Summer music and liturgy events

Still making plans for the summer? Here are some of the educational opportunities being offered in sacred music and liturgy:

  • The Sacred Music Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America: a six-day program including fully sung Masses in English, Latin, and Spanish, providing an experience of the liturgy with its full ceremonial and sacred music. Participants join choirs under expert instructors to learn and sing Gregorian chant and choral polyphony. This year the Colloquium Masses will be held at the cathedral in Philadelphia July 1-6, and the polyphony choirs will be directed by Timothy O’Donnell, Charles Cole, David Hughes, and MeeAe Cecilia Nam.
  • Chant courses sponsored by the Church Music Association of America: in the week preceding the Colloquium, two chant programs will be presented on the campus of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh: our “Chant Intensive” program under conductor Jeffrey Morse, and the first level of the “Laus in Ecclesia” cantor training program under Br. Mark Bachmann OSB of Clear Creek Abbey. Graduate credit is available for both programs through Duquesne.
  • Michael Alan Anderson is directing a week-long workshop on chant and polyphony presented by Eastman School of Music, to be held in New York City June 10-14.
  • Janet Coxwell, David Woodcock, and Andrew Carwood will be directing the Early Music Academy Boston program July 27-Aug 2, to be held at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., studying works of Palestrina, Clemens, and Guerrero.
  • Patrick Torsell will direct a chant camp for children and youth 7-18 years of age in Harrisburg, PA, June 24-28; a video on-line has more information.
  • St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York will offer graduate-level courses in sacred music this summer, on site and on-line; the on-line classes start June 3, and on-site programs start July 22: descriptions are available on the Musica Sacra Forum.
  • A retreat for church musicians will be offered August 16-20 in Sleepy Eve, MN: a description of the program with liturgies offered according to the Usus Antiquior of the Roman rite is offered in this PDF file, and registration information is at the event’s Facebook page.
  • Schola Cantus Angelorum is presenting its seventh summer liturgy conference in Spokane May 28-31 on the campus of Gonzaga University. Speakers include Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Bishop Thomas Daly, Bishop Robert Vasa, Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Nathan Schmiedicke, Msgr. Richard Huneger, Canon Lawyer Magdalen Ross, Rev. Theodore Lange, Rev. Gabriel Mosher OP, Douglas Schneider, Alex Begin and Enzo Selvaggi. More information is at
  • The Monastère Saint-Benoît of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon is presenting the sixth annual Sacra Liturgia Summer School, in English, at La Garde-Freinet in France, August 3-16.
  • Composer-conductor Paul Jernberg is presenting a Sacred Music Workshop for clergy, musicians, and laity June 24-29 on the beautiful campus of Northeast Catholic College in Warner, New Hampshire. (unfortunately cancelled)
  • St. Vitus Parish (FSSP) in Los Angeles is presenting its Sacred Music Symposium June 24-28 under the direction of Jeffrey Ostrowski.
  • Daniel Saulnier, former director of the paleography workshop at Solesmes, is presenting an introductory workshop on Gregorian chant August 6-9 as part of the Choralies festival at Vaison-la-Romaine.
  • The Gregorian Institute of Canada will present its summer conference August 8-11 at the Abbey of St.-Benoit-du-Lac in Quebec, with musicologist Juan Carlos Asensio Palacios presenting on Hispanic (“Mozarabic”) plainchant.


Sweet injuries!

Very few of the hymns in common use employ irony, in the sacred way that St. John’s Gospel does. The poems of the martyr St. Robert Southwell, when set to music, are a happy exception that is slowly gaining traction. The beautiful I Sought the Lord, about the mystery of prevenient grace, is another. Another exception very appropriate for this week is My Song Is Love Unknown. This excellent rendering leaves out one poignant verse, given here, which recalls the Reproaches–although in Gospel terms..

The whole hymn is worth long reflection.

Why, what hath my Lord done? What makes this rage and spite?

He made the lame to run, He gave the blind their sight,

Sweet injuries! Yet they at these Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.


A blessed Holy Week to all

May the worship and sacrifices of this sacred time bear fruit in the life of the Church.

If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your cross and follow Christ. If you are crucified beside him like one of the thieves, now, like the good thief, acknowledge your God. For your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must cease to sin. Worship him who was hung on the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself. Derive some benefit from the very shame; purchase salvation with your death. Enter paradise with Jesus, and discover how far you have fallen. Contemplate the glories there, and leave the other scoffing thief to die outside in his blasphemy.

If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body. Make your own the expiation for the sins of the whole world. If you are a Nicodemus, like the man who worshiped God by night, bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for burial. If you are one of the Marys, or Salome, or Joanna, weep in the early morning. Be the first to see the stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself.

-St. Gregory Nazianzen

20th Anniversary of St. John Paul’s Letter to Artists

On April 4, 1999, the playwright and former actor Pope John Paul II wrote to the artists of the world, requesting their cooperation in a renaissance of culture.

…Every genuine inspiration… contains some tremor of that “breath” with which the Creator Spirit suffused the work of creation from the very beginning. Overseeing the mysterious laws governing the universe, the divine breath of the Creator Spirit reaches out to human genius and stirs its creative power. He touches it with a kind of inner illumination which brings together the sense of the good and the beautiful, and he awakens energies of mind and heart which enable it to conceive an idea and give it form in a work of art. It is right then to speak, even if only analogically, of “moments of grace”, because the human being is able to experience in some way the Absolute who is utterly beyond…

The remarkable letter may be found here.


Preaching the Resurrection of the Body

Next Sunday’s RCIA option for the Gospel as well as the upcoming festivals of Eastertide offer a perfect opportunity to preach on the often-overlooked doctrine of the resurrection of the body.

While some of the articles of the creed are obscurely understood by many Catholics, the article on the resurrection of the body is unique in that it seems widely ignored and unacknowledged. Many believing and fervent Catholics seem not to know that the body is destined for resurrection. We could blame this on thinkers from Plato to Descartes–or we could simply manifest the revelation. I Corinthians 15, which we read in a series as the Sunday second readings a few weeks ago, is especially helpful.

It should not take much persuasion to make this doctrine compelling. The afterlife is our common destiny, and our bodies are so important to us that any physical infirmity is a true affliction. The resurrection matters. It is the meaning of Easter. It is worth bringing up again and again.

The benefits to believing in the resurrection of the body include the following:

-Belief in heaven is more concrete when it is seen as a place for an even more robust human life than we enjoy in this world, rather than as a shadowland. This means that hope, the anchor of the soul, has its hold in a realm that is rightly conceived as more real than this passing world.

-Moral theology makes more sense when we think of the body and soul as a unity called to holiness, with the body in particular a “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

-“Hard” moral cases involving the principle of double effect are judged more prudently when our physical natures are seen as part of human intentionality. (A thought-provoking article on this point is Fr. Basil Cole, OP, “Is the Moral Species of Craniotomy a Direct Killing or a Saving of Life,” Nova et Vetera, 3 (2005): 689–702.)

-Liturgical actions and extraliturgical devotions become less casual when the sacrifice of our bodies is offered as “reasonable worship” (logikēn latreian) (Romans 12:1).

-Physical sufferings due to age, illness, and injury become bearable when seen in the light of the glory that is to reign in our bodies as well as our souls (Romans 8:18-39, 1 Corinthians 15:35-49, 2 Corinthians 4:7-18).