Armadale Parish Priest Father Mark Baumgarten’s latest music video release, a toe-tapping tune Wake-up Juice, is testament to the versatility of his debut album Now and Not Yet, released on Friday, 25 February.
The former professional musician and youth chaplain said he chose to combine his passion for music and priestly vocation with the hope of continuing his mission to lead people close to God.
“I’m not the sort of priest who generally likes being the centre of attention too much.
“If I had a priestly motto, it would probably be St John the Baptist’s line about how Christ must increase, and I must decrease. Certainly, when I celebrate Mass, I try to have the focus be on the Lord more than myself,” Fr Baumgarten said.
“So, it’s been a bit weird doing something like this that will no doubt attract some attention. However, for whatever reason, this has felt like something that God has led me to do, so I hope that’s indeed the case, and I hope that the album might potentially open a few doors for people to have a relationship with God, rather than simply add more noise to our already noisy world.”
The album comprises of 16 tracks, including ‘Human’, ‘What do you Believe?’, Fr Baumgarten’s personal favourite ‘Easter Sunday Morning’ (which received airplay on 98.5 Sonshine FM) and ‘World Grow Up’, which recently gained a spot as a semi-finalist in the 2021 International song-writing competition (unsigned category).
“If someone were to listen to the album from top to bottom it essentially tells the story of how I ended up where I am now, sort of like an autobiography through music,” Fr Baumgarten explained.
“The first half of the album—titled ‘Searching’—is a representative sample of songs I wrote prior to entering seminary, while the second half of the album—titled ‘Being Found’—features more recent songs that relate to my journey towards the priesthood and into parish ministry.
“The early songs don’t entirely reflect where I am these days, but I thought it worth including some of them on the album to put my subsequent path in context, a bit like how a written autobiography includes some of the twists and turns along the way,” he explained.
“And while the more recent songs touch more explicitly on themes of faith, they aren’t ‘church music’ per se, and they definitely aren’t intended for use in the liturgy. They’re just songs, that happen to have been written by a priest.”
Speaking about the significance of the album title, Fr Baumgarten said that Now and Not Yet alludes to the Catholic understanding of the Kingdom of God that, “we get a taste of it now, but it’s definitive fulfilment will only be in the life to come.”
“I guess I saw a parallel with the album project given its autobiographical nature, in that the album kind of tells the story of how I’ve ended up where I am now, but that my story—as with all of us—has not yet reached the fulfilment we’ve been made for.”
Now and Not Yet is available for purchase and download on the website www.pianopriest.com for a donation and can also be streamed on all major platforms. Physical CDs are also available via the website.