BERNARD HUIJBERS (1922-2003)
Bernard was a native of Holland, and a leading composer of contemporary liturgical music as well as being an innovative theologian regarding the place of music in ritual action. His collaboration with Huub Oosterhuis, the well-known Dutch poet and liturgist, led to the publication of about two hundred compositions, and the English-language translation of his work The Performing Audience introduced many of us to the notion of Christian ritual music. To this day, I know of no other book, article, or resource that comes close to capturing the concept of music tied to ritual action.
To obtain a copy of this rare book, click here.
Born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on July 24, 1922, Bernard joined the Jesuits and was ordained a priest in 1954. After completing his music studies, he served as senior master of school music and choirmaster at St. Ignatius College, Amsterdam, until 1969. In these years he was among the participants who constituted the association Universa Laus, an international study group for liturgical singing and instrumental music, during its first formal meeting at Lugano, Switzerland, in 1966 (Universa Laus continues as an international forum to this day). From 1969 until he left the Jesuits and the priesthood, he served as composer, choir director, and liturgical team member at St. Dominic Parish in Amsterdam. After leaving the priesthood, he still continued to compose for the liturgy and to speak teach about the theology of elemental music for worship.
Bernard was also among the founders of the Student Work Group for a Vernacular Liturgy in 1969 in Amsterdam, which evolved into the independent Foundation for a Vernacular Liturgy, through which Huijbers and Oosterhuis initially released their joint compositions and texts. In the years after 1961, Huijbers composed at a steady–even prolific– rate: Eleven collections of the Huijbers/Oosterhuis material were translated into English and initially published first with North American Liturgy Resources (NALR), and then transferred to OCP Publications. Sadly – very sadly – the majority of this music has fallen out of print. With the exception of “Hold Me in Life,” it is difficult to find any of his music in our present day hymnals and other congregational resources.
His collaborations with Huub Oosterhuis deeply influenced composers who were aching for the kind of
theology and poetry and vision that this music embodied; especially people like Tony Barr (who was a student of both Bernard and Huub), Tom Conry, and Carol Dick. Tom was an ambassador for this music with many of his collections that included much of Bernard’s work. Again, sadly, most of those publications are out of print and very difficult to find. Songs and hymns like “Even Then,” “Song of All Seed,” “Awake, You Who Sleep,” “When from Our Exile,” and “Our Help” seem to have drifted away. It is a shame.
Bernard Huijbers believed that liturgical music must be simple, that the assembly must be viewed as a ”performing audience,” and that the music must bring life to what it celebrates–beliefs that he worked to incarnate in his music. Eventually Bernard married his wife, Annelou, and they settled in Espeillac, in the south of France. Following a long battle with cancer, Bernard Huijbers came home from exile a few minutes before midnight on Palm Sunday April 13, 2003. Since his passing and that of Oosterhuis, Tony Barr has dedicated himself to keeping the music and theology expressed in this music alive, both through his own compositions, and through the research that he is presently engaged in.
Shortly after the Second Vatican Council, Bernard set Huub’s version of Psalm 126 to music, and Tony translated it into English:
“Home from our exile! God, make our dreams come true: Be here among us! Then lead us home, bring us to life, just as the rivers, deep in the desert, flow once again as the new rain appears.”
It is my hope, that one day this music will emerge again, that publishers and hymnal committees will dig deep into the treasures that came from this musical and liturgical prophet.
SUE SEID-MARTIN (1938-1998)
Sue was a gifted musician and liturgist, and she died August 10, 1998 after a long illness. She studied at the Eastman School of Music in New York, and was organist and music director at parishes in Iowa, Texas and New York before becoming the Director of Chapel Music at the University of Notre Dame. From there she came to the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and over the years taught at was then the College of St. Catherine, and later at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity and United Theological Seminary. She also was a frequent guest speaker in archdiocesan parishes, and was active in promoting ecumenism in church music. She had tremendous influence on liturgists and musicians wherever she lived; her passion for the liturgy was infectious, her vision unwavering.
So that is the basic bio for Sue … but she was so much more than her resume.’ It is personal for me. Sue was for me, one of the earliest and most profound mentors in shaping my vocation as a pastoral musician and liturgical composer. Alongside Marty Haugen and Michael Joncas, Sue was a primary seed planter for me when I was just getting my sea legs as a composer and presenter. She took a risk on me, when she invited me to be one of the primary teachers for a summer liturgical music institute in the summer of 1982 at St. Kate’s, alongside teachers and musicians like John Ferguson, Paul Manz, and herself. I could fill paragraphs and paragraphs filled with stories about so much of the music that she pulled out of me (I speak about many of these in my new book, I Will Bring You Home – GIA). Songs like “Jesus, Wine of Peace,” “Alleluia! Let Us Rejoice!,” and the beginnings of my Mass of Light – all found their genesis through the prodding of Sue Seid-Martin. There are pieces that I was to compose and publish that would not be allowed to be published today, ritual pieces like my “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” and other ritual pieces for the sacraments of initiation.
