I was going to PM you, but then it got long and then I thought, maybe someone else would be interested.
You said something about “pastoral appreciation.” Good for you, trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they think and why they think that way!
This is a long post and I’ll do it in several pieces. Hope it’s not too tedious.
My Soul in Stillness Waits
Return to God
Tree of Life
Sing Out, Earth and Skies
Eye Has Not Seen
We Are Many Parts
Gather Us In
Blessed Are They (Haas)
Without Seeing You (Haas)
I Am The Bread Of Life (Toolan)
This is a partial list of some of my favorite “Catholic” songs by Haugen and a few by other “despised” composers.
It might help you to know some of my background.
I was trained in classical piano for ten years. I started playing piano in church (Conference Baptist) when I was 12, and learned a definite “praise” or “gospel” style. I had my first “salaried” piano position in church when I was in 8th grade.
I majored in music for a year in college (Northern Illinois University), but decided to switch to medical technology so I would be guaranteed a job. But I continued to take music classes and was a member of the huge University Chorus and the Madrigals.
While I was growing up, I was a member of the oldest continuously-active music club in the U.S., and to this day, I am still a member, and active in various youth musical activities.
I have written over 70 Christian songs, mainly for children, but I’ve published none of them. I wish I could, but I know very little about the publishing business. It seems to be a “club” of sorts, and it’s hard to gain admission. So I allow anyone to use my songs at no charge. If I may say so without sounding like a braggart, kids, even 5th grade boys, love my songs. I still get the occasional piece of “fan mail” from a kid that has grown up.
And there, I think, is the key as to why I love Haugen, Haas, and many of the other Catholic songwriters that some Catholics insist are “puerile.”
I am a child at heart. I have two children’s novels published. I love kids, I love teenagers, and I feel more at home with them and their literature and culture than I do with grownups. Before I was kicked out of my Protestant church, I was in charge of a children’s choir. The first year, I had 24 children in the choir. It grew to 42 the next year, and the third year, which I never got to complete because I was kicked out, I had 67 children interested in joining my choir.
Again, if I may say so without sounding like a braggart, I could have an auditorium of 200 children eating out of my hand within twenty minutes by teaching them one of my songs. I remember overhearing a group of boys (BOYS!) talking about the music one year at VBS (which I had written), and they said, “I hope we sing that castle song again, that’s cool.” BOYS! You know you have a gift when you can write songs that please boys.
But since getting kicked out of the church, I’ve lost all my confidence. The Lord has been gracious enough to allow me to play piano for the children’s choir in my Catholic parish, and I love the kids and do my best for them. The director is delightful and her philosophies of music and children match mine (strong melodies, proper vocal technique, respect for the director and accompanist, and motive of serving God and the congregation).
Maybe someday I’ll have a chance to teach Catholic kids my songs. It’s a dream of mine. But it’s up to God to make it come true.
Back to Haugen and Co. I love the songs because they are basically children’s songs. Our choir kids sing them with ease, and they love them. That’s probably why I love them. I’m just a big kid. And that’s OK with me. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is made up of such as these.