This episode was completed and recorded before the tragic events at Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday. Thus what brief narration and commentary I give on the episode does not address the tragedy of eleven people who lost their lives nor the countless numbers who grieve them. And even now, it becomes harder and harder to find words to address the senseless violence and hatred that seems to take more and more of our brothers and sisters each time we turn around…which is why, I suppose, we turn to music, to say what words cannot. So for all of those lost, and for all those who grieve…if all we can do is sing, sing their journey and sing their memory and sing the better world we wish we could have made for them, then that is what we must do, and continue to do…)

Somehow, October is nearly over, and November, with its inexorable push to longer nights and shorter days and years ending, is upon us. And it’s the week when, as a church, we turn to thoughts of our own mortality, and of those who have gone before us. This year is particularly poignant for me personally; last autumn at about this time I was traveling back East as often as I could get away in order to spend time with two people who were very dear to me and who were at that time facing big setbacks in their ongoing battles with cancer…we lost them both within a week of each other shortly after the new year. So I am listening to the music of these feasts with different ears than in years past, and finding in it a comfort I had not fully realized I needed…

This is one of those musical samplers that’s not particularly of use to people trying to plan music for parishes, since it’s basically launching mere days before the feasts it connects to (although I know I’m putting a bunch of these into my “hope chest” to maybe use next year)…but it’s also important for us to remember that sometimes we the ministers need ministering to just as much as anyone else. So I hope something in here can touch the hearts of all of us who this year are holding especially close to our hearts the memories of saintly souls and soulful saints we’ve had to let go of here on earth.



p.s. make sure you listen all the way to the end–in a moment of whimsy, I put at the end of this mostly reflective podcast Richard Proulx’s gently humorous account of the “Choirmaster at the Pearly Gates”…it always makes me smile. (Note: please do not take this piece as in any way reflective of thoughtful Catholic theology, or attempting to negate the promise of forgiveness and grace as free gift; it’s church musician humor, nothing more. 😉 )

Music heard on today’s podcast:

For All the Saints G-4540 (arr. John Bell)
As recorded on The Last Journey, CD-381 by the Cathedral Singers and John Bell

Sancti Dei Omnes (All you Saints of Heaven) G-3793 (arr. Richard Proulx)
As recorded on Let All Together Praise, CD-335, by Richard Proulx and the Cathedral Singers

The Cloud’s Veil G-4664 (Liam Lawton)
As recorded on Catholic Irish Classics, CD-915 by Liam Lawton, with Theresa Donohoo

Precious Lord G-7155 (by George N. Allen and Thomas Dorsey, arr. Nathan Carter)
As recorded on Great is thy Faithfulness, CD-999, a Tribute to the Life and Published Choral Works of Dr. Nathan Carter

Come to Me, O Weary Traveler, G-9135 (Sylvia Dunstan and Paul Tate)
As recorded on Life is Changed, Not Ended, CD-1044, by Paul Tate

Gospel Canticle of Simeon G-9721 (Michael Joncas)
as recorded on Deep and Lasting Peace CD-1047, by Michael Joncas

Lord our God, Receive your Servant G-4538 (John Bell)
As recorded on The Last Journey, CD-381 by the Cathedral Singers and John Bell

The Choirmaster at the Pearly Gates, by Richard Proulx
As recorded on Spirit of God Unleashed, CD-405

Full text:

The Choirmaster stood at the pearly gates
His face was worn and old,
He stood before the man of fate
For admission to the fold.
“What have you done,” Saint Peter said
“To gain admission here?”
“I’ve been a Choirmaster, sir,” he said,
“For many and many a year.”
The pearly gates flew open wide
Saint Peter touched the bell.
“Come in,” he said, “and choose your harp
You’ve had your share of hell.”

Anonymous (20th century, quoted from A Guest at Cambridge, 1998)


SingAmen! the Podcast, with Jennifer Kerr Budziak
Sound by Jim Bogdanich

SingAmen! opening music: Promenade, by Bob Moore (from Let Every Instrument Be Tuned for Praise, CD-491, from Liturgical Suite #4, G-4789.. ©GIA Publications, Inc).
SingAmen! closing music: Amen, (from More Sublime Chant, CD-459, The Cathedral Singers, Richard Proulx, conductor. ©GIA Publications, Inc.)