Blast from the Past: Rock Mass Our Father

Although this recording of Sr. Janet Mead’s rock mass setting of the Lord’s Prayer made the top 10 in 1974 and became a gold record, I don’t believe I ever heard it on the radio. I learned it when I got to college and played it at mass – I still have the music somewhere. And I still sing it sometimes, in the car or as I’m doing housework.

(And always with the subvocalized counting I had to do to get the beat right on that one tricky passage: Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses (..2, 3..) As we forgive those… 😉 )

It was waning in popularity by my year — I got to college in 1978 — but it was dear to the hearts of the classes of 1979 and 1980, and we sang it at their graduation masses.

Thanks to Dominic Preziosi at DotCommonweal for this video and reflection. The general opinion in the comments there seems to be that it had little musical or liturgical value, because rock music is generally not well suited for congregational singing.

While I tend to agree that this is true for rock music considered in isolation, it misses out on something important. The best congregational song, or sung prayer, is heartfelt. If the language of your heart is rock music, because your everyday hopes and dreams and fears and griefs and joys and sorrows have been expressed in rock music, to which you have danced and sung and clapped and cried, then rock music is a profoundly appropriate form of music for your prayer.

The images of Sr. Janet in the video remind me a bit of my favorite math teacher from junior high, Sr. Suzanne, who wore a similarly-styled habit in blue, and was similarly young and smiling.

What I like best about the video is the imagery at the very end, where the face of Jesus and the face of Sr. Janet are superimposed. What an effective imaging of our baptismal calling to be Christ to the world and to let the light and love of Christ shine through our lives.

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One Response to Blast from the Past: Rock Mass Our Father

  1. Andrew says:

    I remember this song – I think my parents had the single – though when I was a kid, it was a while before I connected the song with the prayer (I had a hard time parsing the word-breaks in the song). Thanks for the blast from the past – I’ll have to send the link to my brother.

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