“Gather Us In” made (almost) acceptable!

When life gives you challenges like lemons, make lemonade.  Right?

When liturgists give you dreck like “Gather Us In”, make… toccatas.

Remember: The Second Vatican Council gives pride of place to the pipe organ over all other instruments.

Fr. Z kudos to the organist, Don VerKuilen.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Lighter fare, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Sonshine135 says:

    That wasn’t lemonade….That was lemon meringue pie! Very cool.

  2. Andrew says:

    For those who don’t know the text:

    Hic, hoc in loco, lux nova nitet
    amodo tenebrae evanescunt; videas
    hoc in spatio, pavores tibi nostros oblatos
    somniationesque, sub diei hujus lumine

    congrega nos, abjectos et relictos
    congrega nos, caecos at claudos
    clama ad nos et expergiscemur
    nomine nostro sonante surgemus

  3. PostCatholic says:

    I heard some nice melodies. I suppose I’ll have to find Gather Us In to hear what makes it “dreck,” since I don’t know the song.

  4. bbmoe says:

    Nothing can obliterate from my memory the P&W songs of last Sunday’s Teen Mass. The priest is so reverent, I can almost forgive it all, but the communion hymn and the recessional went from bad to worse: from merely grammatically bad (leading to theologically incorrect: “my one defense, my righteousness”: Pelagius lives!) to the completely incoherent. But, as my husband pointed out, at least it was loud.

  5. Sandy says:

    My immediate reaction to just seeing the name of that “song” was “ugh!” Count yourself blessed, PostCatholic, that you don’t know it. When I hear it announced as the processional before Mass, it’s hard not to groan. How long, Oh Lord?!

  6. BillyT92679 says:

    Not only is the song bad, it’s weirdly heretical. It abstractly denies heaven.

  7. MmeScherzo says:

    As I sat in the pew at my very first mass before I converted, I listened with sickening disgust at all the hymns being sung. They were saccharine, commercial jingles. Especially the Glory to God. At the end of that, I almost wanted to add a catchphrase. Something like MENTOS! The Freshmaker!
    Gather Us In was the first communion song I’d heard. I wanted to cry, I just can’t bring myself to sing this. I had grown up in the Presbyterian (In America) tradition of truly amazing hymnody. This sort of drek would not have been allowed from the choir loft.

  8. MmeScherzo says:

    As for the toccata, well, he seems a bit ‘touched’ in the head….pardon the pun, Father.

  9. VexillaRegis says:

    Ah, very fun and well played! This isn’t a pipe organ, though, but an electronic home instrument, just for the record :-).

  10. majuscule says:

    I should count my blessings–I was not familiar with the tune by name and went to YouTube for a sample. Did you know that one of the suggestions in my typed search was “gather is in catholic hymn”?

    The gooey icing on the stale cake was the version I clicked on was sung by no less than Haugan, Haas and Joncas!

    After listening I realize I have heard it before. But not in my church, thank goodness.

  11. acardnal says:

    Sorry. Didn’t help. I still don’t like it.

  12. Mike says:

    Do I espy a piece of furniture off to the left covered in Naugahyde™?
    Surely Zuhlio approves.

  13. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    “gather us in” ranks up there with that other song I despise “gentle woman”

    The only reason to have either of those songs is to piss me off before I lift weights.

  14. Luvadoxi says:

    A good entrance for Darth Vader.

  15. Luvadoxi says:

    How is saying Jesus is “my one defense, my righteousness” Pelagian?

  16. Luvadoxi says:

    MmeScherzo, as a “cradle Presbyterian” Catholic convert, I totally share your pain.

  17. APX says:

    Sorry. Didn’t help. I still don’t like it.
    It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. That being said, the talent it takes to do something like this is impressive.

    Toccatas aren’t really my thing. I prefer to savour what I’m listening to, but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I appreciate whatever organ I get to listen to.

  18. Chiara says:

    Still sounds like a sea shanty. Ick.

    I refuse to sing it and other songs I despise, such as “Song of the Body of Christ”, “All Are Welcome” (sounds like a kindergarten marching song), and “Amazing Grace” (way overdone after 9/11, which is depressing to me).

    There are others, but I do not want to give anyone ear worms.

    Pax et Bonum

  19. capchoirgirl says:

    Oh, Gather Us In. Whenever I want to complain about certain parts of music at my parish, I think, “at least I never have to sing Gather Us In!”

  20. WYMiriam says:

    Very, very nice playing, especially the first part that has no recognizable “gather us in” parts. Still, I couldn’t stomach it after the first minute and a half.

