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Songs for the Masses

Songs For The Masses (Bradley BRC 4165/NALR 35178, 1974)

Liberation Theology buffs will recognise the clever double meaning of the album’s title. But this album, which ended up as part of North American Liturgy Resources’ offerings, has some very strange aspects to it.

To begin with, the albums performers are only designated as “students of St. Mary’s Seminary” (which is in Baltimore, MD.) Had Tim Schoenbachler, Tom Schaefer and Dan Ripellino not written the music, the whole business would have been completely anonymous except for the uncaptioned photo of the performers (well, we hope they’re the performers) on the back.

But our three composers get the short shrift in later NALR productions, as one of the songs on this album is later attributed to a St. Louis Jesuit!

That all being said, Songs For The Masses is a good representative of 1970’s Catholic liturgical music. The instrumentation is above average, and the songs are good too (in the case of “Lamentations,” the lyrics are nothing short of jolting.) We’re also positive that Martin Kane (if he’s still with us) won’t care for the endless musical re-enactment of his baptism. But the music for the Mass is good and its revival wouldn’t be the worst thing a parish could do.

Update: as you can see from the comments, this is a popular post, both with the fans of this music and with the artists.  Tom Schaefer and Dan Ripellino have started a YouTube channel for their music, which you can find here.

The songs:

  1. Theme
  2. Rise Up Jerusalem
  3. The Lord is My Hope
  4. Psalm 97
  5. Simeon’s Canticle
  6. Make Known Your Way
  7. Baptism Prayer
  8. People of God
  9. Lamentations
  10. Sanctus
  11. Memorial Acclamation
  12. Amen
  13. Yes, Lord, Amen
  14. Be Filled With the Spirit
  15. A Song for the Masses


38 Replies to “Songs for the Masses”

  1. I have been unable to download Songs for the Masses. Have you removed it from your site? I love this LP which I bought over 35 years ago. I would love to be able to hear Simeon’s Canticle again.
    Thank you!


  2. No, the link just got messed up in posting. It’s been fixed, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    BTW, many of those who download had whatever album to start with, just need it digitised.


  3. Hello from the mists of long ago, circa 1973. About the recording “Songs for the Masses” : Peter Gray & myself were on lead vocals, while Tim and Dave Henry played guitar, Tom Schaefer was on bass and Dayne Ripellino played flute. Tim does the vocal alone on Baptism Prayer. And I secured the financing from singing the wedding of the daughter of the CEO of Black & Decker(?) at the time, a gentleman named Ed Berneau. We even managed to do a little mini-tour for the recording.


      1. Tom, I got to know you and the guys a bit way back in the 70s. I was the guitar player at Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church. It’s good to see that you are still up and moving. Hope you and Dayne and the others are in good health.


      2. Paul

        Thank you for the contact. Dayne and I have started putting up our music on YouTube
        Just search tom schaefer dayne ripellino. That will give you easy access.

        Dayne lives in California and I’m in Pennsylvania but we get together at least once a year

        Enjoy the music



      3. Tom,

        I’m in my 35th year as a United Methodist minister. I serve two churches in Cockeysville, Maryland. I’ll check out the You Tube.



      4. Is it possible to get the music and words if choir wants to sing it, we would like it sung for a girl, and the copy I was sent says Mary and friend, I always thought it was Mary and Joseph.


  4. WOW! My sister attended a Catholic high school in east Baltimore – you guys did a concert at her school back in the early days, she brought the album home and it must have been played over 1,000 times in our house. I recall her telling us about you and the music. I was in 4th grade at the time. Within a year a was playing in our church’s “folk group” and these songs were being played during Mass. Such an influence this single had on me, my faith and my guitar playing and singing.

    I remember seeing some of the songs published in Glory and Praise a few years later. The vocals and instrumentation from the album are burned into my memory – simply transformational. I’ve re-recorded some of these songs in my home studio with my own twists and tweaks because the Holy Spirit has thrived through this music that has been such a part of my Catholic faith formation.

    Tom, I hope you and the guys know that God continues to use the gifts He has bestowed on you all. A flame from the torch has been passed on, I’ve played Baptismal Prayer for countless families over the years. In fact, I played it from my memory (I don’t read music, just chords) just a few weeks ago on Easter Sunday for our family (my sister was there – shedding gentle tears). What an honor for me to send you and others this testimony!

    All things for the glory of our God!

    Your Brother in Christ,



    1. Dan

      Thank you so much for you kind words and also for sharing your personal experience with our music. I would love to hear your interpretations. I feel very blessed that a simple contribution we made to the musical tradition of the church has touched so many people in so many ways.
      I don’t get to do as much with music these days, but im pastor of two parishes and i do try to keep up. I also have very fond memories of my time in Baltimore. Thank you for sharing



      1. Hi Tom, I spoke with my sister over Christmas about this blog post. She couldn’t believe it and shared her fond memories of the album all over again. I’m so glad you have remained in the Church and are pastoring two parishes.

        Have you heard about Church of the Nativity in Timonium? Two books published about it in one year: Rebuilt and Tools for Rebuilding. There music ministry reminds me of the groundbreaking work you did in the 70s.

        God’s Great Blessings,

        Dan Ashe


      2. If you have done the baptism for a girl and used Mary and Joseph I would love a copy, no one around here has ever heard it and I can’t find a better baptism or burial song for a baby


  5. Hi Dan–

    I have not heard of Church of the Nativity but I will check it out. I wish I had more time to do music but other work duties keep me busy. There is some great music out there and also some less than exciting things. I appreciate you compliments and say hi to your sister for me!!



    1. I’d be happy to email or snail mail copies of our music to anyone who wishes to uses it. We are happy people continue to enjoy it

      Tom Schaefer.


      1. Dear Tom,
        My mother asked that I sing a Baptism Prayer for my nieces, Baptism this weekend… anyway I can get a copy of the sheet music. I am having a difficult time finding music. I’d greatly appreciate it!


      2. Could you email me the sheet music for Baptism Prayer as well? I have sung it for years at baptisms, but have lost the accompaniment music. I’d love to use it again – our congregation absolutely loves it. Thanks so much.


      3. I’d love a copy. I destroyed that little yellow book that came with the album, from using it so much. I sing Baptism Prayer at most baptisms I conduct.


      4. Can you email or snail mail the baptism prayer song? I wish I could buy your album, this song was played at my kids baptism and my son’s funeral, and my kids 1st communion, and I so desperately want it played at my granddaughters baptism.

        Kelly Campbell
        2105 Briarhill Dr
        Lansing, MI. 48917


      5. Hi Tom, I see there are still requests coming in for the Baptism Prayer; may I please have a copy of it sent via email? Many thanks,


      6. I filled in the required info, I hope you can see my email. I didn’t want to post in the body of my message.


  6. I am desperate to get a copy of the baptismal prayer, but I only own an iPhone, no computer at this time can you please help me


  7. The sheet music for Baptism Prayer, Rise Up Jerusalem and Songs for the Masses can all be found in the first edition of Glory and Praise vol. 1, which is relatively inexpensive on eBay or even Amazon. It also features songs by the St. Louis Jesuits, Carey Landry and the Dameans. A couple songs by Ed Gutfreund and Wendy Vickers are also published therein. The latter two are featured elsewhere in this blog.


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