Greetings on this "New Translation Thursday" from Pittsburgh. Gosh, this is a long convention! But a wonderful one as well.
We were privileged to share some new choral music with the conventioneers last night at WLP's music showcase. Even though these dedicated musicians had already been singing through music for most of the day, they rallied together to join voices for over an hour of musical delight. I am so proud of WLP's fine composers and artists.
For some reason, this has been a morning of nostalgia for me. Perhaps there is a part of me that is envious of the full-time music ministers gathered here. The last time I was in Pittsburgh was in 1999, at an NPM national convention. That was the final convention I attended as a full-time parish director of liturgy and music. I was hired at WLP a few short months after that convention and, since then, have attended NPM conventions as part of our publishing mission to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church. I no longer serve in a leadership role in music in a parish. I am served by a marvelous musician who is attending an NPM convention for the first time this week. I guess I am nostalgic because there is that part of me that longs to stand before a choir to help shape the choral sound; that part of me that longs to sit at the piano and help a congregation breathe through the chants and hymns; that part of me that misses "pulling out all the stops" and modulating up a half step for the final verse of a hymn.
This feeling of nostalgia got me thinking about December 25, 1967, Christmas morning with my family in Woburn, Massachusetts. My mom would have been pregnant with my brother, John, the fifth child (another, James, would arrive two years later). I had opened most of my Christmas presents. There was one left, a thin box that could not have weighed more than a few ounces. I opened it and inside was a little certificate that read something like: "This certificate entitles Jerry Galipeau to begin piano lessons at Saint Charles School with Sister Julie Maria."
And, folks, that is how this man's musical life all began. You know, you look back at your life and you can often clearly see those defining moments. December 25, 1967, was one of the greatest defining moments of my life. I certainly would not be sitting here writing to you had that present never been given. So, in my spirit of nostalgia on this day, I offer thanks to my mom and dad, who gave me this gift, who nurtured in my something that they saw and recognized as having potential. I will forever be grateful to them.
Because without that gift, I don't think my life would be inspired by the words I share with you as each of these posts ends:
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.