Look what I found!
I made another guest appearance at my original parish over the weekend, and while I was checking out the organ loft, I stumbled over this guy. Back when I was in grade school, the Young People’s Glory and Praise was the book we used during all-school Masses. As you might image, the songs were a little bit more aimed toward youngsters. And now that I’m a grownup, er, adult, some of that stuff sounds terribly silly. (Some of it was so silly that the nun in charge of music didn’t bother trying it.) But some of it still brings up pretty good memories.
Let’s review a few of the pieces in there, shall we?
“Like a Sunflower” (Carey Landry): I haven’t a clue whether a sunflower actually follows every moment of the sun. What I do know is that every once in a while, Carey Landry crafted melodies that were sweet without being overly done. Think “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman,” which I’ve always loved. There are very few words in this hymn, but it’s so sweet, that I think it’s better than most people give it credit for. Give it a listen below:
“God Is a Surprise” (Harry Pritchett): Now, see, this one is terribly silly, even for the kids. Here’s the refrain:
God is a surprise, right before your eyes.
It’s baffling to the wise.
Surprise, surprise, God is a surprise.
Open up your eyes and see.
Awful. Just awful treacle. This, mercifully, isn’t a Catholic-originated song (Harry Pritchett is Episcopalian), and it doesn’t get any better.
“God Is So Good” (Carey Landry): I used this, actually, with the kids at my main parish a couple years ago. It’s not a spectacular piece of work, but it’s simple and decent. I keep finding an alternately worded version (not by Landry) that ups the stupid languge.
“Reach Out” (Carey Landry): I think I liked this one growing up. I was a silly child growing up.
And that’s just a sliver of what all is in there. Also included are some of the post-Vatican II these-guys-were-everywhere hymns (“Be Not Afraid,” “You Are Near,” “On Eagles’ Wings,” “Only a Shadow”), some now-entirely-unusable Mass parts, and some total disasters that are still somehow in use today (“The Spirit Is A-Movin'”).
The problem with this hymnal (can we call it that? I guess it qualifies) is that for the older kids (my school was PreK-8), it was silly crap. It was kid music. They had quickly outgrown it, and there wasn’t much to replace it.
When I was in sixth grade or so, the nun in charge of music left, and a laywoman who really liked CCM (sigh) took over the music for school Masses. That meant a steady diet of “Awesome God,” a song I have come to not like too much, and weird stuff like “Rise Up, Jerusalem” in Advent. And Young People’s Glory and Praise fell by the wayside.
It’s not a shame, mind you; it had flaws. But I have a soft spot in my cold heart for the book. It did, for better or worse, help form my preferences for liturgical music, and it serves as a constant reminder that no matter how good or bad you think something is, there’s always someone out there who finds a deep meaning in it.