  21. Legisperitus says:

    It’s like a serviceable paper napkin made out of recycled toilet paper. You don’t want to use it because you know it’s made out of recycled toilet paper.

  22. The Masked Chicken says:

    The, “Toccata a la GUI,” is in ternary form (ABA) with a slower lyrical section for the B part. The B part is, apparently, new-composed. The melody from GUI in the bass stands as a sort of late Renaissance passacaglia above the toccata. The Renaissance paasacaglia melody was, originally, in the bass and was in triple meter, as in this case. The passacaglia changed more to the upper voices in the Baroque and later, although there are some examples of bass-based passacaglias in twentieth-century music, I think, such as from Ralph Vaughn Williams, although these are, more often, called chaconne basses .

    As a musical composition, in itself, without any prior context, it is a fair, occasional piece. The upper and lower parts are not integrated very well, being almost independent, so it might be better to call this not so much a toccata as GUI with a toccata-like embellishment. Of course, the harmonies are strictly twentieth-century.

    “Remember: The Second Vatican Council gives pride of place to the pipe organ over all other instruments.”

    At the time of Vatican II, the state of the electronically modified pipe organ was not well developed (the transistor had barely been invented). Before electronic motors (and earlier steam or gasoline motors) a person or persons, called the calcant(s), manually pushed the bellows to produce the wind for the organ. No modern pipe organs use calcants, so technically, there is no such thing as the pipe organs on which much of traditional Church music was written in use, today, so one has to read that passage as pride-of-place to pipe organs, in a general sense.

    Also, the stop system changes from organ to organ. Each organ is unique. There is no such thing as, “a pipe organ.” In addition, with computer-control, it is possible to greatly expand the stop system to things never heard of, before. Finally, most of the Church pipe organs prior to the 17th-century were tuned using just intonation or some variant, thereof (there were many systems of pipe organ tuning until equal temperament became standard).

    The Chicken

  23. John Repsher says:

    Is the organist playing on a hauptwerk setup? If so, I wonder what sample set he’s using. It’s beautiful.

  24. Hugh9 says:

    I haven’t used GUI for a long time. The melody and lyrics finally got to me and I banished it from my parish choir’s list of songs. However our contemporary group still uses it along with several other awful pieces. John, the organ featured appears to be a Hauptwerk instrument judging from the display on the computer screen. On the annual “feedback sheet” from Oregon Catholic Press, I indicated a few pieces that I felt were below standard and suggested removal. Previous experience from OCP says that my evaluation will be ignored!

  25. frjim4321 says:

    Nice job.

  26. James in Perth says:

    It’s only palatable if you believe the organist is mocking the original. My own guess is that the organist had a little time on his hands and wanted to see if he could spin dross into gold. “A” for effort but at its core it’s still “Gather Us In.”

  27. Geoffrey says:

    I am reminded at how early Christianity “baptized” or “christianized” certain elements of pagan culture. Now, can anything be done with “Ashes”?

  28. ocsousn says:

    Darn you, Fr. Z! It will take a at least an hour of some other music to get that noxious tune out of my head. Still, very cleverly done.

  29. APX says:

    can anything be done with “Ashes”?
    Yes. It can be added to the Index of Forbidden Liturgical Songs™ along with Conry’s other ditty, “Anthem”, et. al.

    What did they sing at Mass on Ash Wednesday before Ashes was published? I honestly can’t remember an Ash Wednesday where that song wasn’t sung.

  30. Mario Bird says:

    Very, very impressive.


    I adhere to my long and deeply-held cultural belief that Gather Us In was originally intended to be performed as a late medieval tabor & pipe, a la Sir Robin’s Minstrels (and there was much rejoicing).

  31. Kathleen10 says:

    It doesn’t help, I hear the words in my head! He plays beautifully of course. I so wish I could play like that.
    Gather Us In (oh man)
    All Are Welcome (reminds me of the tiny lady in Poltergeist “alllll are wellllcome…cross over children….”)
    Amazing Grace (yes, overdone and never seems the right tempo)

  32. Alice says:

    Nice Hauptwerk install. I would almost give up my contact lenses to live in an era when neither bells nor organs were electronic contraptions. *sigh*

  33. graytown says:

    There also seems to be an overriding desire to use an inordinate number of so called “Negro Spirituals”.
    It doesn’t seem to matter that there is a complete absence of African -Americans at a particular Parrish.
    One of my all time “favorites” is “Rain Down”.

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