Stories

The Bernard Huijbers-Huub Oosterhuis Collaboration

Music and text for the song titled You Wait For Us

You Wait For Us is a single verse acclamatory song in a Gregorian melismatic chant, calling on the Deity and Assembly to be present with one another in shalom, endless peace and calm.1

Apologia

I met Bernard Huijbers in 1968, at a workshop in the Nijmegen Augustinian Monastery, where he was introducing his newly-published collection of vernacular Psalms for the Roman Catholic Church. As yet unfamiliar with the language, I understood intuitively the meaning of what we were singing due to the clarity of the music and my familiarity with the Psalter. I stayed in touch with him throughout the 1970s, becoming a frequent house guest, first in Amsterdam until 1979, and then in his retirement years in the Aveyron Valley of central southern France, each year until his death in 2003. We would sit well into the early hours of the morning talking, translating his music (the texts of Huub Oosterhuis), and challenging everything I thought I knew about composition. He introduced me to the Amsterdam Dominicuskerk, a declining inner-city parish which he had rejuvenated through the power of his music, transforming that community into an eclectic assembly which continues to meet to this day.

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In Assembly: The CD Recording Project

The Background

Who is Bernard Huijbers? A Dutch liturgical composer, who was born in 1922, and in 1940 entered the Jesuit novitiate. In the mainstream of European liturgical renewal inspired by the great minds of the day, such as Pius Parsch in Strasbourg and Josef Jungmann in Innsbruck, he collaborated with fellow Jesuit Joseph Gelineau in France to begin composing new liturgical music for The Netherlands. With the collaboration of former student and emerging poet Huub Oosterhuis, he became The Netherlands’ foremost liturgical pioneer in developing new music and forms for the Liturgy, a decade before Vatican II. Strongly influenced by the liturgical reforms of the French Church, especially the Saint-Séverin in Paris, he experienced the dynamic of assembly singing as the formative element of Liturgy.

Huub Oosterhuis, Joseph Gelineau & Bernard Huijbers

Discarding Sacred and Popular Hymns, he regarded these as no longer being appropriate for singing the Liturgy. The work he was doing with that of his Dutch and other European colleagues was to lead to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. He was effortless in his analysis of the distinction between singing during the liturgy and singing the liturgy itself. But due to being Dutch, whose language was not mainstream European, he never gained the recognition given to Gelineau, yet in many ways outshone him, as Gelineau himself testified on his first visit to Amsterdam.

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Research in Europe

photo for Tony Barr, EAI Archivist

Having raised funds himself, and using a grant from the EAI, our Archivist, Tony Barr (pictured here) made a sweeping tour of The Netherlands, France, and England from November 6th to December 7th  (2019) in order to discover, uncover, and recover the history of the French Church’s influence on the work of Bernard Huijbers and Huub Oosterhuis.

His ruminations and descriptions of this journey can be found in an informative report which we offer you below. Simply click the link and voila…

Research in Europe Report

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SJU Alcuin Library & EAI

aireal photo of Saint John's University
Saint John's University Branding

The Emmaus Archive Institute exists to promote the legacy of Bernard Huijbers and Huub Oosterhuis by creating a library for preservation and a laboratory for innovation. This library, or archive, will physically exist within the Alcuin Library on the campus of St. John’s University (SJU) in Collegeville, Minnesota near St. Cloud.

SJU was founded in 1857 for male students by the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey, who emigrated from Bavaria, Germany. In 1955 SJU began offering joint evening classes with a sister school, the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, which opened in 1913. The relationship expanded in 1961, and since then the two institutions have shared a common academic program. Men and women attend coed classes taught by a joint faculty.

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