Because, really, it’s unfair to dump everything you don’t like about modern liturgical music on Marty Haugen because you don’t like “All Are Welcome,” “Gather Us In” or the Mass of Creation, I’d like to list some things by him that are not bad. In fact, many of them are very, very good, and I think it’s fair to note them. This can’t possibly be exhaustive, because he’s written a lot, but I’ll do as many of them as I can.
Fair warning: Just because the songs aren’t bad doesn’t mean the recordings are also not bad. Some of the recordings are terrible, like the first one on my list.
All You Works of God: Bad, awful recording (thanks for nothing, “Tales of Wonder,” which, incidentally, I was in a production of when I was little), but a very solid song of praise.
Awake! Awake! And Greet the New Morn: I was able to throw a lot of organ stuff into this to really make it shine. A bright, well-written Christmas carol.
Be with Me, Lord (Psalm 91): Marty Haugen is very good at psalms, and this one captures the supplicant plea of a troubled soul.
Blest Are Those Who Love You (Psalm 128): Seriously, he’s good at psalms.
Eye Has Not Seen: Yeah, I know, it’s a little high-pitched. And verse 4 is weird, which is why no one does it. But the rest is a dramatic but not overly so gem that really does remind us of St. Paul’s words very well.
God of Day and God of Darkness: To be fair, it’s just his words; he uses the well-known Beach Spring hymntune. But it’s powerful stuff, like this from verse 4: “For our hearts shall wander restless ’til they safe to you return/Finding you in one another, we shall all your face discern.”
Let Justice Roll Like a River: Again, ignore the recorded version, which is terrible. Just imagine doing this with just a piano and a SATB choir.
Return to God: The GIA description says, “Captures the essence of Lent.” It does. Minor key. Haunting melody. Not overwrought (which is a little too easy to do in Lent, especially if your hymn is called “Remember Your Love.” Sorry, Dameans).
Send Down the Fire: Ugh. The website version is just terrible. Awful. Do this on organ (which, since it’s Pentecost, you should), and it suddenly transforms from tacky to snappy.
We Are Many Parts: This probably is high on the liturgical grouches’ list of things that make them grouchy. Fine and dandy, but don’t spoil this one for the rest of us.
See? There’s a good starter list right there. Yes, Marty Haugen has written some clunkers in there (“Sing Out, Earth and Skies,” “Gift of God,” “Within the Reign of God,” among others), but all in all, he has more than a few solid pieces. Let the liturgical grouches grouse — their dislike of Marty Haugen tends to be more one of taste than anything else. It’s fine to like his work, and don’t feel bad about it at all.