Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Keep in mind" - Rev. Lucien Deiss, CSSp, 1921-2007

Last week, I attended the national gathering of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC) in Hartford, Connecticut. On the first full day of our gathering, after the keynote presentation, our facilitator announced that Fr. Lucien Deiss had died earler that day, Tuesday, October 9. As we sat at our tables, she led us in a prayer for Fr. Deiss. As soon as our "Amen" left our lips, someone in the assembly began singing "Keep In Mind," probably Fr. Deiss' most famous song. The entire room filled with song, a cappella and spontaneous. We all knew the words and sang for the composer who brought life to these words. We sang the faith that we wanted to believe in these moments of death--that Jesus is our saving Lord, our joy--and in the singing of it, we knew it was true. I could barely finish the refrain because I recognized in that moment that this was true prayer, true liturgy, known by heart, and done simply with grace and love.

I had learned "Keep In Mind" as a child doing music ministry for the 12:00p Mass at Saint Thomas Aquinas. We always sang it for funerals; sometimes, we'd sing it as the Memorial Acclamation (I know, a no-no). How fitting then that we would sing it for Fr. Deiss who sang it first for us.

Below is a brief tribute written by Alan Hommerding, senior editor at World Library Publications which published "Keep In Mind" back in 1965. You can see more of Fr. Deiss' recent works here.


On Tuesday, October 9, 2007, Reverend Lucien Deiss, C.S.Sp., celebrated what he often referred to as "the most joyful day of my life" in returning home to be with his Lord. His funeral will be celebrated on Saturday, October 13 at Seminaire des Missiones in Larue, France.

Best known to Roman Catholics in the U.S. through his scriptural songs such as "All the Earth," "Keep in Mind," and "Grant to Us, O Lord," Fr. Deiss was also widely known in Europe and the United States as a scholar in the fields of Sacred Scripture and Patristics. He was selected by Pope Paul VI to coordinate the Lectionary psalter following the Second Vatican Council. His ³Biblical Hymns and Psalms² was the first significant way that millions of Catholics in the U.S. came to sing the Word of God and treasure it in their hearts. For this he was given an honorary Doctorate in Sacred Music from Duquesne University. A tireless advocate of the reforms of Vatican II, Fr. Deiss continually encouraged those who worked in liturgical reform in this country to remain fervent in prayer to the Holy Spirit, and he dedicated much of his life to liturgical catechesis through workshops and the well-known ³Deiss days² sponsored by WLP (then World Library of Sacred Music). He was, above all, a man of prayer, dedicated to the celebration of the Eucharist, and was always filled with a gentle and loving humor.

We at WLP mourn the passing of Fr. Deiss, and share in his joy as he lives and sings for all ages in the eternal light of his Risen Savior.

Keep in Mind
that Jesus Christ
has died for us
and is risen from the dead.
He is our saving Lord.
He is joy for all ages!

If we die with the Lord, we shall live with the Lord.
If we endure with the Lord, we shall reign with the Lord.
In Christ all our sorrow, in Christ all our joy.
In him hope of glory, in him all our love.
In Christ our redemption, in Christ all our grace.
In him our salvation, in him all our peace.

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