Huntington, Indiana-- Dedicated to “The Restoration of the Sacred in Catholic Church Music,” Nicholas-Maria Publishers announces the release of another recording from its collection of contemporary Catholic hymnody, Gate of Heaven. Entitled Gate of Heaven, Part I: Gate of Heaven, this CD features twelve newly digitalized original hymns by composer Mary Oberle Hubley.
The hymnody of the Gate of Heaven corpus of original hymns is appropriate for use by not only congregations, but also choirs, schools, and places of religious formation. Many of these hymns were used first by Catholic schoolchildren in the composer’s various teaching positions, and in parish churches. The Mercedarian Fathers in New York and Pennsylvania, and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have already been using the Gate of Heaven collection of Catholic hymnody for nearly ten years in their novitiates, Houses of Study, and schools. Parishes such as Sacred Heart Church in Beaumont, Illinois, and others, have incorporated this authentically Catholic hymnody into their worship. Dr. Mary Kay Clark, founder and director of the Seton Home Study School in Front Royal, Virginia, has met with the composer and discussions are underway to implement the use of Gate of Heaven in some way under the auspices of Seton.
Drawing heavily upon the Catholic tradition, this hymnody seeks to fulfill the role of Catholic hymnody as a source of inspiration, guidance, and of Catholic doctrinal teaching in our churches, schools and seminaries. Contemporary in musical style and influence, the hymnody of Gate of Heaven, while still avoiding the “pop”- style and effeminacy characteristic of much post-Conciliar Catholic hymnody, is, nonetheless, fresh, vibrant, and oftentimes exuberant. Simultaneously, the music draws greatly from the ancient Gregorian chant tradition, especially through its melodic, occasionally linear, chant-like movement. The use of canons and canonical imitative techniques confirms the composer’s theoretical competence, and indicate her preference for various classical techniques of composition. The listener, also, will soon perceive the composer’s frequent employment of fundamentally modal harmonies.
The choice of "Gate of Heaven" as the title hymn of this collection indicates the first hymn ever written by the composer when she was twenty years of age. In seeking textual content for this music, the composer looked to ideas most familiar to her at the time: those found in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Another essential motivating idea was her hope that the resulting hymn in its textual and melodic simplicity would reflect the teenage Mary’s extreme youth, cultural isolation, and limited experiences. The hymn, it was hoped, would show the simplicity and sheltered-ness of Mary’s early years, when immediate family, close relatives, and the religious customs of the local Jewish synagogue formed her experiential milieu.
The overriding idea of simplicity, then, formed the ideas which brought forth the writing of the music and text of "Gate of Heaven." At the time, in fact, the composer’s enduring hope was that this first hymn would share some of the qualities manifest in English folk tunes. How grateful she was when, after the hymn was heard by Dr. Allen Brings, musicologist and composer from Columbia University and, at the time, Professor of Music at the City College of New York and the Weston (Vermont) School of Music. Dr. Brings succinctly remarked, “Gate of Heaven" begs comparison to Greensleaves . . .”
O Gate of Heaven, O House of Gold,
O Mary, Mother of Jesus.
O Blessed Virgin whom prophets foretold,
O Mary, Mother of Jesus.
Hail, holy Mother who brought forth the King;
He rules all being forever
O alleluia, alleluia,
Mary, Mother of Jesus.
O Seat of Wisdom, O Cause of our Joy,
O Mary, Mother of Jesus.
O you, who taught the Savior Boy,
O Mary, Mother of Jesus. . . . (etc.)
"Protectress of Christendom" evokes the late Pope John-Paul II’s plea for the reunion of Christendom. Quoting Redemptoris Mater, the refrain proclaims:
“Grant the reunion of all Christendom;
Grant that we may all be as one.
From East to West, our common Mother:
Join us in the heart of your Son.”
O Promised of God, Protectress of Christendom,
Great is your honor, great is our joy.”
Texts throughout the corpus of the Gate of Heaven collection draw liberally from the Eastern Byzantine tradition of Catholicism, reflecting the late Holy Father’s fond hope that both Eastern and Western Catholicism may be mutually enriched. To this end, the composer is deeply grateful to the late Melkite Archbishop Joseph W. Raya (1916-2006 - - requiescat in pace), in exile for many years from his See of Southern Lebanon, for permission to use his translation of The Acathist Hymn to the Holy Name of Jesus. Over half of the hymnody featured in this CD generously employs the use of these lovely Byzantine texts, with the hope that they enter into the mind and hearts of the Church in the West.
"Patroness" is a sung-prayer to Mary in her role as Patroness of the United States, the final verse of which sings:
Evil abounds in the land of the free,
May it force our America down on her knees.
Good Mother of Truth, and Mother of Peace:
Heed all your children who
Pray for their country’s needs.
(Ref.) Grant us your joy, and grant us your peace,
O Patroness of our United States.
Grant nationwide a renewal of faith,
O Patroness of our United States.”
"Patroness" also includes a touching verse attributed, interestingly enough, to the nineteenth century American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“Rivers and towns and scattered blue lakes
Are blessed with the privilege of your holy name.
And tall rising spires flung across our great land,
Named after Mary, proclaim that it’s Mary’s land!”
The vocalists featured in Gate of Heaven are accomplished in varied fields of professional music: from their expertise in music theory, instrumental performance, in opera, in choral and orchestral conducting, and in the academe.
The excellence of vocal renditions by both Dr. George Killian (Huntington University, Huntington, IN) and Dr. Michael Jorgensen (Gustavus Adolphus University, Minneapolis, MN) merit the gratitude of all who listen to this hymnody. Lastly, the composer herself sings several selections, also providing all organ accompaniment.
The composer believes that the use of strong Catholic hymnody is indispensable to the faithful’s sense of their Catholic identity, to their catechesis, and to the evangelization to which we are all called. The first printed edition of the Gate of Heaven collection of hymnody, consisting of an Organ Accompaniment edition and a Melody (pew) edition, has been in use since 1989. Transcriptions for choirs are available upon request.
Several selections of Gate of Heaven may be heard in their entirety by accessing the Nicholas-Maria Publishers website at www.nicholasmaria.com. Ordering information in regard to the composer’s commentaries in regard to post-conciliar Catholic Church music, in booklet form, may also be obtained.