10 Replies to “John Michael Talbot Composing Music for New Text”

  1. It's worth noting that the YouTube video is dated August 29, 2009.

    However, the linked-story from The Tennessean is current.

  2. Does he use the word "ministry" in the proper Catholic sense? Should, he not be using the word apostolate if he is not an ordained minister in the Church?

  3. Yes, if I were going to pick nits like that, I'd be anonymous too.
    He sounds sincere, and like his heart is in the right place. Yes, the stylistic baggage is suspect. But I don't want to judge until I've heard.

  4. Jeffrey:
    You're a class act. It is interesting. I should say that when JMT came to our abbey church (where I was once a monk) in the 90's (at the invitation of the parish of St. Anselm at the Abbey) he wanted to stand on top of the high-altar for his concert, or at least sit on it. This changed my opinion of him from someone with whom I disagreed to someone whom I disliked.

    However, the Church has gone through a tremendous amount of change every 7 years it seems, and I know things have looked different each cycle. It's been a hell of a ride. I would hate to deny anyone the charity others have given me. The guy seems sincere…not my shot of burboun, but sincere. What can ya say? I still wouldn't attend one of his concerts, but there's no doubt the direction of the Church is permanently changing.

    Why does every piece of religious-type music automatically qualify as "liturgical music?" I know a Byzantine priest who LOVED Amy Grant when she was doing Gospel, but he would NEVER consider inserting her into the Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the saints, John Chrysostom!
    J.Basil Damukaitis

  5. I remember reading a note in a bulletin once that said choir members were to stack their binders they were returning to the music department "on top of the altar."

    Um.. Don't these churches have folding tables?

    Sitting on a high altar to perform a concert? Don't you have a stool you could have offered the guy? 🙂

  6. I tend to like JMT's music as music although not for use in the liturgy. Also is this a "monastery" or is it what would ordinarily be called a "commune"? I don't mean that in a negative way, but it doesn't sound like these folks are ordained, but rather just living together under a set of self-imposed rules.

    What I really like here is his vision of music that is singable by a congregation, if that is to be the purpose of the music he is writing. I disagree with the premise (that such is the purpose of liturgical music), but at least he's interested in producing music that is consistent with his objectives.

  7. I have known John Michael for a few years and have attended a few of his programs (he hasn't stood or sat on the altar at any point). I find his music helpful for prayer and reflection. Much of what he has written, however, was not written to be used in the celebration of the liturgy.

    The last time I visited with John Michael (he stopped overnight at my monastery) we had a rather lengthy conversation about the new Missal translation and chant. At that point he was beginning to compose his new mass setting. Subsequent to that he sent me a rough demo of the Gloria and Sanctus that he has composed. I will reserve judgment until I hear the final version, but I will say at this point that he is headed in the right direction by composing the setting in the spirit of chant – paying attention to the natural inflections of the text, etc.

    By the way, his community is a canonically approved expression of religious life under the local diocesan bishop – not a commune "living together under a set of self-imposed rules."

  8. Anonymous – am I mistaken, but was JMT formally a Franciscan friar who left the order to start his own community? And marry one of his singers?
    His early recordings have some beautiful songs quoting St. Francis' writings. Very good meditation material.

  9. After his conversion to Catholicism, John Michael joined the Franciscan's Third Order and began a house of prayer which he eventually moved to Arkansas. It was in Arkansas that he founded the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. He later married a former religious sister who had joined his community (if I remember correctly, they were married by the local bishop). The Brothers and Sisters of Charity is an integrated religious community with both men and women, celibate and married members. The community's spiritual inspiration comes from both Franciscan and Benedictine roots. They all wear the habit and follow many traditional monastic practices.

  10. I'm so glad Anonymous mentioned the Byzantine priest story. I agree wholeheartedly…how is it that the eastern Church has not caved in on using secular music (I'm not referring to secular texts, just the musical style) in the Liturgy? Somehow, they still know what is sacred and what is not. The western Church has almost entirely lost this sense, and (at least in my parish), practically ALL of the music used in Mass is secular in style. Take away the text, and it is not identifiable as sacred music. It could just as well be soft rock, cocktail music or Elton John. Most of the time bears a close resemblance to the style of James Taylor.

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