Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas and a Review of WLP's One in Faith Hardbound Hymnal

Greetings on this final day of 2014.

The last week has been a wonderful whirlwind for me. I spent most of Christmas week with my family in Massachusetts, celebrating my Dad's 80th birthday and a Christmas celebration filled with joy.

I attended Mass at a small New England Church, Saint Andrew, in Billerica, Massachusetts. This is one of the three worship sites that make up a merged parish.

We attended the 4:00 P.M. vigil Mass. We arrived about 45 minutes early and got a third row seat. By 3:45, there were scores of people standing in the side aisles. The assembly's sung and spoken prayer was strong, stronger than I had expected. During the young priest's proclamation of the Gospel (he was ordained just a year ago), children processed up the main aisle and created a tableau of the nativity scene. The cuteness of these children, especially the little "lambs" tugged at my heart. Simply a prayerful, simple celebration of the nativity.

I was back in Chicago on Saturday and, while checking out my favorite internet sites, I discovered the review by James Frazier of WLP's new One in Faith hymnal over on the PrayTell blog. I have been asked to review short books before. I can't imagine what a daunting task it is to be asked to review a large hardbound hymnal and its accompaniments. I thought the review was a good one. I appreciated the care in which Mr. Frazier commented on the various elements of the hymnal itself. As with any reviewer, Frazier uses the review itself as a jumping off point to make some comments about the state of Roman Catholic music in general; this is not uncommon, but has less to do with the hymnal itself. Our staff, who has worked so hard on this hymnal project, was delighted with Mr. Frazier's final comment:

A Mature Guide
Kudos to the WLP hymnal committee for providing the church with so worthy a “worship aid” as One in Faith. The book presents today’s congregations with a mature guide into a distant future.

On Sunday, I attended Mass at 11:15 at the beautiful Saint Clement church here in Chicago. Yes, I am still on my quest for a parish home, and 2015 will be the year during which I finally settle somewhere. Some photos of the interior:


 Their "Advent-turned-into-Christmas" suspended wreath is absolutely stunning:

You can see it suspended above the font in the other photos.

Well, followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray, thank you for reading these musings throughout 2014. I am traveling less frequently in 2015, so I will be more dilgent about regularly posting here.

I hope that 2015 opens with a renewed effort at making peace in our hearts, in our families, and in our world.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 22, 2014

O Rex Gentium: The "Desired One" for Vermont and for Me

Monday greetings: O Rex Gentium!

"O King of the gentiles and their desired One, the cornerstone that makes both one: come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth."

Two thoughts fill my mind this day before the day before the eve before.

When I think of the "desired One," my thoughts turn to the people of the State of Vermont. This is a state that holds a special place in my heart and the hearts of my family members and friends. We vacationed in Vermont every single summer, on the shores of the White River, in a small town called Gaysville. Here is a photo of the Gaysville Post Office:

And here is the beautiful White River:

Why musings about Vermont this morning? Well, the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, which covers the entire state, has been waiting for their own "desired one," a new bishop. And my friend Chris Coyne, currently the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, was named bishop of Burlington by Pope Francis this morning.

Chris and I were in the same homeroom our senior year at Woburn High School in Woburn, Massachusetts. We were in the same creative writing course with Miss Leverich that year. We spent time together preparing for the ordained priesthood at Saint John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. Chris enjoys the blessings of the ordained priesthood and I, for my part, continue to enjoy and discern what it means to be a member of the priesthood of the laity! Our families were close; our sisters were very good friends. I lost touch with Chris over the years, but have been able to connect with him a few times over the past couple of years. He is an amazingly straight shooter; honest, articulate, deeply spiritual, and just plain hilarious at times. Chris, I saw this sign many times throughout my life; now it is a sign for you:

My second thought this morning is also about the "desired One." Yesterday, I had the privilege of driving a few miles west of Chicago; I needed to deliver a Christmas present to a Godson in Oak Park, Illinois. I decided to go to the 11:00 Mass at Ascension Parish. I have many colleagues here at WLP who minister there in the parish's music ministry, undoubtedly one of the finest parish music programs in North America.

