“Liturgy” as “Public Work” and “Opus Dei” – The Impact of Properly Understanding the Term

On Wednesday night, Fr. Nick Schneider (Director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Bismarck, ND) and I gave a short introduction to sacred music and Gregorian chant in my hometown.  Though the workshop was planned with short notice, about 50 people came, including 6 or 7 priests, from parishes all over town as well as many of the surrounding towns.   

Below is a recording of Fr. Schneider’s talk, which was really brilliant.  He began by talking about the etymology of the word “liturgy.” Many of you are well-acquainted with the tired definition given to it for so long as “work of the people,” a definition which was used to drive an agenda of self-expression, liberties in rubrics and interpretation of conciliar documents claimed out of “pastoral need” of the people at the liturgy, something that we assemble and present, etc.

Fr. Schneider discussed, instead, how the words which form liturgy are more accurately translated as “public work,” something God does for His people, the “opus Dei,” something which is received rather than created. The shift in perspective has immediate ramifications. To receive liturgy as gift rather than primarily based on one’s efforts is to open one’s heart in a truly proper disposition. “Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.” (1 John 4: 19)

This point is so important! Just the other day on the forum, there was a discussion that grew exponentially about an “apologetics” of sacred music. One of the points raised was that it’s not enough to defend Gregorian chant as the music proper to the Roman liturgy when there is a fundamental misunderstanding among so many of what liturgy is.  Chant being proper is a sort of non-starter if we don’t understand to what it is proper.

Update (7/20) – Here’s a better quality recording of the talk:

Father goes on to discuss a number of other fundamental issues so important when we introduce others to truly sacred music. The talk is a great way to frame a discussion of what we ought do in the choir loft.

Diocese of Marquette Sacred Music Conference

The Diocese of Marquette, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is offering its second annual Sacred Music Conference on July 12-13, 2013.

The 2013 Sacred Music Conference will be held in Escanaba, MI. Those from the Diocese of Marquette and neighboring dioceses are highly encouraged to attend!

Topics will include:

  • Gregorian and English Chant
  • Organ registration and use
  • How to start a schola
  • Choral music study
  • Practical ways to build and improve your music program
  • Resources, and much more!

There will be time for prayer, discussion, as well as social time. Sung Vespers and Holy Mass with multiple scholae and polyphonic choir.

For more information and to register online, visit: dioceseofmarquette.org/sacredmusic

Annual Colloquium of the Gregorian Institute of Canada

An international rapprochement of sorts will take place this summer at the Gregorian Institute of Canada’s 8th Annual Colloquium.  The colloquium’s keynote speaker is the CMAA’s own Dr. William Mahrt. 

The August 6-9 conference in Vancouver is jam-packed with wonderful presentations, including topics like the role of memory in singing chant, the interaction between chant and polyphony and organ music, Hildegard of Bingen, and the connection between Catholic identity and Gregorian chant.  The preliminary conference schedule is available by clicking here.

Here’s the description of the conference, which has as its theme “Chant and Culture” and takes as its starting point Dr. Mahrt’s book The Musical Shape of the Liturgy.

The Gregorian Institute of Canada has focused from its inception on performance, providing a unique opportunity for scholars and performers from Canada and around the world to share and discuss their ideas, research, and experience. This year’s theme –Chant and Culture – is inspired by an essay currently found in WILLIAM MAHRT’s book, The Musical Shape of the Liturgy, and which also originally appeared as “Gregorian Chant as a Fundamentum of Western Musical Culture”, in Sacred Music (Spring 1975). In addition to academic papers, there will be workshops in chant performance, and liturgical offices sung in Gregorian chant.

Academic papers and workshops will address the broadly conceived colloquium theme – Chant and Culture. The conference program will include papers on European and Middle Eastern chant from c. 800 A.D. to our day – chant as melody and text, but also in its relations to (among others) instrumental music, opera, social history, women’s studies, theology, manuscript studies and edition.

More information can be found here.

The Renewal of Sacred Music and the Liturgy in the Catholic Church: Movements Old and New – Saint Paul, Minn., October 2013

October 13-15, 2013

The CMAA is thrilled to announce a conference honoring the legacy of Msgr. Schuler at Saint Agnes Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


The registration page is now up and running!

Registration deadline is September 13.

If you’re looking for an immersion experience in beautiful liturgies and sacred music, thought-provoking and inspiring presentations on historical and current issues in sacred music and liturgy, and a chance to meet others working in sacred music and the liturgy from around the country, we hope you’ll come!

