Joseph J. McGrath (1889-1968) was an American composer of sacred music. A Fellow of the American Guild of Organists, he was Organist and Choir Master of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, New York for forty years. He was a teacher of harmony and composition at Syracuse University and a lecturer at the Catholic University Summer School.
"Postlude on 'Praise to the Holiest'" strikes me as a particularly "odd" piece. It was published by McLaughlin & Reilly Co. of Boston in 1963 - just before all the major changes and upheavals in the Roman Catholic Church turned everything upside down, and almost instantly destroyed many fine musical traditions.
This work is a combination of an "Introduzione" followed by a more extended, "Alla marcia." It is based upon the hymn-tune for the text, "Praise to the Holiest in the height," but it must be on McGrath's own tune for the text, as it's not on "Runciman" or "Gerontius," the two most usual tunes for this well-known and beautiful text, written by Cardinal Joseph Newman (1801-1890).
What makes the piece "odd" is partly the music itself, but also the enraging way that the publisher puts a "comma" between EVERY repeated melody note! If anyone is capable enough to play this piece, than they KNOW that notes are to be repeated!
The other thing that makes this "odd," is that McGrath seems to go out of his way to just "add in" unusually chords, that seem to come out of nowhere, and disappear as quickly as they arrive. I found the hardest part of this piece to be the central section, where the hymn melody appears in the right hand with moving triplets in the left. This shouldn't be so hard, but I found it such!
McGrath was an important musician in his day, but those days of the RC Church are long gone, and I doubt if we'll see a revival of his music.
The score is attached below, as well as photo (young) of McGrath, one of Cardinal Newman, and several of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse.