About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and two children.
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“In the 17th century came the crushing blow which destroyed the beauty of all Breviary hymns. Pope Urban VIII (d. 1644) was a Humanist. In a fatal moment he saw that the hymns do not all conform to the rules of classical prosody.”
— Fr. Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?
published 15 May 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski

514 hap E HARDLY EVER engage in “navel-gazing” on this blog, mainly because there’s so much work to be done!

But there’s another reason. Sometimes there’s too much to say. And because there is too much to say, sometimes we don’t say anything.

For example, if I were to list all the people who inspire me, none of you would read it, because it would be so long. I’d probably start with my wife, children, parents, brother in the seminary … well, you get the idea!

BUT TODAY I WANTED TO SAY how much inspiration I draw from … you!

Each week, we receive so many letters from all over the world. So many generous, holy people trying to make sure the Liturgy is how God wants it. It truly is humbling to read of the sacrifices some of you make. Thank you for your service to the Holy Catholic Church!

I wanted to quote a song, but I can’t remember the lyrics. 1 I’m so irritated that I’ve forgotten it. Basically, the song was about a man who regrets not telling a family member how much he loved him (her?), but it’s too late because that person is dead. Oh, well. I’m sure I’ll remember some day.

Since I cannot remember that song, I’ll share another one, quite moving, IMHO:

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
'Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven.

I believe that song was written to a child who died: how terrible is that? How painful is that? Wow.

Friends, I understand fully the difficulties that stand in the way of a Church musician in the year 2014. As my mentor always said, “The life of a Church musician is a life of sacrifice.” Sometimes the difficulties seem insurmountable. At Watershed, we try to assist your work, but only God can ultimately fix everything.

I believe that holy and reverent liturgies are making a comeback. This is because people are looking for what is BEST and HOLIEST, not simply what’s “allowed.” An ever-present danger is the particular sensibility of musicians. Musicians tend to fight with one another over the DUMBEST things. I once knew a musician who stormed out after Mass because the tempo of a hymn was “wrong” in his view. I’ve written about this before:

      * *  More unites us than divides us!


1   I have pretty much every song written in the 1970s and 1980s memorized, because my father listened to those songs.