It was 1976. A familiy was mourning the death of a dad, H. Douglas Hall. A friend of the family, Jan Michael Joncas, studying to be a priest, sat down to write a song of hope and comfort for the mass. At St. Robert Church, in Omaha, Nebraska, on April 27, 1976, On Eagle's Wings was sung for the first time . It was not recorded or copyrighted or published until 1979, but it has become one of the most popular contemporary Christian songs.
It exploded upon the scene and with it has come a new form of congregational song (not quite hymnody) heralded by the likes of Marty Haugen, David Haas, Jan Michael Joncas, and many others. This has proven so popular that most Roman Catholic parishioners know this form of congregational song even better than the historic hymnody passed down from generations before. Whether you like or it not, whether you agree with it or not, I thought this was an interesting subject and it was covered in Minnesota Public Broadcasting special you can watch below.
As Lutherans we know that when Rome catches a cold, we end up sneezing. The contemporary Christian song that has so established itself in Roman parishes has made deep inroads into Lutheranism. Take a look at the ELCA's Evangelical Lutheran Worship to find out how much Lutheranism has been affected. While it is less profound in the Missouri Synod, it has made its impact here as well.
I will note, as I am sure you will see, the gray hair seems to indicate that this has a generational component. That said, permit me to skip the rest of the commentary and simply let you watch the story.
This one-hour documentary explores the dramatic shift in sacred music
beginning in the 1960's when major religions attempted to reach out to
engage congregations. Minnesota is home to a significant number of
highly accomplished songwriters and musicians who have helped bring new
music to many faiths. A KSMQ production.