Throughout the San Francisco-New Orleans district of Lasallian schools, it is known that the young men at Saint Paul’s can sing like no other. The students have been instructed since eighth grade to belt out in Masses. I still remember Saint Paul’s Coach Robert Simpson encouraging students to sing by telling us Saint Augustine’s famous quote: “Those who sing pray twice.”
A large part of the student’s ability to sing is their love for the songs they are singing. After singing the same songs for years, every student at Saint Paul’s gains a love for the songs.
Each student has their own opinion on which of the songs is the best, and here is mine.
5. O’ God, Beyond All Praising
Ask most students at Saint Paul’s what their favorite song is, and they will probably say this. Of course, “O God Beyond all Praising” deserves to be on the list as it has served as a staple of Saint Paul’s tradition. However, to me, “O’ God Beyond All Praising” is not one of my favorites. It is simply too slow of a song for me to enjoy more than the others ahead of it. Also, it is sung during every first Friday adoration, which has caused it to become a little “overplayed.” The main draw to the song is the ending, in which the entire student body stands up to sing the final verse. While this ending is powerful, it does not compensate for the rest of the song.
4. Great Amen
The “Great Amen” is one of the most simple hymns we sing. However, the power of the piano playing behind the lyrics elevates the song. Another crucial element of the song is the echo. At each repetition of the lyrics, a smaller group of students sings the lyrics, followed by the rest of the students. While these two ingredients of the song are great, the simplicity of the lyrics holds it back and keeps it at four.
3. Gospel Acclimation
The “Gospel Acclimation” has always had an innate draw to me. The rhythm of the song is satisfying, the harmonies work well, and the backing track has a punch to it. I also enjoy the lack of an intro for the song. I also love the lyrics of the song. One that stands out is “love has come to show the way.” God is love, and only one other song exemplifies it more than this.
2. Battle Hymn of the Republic
This is a truly iconic song. Besides the previously mentioned “O God Beyond All Praising,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic” remains a Saint Paul’s student body favorite. Originating as a union marching song, the song’s rich history is wholly justified. The song’s chorus gets stuck in my brain for weeks after we sing it at a mass. The Saint Paul’s student body delivers the song powerfully every time it is sung. Also, the song serves as a bookend for every major Saint Paul’s milestone ceremony, eighth-grade promotion, senior ring ceremony, and graduation, which attaches good memories to such a spectacular song.
1. Let There Be Peace on Earth
While “Let There Be Peace on Earth” may be a popular song among the Saint Paul’s student body, it would surprise most students to see it in the number one spot. However, “Let There Be Peace on Earth” deserves the number one spot. Firstly, the lyrics eloquently deliver a great message that every person can be a vessel to bring out God’s peace and love to the world. Next, the slow pace is executed well without making the song seem too prolonged. Finally, the song’s finale, in which the piano fades out and lets the students sing a capella the final couplet of “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me,” creates the most powerful moment of every prayer service or mass it is included in and elevates the song to the best Saint Paul’s traditional hymn.
Honorable Mention. Rise Up O’ Men of God
Reading this article, you might have been wondering where “Rise Up O’ Men of God” is. There is no song more synonymous with Saint Paul’s than “Rise Up O’ Men of God.” It’s words are immortalized on the wall of the Briggs Assembly Center. While it deserves this icon status, the song just does not fall into my top 5 songs.