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JANUARY 10, 2023
From Jennifer Odegard
I have had the distinct honor of twice having colleagues dedicate pieces of music they have composed to me. These dedications happened during key moments in my life and remain some of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received. The first is an instrumental piece for piano and cello from the collection Psalms without Words Volume 9, “Pavane–Psalm 63: My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord,” and the composer Keith Kalemba wrote it in memory of my late husband Charlie and dedicated it to me shortly after Charlie’s death in 2013. Then, in 2021, for my 50th birthday, Kate Williams dedicated her setting of Adam Tice’s beautiful text in “Rejoice, Be Glad” to me. What an amazing and humbling thing it is to have incredibly talented and faith-filled people pour their heart and soul into a piece of art they have created and then attach you to it somehow! And yet, when I think about it, how true that is for every piece of music on music stands and in pews in our churches. Every sacred song and hymn written and found in collections and hymnals and missalettes like Gather IV and Word & Song is attached to each of us, to our most meaningful and sacred moments in prayer. They accompany us during our happiest and our saddest times and become part of our hearts and our souls too.
Jennifer Odegard is Vice President of People and Culture at GIA.
Robert J. Batastini is Vice President & Senior Editor Emeritus of GIA Publications, author, composer, and respected pastoral musician.
DECEMBER 16, 2022
From Robert Batastini
In January of 1996, at the request of Peter’s Way Tours, I led a “fam” tour to the Holy Land. This was a familiarization tour for choir directors designed to interest them in taking their parish choirs on tour. There were about 40 choir directors on the tour, and each was equipped with a copy of the first edition of RitualSong which has just come off the press. Our tour focused on places found in the Gospel stories. At each stop we’d disembark from our bus, hymnal in hand, and sing a song of the place we were visiting. We sang “I Am the Bread of Life,” while standing in the ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus spoke those words. We sang “On Jordan’s Bank,” while standing in that very place—a few actually wading in the water. We sang the Beatitudes on that mount, and perhaps my favorite recollection was singing a relatively new hymn, “Jesus, Come! For We Invite You,” with words by the British hymn writer, Christopher Idle, and tune by American priest and composer, Ronald Krisman. It is based on Jesus’ first miricle, at the Wedding at Cana, and we sang it—no doubt for the very first time for all of us—in the shrine built at that place.
In May of 1996, I and my two associates, Kelly Dobbs Mickus and Alan Hommerding, took our parish choir (St. Joseph, Downers Grove, IL) on an Italy tour with Peter’s Way Tours. We worked our way from Milan, south to Rome, stopping to celebrate Eucharist at Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi. Our Franciscan friend, Fr. Bob Hutmacher, just happened to be there, and though our pastor presided, Fr. Bob preached. We were in the crypt that holds the tomb of Francis, and during the liturgy we sang that famous hymn written by Francis, Laudes Creaturarum, in English, “All Creatures of Our God and King.” We were but a few yards from the sarcophagus containing the remains of the saint.
DECEMBER 16, 2022
From Alan Hommerding
As he approached the end of his life, visits with my dad became more difficult, since he continued to decline. After one such visit in the Summer of 1996, I took my mother (who I’d been staying with) to a Notre Dame Folk Choir concert, since they happened to be performing in the area. One of the songs that evening was “All Will Be Well,” Steve Warner’s prayerful setting of a Julian of Norwich text. Grief, comfort, healing, sorrow, and peace comingled in the air and my heart that night: one of the Spirit’s complex concoctions. Fast forward to November of 2022. I was subbing for a Sunday evening Mass at a Chicago-area church, and Gather 4 #763—All Will Be Well—was on the schedule. As I played the first notes of the introduction, that same grace of the Spirit from that evening long ago swept over me. [After Mass, a woman came up to me to complain about that very song! We needed to sing peppier and less dirge-like songs, she said. I briefly shared with her the grace of the Spirit that song brought to me, and why. I told her that whenever there was a song at Mass that I didn’t like, I would say a prayer that it might be touching the heart of somebody else there.] Such is song of the Spirit.
Alan Hommerding is the Liturgy Publications Editor for WLP, as well as a widely-published author, composer, and hymn text poet.
Linda Vickers has worked at GIA for over 20 years as Executive Assistant to GIA’s President, Alec Harris, and as Editor for Music Education resources.
DECEMBER 16, 2022
From Linda Vickers
I am a member of a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod church in Illinois. I have worked at GIA Publications for over 20 years, and in the early years there really wasn’t any connection between GIA and WELS churches. More recently, though, WELS published a new synod hymnal and I am proud and excited to see that GIA is now part of our new hymnal! I’ve started looking at the copyright lines of the hymns we sing every week and regularly see GIA listed, so it has been refreshing for me to now experience the beautiful music published by the company I’ve worked for all these years.