Keep the Fire Burning [Book Softcover]

Keep the Fire Burning

The Folk Mass Revolution

Ken Canedo

Keep the Fire Burning is the forgotten and untold story of the Folk Mass. The influence of this movement is still felt today in the Catholic liturgical industry and in contemporary Christian music.

The forgotten and untold story of the Folk Mass
Keep the Fire Burning is the forgotten and untold story of the Folk Mass. The influence of this movement is still felt today in the Catholic liturgical industry and in contemporary Christian music.

Examines the Folk Mass in Church history
This fascinating book examines the place of the Folk Mass in Church history. Was it a well-intentioned but failed attempt at updating worship? Or was it a genuine movement of the people?

Includes stories from great composers
This highly readable book is filled with stories and reflections by such Folk Mass composers as Ray Repp ("Allelu"), Jack Miffleton ("Alle, Alle"), Sister Miriam Therese Winter ("Joy Is Like the Rain"), Carey Landry ("The Spirit Is a-Movin'"), Sebastian Temple ("Prayer of St. Francis") and many others.

A colorful era in the Catholic Church
Keep the Fire Burning is both a detailed overview of the influences that led to the Folk Mass and a fond remembrance of a colorful era in the Catholic Church. A wonderful read, this book should be part of any Catholic library.

Ken Canedo, a liturgical composer, is the editor of the blog and writes regularly for Today's Liturgy magazine. He has written an important work on what he calls ôthe folk mass revolutionö with his debut book, Keep the Fire Burning. At first glance, this book looks like a quick and easy read but don't be fooled: Canedo has packed each of the 140 pages with fascinating research, history and very human stories on a period in the Catholic Church which surprisingly, few have written about. Keep the Fire Burning is much more than a book about the folk Mass. It is a history of the amazing transitions the Catholic Church went through before and after Vatican II during one of the most turbulent decades in recent American history.

Keep the Fire Burning brought back so many wonderful memories for me, a baby boomer, folk music lover, and longtime participant in the folk Mass/contemporary music movement. I was flooded with fond remembrances of the Latin Mass, and the exciting transition to the English (or vernacular language) liturgies we have today. I also revisited with great pleasure how much folk music meant to me during the sixties and seventies, music which I totally embraced in my singing and playing as a Catholic artist. The folk Mass played a vital role in my teen years, introducing me to lifelong friends, and my husband of now 30 years.

I had expected a wonderful, nostalgic read but Keep the Fire Burning proved to be so much more. Ken Canedo lay the ground work for what was to become the folk Mass by reviewing the history of reform (and how it affected music) in the Roman liturgy. Canedo takes this history and weaves it through the lives of people who were the movers and shakers in the reform movement, some of whom eventually became key players in the folk mass revolution.

Yet, there is still more. While Vatican II and the liturgical reform movements were both vital to the birth of the folk mass, Canedo also takes much time to explore the social and political movements taking place in the fifties and sixties, and the rise of folk music as a means of voicing concerns about social justice. This social justice theme along with the influences of folk music legends such as Pete Seeger, The Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul and Mary can be clearly heard in the early folk Mass music of composers such as Ray Repp, Jack Miffleton, the Dameans and Carey Landry.

Keep the Fire Burning is not just a book to read, but is also a series of podcasts which allow you to actually hear the music. Canedo narrates the series, found at, where there is an episode for each chapter. Since Canedo worked in the early 1970s for the now defunct FEL Publications (the first company to publish and market folk songs for the Mass), he has access to many rare cuts of music which you will never hear anywhere else. The historical value alone is worth the listen.

Why should you read Keep the Fire Burning? The Folk Mass revolution has had far-reaching implications both inside and outside the Catholic Church, including laying the groundwork for the Contemporary Christian music industry, and giving a powerful voice to social justice issues in the Church. In keeping with the nature of secular folk music, Catholic folk music (now known as Contemporary music) was controversial in its time and is still so today. A resurgence of interest in Gregorian chant, traditional polyphony, and the Latin Mass (with the reinstitution of Tridentine Mass by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007) stirs the controversy all the more, making Keep the Fire Burning a necessary read on the motivation, history and heritage of modern Church music.

Reading Keep the Fire Burning lit a fire in me, reviving my appreciation for both the Latin and vernacular Masses, and the history behind them. It also gave much needed legitimacy to the folk Mass movement which, in turn, affirmed my own music ministry as a liturgical song leader and Catholic recording artist.

My only complaint was that I wish Canedo had written more! The book ends just before getting into the era of the St. Louis Jesuits. Canedo has promised that there is more to come.

Keep the Fire Burning is a must read for any person involved with Catholic music, whether it be in traditional or contemporary liturgical music, or in the para-liturgical expressions found in acoustic gospel, rock, pop, hip hop and rap. Published by Pastoral Press, you can purchase your copy at Listen to the podcasts at
Copyright 2009 Susan Bailey

Susan Bailey is a singer/songwriter, recording artist, author and speaker, performing prayerful music as an expression of her Catholic faith. She has appeared on EWTN's "Backstage," CatholicTV's telethons and "This Is the Day" program, Catholic Familyland's "His Love," hosted by Marty Rotella, and she was a featured performer at World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto.Susan has released 3 CDs: "Teach Me to Love," a collection of original inspirational songs along with 2 songs dedicated to Blessed Mother Teresa; "Wait with Me: Advent of the Promised Son," which focuses on Advent and Christmas; and "Mater Dei," an album dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.In 2008, Susan published her first book, the "Mary, Queen of Peace Meditation Guide & Sung Rosary" which includes a scriptural rosary book complete with color pictures of stained glass windows and icons, and a fully sung rosary on CD. Susan's other ministry work includes extensive blogging, podcasting and video making through her GrapeVine website devoted to the promotion of Catholic music, found at Along with GrapeVine, she is the music editor of and regularly contributes to and Today's Catholic Woman found on the Catholic Exchange website. Visit her websites at and

Keywords: Pastoral Press, History, Education, Music in the Liturgy

Book Softcover (6152)




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