The music drew me in; every piece's corresponding hymnal number was posted. The Eucharistic Acclamations were in a "call-response" format and were easily picked up. Lots of singing around me. and the choir was simply stunning. So proud that so many colleagues and friends lead people closer to Christ at this parish; I certainly felt closer to the "desired One" yesterday. After Mass, the choir had a short final rehearsal of their Christmas choral repertoire. What a treat! Here is my amateur video of a portion of Chrysogonus Waddell's Rosa Mystica.

I hope that you grow closer to the "desired One," the "Kind of the Gentiles" as Christmas approaches.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 19, 2014

O Radix Jesse: Watch Out!

Greetings on this third day of the final days of Advent. O Radix Jesse!

"O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid."

Today's O Antiphon immediately brings me a chuckle as I remember an event in my childhood. At my home parish, Saint Charles in Woburn, Massachusetts, we had quite the weekend Mass schedule throughout the 1960's, 70's, and early 80's.

With four priests in the rectory, our pastor, Monsignor Christopher C. O'Neill, believed in serving the people by providing as many Masses as possible. This was the weekend schedule (and I am not joking here!)

Saturday: 4:00, 5:00, and 7:00 P.M.
Sunday Morning: 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 Noon in English, and 12:00 Noon in Spanish
Sunday Evening: 4:00, 5:15, 7:30 P.M.

That's right, 14 weekend Masses. And there was music at every one of them except the first three Sunday morning Masses. We had a cantor who sang most of the Masses; his name was Mark.

I will never forget the Fourth Sunday of Advent one year.

Standing tall, next to the ambo, was the large Jesse tree, basically a giant, dead, leaf-less tree, with lots of Jesse tree ornaments all over it. For some reason, as Mark was singing the responsorial psalm on that day, the tree started to bend in his direction, until it finally began to fall right on top of him as he chanted the psalm. He very calmly put up his left hand and held the tree up and never missed a word or a note of the psalm. When it was finished, the altar servers came to his aid and all was well with Mark and the Jesse tree again.

"Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid."

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

O Adonai: Art's Power

Greetings on this second of the final days of Advent: O Adonai!

"O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power."

Yesterday's reflection was all about my own lack of wisdom, even though I can be somewhat of a "wise guy" at times.

Today I am drawn into thinking about God's appearance to Moses and I am left wondering about the ways that God appears to me in the "burning bushes" of my daily life. As part of my work, I get to see the various stages of the editorial, production, and proofing processes of various projects. Today one of our editors brought me the final proof of Brother Mickey McGrath's latest book with us, Dear Young People, Inspiration from Pope Francis for Everyone, which will be ready to send to the printer some time later today or tomorrow. This was my "burning bush" moment today. Mickey's art simply reveals so much about God, about the Lord Jesus, about the Holy Spirit, and about this Christian existence. As I turned the pages and read Mickey's reflections, I found myself profoundly grateful for the gift of artists like Mickey in my life.

I truly believe that God uses art to help save us. I have a favorite quote from Paul Tillich:

"The artist brings to our senses and through them to our whole being something of the depth of our world and of ourselves, something of the mystery of being. When we are grasped by a work of art things appear to us which were unknown before--possibilities of being, unthought-of powers, hidden in the depth of life which take hold of us" (Paul Tillich, "Address on the Occasion of the Opening of the New Galleries and Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art," 1964).

This is exactly what Mickey's images in this new book did for me today. What power is in good art! I will be talking more about this book when it is released. Here is a preview of the cover. All of the art is inspired by various tweets and saying of Pope Francis.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

No Wise Answers On This Day of Wisdom

Greetings on this first of the final days of Advent. O Sapientia; O Wisdom.

"O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence."

Sometimes I think that I am a fairly wise man; I can solve crossword puzzles; I successfully complete the Chicago Tribune's word jumble every morning; I can usually pick up enough words in a foreign language to make my way through that foreign country with relative ease. Jerry, the "wise man."

But recent events show me that this brain of mine lacks the kind of wisdom that we hOnor today, the wisdom that supposedly orders "all things mightily and sweetly."

I was at Starbuck's this morning with a colleague here at WLP. He has three kids and as he waited for his coffee, the front page of the New York Times caught his eye. This was the disturbing photo on the cover page, showing the body of one of the students killed in the Taliban attack in Pakistan yesterday.

