St. Louis Jesuits

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St. Louis Jesuits
Origin St. Louis, Missouri
Genres Contemporary Catholic liturgical music
Years active 1970–1985, 2005
Labels NALR, OCP
Past members

The St. Louis Jesuits were a group of Catholic composers who popularized an easy listening / folk music style of church music through their compositions and recordings, mainly from their heyday in the 1970s through the mid-1980s. The group, made up of Jesuit scholastics at St. Louis University, originally used acoustic guitars and contemporary-style melodies and rhythms to set biblical and other religious texts to music sung in English in response to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Without intent, a groundswell of popularity took place when college students, scholastics, and women religious took mimeoed or dittoed copies of their new music back to their communities where it became known as music by "The St. Louis Jesuits".


St. Louis University College Church, home of St. Louis Jesuits

In a situation similar to that which involved The Singing Nun some ten years earlier, the scholastics' intent was to collect and make a recording of their music, in this case before finishing their studies at St. Louis University so that it would be available to others after their graduation. Some of the music was recorded in the basement of Fusz Memorial Chapel, the rest at a local studio. This first collection of 58 songs, some dating back as early as 1964, was called Neither Silver nor Gold. Later, this recording was issued as a four-cassette/LP set in 1974 by North American Liturgy Resources. It has since been remastered into a two-CD set by OCP Publications with about a half a dozen songs left off the LP/cassette version due to space limitations.

Over time, Bob Dufford, John Foley, Tim Manion, Roc O'Connor, Dan Schutte, and their music became known as the St. Louis Jesuits. At the time, all were members of the Society of Jesus, however Manion would never complete his studies there or become ordained. He continued to collaborate with the group until 1984.

Pursuing different vocations and graduate studies afterward, the group reunited several times between 1975 and 1985 to write and record their various collections of music, published at the time by North American Liturgy Resources and available now through Oregon Catholic Press. As they continued their studies and time permitted, they presented numerous workshops and presentations about liturgy and liturgical music at conferences throughout the United States and Canada.

Their second recording Earthen Vessels sold over one million albums, [1] and as a result beginning with hymnals such as Glory and Praise ISBN 9781579922184 their music became standard repertoire in Catholic parishes across the country. Beginning in their height of popularity between 1975-`85 and continuing to this day, it is estimated that over 80% of the current Catholic hymnal contains either songs actually written by one or more members of the group or written in the style they pioneered.

By the early 1980s the music of the St. Louis Jesuits began to be widely used throughout English-speaking Catholic parishes in other countries as well, and many of their more popular hymns continue to enjoy a wide penetration, not only finding their way into most Catholic hymnal publications, but into those of many mainline Protestant denominations such as Anglican, Lutheran, and Presbyterian as well.

In addition, some of their hymns have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Korean, Polish, Spanish and Vietnamese.[2]

In 1980, all five members moved to Seattle, where they continued to study and compose new music under the direction of the Jesuit Kevin Waters at Seattle University. Tim Manion left the group in 1984 to pursue other interests, but later released a solo collection, There is a River. After their fifth album, The Steadfast Love, was recorded in 1985, the members began to release solo collections, as the demands of their Jesuit vocations took them to different parts of the world. Dan Schutte left the Jesuit order in 1986, but like the others continued to compose and publish solo collections of music.

In 2000, Dufford, Foley, O'Connor, and Schutte made a surprise appearance at the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. This spurred them to write and record a collection of new music to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of their collaboration. This recording entitled Morning Light was released in 2005 along with an anniversary coffee table book titled The St. Louis Jesuits: Thirty Years (Oregon Catholic Press, 2006). Tim Manion, who no longer is writing liturgical music, sang on the anniversary collection.

Later life[edit]

On rare occasions they make appearances at events where they have some connection, but they have no further plans to record together.[3] John Foley was founding director of the Stroble Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University.[4] Dan Schutte remains a prolific composer, publishing new music through Oregon Catholic Press. He is composer-in-residence at the University of San Francisco.[5]


  • Grammy Nominations for The St. Louis Jesuits: 1976, 1977, 1987, 1980 and 2002.
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, University of Scranton, 1980.
  • Alumni Merit Award, St. Louis University, 1981.
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Seattle University, 1983.
  • Doctor of Music, Honoris Causa, Creighton University, 2006.
  • The Jubilate Deo Award, the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, 2011.[6]

This list includes honors received as a group. Individual members of the group have also received numerous honors and awards independently.[7]

Studio albums[edit]

  • Neither Silver Nor Gold (1974)
  • Earthen Vessels (1975)
  • A Dwelling Place (1976)
  • Gentle Night: Music for Advent and Christmas (1977)
  • Lord of Light (1981)
  • The Steadfast Love (1985)
  • Morning Light (2005)


  • Lift Up Your Hearts (1996)
  • May We Praise You (1997)
  • Let Heaven Rejoice (1997)

In contemporary Catholic culture[edit]

Many of the St. Louis Jesuits' compositions have become part of the standard repertoire for Catholics throughout the English-speaking world. For many baby boomers, the St. Louis Jesuits' music was and continues to be a part of their religious experience.[8]

Today, they are among many musicians who compose Contemporary Catholic liturgical music and many attribute their use of scripture and accessible melodies as the beginnings of this style of music. Dan Schutte continues to write new music that finds itself in many of the newer-edition hymnals.[9]



  1. ^ Gale, Mike. "The St. Louis Jesuit: Thirty Years" Oregon Catholic Press 2006 archives ]
  2. ^ Library of Congress Archives, [1]
  3. ^ Interview: "The St. Louis Jesuits", The Catholic Voice, 2008 ]
  4. ^ The Center for Liturgy, [2]
  5. ^ Dan Schutte OCP, [3]
  6. ^ "NPM Awards". Archived from the original on 2015-12-07. Retrieved 2017-04-24. 
  7. ^ Gale, Mike. "The St. Louis Jesuit: Thirty Years" Oregon Catholic Press 2006 archives ]
  8. ^ St Louis Jesuits ready to record again
  9. ^ America | The National Catholic Weekly - Sing a New Song

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]