  12. Marcin says:

    I have never been to Mass where they used Gather, and I am very grateful for that. Boy, that’s ugly. Utterly and irredeemably ugly.

  13. JARay says:

    I think that it was on the New Liturgical Movement that I read the (to me) highly amusing description of Mass where such “musical” interludes occur as a “hymn sandwich”. Such a very apt description!
    In my humble (?!) opinion, no Mass should be a hymn sandwich.

  14. kelleyb says:

    LOL well, my computer screen needed a good scrubbing. Hard to get coffee out of the keyboard, however.

  15. Henry Edwards says:

    Actually, the term “4-hymn sandwich” — for the opening, offertory, communion, and closing hymns — probably predates Vatican II, when it was introduced at low Mass (vernacular hymns being verboten at high Mass). Allegedly, it was with the intent of eliminating the substitution of the 4-hymn sandwich for the Mass propers, that Sacrosanctum Concilium assigned the “principal place” at Mass — the circumlocution “pride of place” in English translation — to Gregorian chant at Mass. One of the many recommendations of Vatican II that still await implementation.

  16. TNCath says:

    Weep indeed! I think the word “gather” has been one of the worst words ever used when referring to liturgy. Whenever I hear it, I get the same feeling I get when I hear fingernails on a chalkboard. I hope, with the implementation of the new translations, the term “Gathering Hymn” will fall deep into the dustbowl of history, right down there with “Sons of God, Hear His Holy Word,” “Come in Pilgrim, Lay Your Burden Down, and “Man of Mind, Man of Soul, Don’t you know God made you So,” but I doubt it seriously. It has become to embedded in the vocabulary of our diocesan liturgical police forces who have been cramming such jargon down our throats for years, in many cases with the blessings of the bishops.

  17. RichR says:

    Good riddance.

    It’s because of the GH that people in my generation are surprised if you note that St. Therese of Lisieux never sang “The Servant Song.” It’s their concept of “Traditional Catholic hymnody”.


  18. veritas76 says:

    Hilarious. My personal favorite that wasn’t included in this medley?

    “They will know we are sisters by our pins, by our pins… they will know we are sisters by our pins!”

  19. david andrew says:

    Now that I’ve mopped the coffee off of my keyboard and screen, I’m ready to make a quick comment. Be prepared, it’s kind of heavy, but I think it merits consideration.

    The documents (official, confirmed docs, that is) of the Church repeatedly expound the value of “religious” music as a valid class of music for use in private devotion and other events outside of the Mass, which is where I believe the majority of the stuff in “hymnals” like Gather and it’s progeny properly belong. Time and again I tell people that if they like songs like “On Eagle’s Wings” that’s fine. Listen to it in your car, in your home, when you’re out on a walk, on your treadmill, but don’t expect it to be sung during Mass.

    I think it is very important that when we attack certain types of music we do so with a full knowledge and understanding of what the Church actually teaches on the matter, not just what we think the Church teaches. Our battle for the restoration of chant, polyphony and the vast treasury of Western liturgical music can only be won if we understand and properly argue our points. (Hat tip to Jeffrey Tucker and the fine folk in the CMAA).

  20. wmeyer says:

    In my parish, we seldom hear anything from before 1985. Many of these …hymns appear to have been composed by schoolchildren; they change notes for the sake of changing notes, and have a very annoying sing-song characteristic; to apply the term melody to the music would be to abuse that term. The word which comes to mind most often is banal.
    Perhaps we should pray for the conversion of the folks at OCP. We must certainly pray for our liturgists, choir directors, and others, any who participate in the selection of music for our Masses.

  21. APX says:

    I’m beginning to get the feeling I’m the only person here who doesn’t loathe On Eagles Wings.

    Is the reason so many people hate the music because it’s theologically unsound (something I know nothing about), or becauase they really think all of it is terrible on a musical level?

    Some of it is terrible. I won’t deny that. Music so short should not have 5 time signature/key changes, and I don’t understand why church music has to be written in such terrible keys.

    What do you want for church music if you don’t have this? Keep in mind, not every church has singers able to do Gregorian chant, or has a competent organist. This contemporary music at least allows decently talented musicians to lead a choir so there is music resembling music for Mass.