We both kind of just looked at each other. The faces of his three kids flashed across my mind. As someone with no children of my own, I often wonder what it feels like when parents see other parents' children murdered. My heart just ached for this colleague as we both wondered allowed about God's presence - or absence - in all of this. My mind wandered as I thought about two of his kids sitting in a classroom in their Catholic school, just like these kids were yesterday in Pakistan. I forced myself to stop thinking about it.

And then, arriving at work, I started to think about what to say about today's O antiphon. The wise man, Jerry, searches for wisdom and finds emptiness. Wisdom? Really? Orders all things mightily and sweetly? Really? Come on, God, where are you in all of this? What kind of sweet order is this?

No wise answers today from this wise man.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Robe of Salvation

Tuesday greetings from the overcast Midwest.

On Sunday morning, I was really draw into the First Reading from Isaiah. I couldn't help but think of the baptismal character of these words:

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice . . .

When I heard the words, I thought about being "clothed with a robe of salvation." When I was baptized, I wore a baptismal "gown" that has passed through generations in my family. On that day in 1958, I wore the same gown as did my grandfather at his own baptism decades earlier. And my grandfather was my godfather. That gown has become, for generations of Galipeau's, the symbolic "robe of salvation."

The memory of that garment was bittersweet for me and helped me understand baptism more deeply. Many, many of us were baptized in that very garment. Some have spent our lives responding to what having been baptized really means in life. Others have turned away. I do not stand in judgment on any of these loved ones. I hear similar stories throughout my travels, mostly from deeply saddened parents and grandparents. I just wonder how, in the same family, raised by the same loving sets of parents, some respond to the baptismal call and others simply don't. I live in the hope that someday we all will see what joy living the baptismal call can bring. I hope the same thing for you, readers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. A blessed continuation of this holy season to you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Where Should We Start?

Greetings on another dreary day here in the Midwest. Promise of sun tomorrow! Hooray!

Yesterday's report regarding the CIA interrogations has me reeling. I remember well a comment my six-year-old nephew made on September 11, 2001. You see, just a few months before, my youngest sister, his aunt, had died after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis. After the horrible tragedies of September 11, my nephew said that "Aunt Joanne now has many, many more friends in heaven." Simply the way a young child interprets reality.

I guess I might be too simple in my approach to living this human existence on this planet of ours. On that day, I felt pain that so many of my human brothers and sisters had suffered and died so horribly. I felt the pain in my heart as I watched loved ones seaching for the missing. And I have to say that I felt the same pain as I read some of the sections of the report on the CIA interrogations yesterday. These people were still human beings, and what they went through at the hands of other human beings brought pain into my heart.

I know that it is all way more complicated. We see human beings bring pain and death upon other human beings every single day. And some of the comments I have read in the "Comments" section beneath newspaper articles about the report left me so sad for humanity. What would happen if we saw one another as members of the same human family first, rather than members of a certain race or ethnic group, or members of a political party or faction, or members of a religious sect? Every one of us was born from the womb of our mothers; we all were fed and sustained; we all cry; we all feel physical pain; we all bleed; we all breathe. I know this is simplistic, but why can't we start with what we all have in common? Respect for other human beings has eroded. We are seing more of the results of that erosion.

Praying that some good will come out of all this.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Reaching into the Unrest

Tuesday greetings on a very dreary day here in the Midwest. Light rain and temperatures in the 30's now for several days.

I remember well my first winter here in the Midwest. I moved here from sunny central Florida. On my first Thanksgiving here, the homilist for the Thanksgiving Day Mass began his homily with these words: "I don't know what we have to be thankful for; we haven't seen the sun here in 29 straight days!" Ah, the Midwest!

I don't know about you, but these are days of fond remembrances for me of Advents and Christmases long past. I guess I still have the eyes of a child during this season. Each afternoon as the light disappears earlier and earlier and appears later and later in the morning, I remember my childhood days in New England. As my carpool colleagues and I drive home each day, I marvel at the Christmas lights adorning yards and homes. I also laugh at overblown Rudolphs and snowmen and Santas and reindeer; most of these are so out of scale in the smallish Chicago front yards. This weekend I saw a yard decoration and as I looked more closely, I realized it was a Christmas Dachshund, like this one:

Makes me chuckle!