Our line up of keynote speakers includes well-known figures:
     – Dom Alcuin Reid  – “The New Liturgical Movement after the Pontificate of Benedict XVI”
     – Dr. William Mahrt – “The Treasury of Sacred Music at Saint Agnes: From Chant to Mozart”
     – Jeffrey Tucker -“Chant as Free Culture: The Legacy of Msgr. Schuler’s Revolutionary 

Other topics covered by scholars include:
     – Austrian orchestral Masses
     – Rubrics and liturgical documents
     – The 20th-century Liturgical Movement
     – Louis Bouyer and Annibale Bugnini
     – Liturgical architecture
     – Gregorian chant and Solesmes
     – Spanish Renaissance music
     – Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman
     – Evelyn Waugh and Flannery O’Connor’s
             views on liturgical changes
     – The role of silence in the liturgy
     and, of course,
     – The role of Saint Agnes Church in the preservation of the sacred music tradition

The conference will include the celebration of vespers (featuring Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore) and Missae Cantatae at the Cathedral of Saint Paul and Church of Saint Agnes, featuring an orchestral Mass (Paukenmesse by Franz Joseph Haydn), classical works for organ, chanted Gregorian propers, and a modern polyphonic setting of the Mass ordinary (Messe Salve Regina by Yves Castagnet).

The entire conference schedule is available by clicking here.

More information on the conference, including the registration page are available here: www.musicasacra.com/st-agnes

A Month-long Immersion in Chant, Philosophy, and Theology for Young Adults

We are happy to announce a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in chant for five weeks with the Community of St. John (no, not the one founded by Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr).  The Ecclesia program is a summer formation program led by the Brothers of St. John at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.  

July 1 – August 2, 2013

The Ecclesia program offers an opportunity to earn undergraduate, graduate, or continuing education credits, all while experiencing a summer of prayer, evangelization, and fellowship with future leaders of the Catholic Church from across the country.

There is an almost monastic flow to each day, with lauds, sext, vespers, and Mass celebrated daily, as well as time for lectio divina, recitation of the rosary, consecration to Mary, and Eucharistic adoration.

Aside from the liturgy, the heart of the program is an intensive formation in theology and philosophy, with nearly four hours of class per day.  There is also time for recreation, a silent retreat, a camping trip to the Badlands, a service project, cultural outings, and the usual fun activities of a camp like bonfires, etc. The setting is amazingly beautiful, and offers the inspiration so necessary for living the artistic vocation.

Six credit hours (three in Theology and three in Philosophy) will be offered, transferable to any University in the country for undergrad or grad school credits. Or, the same classes may be taken for a certificate of continuing education.

How much does Ecclesia cost?
+ Undergraduate and Graduate Credit (Participants obtain 3 theology and 3 philosophy credits): $3,400
+ Continuting Education: $1,500

For more information about registration or scholarships, contact Katie Kimar 216.409.0973.  For more information about Ecclesia’s music program, contact Dr. Jennifer Donelson at jd1120@nova.edu.

Sign up here to register for the Ecclesia Institute 2013! The registration deadline is June 1st, 2013.

Immersion in Chant
New to this summer’s program is a component for those who would like to study and sing chant throughout the 5-week program. 

Here’s the text from the program’s website:

“The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.” Sacrosanctum Concilium ¶ 112

“The singing of the Church comes ultimately out of love. It is the utter depth of love that produces the singing. ‘Cantare amantis est,’ says St. Augustine, singing is a lover’s thing. In so saying, we come again to the Trinitarian interpretation of Church music. The Holy Spirit is love, and it is he who produces the singing. He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who draws us into love for Christ and so leads to the Father.” – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 142
“Whether it is Bach or Mozart that we hear in church, we have a sense in either case of what Gloria Dei, the glory of God, means. The mystery of infinite beauty is there and enables us to ex­perience the presence of God more truly and vividly than in many sermons.” – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 148

The liturgies of the Ecclesia institute will form an important and vital part of your growth in faith this summer. We turn to our mother, the Church, at whose feet we sit to learn to pray, through Her liturgical traditions. Sacred music plays a vital role in these liturgies, for it clothes the Word of God with splendor and beauty, and enables us to better worship God and grow in holiness.

