Bob’s impact on the liturgical and musical life in the church cannot be overemphasized. He held his very first position as a church musician while still in high school, and in 1965 became music director at St Barbara Roman Catholic Church in Brookfield, Illinois, where for over twenty years he led an exemplary music program until his retirement in 1987.
Bob was more than instrumental in the beginnings of GIA Publications (back when it was still called the Gregorian Institute of America). In 1967, in partnership with its owner, Ed Harris, he became the editor at GIA Publications, Inc., in Chicago, retiring as Vice President and Senior Editor in 2002. That is, however, only the rough sketch. During his years at GIA Bob helped to position the publisher as a major influence on liturgical music not only for the Roman Catholic Church but for all Christian denominations in the English-speaking world and beyond.
Bob has always had a love for all styles and genres of church music, but he has always held close to his heart, hymns of every kind. He served as executive editor and project director for the Worship hymnals (three editions), Gather hymnals (three editions), Catholic Community Hymnal, and as executive editor of the first edition of Ritual Song. Since retirement, he has continued as project director for Lead Me, Guide Me—Second Edition, and served on the editorial committees for Worship—Fourth Edition, and Oramos Cantando.
Bob is past-president of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, served as a member of the Council for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, and was a member of the Music Advisory Committee of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy which drafted the Bishops’ document, Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship. In 1993 he became the first recipient of the Father Lawrence Heimann Citation for lifetime contribution to church music and liturgy in the U.S., awarded by St. Joseph’s College, Rensselaer, Indiana, and was named “Pastoral Musician of the Year – 2000” by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM). At its 2006 conference, he was named a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. He also maintains an ongoing relationship with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.
During his years at GIA, Bob developed the state of the art standards for how hymnals are to be structured and used as not only collections of music, but as an aid for prayer. In addition to his work on hymnals and several choral music series’ at GIA, he also was (and continues to be) an innovator. Bob was the one who literally “invented” the “assembly refrain box” that is now not only the standard for GIA, but for just about every Catholic hymnal by every known publisher. Years ago, he instigated the “Cantor-Congregation Series,” as well as developing the concept of annual choral music packet subscriptions. The shrink-wrapped “choral octavo packets” of music wedded to recorded collections – Bob’s idea.
If it were not for Bob, the music of the Taize’ community in France would have never made it to the United States. Bob worked tirelessly with the Taize’ community and its central composer, Jacques Berthier to bring the initial Taize’ music published volumes to life, and continues to be among their strongest ambassadors in the English-speaking world. He has also been a frequent pilgrimage leader, and I myself was so fortunate to join him, as well as Michael Joncas and Marty Haugen, for a tour/pilgrimage to Greece in 2005 (“In the Footsteps of Paul”).
Other series’ that began in Bob’s head include the well-known and very popular “Celebration Series,” the “African-American Church Music Series,” the “Royal School of Church Music” series, the “Not Only for Children” series, and too many more projects to mention. Bob has brought many composers to GIA’s catalog that have been so influential over the years: Fr. Joseph Gelineau, Alexander Peloquin, Richard Proulx, and … yours truly. He was also part of the initial brain trust that brought ONE LICENSE to birth, and for years was the primary public face of GIA (through his presenting numerous workshops, showcases, and reading sessions) right up until his “retirement.”
Beyond the world of Church music, Bob loves to play with any band he can sit in with, and never hesitates to come forward and bring joy to his music making – which all who are in attendance, are the blessed beneficiaries.
I could go on and on and on about Bob’s contributions to the cause of not only liturgical and sacred music – but more than anything – his commitment to congregational song – the intentional belief that in the liturgy, the voice of the assembly is primary. After his years of ministry at St. Barbara’s he continued in parish ministry from 1991-1998 as director of music at St Joseph Church in Downers Grove, Illinois. To this day, he is still involved in parish work, being the Director of Music Ministry at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Holland, Michigan, and as a key leader for the Grand Rapids Diocesan Chapter of NPM. Together with Ed Harris (who is also, “retired”), he continues to serve as a consultant to GIA for many of their projects and initiatives.
For me personally, Bob was and continues to be a very important mentor, guide, and dear friend. For the singing Church – he has been a prophet, servant, and tireless ambassador for communal sung prayer. For these blessing and many more – we are most grateful and give thanks to God. God bless you, Bob. Keep up the cause! (DH: 4.25.18)
Video: There is One Lord (Berthier/Taize’), conducted by Bob Batastini
Video: Bob Batastini at the piano!
Among the many charisms needed to be a leader of pastoral music, is the call to embrace the image of “servant.” There are few who truly not only embody and understand this role but who also exhibit it with joy and enthusiasm, without fail. Mary Janus from California is, for me, the “patron saint” of liturgical music servanthood.
