Skip to comments.Response to ‘On Eagle’s Wings’ Over the Years Humbling for Composer
Posted on 01/03/2014 6:07:43 AM PST by marshmallow
HONOLULU (CNS) Father Jan Michael Joncas has composed more than 300 liturgical songs, but his name is widely known for the one that tops a list of favorites: On Eagles Wings.
The hymn by Father Joncas, 62, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was named by hundreds of voters as their No. 1 liturgical hymn in a 2006 poll sponsored by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
Since On Eagles Wings was written in 1979, it has become a staple at Sunday Masses, funerals and memorial events as a reminder of Gods uplifting presence in times of sorrow.
Most people associate me with this single piece, Father Joncas told the Hawaii Catholic Herald via email.
Father Joncas said the song came about when he was visiting a friend at the major seminary in Washington. One evening, Father Joncas friend got word that his father had suffered a fatal heart attack. Father Joncas wrote On Eagles Wings in the days that followed and it was sung for the first time publicly at the friends fathers wake service.
The song is based on Psalm 91, its lyrics drawing from the Scriptures descriptions of Gods protection and providence. Lyrics include the lines You need not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, and For to his angels he has given a command to guard you in all of your ways.
(Excerpt) Read more at catholicphilly.com ...
Former Miss Iowa Jessica Pray: “On Eagle’s Wings”:
In the groundbreaking book, “Why Catholics Can’t Sing”, the author singled out “On Eagles Wings” as a prime example of music that cannot be sung by most people in the pew.
He also points out that the tune for “Here I Am” almost perfectly mirrors the Brady Bunch theme (Here I am Lord, is it I, Lord, Who was bringing up three very lovely girls ...)
“On Eagles Wings” is my nominee for the Sappy Modern Liturgical Music Awards.
I have banned it from any family religious services.
I prefer “Panis Angelicus.”
“I prefer Panis Angelicus.”
Or the Mozart “Ave Verum.”
Or the “Te Deum.”
My old pastor hated that song. He said it was the only song in the Church which began with, ‘yoo hoo’. He said that to me right before a funeral Mass and I nearly choked.
The saddest excuse for music I ever witnessed was a trip to Seattle. We attended Mass and the nine grey-haired guitarists, who could not sing, attempted some unmemorable number. I looked around and the only young people at noon Mass were my own children.
We got a new pastor this summer. He retired the “folk group” and we now have a choir. It’s been a very nice change.
I visited my uncles Baptist church, and afterward he asked me the question - Why cant we sing? I replied, I can tell you that.
I knew the answer, because I had had the experience of being in a church that liked to sing, and thought we did pretty well. Our pastor thought so, and boasted of it when he heard the singing at a sister church. So we visited that church - and sure enough, we couldnt sing there either. It was the acoustics of the sanctuary. The sanctuary had acoustic (i.e., sound-absorbing) tile on the ceiling, and lovely plush carpeting which felt wonderful under foot - and also was the place where sound went to die. I think it even might have had cushioned pews.
No joke, architecture and materials of a sanctuary make all the difference in whether or not your church can sing."
On Eagles Wings is my nominee for the Sappy Modern Liturgical Music Awards.
...actually, ‘sappy’ only begins to adequately describe this piece of dreck...further description quickly descends into maudlin mush by the start of the second verse...
...but, oh, how the blue haired old ladies love it...
This non-Catholic has no problem with the song. But after hearing it played at three funerals of three friends in 2010, I can’t listen to it anymore.
He retired the folk group and we now have a choir. Its been a very nice change.
...in any typical affluent suburban parish, any act like that by a parish priest would be met first with howls of protest from 90% of the women...followed by letters to the bishop...
...I sometimes think that a Mass just for men, featuring an atmosphere of reverence, would be a grand idea...half the guys would find it an enlightening experience, and the other half would saunter in for communion, and saunter back out, thinking it was the best Mass ever...
He also points out that the tune for Here I Am almost perfectly mirrors the Brady Bunch theme (Here I am Lord, is it I, Lord, Who was bringing up three very lovely girls ...)
...ah...the leader of our parish folk group was less than amused when I mentioned this to her...perhaps I might have been a bit more diplomatic...and while we’re on the subject of lousy music in church, let’s not forget that old chestnut
‘Sing to the Mountains’...ugh...I gag myself with my own posts...
The Catholic Church should hire Kenyans - not like the crappy pretender that sits on the throne in the white hut - but ones that can sing:
Joncas visited Vogelweh (Army) chapel, in Kaiserslautern about 25 years ago,and played it for those who came. He was on his way to Rome to study or teach. He seemed anything but humble as he sat down at the piano to play and sing his fame tone,more like a pop composer. Which is what he is, as his music is very light. I like On Eagles Wings, but it is not a good hymn.
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