The same was true for so many other liturgical composers. It was Sue Seid-Martin, while at Notre Dame, who coaxed her music department colleague David Clark Isele, to compose many of the psalms that were published by GIA many years ago, as well as the Holy Cross Mass, that contains the litany “Lamb of God” that is still so popular to this day, and has a home in most hymnals. She was one of the instrumental instigators for the renewal of a sung Liturgy of the Hours, leading to the publication of the cornerstone publication for Morning and Evening Prayer, Praise God in Song. In addition to David Clark Isele and myself, she influenced the work of Marty and Michael as well as numerous other composers. She was not a composer herself (she wrote a handful of pieces), but she was the patron and “guardian angel” and spirit mover for so many who were entrusted with the vocation of liturgical composition. Sue was loving, but she was also brutally honest. When she believed you had something better in you, she would tell you.
Other liturgists and pastoral musicians were trained and formed under her tutelage, people like Bonnie Faber, Mike Hay, Mary Werner, Rob Glover, and so many more. She conducted the choir for two of my earliest liturgical recordings, We Have Been Told and Light and Peace. She created a position for me to come and serve as adjunct instructor and composer-in-residence at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity beginning in 1985. She also persuaded the administration there to hire Bonnie Faber as a full-time voice teacher for the seminarians and other graduate students. What seminary before or since, has ever had such positions at their institution?
She totally revitalized our local Association of Liturgical Ministers here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; she had us gather once a month to pray evening prayer together, and to share and support one another in our ministry of music and liturgy. She especially worked hard to lift up women in the ministry of pastoral music and liturgy, and was able to get seminarians to do things that you would not believe!
While she died a year before it began, she was a primary inspiration for me when I began the Music Ministry Alive effort in 1999. She always held the belief that pastoral musicians needed to be formed holistically, in community with other ministers, alongside other ministers. She would always say two things that have been lodged in my heart all these years. First, liturgical music is formational. It shapes and drives what we believe and how we pray. Secondly, while she might not have come up with these statements originally, she would always teach: “It is not our liturgy, it is the Lord’s” and “we do not sing at the liturgy; we sing the liturgy.”
She challenged so many of us to be the best ministers we could be. The greatest gift that she brought, beyond all of her musical and liturgical insight, was herself. There was none like her. Her legacy is huge. I miss her so very, very much.
SEBASTIAN TEMPLE (1928-1997)
Sebastian Temple was born in South African, with the given name, Johann Sebastian von Tempelhoff. His life is most certainly a celebration and journey of the deep search for spirituality. After his growing up years, he moved to London where he worked for the BBC presenting news broadcasts that were focused on life in South Africa. Several years later he moved to India to join a Hindu Monastery. After moving to the United States he first joined the Church of Scientology then eventually converted to Catholicism and became a Third Order Franciscan. He made his home in Los Angeles and began composing both secular and religious songs, and eventually broke through by being one of the more influential “Folk-Mass” composers in the 1960’s following the Second Vatican Council.
Many of his songs became staples in the early contemporary repertoire, published in the early days of St. Francis Communications (later named, Franciscan Communications) on the heels of Mass being celebrated in English in the United States. Some of his widely sung songs included, “The Mass is Ended,” “Great Day in Bethlehem,” “All That I Am,” “The Living God,” “Take My Hands,” and “Sing, People of God, Sing!” However, Sebastian is best remembered for “The Prayer of St. Francis” (Make Me a Channel of Your Peace), one of the most popular songs for worship ever created, and to this day can be found in just about every Christian hymnal and songbook in the English-speaking world. The song was part of his first collection of liturgical music, Happy the Man, songs about St. Francis of Assisi. “The Prayer of St. Francis” was sung by the Westminster Abbey Boys Choir at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997 (it was one of her favorite songs). It also became an anthem of the Royal British Legion and is usually sung every November at the Service of Remembrance at Royal Albert Hall, London. It was sung by Sinéad O’Connor on the Princess Diana tribute album.
Always a very humble man, Sebastian always pointed toward God as the source of all his creative expressions. He would always say, “God is working through me.”
Later in his life he became more fascinated with the writings of the very controversial Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) and as a result, released The Universe Is Singing, that was more theologically sophisticated and controversial. He became active on the lecture circuit, promoting the teaching of Teilhard, and then eventually dropped out of the music scene altogether, choosing the path of becoming a poet. He published a book of his poems, Running Free, a very honest and vivid sharing of his soul.
Sebastian died in 1997 in Tucson, Arizona, not long after the great honor and joy of having his best-known song used at Princess Diana’s funeral. His legacy is greater than that song however, or anything else he composed or authored. His greatest witness is the journey of the spiritual walk, one that he never ceased in making. Truly a model for us all; especially those of us entrusted with empowering the prayer life of God’s people.