For years, in addition to her “regular jobs” that she has held – to pay the rent – her most treasured vocation (for her and for us), has been her service and involvement as a pastoral musician for many, many years. She has been a parish music director, teacher, and a mentor for young pastoral musicians looking for guidance.
Mary continues to be Director of Music Ministry at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Northridge, California (Archdiocese of Los Angeles), and directs several ensembles there, in particular, her contemporary music ensemble, “Harmonia,” who not only serve every weekend at Our Lady of Lourdes, but who are also called upon to lead music for many Archdiocesan celebrations, including several at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Many of us have come to know and love her through her tireless involvement as a volunteer and member of the Music and Liturgy Committee for the very popular annual event, the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, held every year in Anaheim, California. At this weekend event, over 20,000 people gather together from not only throughout the state of California, but from places all across the country and abroad, to celebrate their being the Church, the most beautiful and diverse “Body of Christ.” Mary literally spends days and hours helping this event go smoothly, especially for the various liturgical and musical events that take place.
She does this, almost always – by her choice – behind the scenes. Mary is one who seeks no spotlight herself. She does everything she can to be sure that the many liturgical musicians and composers have their various needs met. She does so with tremendous joy, and continually inconveniences herself to make this happen, and happen smoothly. Mary has developed a tremendous relationship with all of the major Catholic liturgical music publishing houses and serves as a liaison between them and the events that take place at Congress. I myself, have been the beneficiary of her generosity and help in “putting out fires” that are often to occur at such events. Mary knows practically every instrumentalist and singer in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County area. She always knows exactly the right person to call on for the right task.
Beyond all of this and her tremendous skill as a director and coordinator of music and liturgy, the greatest gift that Mary brings to ministry is herself. Yes. Her presence, her joy, her passion and advocacy make her so very much loved by the people of Our Lady of Lourdes, the many liturgical composers and musicians who gather for the Religious Education Congress each year – and for all who have come to know her. What a blessing, what a saint she is! I want to be like her. (DH: 4.25.18)
A native of Georgia, Paul Tate began to compose at just 8 years old, and he has been keeping up ever since. He began to compose liturgical music during his time as a music major at the University of Georgia, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Music Composition.
Paul presently lives in Sugar Hill, Georgia, and over the years his music has filled the throats and hearts of worshippers everywhere. He is one of the very few contemporary liturgical composers today who is published by each of the “big three” liturgical publishing houses: World Library Publications, GIA Publications, and OCP Publications.
Paul has composed numerous songs, hymns, psalms, and “inspired songs,” and some of his most well-known song-prayers include: “Gathered as One,” “By the Waters of Babylon,” “Let All Creation,” “Jesus, Hope of the World,” and “In Remembrance of You.”
A former school music teacher and parish music director, Paul also is equally active as a musical theatre musician, and he has been both music director and keyboardist for literally, hundreds of musicals over the years, especially in the greater Atlanta area. He also teaches private piano, composition, theory and does vocal coaching out of his studio, and has presented workshops nationally on various aspects of liturgical music. Paul has served on the teams for several conferences that mentor young people in liturgical music, such as “One Bread, One Cup,” “Music Ministry Alive,” and the Knockadoon “Folk Liturgy Course,” held in Ireland.
An amazing arranger and pianist, he can be heard on the recordings of numerous liturgical artists, such as Ed Bolduc, Lori True, Ian Callanan, Liam Lawton, Stephen Petrunak, Zack Stachowski, and yours truly. His piano arrangements of both traditional and contemporary liturgical songs and hymns have become very popular through the many recorded and published volumes with GIA, entitled “Seasons of Grace,” that have served as wonderful contributions for preludes and meditations.
I myself was, and continue to be honored by Paul being one of the contributing artists on my two instrumental CD’s with GIA, “Instruments at Prayer.” You can learn more about his music and hear samples on his Reverb Nation site: https://www.reverbnation.com/paultate
He also has collaborated with many composers, including Sr. Kathleen Harmon, Stephen Pishner, Lori True and myself, on the gargantuan project that we did together on music for the Liturgy of the Word, with GIA (four volumes!), “Cry Out With Joy.”
Beyond all of Paul’s tremendous musical talents – that continue to blow me away on a regular basis – Paul is a gentle, thoughtful and blessed man who loves making music, leading sung prayer, and sharing in these pursuits with friends and colleagues. His music has enriched the prayer of the Church, and his presence is both joy and delight in the lives of those who have come to know him and call him a friend. God bless you, Paul! (DH: 4.25.18)
Video: “Jesus, Hope of the World” by Paul Tate
Video: “Gathered as One” by Paul Tate
Video: “In God Alone” by David Haas
Arranged and performed by Paul Tate