Thursday, February 5, 2009

Raindrops On My Window

On February 5, 1967, there was a sold out concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This would not otherwise be remarkable except that it was the first concert of ecumenical, modern sacred music that had been held in that venue.

About two years earlier, a group of Roman Catholic nuns from the
Medical Mission Sisters had recorded an album of music by one of their members, Miriam Therese Winter. The album, Joy Is Like the Rain, was hugely successful worldwide, and not just among Catholics. Its folk-flavored songs were sung in many churches and heard on the radio.

Avant Garde Records, the secular company who had brought out the album, organized the Carnegie Hall concert, Praise the Lord in Many Voices, which also included performances by Jewish and Protestant musicians. The sisters were joined by a group of Pauline seminarians (to sing the men's vocal parts). Winter's Mass for a Pilgrim People was premiered that night and recorded. In press materials promoting the concert, she spoke of "mak(ing) a big noise to the Lord"and "break(ing) down the barrier betwen church and life."

Miriam Therese Winter has gone on to become an influential figure in modern church music, particularly in the area of inclusive language and feminist thought. She has gone back and rewritten her earlier songs to reflect these changes in her philosophy.

I was only able to find this one piano performance of Joy is like the rain on YouTube, but it may bring back some memories.

1 comment:

Leland Bryant Ross said...

I keep meaning to order Ms Winter's songbooks, Songlines and An Anthology of Scripture Songs, but it keeps slipping through the budget cracks. At Fremont Baptist we still sing the (uninclusivized version of) "The Wedding Banquet", but other than that I don't know if she's too Catholic or too feminist or too folkish or what for our historical taste. I like "Joy Is Like the Rain", "Spirit of God in the clear running water", and several others I've seen, I just don't think we've ever sung them.

Leland aka Haruo