Fr. Joseph Gelineau, SJ, dead at 87

If you are Catholic, over 60 and into liturgical music, you will know his name and remember his psalm tones which were all the rage in the early 60’s. His psalm tones were much influenced by Gregorian chant, had simple, poignant phrasing typically in a minor tone conveying an often sad-sweet, sublime mood appropriate to the ancient liturgy but also modern. His later chants written for the Taize community were much brighter in spirit and reached several generations of European youth seeking access to the contemplative through music.

See also: Shouts in the Piazza:

Joseph Gelineau died in hospital in the French Alps. He had fractured a femur and was hospitalized. It was not possible to operate for ten days, due to circulatory problems. In the event, the surgery was not a great success, and then a renal blockage appeared which it was impossible to do anything about.

The funeral is this Tuesday, August 12, in the village of Vallorcines in the Savoy Alps, and Père Joseph will be buried with his Jesuit brothers in Grenoble.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for him.


12 Responses to Fr. Joseph Gelineau, SJ, dead at 87

  1. Tom Parker says:

    The Gelineau Psalms were some of the first liturgical music I ever played when I became an organist at 13. His music captured the spirit of the Gregorian modes – his Psalm 23 is still my favorite.

  2. Fr. J. says:

    Tom, thanks for your comment. It is a sad thing that his work on the psalms is all but lost today. I have a real affection for them and have never found another body of chants that had the same effect.

    Perhaps now, they have be revived with the renewal of the liturgy?

    I see you are an organist in my old stomping grounds. I grew up in the bad old days at Good Shepherd (yes, I was there. I have stories). Later we moved to St. Mark’s in Oakton and my father was a member of Truro (then Episcopal, now Anglican). Trying to remember the parishes in your area, Good Shepherd, St. Lawrence, St. Mary’s come to mind.

    Have you ever resurrected a Gelineau tone for mass? Do they hold up today as well as they do in my memory?

    • Stephen M. Mc says:

      You can rest assured that I consider the Gelineau psalms the
      Nieman-Marcus of psalms and continue to use them at every opportunity. When I first heard them (1977) I was blown away at the simple beauty. I still am.

    • Anonymous says:

      We use them often in the Diocese of Portland, Maine

  3. Joseph Fromm says:

    Fr. J,
    There is a very informative video (in French) on Fr. Gelineau that would add a lot background info for the American Catholic. I have posted it on my site.

  4. Steve Johnson says:

    When I was in seminary in the late 60’s we sang a few of the Gelineau psalms in the chorus. 40 years later I still remember their beauty and today did a Google search and found this site. Are there any recordings?

  5. George Davis says:

    Is there any way we can get some of those recorded psalms ? I used to sing them while in college and even taught some of them to my non-English speaking students in Assam in the late 60’s.

  6. Mike says:

    Unfortunately, Gelineau lost his soul. He died in a heretical state and as a member of the Vatican-2 heretic cult (which was founded in 1965 at the Vatican).

    Gelineau supported the Vatican-2 heresy which caused his automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church.

    See Section 12 of for 50 of the anti-Christ heresies which are in the Vatican-2 documents (with Catholic corrections). One heresy makes an organization a heretical society.

    The Dogma on Automatic Excommunication is listed in Section 13.2

    The Salvation Dogma is listed in Section 1.

    The Water Baptism Dogma is listed in Section 7.2 which shows the fraud of “baptism of desire”.

    Catholic citations on the fewness of the saved in on Section 22.

    A Formal Abjuration for re-entering the Catholic Church after your automatic excommunication is on Section 19.1.

    Our Lady of Conquest
    Pray for us

    • MPod says:

      I feel sorry for you, Mark. You must be a really pathetic individual to say such things aloud. You have no idea whether or not anyone has lost his soul. You are not God, and God alone can judge. And in your presumption that he has lost his soul, I hope that you have not refrained from interceding for him, for if you have, that would be a sin against the spiritual works of mercy. Meanwhile, I say a prayer for you and your kind.

      • Mike says:

        Mpod –

        It is a mortal sin against the Catholic Faith (a First Commandment sin) to make believe that someone who died as a heretic is not in Hell – what you are “proposing” is a juvenile attack against the Salvation Dogma.

        Section 1 of

        Virgin Most Powerful
        Pray for us

  7. William says:

    I was introduced to Father Gelineau Psalms while perusing Anglican Chant books for a chapel (Military) Roman Catholic Choir I once directed. I had become fascinated with Anglican Chant after attenting my first “protestant” service in York Minster in England (Choral Evensong) to say the least I was overwhelmed with the “catholicity” of the service which included the usual ritual gestures turning toward the altar and bowing at the Glory be to the Father, Sign of the cross at the Magnificat etc. My first experience of vernacular liturgy (talk about 0rganic unity with the anyway, I went into a music store in York and while chatting with the owner I lamented there was nothing like AC in the vernacular for Romans as far as Psalms. He pulled out a new delivery and showed me the brand new publication of the “jolly new psalms} and I purchased a few of the Psalm booklets immediately. I still think his early work was right on the mark for the emerging vernacular Roman liturgy before it went looney (spirit of Vatican II nonsense). I always felt the Taize liturgical music were just musical slogans, I did not know Father JG had a hand in them, guess he caught the “spirit of Vatican II” an almost incurrable bad taste virus. Gratia Pater Gelineau. Requiescant in Pace. or “in the spirit of Vatican II” Peace and Love Man.

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