MORNING LIGHT by St. Louis Jesuits ($17)

OCP 12791

Twenty years after releasing their last collection, the St. Louis Jesuits are back! Composers of some of the most beloved liturgical music ever written, the group—Dan Schutte, Tim Manion and Jesuit Fathers Roc O’Connor, John Foley and Bob Dufford—has come together to produce Morning Light, a reunion collection of hope-filled songs for Sunday liturgies, funerals, retreats, prayer services and other celebrations.

Featuring 12 newly written songs, three by each member of the group (except Manion), this collection proves they still have it. They still have that uncanny ability to set Scripture-based texts to beautiful, accessible, innovative melodies that fit and enhance the liturgy—and touch the hearts of today’s worshipers.

But this is no copy of their previous work. Reflecting 20 years of spiritual and musical growth, these new compositions have a depth, maturity and humility that modern assemblies will appreciate. Of course, the world around them has also changed. Concerned for the “dark clouds” and discouragement they see, the group determined to write music filled with “the hope we have been called to.”

Suitable for gathering, preparation of the gifts, Communion, sending forth and other parts of the liturgy, the songs cover a variety of themes, including trust in the Lord, discipleship, light, hope, love and praise. Highlights include “Gather the People,” by Dan Schutte. A spirited, syncopated entrance hymn, it builds slowly toward a grand, full-choir finale that can’t help but draw the entire assembly—“the greatest and the least”—into full participation. Featuring gentle violin and acoustic guitar parts and based on a text by St. Augustine, “O Beauty, Ever Ancient,” by Roc O’Connor, challenges us to find renewal and “new life” in God.

“Behind and Before Me,” by Bob Dufford, is an exquisite setting of Psalm 139. Spiced with well-balanced parts for guitar, flutes, strings and choir, it reassures us of God’s intimacy—and recalls our limited ability to grasp it. Opening with a lovely prelude for trumpets, “Teach Us to Pray,” by John Foley, invokes the Holy Spirit’s help in prayer and all we do. Inspired by Romans 8, this simple hymn is a timely reminder that “all things work for good.”

Recorded with an excellent choir and impressive keyboard, wind, percussion and string accompaniment, the CD makes for inspirational and prayerful listening, besides being an excellent rehearsal tool. The composers take turns on lead vocals. Though not contributing to the composing effort, Tim Manion lends his familiar voice and plays guitar on nearly every song.

Just as sunlight in the morning dispels the darkness of night, so Morning Light uplifts and encourages—through both text and melody—offering hope in a sometimes dark and troubled world. Infused with the genius, faith and maturity of these legendary composers, it’s destined to be yet another in their long line of classic and best-selling collections.

Find out more about: Dan Schutte, St. Louis Jesuits, John Foley, S.J., Bob Dufford, Roc O'Connor, S.J.

Behind Me and Before Me
Come Home
Gather the People
Give Us Faith, Lord
Now My Heart
O Beauty, Ever Ancient
Running Streams
Teach Us to Pray
The Saving Power of God
These Alone Are Enough
Well of Tears
You Are the Light

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