Album offers simple acoustic guitar music for a contemporary Mass setting
By Jeannie Petrus
Church Today Editor
When the liturgy changes were made in 2011, Alexandria native musicians Josh Blakesley and Grae McCullough began a project that was just recently completed – writing a contemporary Mass setting for the Catholic Church.
Mass of Restoration: Acoustic Sessions is the sixth album for Josh Blakesley, released March 3, 2017. It is available for download on iTunes or anywhere you like to purchase and stream music. Sheet music is also available through Oregon Catholic Press (ocp.org).
Developed as an easy-to-sing Mass setting for contemporary liturgy, Mass of Restoration will appeal to anyone who enjoys music with a more modern feel, especially teens and young adults. Its simplicity lends itself well to Life Teen groups, summer camps, and other youth and young adult retreats.
With accompaniment parts for guitar and keyboard, the setting can be adapted to fit any parish’s style. For those churches that may simply use a guitar to accompany music at Mass, the recordings offer a wonderful illustration of one way this setting could be played. Josh and Grae were joined by band mates Blake Powell and Christian Gaudet in the recording process. Included in the selections is the Lenten Gospel Acclamations, making this the most complete set of any contemporary setting.
“So far, we’ve had a massive grass roots response to Mass of Restoration,” said Josh, “and we’re really excited about that.”
Josh said the album was a labor of love because setting the entire Mass to music has always been a goal of his. So when the wording of prayers at Mass changed, Josh was committed to start working on Mass of Restoration.
“It was a slowly evolving project that took years to complete,” he said. “I knew I wanted the tone to be simple, with a modern, contemporary feel, so that anyone could use it in their parish.”
Together, Josh and Grae spent long hours collaborating on writing the music, one prayer at a time. After completing one song, they would start using it at Mass in their home parish – Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Alexandria.
In a series of videos (produced by local videographer Charlie Dyess), Josh invited a group of his musician friends from all parts of the country to record the songs of the Mass of Restoration. The “presider at Mass” in the video was played by Father Taylor Reynolds of St. Rita parish.
In addition to Josh Blakesley and his band, the choir members include John Finch, Kristin Fuselier, Rebecca Jones, Sarah Kroger, Laurie Lopez, Dave and Lauren Moore, James and Kristyn Opdenhoff, Andrea Thomas, and Adam and Lori Ubowski. These videos are available to everyone through OCP’s YouTube channel.
After the songs were completed, Josh and Grae worked with OCP for publishing. After a few revisions, the compilation was sent to the USCCB to approve the correct wording of the text. According to Josh, it was a three-year process from the time it was sent to OCP until it was finally released.
“I’m very proud of it,” said Josh. “Our hope is that Mass of Restoration will offer any size parish the tools for providing an easy-to-sing Mass setting for contemporary liturgy.”
For more information, or to purchase, visit www.ocp.org or iTunes.