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Fr. John Foley, SJ...

posted Jul 23, 2011, 10:42 AM by Steven Vaughan
Born in 1939, Jesuit Father John Foley is a liturgical and classical composer, theologian and writer.  In 1993, he founded and became Director of the Stroble Center for Liturgy at St. Louis University, a national think tank for studying and teaching the liturgy.
 
His most familiar compositions such as One Bread, One Body; Come to the Water and The Cry of the Poor were included in collections of a group who became known as the St. Louis Jesuits.  As seminarians, they played acoustic guitars with pop-style melodies and rhythms, setting biblical and other religious texts to music sung in English, a result of the reforms initiated by Vatican II.  And when university students took mimeographed copies of this new music back to their own parishes, its popularity spread and swelled.  Though it was only their second recording, Earthen Vessels, which Fr. John Foley, SJ wrote and we sang today, sold over one million albums.  Today, many of his hymns have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Korean, Polish, Spanish and Vietnamese.

In 1980, all five of the original members moved to Seattle, where they continued to study and compose.  But they eventually began to release solo collections as the demands of their Jesuit vocations took them to different parts of the world.  Now, they only occasionally perform together, and Fr. Robert and I had the rare opportunity to hear them this week at the National Association of Pastoral Musician’s 34th Annual Convention in Louisville, KY.  As recipients of this year’s Jubilate Deo Award for exceptional musical contribution to the American Catholic Church, they gathered together for a sing-along of their early classics, including Be Not Afraid and Here I Am, Lord.  I’ll write about the convention next week, but for more information about Fr. John Foley, SJ and the Stroble Center for Liturgy, visit www.liturgy.slu.edu.
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