When her parish’s congregation didn’t sing along to “Silent Night” at a recent Christmas Mass, choir director Karen Rose Thorpe decided to do some sleuthing.
Thorpe, who leads the music ministry at St. Joseph Parish in Aston, was puzzled that some hymns seemed to resonate with parishioners, while others — even well-known ones — fell flat.
“I created charts to determine which songs worked, and at which Masses,” said Thorpe. “It was a scientific, ridiculously obsessive-compulsive analysis.”
Yet the data proved inconclusive.
“There was no rhyme or reason,” said Thorpe, who is also a singer-songwriter and recording artist.
Determined to better engage the congregation with the music at Mass, Thorpe reached out to veteran liturgical composer and performer Steve Angrisano, inviting him to give an Oct. 27 workshop and concert at her parish.
Angrisano, who has been active in contemporary Catholic music since 1998, is no stranger to Philadelphia.
The Texas resident, who co-wrote the hymn “Go Make a Difference,” composed “Love Is What We Need” for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. His performances blend song with storytelling, and the selections from his latest album, “High Above Our Way,” are “songs for a praying, singing congregation.”
“They’re not concert songs,” said Angrisano via email from his most recent tour. “The songs are really meant to be prayed.”
Angrisano notes that asking why congregations are — or aren’t — uplifted by liturgical music is actually inaccurate, since the whole purpose of music is inspiration.
“I think what’s important is that we remember to express our faith and love for God with music that inspires us captivates our hearts, just was we express our love for each other with music that inspires us and captivates our hearts,” he said.
Although she has not yet attended one of Angrisano’s performances, Thorpe is confident of his ability to energize her parish’s music ministry, which has long relied on his compositions.
“We do a lot of his music in church, and I never get a negative response,” she said. “He connects the traditional with the contemporary, and he’s reached beyond compositional levels to the spiritual.”
During both the workshop and concert, Angrisano will continue to rely on the power of storytelling to help participants connect the Gospel to their everyday lives.
“If all of us really allowed the good news of the Gospel to permeate our entire life, people would be knocking on the door to find out what we were doing in the church,” he said. “No words are necessary.”
Steve Angrisano will lead a liturgical music workshop at St. Joseph Parish in Aston on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the main church. The workshop, which is open to all regardless of one’s musical abilities, will be followed later that evening by a concert at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person for the workshop, $15 per person for the concert, or $25 for both events ($20 for groups of 15 or more). For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://stjosephaston.org or email Karen Thorpe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103