This month we remember three tremendous saints who served as dedicated servants in liturgical and music ministry. All three were friends of mine. We still miss them. DH (7.7.19)
Dr. Ralph A. Keifer, who served as an associate editor of Worship from 1974-80, died after a long illness in Chicago on 5 July, 1987. A graduate of Notre Dame University, he was well known in the fields of liturgical studies through his writings, public lectures and teaching. Most recently (1976-87) he was professor of liturgy at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The author of several books and numerous articles, Dr. Keifer was influential in furthering liturgical renewal among both Roman Catholics and other Christian churches. He took part in the Consultation on Common Texts, the International Consultation on Common Texts and the Committee for a Common Eucharistic Prayer. He also served as general editor (1971-73) and acting executive secretary (1972-73) for the
International Committee on English in the Liturgy.
Tribute from Worship, Vol. 61, No. 5, September 1987, pg. 461. Reprinted with permission.
M.D. “Del” Ridge
M.D. Ridge was a composer of liturgical music and a pastoral musician who helped parishes make the most of limited resources. Born in 1938 in New York City, she was the eldest child of Del and Meri Bell Sharbutt. She graduated cum laude from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY, which, in 2009 gave her its Ignatian Award for professional achievement.
For more than 45 years, M.D. wrote strong, singable and scripturally based liturgical music. She was a pastoral musician for parishes in the dioceses of Arlington, San Diego and Richmond, as well as the Military Archdiocese. In her retirement from active parish ministry, she served as the liturgy and music resource for her small faith community.
She published numerous choral octavos and 4 collections of music including A Light in Darkness (OCP), Awake, O Sleeper (GIA) By Cross and Water Signed (OCP) and In Every Age (OCP). Her compositions and texts appear in many hymnals and compilations in the United States, Britain and Canada. Her commissioned works include music and texts written for communities in Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, West Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Indiana, and New York.
In addition to writing liturgical music, M.D. was a longtime journalist, editor and author, whose articles have appeared in liturgical and secular publications in the United States, Canada and England. She wrote for Music News, Pastoral Music magazine and Today’s Liturgy, and wrote, edited, and contributed to many books and articles. Her commentary on life, liturgy and music appeared on the website of the Center for Liturgy at St. Louis University. She also wrote features and reviews for numerous secular publications in Southeastern Virginia, and reviewed music and the arts for public radio station WHRO in Norfolk, Virginia.
M.D. Ridge died June 5, 2017, at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, VA, from complications of metastatic liver cancer. She was surrounded by loved ones.
1947 – 2018
Eleazar Cortés was one of the elder statesmen of Spanish-language liturgical music in the US, with a rich legacy of beautiful music and years of service to the Church.
Eleazar was born in Michoacán, Mexico and lived in New Mexico. He studied philosophy and theology at the Interdiocesan Seminary of Montezuma and would later complete his theory and composition studies at the Cabrillo University in Aptos, California. Being immersed in regions where English speakers lived and practiced their faith with families of Hispanic origin, Eleazar treasured Latin American traditions. Through his compositions, Eleazar highlighted cultural elements that transcended physical boundaries.
For several years Eleazar was a music teacher at Don Bosco Catholic School and director of music at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Watsonville, California. He also worked as a teacher in Salinas and Watsonville and at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was director of music at the historic Old Mission in San Juan Bautista, California, for some time.
Eleazar composed several collections of liturgical music for Oregon Catholic Press and for World Library Publications, each with a variety of songs that are sung by various generations of Catholics in Mexico, the U.S. and the rest of the American continent. The Liturgical Assembly benefited from Eleazar’s gift of capturing and expressing intimate feelings of faith and love in moments of happiness or sadness.
Eleazar’s versatility and creativity is matched only by his readiness and eagerness to collaborate with both Spanish and English-speaking musicians. His songs and compositions spread his devotion and are witnesses of his faith. Many have also inspired musical performances, movies and television series. Orchestras, as well as mariachi and folk music groups, enjoyed playing his compositions for decades and thus, pay homage to Eleazar, keeping his legacy alive.
Through his songs, Eleazar gave a glimpse of the life and spirit of most Mexicans by reflecting on the beauty and authenticity of a specific region or tradition and highlighting the nation’s unique musical instruments or rhythms that characterize the nation’s joy and richness.
We give thanks to Eleazar for the music that shaped and guided the liturgical expression of the Hispanic community and for not only being an example for musicians, but for Catholics as well, inspiring all to share their gifts and to offer comfort, faith and love to those who surround us.
Tribute from OCP Publications.