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Musicians meet to tune in spirit of liturgical year.

ST. LOUIS -- If the homily is interspersed with all kinds of musical interludes, from organ and blues piano to the assembly singing softly under the words, or mixing it up with handclapping spirituals and Gregorian chant, the occasion is probably a gathering of musicians.

In this particular case, the homilist was Jesuit Fr. J-Glenn Murray. He was addressing the 3,500 composers, liturgists, organists, instrumentalists, educators and pastoral workers attending the June 15-19 National Pastoral Musicians' national convention in St. Louis, Mo. They came from every state in the union, as well as Canada, England, Australia, Bahamas and the island of Aruba.

NPM director Fr. Virgil Funk, welcoming the participants to this 16th annual celebration, explained that the theme, "The Rhythm of Time ... in Faith," reminds us "we celebrate the mysteries of the death and resurrection of the Lord in a cycle -- repeating them and renewing ourselves year after year. Each year is the same, each year is new."

A vast array of workshops and showcases covered almost every aspect of pastoral music. Speakers included Capuchin Fr. Edward Foley, Nathan Mitchell, Fredric Lieberman and Michael Joncas on the Milwaukee Symposia; Zakier Hussain, classical tabla drummer; Antonia Minnecola, kathak dancer, on drum and dance in worship; John Bell of the Iona Community of Scotland on ethnic music from five continents; John Romeri, St. Louis Cathedral music director, on the musician's role in bringing the liturgy alive; and Fr. Bryan Hehir on examining the theological relationship of worship and Catholic teaching.

In addition, there were 18 organ recitals and a number of concert performances, including a musical tribute to Sr. Theophane Hytrek, composer, organist and teacher who died in 1992, and a concert at the St. Louis Cathedral, famed for its eight-second echo, which delighted the audience.

For those who share the love of music and liturgy and experience the same problems and frustrations, the convention offered an opportunity to see and hear new compositions and new ideas, and to generate mutual support. Fr. William Bauman, presiding at the convention Eucharist, described his attitude facing the Sunday assembly: "The Lord has done good things out there this week, so don't louse it up."

At the end, Funk asked those at the end of each row to step into the aisle and make a sign of the cross on all who came forward to pledge another year of service to the liturgy ministry of the church. A perfect ending, many said: pastoral musicians ministering to pastoral musicians.
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Title Annotation:National pastoral Musicians convention, June 1993
Author:Ralston, James
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Jul 2, 1993
Words:414
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