In-Person Study Available at St. Joseph’s Seminary

St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, is offering eight graduate classes in sacred music and the liturgy this summer.

St. Joseph’s is happy to announce that an option for in-person study has opened for four of the eight classes:

  • Principles of Sacred Music (July 26 and 27 – the remainder of the class is self-paced on-line)
  • Principles of Chant (July 12–16)
  • Medieval & Renaissance Music Notation Practicum (July 28–30)
  • Teaching Gregorian Chant to Children (August 2–6)

All eight classes will remain accessible via participation on-line.

More information about all eight classes, inexpensive room and board options, and registration is all available at the program website, which features helpful FAQs.

Webinar: Chanting Monastic Vespers

Following the April 15th webinar on monastic Compline, I’m offering a 4-part series on chanting monastic Vespers, for which I will be joined by Dom Benedict Andersen of Silverstream Priory in Ireland. We will spend 40 minutes learning, and then chant Vespers together. Each week will cover a new topic, and it’s not necessary to join each week, though the information shared will be cumulative throughout the series. A Vespers booklet with all the music (Gregorian chant, and an English adaptation of the chants for personal use) will be shared with all participants.

Part 1 – Psalms and Psalm Tones
Part 2 – Antiphons and Complex Psalm Tone Endings
Part 3 – Hymns, Responsories, and Magnificats
Part 4 – How to sing different feasts and seasons after the webinars end

5:00-6:10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (New York)
May 3, 10, 17, & 24, 2020
Price: Free
Sponsored by the Sacred Arts Guild of Alberta.

Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast

Peter Carter and I have just launched a new podcast entitled “Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast.”

Our first episode is an interview with His Excellency, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon. We recorded the episode before he released his new pastoral letter in Portland, but we hope you’ll find the episode especially enlightening now that the new document has been released.

Here’s a bit about the show from our website:

You’ve got questions about sacred music?

Here’s your chance to learn what the Church teaches and envisions for music in the sacred liturgy.

Welcome to Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast with your hosts Peter Carter and Dr. Jennifer Donelson. We address topics of interest both to priests and liturgical musicians, as well as a general audience of Catholics interested in learning more about the Catholic Church’s teachings and treasury of sacred music. Our topics range from discussion of Church documents on sacred music, to the music of certain composers or eras, Gregorian chant, the role of music in Catholic education, and techniques for directing a better choir rehearsal. We’ll interview bishops, priests, music directors, composers, teachers, philosophers, and theologians. We’ll talk to people who found a home in the Catholic Church because they heard the call of Christ in the Church’s sacred music. We’ll ask questions about how really great music programs are doing their work. We’ll introduce you to Catholics who love their faith and, through sacred music, offer all their efforts for his glory and the sanctification of all who hear them.

We aim for our podcast to be thoughtful, encouraging, and informative. We hope, too, that it will inspire and motivate you to work for the renewal of authentic beauty in sacred music—whether you’re a working church musician or an average Catholic in the pews wondering what’s going on. With the prayers of our patronesses, Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom and Saint Elisabeth of the Trinity, we hope to help draw souls to Christ through the beauty of the Church’s sacred music.

The podcast is distributed via iTunesYouTubeSoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Here’s a look at our upcoming episodes, which will be released weekly on Sunday/Monday:

Episode 1– An Archbishop’s Reflections on Sacred Music – with Archbishop Alexander K. Sample
Episode 2 – Beauty and Catholic Culture: a Story of Conversion – with Vida and Josh Hernandez
Episode 3 – The Role of Sacred Music in Catholic Education – with Charles Cole
Episode 4 – Seven Common Misconceptions about Sacred Music – with Peter and Jenny
Episode 5 – Introduction to Gregorian Chant – with Dr. William Mahrt
Episode 6 – Spirituality of Gregorian Chant – with Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB
Episode 7 – Historical Techniques for Teaching Music to Children – with Charlie Weaver
Episode 8 – The Role of Sacred Art in Evangelization and Church Patronage of Art – with Dr. Elizabeth Lev

If you enjoy the podcast, please consider leaving us a rating on iTunes, or subscribe on any of our platforms. This helps others find out about the podcast. 