This summer, our Masses will draw on the Church’s vast treasury of sacred music as a means of drawing the hearts of all deeper into the mystery of God. Whether it be Gregorian chant, chant in English, choral music, or sacred organ music, the liturgical music at Ecclesia will strive to cultivate singers’ talents in creating sublimely beautiful music in order to convey the reality of the earthly liturgy as a reflection of the Divine liturgy taking place continuously in heaven. The music, though varied, will reflect a fidelity to the Church’s liturgical texts as outlined for us in the meditative chants (Gradual and Alleluia), and entrance, offertory, and communion antiphons of the Roman Missal, so that the beautiful and noble structure of the Roman rite will shine forth the glory of God.
There are two levels of participation available to those who would like to take part in the music program at this summer’s institute:
– Rehearsal 5 days/week for 45 mintues, singing at most of the institute’s liturgies
– Rehearsl 2 days/week for 45 minutes, joining with the above group, singing at Sunday and feast day liturgies
The following will also be a part of this summer’s institutes for all participants:
– The celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman rite twice throughout the institute. All other liturgies will be in the ordinary form of the Roman rite.
– Twice weekly talks about sacred music and the liturgy to help you grow in your love and appreciation for our Church’s beautiful traditions and liturgy.
For those who are interested in a more intensive study of sacred music, the following option is available:
– Private lessons in singing and/or directing Gregorian chant as arranged with the Music Director
About Ecclesia’s Music Director:

Dr. Jennifer Donelson is an assistant professor of music at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. She received her DMA in Piano Performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she studied piano with Paul Barnes, Mark Clinton, and Ann Chang, and organ with Quentin Faulkner. A specialist in the piano works and writings of Olivier Messiaen, she has lectured on and given performances of portions of the Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus throughout the United States, France, and Mexico. Dr. Donelson has been awarded numerous academic fellowships, as well as a grant supporting her research at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France on the controversy surrounding the premiere of Messiaen’s Vingt Regards. She has presented her work on Messiaen and Charles Tournemire at the national conference of the College Music Society, the annual conferences of the Society for Catholic Liturgy, and at the International Conference on Music Since 1900 at Lancaster University (UK). Her publications include articles in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Sacred Music, Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal, and a forthcoming edited volume of essays on Charles Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique. In February 2012, she hosted and presented a paper at a national conference of the Church Music Association of America on the work of Charles Tournemire and has subsequently assumed the role of Academic Liaison for the CMAA, in which she develops academic initiatives and organizes academic conferences for the organization. She currently serves as a board member of the Society for Catholic Liturgy and as the associate managing editor of the CMAA’s Sacred Music journal.

Having studied Gregorian chant at the Catholic University of America and Abbey of St. Peter in Solesmes, Dr. Donelson has served as the director of music at St. Gregory the Great Seminary (Diocese of Lincoln, NE) and St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center (UNL) where she founded the Cor Immaculatae Schola Cantorum, a semi-professional vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. She has given diocesan workshops in Gregorian chant across the U.S., is a founder of the annual Musica Sacra Florida Gregorian chant conference, directed the children’s choirs at the Oratory at Ave Maria according to the Ward method, and has served on the faculty of the annual colloquium of the Church Music Association of America. She currently directs the schola cantorum at the Mission of Sts. Francis and Clare in Miami, where the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is celebrated weekly.

CMAA Liturgical Conference – Deadline for Proposals on Friday!

Friday, March 22nd is this Friday! 
Friday, March 22nd is the deadline for proposals for what promises to be an excellent conference celebrating the life and legacy of Msgr. Richard Schuler, beloved pastor to many, and one of the patriarchs of the CMAA. 
We’re working to secure details with a number of execellent keynote speakers and musicians and we look forward to announcing more as soon as we’re able. 
It’s not too late to submit your proposal for a recital/concert or paper!  More information follows below. 
For those looking forward to attending, mark your calendar, and registration information will appear on the conference website soon.
The Renewal of Sacred Music and the Liturgy in the Catholic Church: Movements Old and New

October 13–15, 2013

The Church Music Association of America
in collaboration with
the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, the Church of St. Agnes,
the Cathedral of St. Paul, and the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

