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Ray Repp

†Ray Repp (1942–2020) is known as "the father of contemporary liturgical music.” Since 1965, when he introduced guitar into the liturgy with his Mass for Young Americans, Ray has composed and recorded 11 collections, some of which have been translated into as many as 28 languages.

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Bio

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, †Ray Repp (1942–2020) was educated in seminaries in St. Louis and in Ottawa, Canada, and had studied languages and music in Europe. He worked as liturgical music consultant at Cornell University and taught and directed the Head Start programs of Tompkins County, New York. In addition to composing and recording, Ray spent considerable time speaking and giving workshops and concerts. He presented at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Catechetical Congress of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the East Coast Religious Education Conference and the National Catholic Student Coalition Conference.

Described as "catchy not churchy," his music — both early and more recent — always reflected his concern for peace and social justice issues. The songs on his two-volume Best of Ray Repp reflect the folk styles and consciousness of the era in which they were composed. Many songs, like the tender and meditative "Look Out Your Window" and "How Long, O Lord," feature Ray's fine tenor voice, with its warm vibrato, accompanied simply by acoustic guitar. Others, like the classic "Allelu!," feature larger ensembles and beautifully arranged solo and accompaniment parts for strings, flute, oboe, banjo, harmonica, percussion and vocals.

When he wasn't touring and speaking in the United States and abroad, Ray divided his time between his homes in Southern California and Vermont. After a long and courageous battle with cancer, Ray passed away in April of 2020.

Read Ken Canedo's tribute to Ray.

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