Chant Workshop in Michigan – April 25

The announcement of this workshop from a reader is for an event which promises to be excellent.

Spring Chant Workshop
Saturday, April 25, 2015
9a.m. to 3:30p.m.

The Academy of the Sacred Heart
1250 Kensington Rd.
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

Sponsor: The Oakland County Latin Mass Association (

Presenter: Wassim Sarweh, Director of Choir for Oakland County Latin Mass Association. Mr. Sarweh is recognized for his expertise in chant and polyphony.

Tickets: $40 or $20 for full-time students with ID

Registration: (includes small fee; You may register by mail with a check without paying Eventbrite fees. Email us at and we will send you a mailing address.)

Everyone is invited to join us for a day-long chant workshop.

Learn to sing or just enjoy this traditional and sacred treasury of music.
All ages and skill levels are welcome. No experience necessary.

Materials and lunch will be provided.

Check-in opens at 8:30 a.m.

The Workshop will begin at 9 a.m., includes lunch, and will conclude with an opportunity to sing Extraordinary Form Mass.

Email for more information.

Limited walk-in registration may be available at the door; advance registration is recommended.

Gregorian Chant Workshop in New York

On February 7, from 9am-2pm, I will be giving a workshop entitled, “Introduction to Gregorian Chant: Spirituality, History, and the Basics of Reading.”

The workshop is sponsored by the Office of Liturgy of the Archdiocese of New York and St. Joseph’s Seminary.The cost of the workshop is $30 and includes lunch and a copy of Reflections on the Spirituality of Gregorian Chant by Dom Jacques Hourlier.

The workshop will be especially suited to those desirous of entering more deeply into the spiritual fruits offered by the chant, learning to pray along with the chants at Mass, as well as help others in their parishes do likewise.

To register for the workshop, visit this link.

New York’s New St. Cecilia Academy for Pastoral Musicians – Masters-Level Spring Offerings in Sacred Music

How does one work for excellent music in the parish? One answer is to educate those working for the Church as musicians in the principles of sacred music and liturgy. 

A few months ago, I announced the inaugural academic year of the St. Cecilia Academy for Pastoral Musicians, a new initiative of the Office of Liturgy in the Archdiocese of New York, offered through St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in Yonkers. The initiative, brought about through the work of the director of the Office of Liturgy, Fr. Matthew Ernest, is a

four-course, fully accredited program offered through St. Joseph’s Seminary in the field of liturgical music for the purpose of introducing musicians to the history, theology, and pastoral principles of liturgy and sacred music.

The new St. Cecilia Academy for Pastoral Musicians is an ambitious program is aimed at “the troops in the trenches” — parish music directors.

The course offerings are: 
  • Introduction to Liturgy (3 credits)
  • Liturgical Music: History of Sacred Music, Principles of Sacred Music,Liturgical Music Planning (3 credits)
  • Liturgical Year/Art and Environment in Worship (3 credits)
  • Principles of Chant – Theory and Practicum (3 credits)

Courses are fully accredited Masters Level Courses and may be used toward the pursuit of the Master of Arts Degree in Theology or the Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Studies from St. Joseph’s Seminary.

As the new Director of Sacred Music and associate professor at St. Joseph’s, I’ll be teaching the course this spring semester—Liturgical Music: History of Sacred Music, Principles of Sacred Music, Liturgical Music Planning. The course is offered on Monday nights at both the Yonkers location (Dunwoodie, in-person) and Huntington (Long Island, remote conferencing).
There is a 50% discount on seminary tuition for those music directors sponsored by their parishes.
Why does the Academy exist? Here’s what Fr. Ernest had to say in his interview:

In the New York area, some parishes are able to hire trained musicians as parish music directors. Other parishes rely on dedicated volunteers to provide music ministry. While these individuals are talented musicians, they often come to these positions, both salaried and unsalaried, with limited or no formation in the principles of liturgy and sacred music. For many years, there has not been a comprehensive formation program for pastoral musicians offered in the greater New York area. Numerous requests have been made by pastors of the archdiocese for a program wherein musicians can receive the education they need to effectively serve as pastoral musicians. With the support of Cardinal Dolan, the staff of the archdiocese’s Office of Liturgy and the faculty of St. Joseph’s Seminary began to discuss ways in which this need could be met in our area. The result of these discussions is the St. Cecilia Academy.