  22. Ben Yanke says:

    Hahahaha… That is really funny. I almost had milk squirting out my nose!!

  23. irishgirl says:

    I knew a lot of these hymns when I sang in a couple of parish choirs, and later on as a cantor.
    Ugh-I can’t stand them now.
    Hey guys-don’t eat or drink anything when you’re watching something funny! That way you can keep your keyboards and screens clean!
    ‘Sons of God, Hear His Holy Word’-oh my gosh, this makes me feel verrry old! I hated that song then, and I hate it now.

  24. Re: “not every church has singers able to do Gregorian chant, or has a competent organist.”

    “On Eagle’s Wings” is a very difficult song to sing or play. You start on the heights, you jump around, they change the syncopation for every reprint, and it’s not contained in most people’s ranges. Gregorian chant and traditional hymnody usually stays inside a single octave, thank God.

    “On Eagle’s Wings” is in the tradition of operatic devotional songs for soloists and pianos, which have become (naturally enough) Broadwayish or rockish devotional songs for soloists and pianos. If our parishes ran religious concerts in the school gym, it’d be a perfectly cromulent pick for the redheaded soprano lady or the bass baritone who sings in the opera chorus as well as ours. I’d have no more problem with that than with “My Rosary”. But as a congregational Mass song, it’s neither got enough dignity nor enough singability, and it’s been overdone and needs retired.

    (I’ve heard it and sung it thousands of times, had trouble with my passagio in exactly the same places thousands of times, and I’m ready for something else. Like Palestrina. Or Bach. Or freakin’ Catherine Winkworth, even.)

  25. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    APX, definitely in agreement once again! Yes some of the songs are OK. In fact for me they bring back memories of when I sang them in my elementary junoir grade choir (gr. 4-6). I sang Eagle’s Wings, One Bread One Body, and He Will Raise You Up.

    But seriously, the author of the video should have picked on the horrible “Lord of the Dance”. That one makes me cringe when I go to the parish on Sundays that I do 1st Friday Adoration at. However, overall Gather should be stripped from all Churches in North America.

    An Idea: What the Church should be doing is taking some of that money they use to cater and buy luxuries for the parish, and funnel that into funding a student’s tuition to study classical and medeival music at universities, and then pay their salaries to become the “traditional” music director at the parish.

  26. AnAmericanMother says:

    Not only “decently talented musicians” but anybody can do Gregorian chant. It is not rocket science. If you can’t read the Solesmes notation, there are plenty of books that translate it into conventional staff notation. But it isn’t that hard to learn (I never saw the Solesmes method til I was in my early 50s. It was perfectly easy to learn, in fact in some ways it’s easier than staff notation. Just different.)

    You don’t need an organist to chant, either. Just something to get a starting pitch (and that’s one of the beauties of the chant notation — the clef itself shows you the octave, which lets you begin it in whatever range is comfortable for you and the other singers).

    So the problem here is not that chant is difficult, but that those “contemporary singers” do. not. want. to get out of their comfort zone. Problem is, their comfort zone is in music that is not suitable for Mass. BXVI explains why in “Music and the Liturgy” but they’re not listening.

    The thing that gets me about “On Eagles Wings” aside from the rather banal and artificial-sounding paraphrase of an eloquent psalm, is that the melody is awkward and manufactured-sounding. As suburbanbanshee notes, it’s got awkward intervals, a bad range, and senseless meter. Other than that, I guess it’s o.k.

    I have always loved Winkworth. Her translations are first rate, one of the few times I’ve seen German translated into the same metrical scheme with the meaning largely preserved.

  27. AnAmericanMother says:


    “Lord of the Dance” doesn’t belong in any church, and Sydney Carter never intended for it to be there (he thought it was rather odd that any religious denomination adopted it). I think he would be horrified to see it used in Mass. It should be bracketed with his song “Friday Morning” and sung in a concert. I like his stuff (I’m more folk- than contemporary- oriented so he’s more my cup of tea) but no more in church than “The Red Haired Man’s Wife” or “The Gaberlunzie Man”.

