Omer Westendorf

Omer Westendorf
Short Name: Omer Westendorf
Full Name: Westendorf, Omer, 1916-1997
Birth Year: 1916
Death Year: 1997

Omer Westendorf, one of the earliest lyricists for Roman Catholic liturgical music in English, died on October 22, 1997, at the age of eighty-one.

Born on February 24, 1916, Omer got his start in music publishing after World War II, when he brought home for his parish choir in Cincinnati some of the Mass settings he had discovered in Holland. Interest in the new music being published in Europe led to his creation of the World Library of Sacred Music, initially a music-importing firm that brought much of this new European repertoire to U.S. parishes. Operating out of a garage in those early years, Omer often joked about the surprised expressions of visitors who stopped by and found a wide range of sheet music in various states of “storage” (read disarray). Later, as World Library Publications, the company began publishing some of its own music, including new works with English texts by some of those same Dutch composers, for example, Jan Vermulst. In 1955 World Library published the first edition of The Peoples Hymnal, which would become the People's Mass Book in 1964, one of the first hymnals to reflect the liturgical reforms proposed by Vatican II. Omer also introduced the music of Lucien Deiss to Catholic parishes through the two volumes of Biblical Hymns and Psalms.

Using his own name and several pen names, Omer composed numerous compositions for liturgical use, though his best-known works may be the texts for the hymns “Where Charity and Love Prevail,” “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing,” and especially “Gift of Finest Wheat.” As he lay dying, his family and friends gathered around his bed to sing his text “Shepherd of Souls, in Love, Come, Feed Us.” NPM honored Omer as its Pastoral Musician of the Year in 1985.



Paul Francis
Mark Evans
J. Clifford Evers

--Letter from Tom Smith, Executive Director of The Hymn Society, to Leonard Ellinwood, 6 February 1980. DNAH Archives.

Featured Article:
Sent Forth By God's Blessing: Roman Catholic Hymn Text Writers after Vatican II by Alan J. Hommerding (from The Hymn)

Texts by Omer Westendorf (30)sort descendingAsInstances
A mighty fortress is our God (Westendorf)Omer Westendorf (Author)3
Accept, O Father, in Thy loveJ. Clifford Evers (Author)4
All praise to you, O God of all creationOmer Westendorf (Author)3
As when a shepherd calls his sheepOmer Westendorf (Author)33
Francis, friend of all things livingJ. Clifford Evers (Author)3
God's blessing sends us forthOmer Westendorf (Author)5
God's holy mountain we ascendOmer Westendorf (Author)4
Great Shepherd of a loyal flockOmer Westendorf (Author)4
Hail, Christ, our royal Priest and KingOmer Westendorf (Author)3
[How Happy You Who Fear the Lord]Omer Westendorf (Author)3
Lord, we gather at your alterOmer Westendorf (Author)3
Loving Father, ever waitingOmer Westendorf (Author)4
Members of one mystic bodyJ. Clifford Evers (Author)4
O God, all knowing and all justJ. Clifford Evers (Author)3
O Lord, you know our weaknessOmer Westendorf (Author)3
Praise God in this holy dwellingOmer Westendorf (Author)6
Saint Joseph was a just manOmer Westendorf (Author)2
Sent forth by God's blessingOmer Westendorf (Author)26
Shepherd of souls, in love come, feed usOmer Westendorf (Author)3
Shout the glad tidings high from the hilltopsOmer Westendorf, b. 1916 (Author)2
Sing of Mary pure and lowlyOmer Westendorf, 1916-1998 (Author (st. 3))1
[Sing Out Your Praise]Omer Westendorf (Author)2
Sing praise to our Creator, Redeemed of Adam's raceOmer Westendorf, 1916-1998 (Author)2
Sing praise to our Creator, O you of Adam's raceMark Evans, b. 1916 (Author)2
The Lord is my true Shepherd, My need and wants he knowsOmer Westendorf (Author)3
We gather together to sing the Lord's praisesOmer Westendorf (Author)2
We honor good Saint JosephOmer Westendorf (Author)2
Where charity and love prevailOmer Westendorf (Translator)28
Wisdom calls throught the cityOmer Westendorf, 1916-1997 (Author)2
You have looked upon the lowlyOmer Westendorf (Author)2

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