I have been praying for peace during these days of protests in our country. The unrest sparked by recent court decisions (or non-decisions) leaves me in a state of unrest as well. "How long, O Lord?" As I sing the Advent hymns, asking for Emmanuel ("God-with-us") to come into our hearts and into our world, I find that too often it seems that God feels strangely absent in it all, kind of like a "God-not-with-us." Yet I know deep down that God is most present when I sense this lack of presence. Kind of a strange paradox, don't you think?

As our days here at WLP become seemingly busier and busier, I am so grateful for the work that the dedicated members of our staff accomplish in these days. Our hope, of course, is that our work is making a difference in parishes. Our hope is that, even in times of unrest and a seeming lack of God's presence, somehow the music and prayer resources we publish will reach into that unrest and keep the promise of peace alive.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Salt and Light Radio Interview and Child of Hope

Friday greetings to all.

I had the opportunity earlier this week to be interviewed by Deacon Pedro at Salt and Light Radio; just a brief ten minutes. If you want to tune in, here is the information:

This edition of the SLHour will be available for online streaming or download on Saturday at noon ET at
The program will also air on:
-The Catholic Channel (Sirius XM 129) this Saturday at 3 and 10pm ET (7pm PT) and on Sunday at 2pm ET (11am PT).
-The Spirit Catholic Radio Network (Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa: Spirit 102.7FM; Spirit 88.3FM, Spirit 91.5FM and Spirit 90.1FM) on Saturday at 10am and 9pm CT
-WJTA 88.9FM Holy Family Radio in northeastern Ohio on Saturday at 1pm
-The Lamb Catholic Radio (South Dakota KSJP 88.9FM and KSTJ 91.3FM) Saturday and Sunday at 9pm
-The Baraga Radio Network (northern Michigan: WIDG 940AM, WICK 90.9FM, WICK 92.1FM, WTCY 88.3FM, WGZR 88.9FM, WGJU 81.3FM) on Monday at noon.

This morning in my mailbox, I found a new collection we have just published here at WLP. I ran to the piano and played through the carols in the Child of Hope collection by John Carter. These are wonderfully crafted and fresh arrangements of traditional Christmas carols: Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming; Good Christian Friends, Rejoice; Still, Still, Still; Angels We Have Heard on High; Silent Night; and Christmas Hymn.

Keyboard players, run to your computer now and order this volume from our web site, or call our great folks in customer care at 1 800 566-6150.

Hope your second weekend of Advent is a blessed one!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Which Gift?

Thursday greetings from the Midwest, where it is an overcast and cold day.

Sometimes, on days like today, I force myself to glance to my right as I sit at my computer. Some of you know me well enough to know that this is what I have taped to the wall of my credenza:

Today, I need to reach deep within my heart and soul for the first and third of these gifts, given to me at the celebration of confirmation.

Take a look for yourself. Which gift/s do you need to use today?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 1, 2014

As Advent Begins . . .

Advent greetings on this frosty Monday morn' here in the Midwest.

I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was a good one. Mine was filled with great food, family, and friends. So grateful for all God has rained down.

I loved singing the Advent hymns at Mass yesterday: O Come, O Come Emmanuel, The King Shall Come, and Lord of All Hopefulness. The homilist invited us to take time during Advent to dedicate ourselves to a real season of deep spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Trying to take that to heart can be a challenge in this busy season, but try I will.

Once again, I find myself looking to Pope Francis for inspiration in these days of expectant longing. A photo caught my eye this morning. This was taken during Francis' trip to Turkey last week. I hope to get to Turkey in 2015. This depicts Francis bowing and asking for a blessing from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Fifty years ago, Blessed Paul VI and the then-patriarch Athenagoras inaugurated a dialogue about the re-unification of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Last week's meeting solidified that process with declarations of a "no turning back" stance. What struck me most was the two leaders talking about the reality that unification already exists in the persecutions of and the killing of Christians in the Middle East. We Christians here in the United States, for the most part sheltered as we are from religious persecution, need to feel deeply for our brothers and sisters who have been driven from their homes and towns and who are being martyred daily.

As the candles of our Advent wreaths are lit each day, let us pray for these sisters and brothers who suffer so much. As the wax of those candles melt, let us also pray that hearts hardened by misguided religious zeal will melt and become hearts softened with love, care, and respect, bringing an end to these senseless persecutions.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.