    I really like your idea of a musical scholarship.

  28. RichR says:


    I understand your liking some of these songs – they link you back to your personal childhood when you sang them. I did, too. But imagine singing songs that St. Thomas Aquinas sang…or Pope St. Gregory the Great sang. There’s a deep heritage from which we were cut off, and the 70’s mood music which was put in it’s place has destroyed the sense of “timelessness” in Catholic hymnody.

    The other thing I share with people is this: If you were to play a recording of these songs to people who don’t speak English and, therefore, can’t understand the words, would they instinctively know that they are listening to Church music simply by the melody. In many older hymns, polyphonic motets, and chants, it is readily apparent (even if you don’t speak a lick of Latin). In many of the 70’s stuff, it is not.

  29. q7swallows says:

    I hate to admit this, but I recognized and can still sing the original versions of 99% of these Greatest Church Hits from the ’80s from memory because I used to sing them in choirs . . . er . . . um . . . groups. Yes, even adjacent to the sanctuary [heaping ashes on head in reparation]

    Have come a LONG way . . .

    Thank God for Summorum Pontificum and the reintroduction of Gregorian Chant and polyphonic hymns! The glorious stuff our daughter is singing in the Wyoming Catholic College Choir right now makes me weep to think I ever wasted any time on this claptrap.

  30. Eric says:

    Enough of the complaints about cleaning liquids from computer equipment.

    After cleaning water from every crevice of my kitchen last evening, you’re touching a sour spot.

  31. K. Marie says:

    “We remember what you told us, that time and it was awesome. We should have written it down…” I think I dislocated as couple ribs from laughing so hard! Now to see if the music directors of our archdiocesan youth retreats will bother to find new 70’s “music” to warble at us during Mass…probably not. But a girl can hope, right?

  32. amenamen says:

    Can we have them Kentucky fried?

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmm … eagle wings.

  33. K. Marie says:

    @amenamen: Pretty sure that’s illegal. To bad, it’s sounds yummy!

  34. Tony Layne says:

    @ amenamen: The “We Remember” bit was my favorite, too … although I also plotzed when I heard: “Here I am, Lord, is it I, Lord, who was bringing up three very lovely girls?”

  35. Tony Layne says:

    Actually, I first caught the video on Aggie Catholic.

  36. MisericordiasDomini says:

    While I admit that I did get a chuckle out of the parodies, and while I will agree that some of the music that one hears in the average parish these days belongs in a garbage can, I must take issue with this artist’s parody of “On Eagle’s Wings.”
    While the music itself is unfit for use in the liturgy, the words are actually a paraphrase of Psalm 90 (91 non-vulgate), which we recite at Sunday Compline in the pre-Vatican II Divine Office. I have always found Psalm 90 to be very consoling; and I was rather disgusted to hear the imagery of that psalm mocked. “Hold you in His holy claws” and “scratch out your sins with His talons.”

    Yes, some of these ‘hymns’ are theologically ‘fuzzy,’ but many of them are actually paraphrases of Psalms and scripture passages, and contain nothing objectionable. I would have no objection to “On Eagle’s Wings,” for example, if the music that accompanied the lyrics were meant for church and not a pop-music show.

    I’m as much for a good parody as the next guy, but I think we should be cautious and prudent, lest we find ourselves mocking the words of Sacred Scripture.

    Pax et bonum!

  37. APX says:

    But seriously, the author of the video should have picked on the horrible “Lord of the Dance”.

    Just for you. I don’t have anything to record it and put it online right
    now so this’ll have to suffice. I hope this isn’t sacrilege.

    Dance dance in the liturgy
    Let’s praise the Lord and our hommie G
    We won’t stop this unholy atrocity
    We won’t stop this; Dance the liturgy!

  38. cothrige—-Some time back I was at a Mass in which the priest refused to read the Gospel as it was all “just made up stories,” and so he went straight into the sermon about how praying to saints is silly because there are no saints in heaven at all. —-


    I cannot believe that this happened!!! Are you sure?


  39. Gail F says:

    APX: I actually like some of these songs too (not most, but some). But this is hilarious. I love “Will you let me be your sherpa, let me climb some rocks with you…” But I do hate “Gather Us In.” We’re already THERE, for goodness sake!

