St. Kate’s Liturgist Showcases Composition for National Audience
Original song was performed in spring 2019 baccalaureate hooding ceremony
The journey of a song can travel far from the page of sheet music. This is a lesson lived by Bex Gaunt, St. Kate’s liturgist in the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice, as her song “In the morning, in the evening” has made its way from bedside, to Chapel service, and most recently, in a showcase performed for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM).
Gaunt was invited to the 42nd annual national conference, held in Raleigh, North Carolina in July, by music publisher GIA Publications. Her composition, set to text written by Adam Tice, was included in a showcase of the publisher’s 17 new works.
Conference planners invite the top three major pastoral music publishers to debut new music every year – each publisher is allowed an hour for their showcase. While Gaunt had attended the conference before, it was her first time performing. “Since I hadn’t had anything printed by a major publisher, I was nervous; I did not know what the response would be,” Gaunt recalled.
The response at the conference was resoundingly positive.
“It was a special experience to get to see people take to it,” said Gaunt. “Composers who I’ve looked up to for years shared their impressions; it was just surreal. I was so flattered and honored.”
The story behind the song
“I wrote the text of "In the morning, in the evening" a little over ten years ago as a lullaby for my then-unborn son,” recalled songwriter Adam Tice. “Although it was published in one of my hymn text collections, it didn't receive much use.”
It was a couple of years ago that Gaunt first put music to the text. She was writing a song to help a family member who was going through a time of trauma and uncertainty. “The one thing she could connect to at that moment was music,” said Gaunt. “She found comfort in some of those old-time hymns that were almost like lullabies. So I was searching for a specific text that could soothe, and Adam’s words were just right.”
When Tice saw social media post from his publisher about Gaunt’s composition that used his text, “I asked for a preview of the score…and was delighted by what I saw.”
In addition to sheet music arrangements, GIA has included the song in two publications: “Of Womb and Tomb: Prayer in Time of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Stillbirth” and “Show by Your Life.”
The collaboration continues
“I wanted to find more opportunities to collaborate with Bex,” said Tice. “She was a natural choice when I needed a composer for an as-yet un-tuned text for my newest collection--so that led to "Faith evolves."
Gaunt was on the 2019 pilgrimage to Le Puy with the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice when she got a message from Tice about the new collaboration. “There was no time to spare,” recalls Gaunt. “I composed the piece in my room, improvising by using the cot as my keyboard.” a
For Tice, the melodies Gaunt created for both texts were the natural fit for his words. “They not only convey the meaning that I intended, but add their own depth to the experience,” Tice explained. “If you only heard the tune hummed, it would already provide a meaningful experience. The partnership between melody and text, then, is especially rich. I hope to work with Bex again in the future.”
In addition to programming liturgies and masses, Gaunt finds time to brainstorm ideas for new settings for songs, and is working on a number of new compositions at any given time. Her creative journey continues here at St. Kate’s, and is inspired in part by the community here. “We have a unique community of many different faiths here, mostly from our students,” said Gaunt.
Gaunt also leads the Chapel Choir at St. Kate’s; students are welcome to join. Chapel Choir meets Wednesdays from 4:05 - 5:45 and prior to Mass on Sundays at 8:45am. Get more details on this and other volunteering opportunities by emailing the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice or calling the office at (651) 690-6724.