I remember folk mass well. When I moved back to Connecticut from Pennsylvania back in 1983, my best friend, "The Nick" in my old folk group the Villagers, was running folk mass at his church, St. Matthews in Norwalk, CT. He enlisted me to join up. I did, even though it was two towns away, and at the time, I wasn't much of a church goer. I quickly got right into it. There were about eight of us, a couple of guitars, a stand-up bass player and a flutist. And, of course, we added my banjo to songs that just seemed like banjo songs. The first mass I played at had one of those banjo songs in it. It was called Leaping the Mountains. Upbeat and a great song. I can still see the look on the Priests face when I picked up the banjo. A real WTF look! We launched into the song, and quickly, the whole congregation was clapping their hands in rhythm with us. I looked around and sure enough, there was the Priest clapping along with everyone else. He immediately fell in love with the banjo songs. Then one Sunday, when the offertory came along, I decided to take that old long neck Ode, flip in over and walk down the aisle helping the ushers with their long handled baskets take up collection! Everyone thought it was so funny. I started doing it every Sunday. At the time, I was working the midnight shift so I could make mass every Sunday. But then they changed my shift and I could no longer go. It was sure fun while it lasted. And that folk mass 35 years ago, is the last time I played in a group of any kind. And my best friend who ran it, passed away 8 years ago. But I know damn well he's running a folk mass at some parish in Heaven. Miss you Jim.
Very interesting thread!
Does anyone remember the Folk Masses from the 1960s? When folk became popular, churches would have one Mass a week with folk-style songs played on guitars and banjos. "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," for example, became "Come My Brothers and Praise the Lord." Soon, there were hymns written that sounded more folky than churchy (Maybe there was a Brill Building for religious songwriters). Contemporary folks songs were used. Two Trio songs like that were "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Let's Get Together." The Gordon Lightfoot song Jim mentioned was another contemporary song that was ued.
When you think about it, it's sort of a natural evolution. From medieval times through the antebellum South, hymns were used to teach theology and the Bible to people who couldn't read or write. There is a story, probably apocryphal, that the insurrectionist slave song "Follow the Drinking Gourd" began life as a hymn called "Follow the Risen Lord." In some ways, a good song can teach a message better than a sermon.
The process continues (see link belowO