  40. RCOkie says:

    Too funny. Thanks for the laugh today.

  41. AnAmericanMother says:


    There are better translations out there. Looks like Joncas was poaching on the Grail Psalter, but he didn’t improve it. The syncopation he added sort of defeats the whole balance of the psalm.

    The Cranmer version is of course superb:

    Whoso dwelleth under the defence of
    the mo? High: ?hall abide under the
    ?hadow of the Almighty.
    2 I will ?ay unto the Lord, Thou art my
    hope, and my ?rong hold: my God, in him
    will I tru?.
    3 For he ?hall deliver thee from the ?nare of
    the hunter: and from the noi?ome pe?ilence.
    4 He ?hall defend thee under his wings, and
    thou ?halt be ?afe under his feathers: his
    faithfulne?s and truth ?hall be thy ?hield and
    5 Thou ?halt not be afraid for any terror by
    night: nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
    6 For the pe?ilence that walketh in darkne?s:
    nor for the ?ickne?s that de?royeth in the
    7 A thou?and ?hall fall be?ide thee, and ten
    thou?and at thy right hand: but it ?hall not
    come nigh thee.
    8 Yea, with thine eyes ?halt thou behold:
    and ?ee the reward of the ungodly.

  42. AnAmericanMother says:

    Hmmmm . . . looks like the old terminal ‘s’ doesn’t make the transition from my file!

  43. lizfromFL says:

    I grew up with most of these; I will admit that I really like On Eagles Wings and You Are Near. I prefer anything from GH to radio tunes used in our masses. “Lean on me,” “Let it Be,” and “Both Sides Now” have no place in any mass IMO. Can anyone name some hymns for us children of the 70’s/80’s , that are better than the GH? I would like to look them up and learn them, so I can teach my children. I have taught them “How Great Thou Art,” “Holy God, we Praise They Name,” and “Praise to the Lord.” Not sure how these rank as far as liturgically sound music……

  44. AnAmericanMother says:


    There are literally hundreds and maybe thousands of good old Catholic hymns.
    One good older hymnal is the St. Gregory Hymnal and Catholic Choir Book edited by Nicola Montani of the old Philadelphia Catholic music tradition. It’s back in print and you can buy it on Amazon, or you can read it on gutenberg.org for free. Another good hymnal is the Adoremus Hymnal. Almost everything in there is sound. Here is an index of the hymns by first line: http://www.adoremus.org/AdHymn-index.html

    You really can’t go wrong with anything on that list. I have sung almost all of them and know most of them by heart (after almost 50 years singing in choirs, the first 40 Episcopalian, but they have excellent taste in music and the hymn repertoire is almost identical).

    Some particularly good ones: “All glory, laud and honor” (traditionally sung on Palm Sunday), “Christ is made the sure foundation” (that’s an oldie – 7th century, translated by the indefatigable John Mason Neale, music by Henry Purcell), “Crown him with many crowns” (with an awesome descant if anybody in your family sings soprano), “Faith of our fathers” (by Fr. Frederick Faber, an Anglican convert to Catholicism), “For all the saints who from their labors rest” (Ralph Vaughan Williams – the classic English composer), “Holy, holy, holy”, “I bind unto myself today” (St. Patrick’s Breastplate), “I heard the voice of Jesus say” (if your children can sing harmony, this is set to Tallis’s Third Tune and is as beautiful as anything can be), “O Jesus we adore thee”, “Praise my soul the King of Heaven” (another hymn tune with a wonderful descant), and I’m only half way through. For Marian hymns you can’t beat “Alma redemptoris mater” and “Regina caeli” (two of the four traditional antiphons) and you just might as well go ahead and learn them in Latin and with the chant melody.

    If you want to listen to the hymns to see what you think of them, there are a couple of websites with words, music (including alternate tunes), biographies of the composers and poets, etc. etc. One is cyberhymnal.org, another is oremus.org.

    Have fun! There’s tons of beautiful music out there.

  45. Agnes says:

    Requiescant in pace.

Comments are closed.