The Church Music Association of America will hold a conference exploring renewal movements within the Church’s liturgy and sacred music on October 13–15, 2013, at the Church of St. Agnes and Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota. The conference marks the 40thanniversary of the residence of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, founded by Msgr. Richard J. Schuler, at the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul. The conference seeks to explore, through critical analysis, former and present efforts to revive the Church’s sacred liturgy and music, particularly as exemplified by Msgr. Schuler’s work. Questions central to the conference theme include:
Which efforts have resulted in a true restoration of the Church’s liturgy and sacred music?
Upon which principles has authentic liturgical and musical renewal operated in the past?
Which reform actions have had deleterious effects on sacred music and the liturgy?
While the conference will focus on sacred music, other aspects of liturgy (theology, history, architecture, documents, etc.) will also be considered for inclusion in the proceedings.
The conference will include solemn celebrations of vespers (featuring Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore) and Missae Cantatae at the Cathedral of St. Paul and Church of St. Agnes, featuring an orchestral Mass, classical works for organ, and a modern polyphonic setting of the Mass ordinary. Dr. William Mahrt (Stanford) will deliver a keynote address, and other featured speakers include Fr. Guy Nichols (Blessed John Henry Newman Institute of Liturgical Music) and Jeffrey Tucker (The Wanderer and Sacred Music).
The conference committee welcomes proposals for papers and recital programs related to the conference theme.
The deadline for proposals is March 22, 2013. Notification of acceptance will be given by April 8, 2013.
Proposals must be submitted via email to Jennifer Donelson at jd1120@nova.edu.
For paper proposals (30 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions), please send an email including:
1. Title and abstract (250-word maximum)
2. Your name and affiliation
3. Your phone number and email address
4. Bio (250-word maximum)
For recital proposals (25 or 50 minutes in length), please send an e-mail including:
1. Selections to be included on the program (including title, composer, and length of each selection)
2. A 100-word abstract (for lecture recitals only)
3. Your name and affiliation, as well as the name and affiliation of each performer/ensemble
4. Your phone number and email address
5. Your bio (250-word maximum)
6. A brief bio of each performer/ensemble included in the recital program (100-word maximum)
7. One or two recordings in mp3 format which demonstrate a recent performance. The selections need not be recordings of the pieces proposed for the conference recital program. File size limit: 10 MB.
8. Performance space requirements (instrumentation, configuration, need for music stands and chairs, etc.)
Paper topics arising from the theme and guiding questions include, but are not limited to:
The renewal of chant and chant praxis through the work of St. Peter’s Abbey in Solesmes
The Cecilian movement
The Liturgical Movement and related figures and places (St. Pius X, Pius XII, Maria Laach Abbey, Romano Guardini, Dom Prosper Guéranger, Pius Parsch, Dom Lambert Beauduin, Louis Bouyer, Reynold Henry Hillenbrand, Adrian Fortescue, etc.)
The work and ideas of Msgr. Richard J. Schuler
Renewed interest in Viennese orchestral Masses in the 20th century, particularly in light of the work of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale
Historical accounts of the efforts and ideas of the Church Music Association of America
The impact on sacred music or liturgy of the 1903 motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini or the 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum
The effects of Church councils on sacred music and the liturgy (Trent, Vatican II, etc.)
Trends in sacred music or liturgy during a particular pontificate
The new English translation of the 3rd Typical Edition of the Roman Missal
The Counter-Reformation, especially the work of the Jesuits in Europe and the New World, the work of the Oratorians, or the work of artists in the court of Phillip II
The Abbey of Cluny
Unsuccessful reforms, such as the Quignonez breviary or Urban VIII’s hymn texts
“Success”stories in contemporary or historical parishes, monasteries, etc., or current resources available for use by priests and parishes
The Catholic architecture of the Twin Cities or other American cities (e.g. Masqueray, Ralph Adams Cram, Edward Schulte, Bertram Goodhue, George J. Ries, Barry Byrne)
Catholic architecture in response to renewal movements or Church legislation
Recital programs arising from the theme include, but are not limited to:
Concerts of choral or organ works which trace a particular line of liturgical renewal
New compositions which demonstrate a clear connection to the Church’s treasury of sacred music and which are eminently liturgical in their outlook and use
A program of a composer with connections to a particular renewal movement (e.g. Bruckner, Rheinberger, etc.)
Programs honoring the musical tradition of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, especially Viennese orchestral Masses, Gregorian chant, or choir/orchestra works for the Divine Office
Lecture recitals
Papers will be 30 minutes in length followed by a five-minute period for questions.
Recital programs may be either 25 or 50 minutes in length. Performances will take place at either the Cathedral of St. Paul, or at the Church of St. Agnes. If submitting a recital program for compositions other than those for organ, recitalists must provide all performing personnel (e.g. choir, string ensemble, etc.), though assistance will be given by the conference organizers in contacting local orchestral musicians. The presenter is responsible for the costs of hiring such personnel, who would be remunerated at the scale of the Twin Cities Musicians Union. No piano or sound amplification will be available for the recitals, except for a microphone for the presenter speaking during the recital if requested. Requests for specific orchestral instruments which would otherwise be difficult to transport to the conference (timpani, chimes, etc.) may be made as part of the proposal process. The organ at the Cathedral of St. Paul is currently undergoing a restoration project which will be completed by the time of the conference. Details and specifications are available at www.cathedralsaintpaul.org/cathedral-organs.
The official language of the conference is English.
Presenters must register for the conference ($150) and will be responsible for their own expenses.
Questions regarding the conference may be directed to Jennifer Donelson via email or phone:
(954) 262-7610
The conference website is available at www.musicasacra.com/st-agnes; registration and hotel information will follow shortly.