Catholic composer says national honor for her anthem is ‘a great gift’


Kate Basi, liturgical composer and member of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Choir in Columbia, Missouri, is seen in this undated photo. On June 8, 2022, the Association of Catholic Publishers named their anthem “Come, All You Thirsty” as their song of the year for 2022. (CNS Photo/Phu Nguyen, courtesy Catholic Missourian)

by Jay Niles

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CNS) – Another member of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Choir in Columbia, Missouri, approached Kate Basi after practice.

“I wanted you to know that you wrote this song for me,” she said gratefully.

It seemed that Basi’s latest liturgical composition, titled “Come, All You Thirsty”, had served its purpose.

“It’s a really humbling thing to be part of, to be among the people who create the music that we walk out of church singing,” said Basi, a Catholic columnist, author, composer, wife, mother and active parishioner. .

“It’s a tremendous gift and a huge responsibility,” she told the Catholic Missourian, newspaper of the Diocese of Jefferson City.

On June 8, the Association of Catholic Publishers named “Come, All You Thirsty” as the song of the year 2022.

Basi’s “Show Us Your Face” was a finalist for the same award in 2019.

“It’s a very illustrious group of nominees this year,” she said. “I feel honored to just be among them.”

Based on Isaiah 55, “Come, All You Thirsty” is a contemporary, lullaby-like hymn that invites all who are weary in body and soul to lay down their burdens and seek healing refreshment in God.

“This song,” Basi wrote in his composer’s notes, “belongs to all who are weary of the fighting forces – both within the Catholic community and around the world – who contradict the heart of the call of the Gospel. Come, Lord Jesus! Come to these broken places. Call us to water and heal us.

What started as a playful exchange at a church hymn committee meeting ended up stalking Basi for two years.

“There were jokes about how we needed another song to the text ‘Come to the Water,'” she recalls, referring to the Isaiah passage and the father’s centuries-old Catholic hymn. John Foley of the St. Louis Jesuits.

She didn’t really take the challenge seriously, “but by the time I left the meeting that day, the melody and the first line were already in my head,” she said.

The rest simmered for about two years.

“For a while I continued to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit,” she said. “But it kept coming back to me. So, ‘Okay, okay, I’ll do it.’

Basi doesn’t use a smartphone, which allows him to cycle down to the river and escape the noise.

“It gave me the freedom to really get into my own head and into my own soul and be still,” she said.

Out of this stillness emerged pages of handwritten notes densely filled with endless possibilities.

“Then I would start trying to put them together and realize that line A works with lines B and C, but it could also go with this other set of lines,” she said.

The challenge is always for the lyrics to be “theologically accurate but also poetic, to say something different from what’s been said before, while containing truths that don’t change,” she said.

She worked and prayed for the kind of familiarity that only God can provide.

“The problem with music for worship is that if you want the congregation to sing it, they have to feel like they’ve known it their whole life, even if you put it in front of them for the first time. times.” she said.

All of this happened during a time of great sadness and division in this country.

The song “took shape over the course of a year – its contours defined by COVID, political ugliness and revelations of abuse, assault and police brutality,” Basi said in his composer notes. “All of these heartbreaking realities were in my thoughts as I wrote, reviewed and prayed.”

The third verse contains a phrase that still pierces his heart: “Come, all you wounded, into the water, you who suffer with broken faith, you who fear to trust in the love of God.

“When that came out of my pencil, I said, ‘Sure it goes in there. Everything should work around that! “, she recalls. “Sometimes you write things, and other times it comes straight from the mouth of God.”

She believes that being a disciple means being part of such an invitation.

“I hope singing something like this will connect us all to our own hurt and make us more empathetic to others,” she said.

Basi believes her calling is to explore faith through her experience as a woman, wife and mother.

“The things women tend to notice are different, just like the things men tend to notice,” she said, “and we need both perspectives reflected in our faith.”

Basi has been on the steering committee of the Liturgical Composers Forum for a year. Founded by Father Foley, the forum gives people who compose music for congregations the chance to spend time together, pray together, and pray together, culminating in an annual concert of sacred music.

She also writes books and articles, and is delighted with the reception her debut novel, a denominational offering known as ‘A Song for the Road’, has received over the past year.

His heart remains anchored in sacred music. She believes the way people worship God at Mass affects how they serve Him the rest of the week.

“I feel great gratitude for being able to hopefully make a difference in this way,” she said. “That’s the point of writing this music: to use what God put in me to try to make the world a better place, to make it more the way he wants it to be.”

“Liturgical music has real power to do that,” she said, “because we walk out of church singing songs.”

Editor’s Note: A recording of “Come, All You Thirsty” can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtDP-13fEe0

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