While classes in the spring will be term-length, on-ground classes, the Academy is looking forward to diversifying its offerings and modes/formats of delivery/scheduling.

In the short term, I look forward to our summer chant intensive, which will offer a week-long, three-credit introduction to the history, spirituality, and reading of chant. Currently, we are looking to accommodate those interested students who live outside of our area and who may wish to travel to New York for this course. It is anticipated that this kind of outreach to musicians outside the tri-state area will continue through online offerings.

With respect to more long-range plans, I would like to see any expansion of the academy always retain a focus on educating and assisting parish musicians in their crucial work of leading the People of God in sung prayer. I believe that the academy’s success and future offerings should be evaluated primarily by the quality of sacred music and worship provided by our graduates in their parishes. With this in mind, it is my hope that the academy’s offerings can have a direct and positive impact on the life of the church in New York.

I am excited to begin my work at Dunwoodie and look forward to helping musicians offer their best work to the Church and to Our Lord through excellent and beautiful music for the liturgy. 

For more information about the St. Cecilia Academy, go to or send an email to

Announcing Sacra Liturgia USA 2015! June 1-4 in New York

I am delighted to be able to announce the locations, speakers (among which are numbered several Chant Cafe contributors and CMAA colloquium speakers), topics, and liturgical plans for Sacra Liturgia USA 2015, to be held in New York June 1-4, 2015. The conference will include four liturgical celebrations (usus recentior, usus antiquior, and Dominican rite) which make rich use of the Church’s treasury of sacred music, including some modern choral pieces, classical polyphony, organ masterworks, and Gregorian chant. Church musicians will find much to benefit them spiritually and professionally at this conference. 

From June 1-4, 2015, an international conference on liturgical formation in light of the new evangelization will be held in New York, under the title:


Continuing the initiative of Sacra Liturgia 2013, organized by Bishop Dominique Rey (Fréjus-Toulon, France) in Rome, this conference seeks to support the Church’s saving evangelistic and catechetical mission, as well as the continued revitalization of the liturgical life of the Church, especially in the United States. 

The sacred liturgy plays a central, vital role in the new evangelization, attracting souls to the heart of Christ and His Church. For the baptized, the sacred liturgy resides at the heart of the Christian faith and life — indeed it is the “source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.” As Bishop Rey stated at the opening of the 2013 conference in Rome, “The sacred liturgy is not a hobby for specialists. It is central to all our endeavors as disciples of Jesus Christ. This profound reality cannot be overemphasized. We must recognize the primacy of grace in our Christian life and work, and we must respect the reality that in this life the optimal encounter with Christ is in the Sacred Liturgy.”

The conference brings together a wide range of renowned international speakers including Raymond Cardinal Burke; Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (San Francisco); Dom Phillip Anderson, OSB (Abbot of Clear Creek Monastery); and Dom Alcuin Reid (Monastère Saint-Benoît, Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France); among others. See the appendix for a complete list of speakers and topics.

Topics addressed at the conference will range from broad subjects like the relationship between liturgy and culture, Catholic identity, youth, the arts, and Catholic education to specific questions like the mid-20th-century changes to Holy Week and the post-Vatican-II reform of the calendar and lectionary. Lectures will take place at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College (68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues) which is conveniently located at a subway stop. 

The conference lectures will be augmented by working sessions for those in Catholic higher education. Sponsored by The Cardinal Newman Society, the sessions will facilitate a conversation about renewing the liturgical life of Catholic colleges and universities to support the intellectual and moral formation of students and faculty in the Faith. 

At the heart of the conference are the liturgical celebrations. There will be Solemn Vespers in the usus antiquior, a Sung Mass in the Dominican rite, and Solemn Pontifical Masses in the usus recentior and usus antiquior. The Solemn Pontifical Mass in the usus antiquior on the feast of Corpus Christi, celebrated on Thursday, June 4th, will be followed by a Eucharistic procession in the streets of New York. Liturgies will be held at the Church of Saint Catherine of Siena (411 E 68th Street), a beautiful Dominican parish on the Upper East Side.

With the prestigious lineup of speakers, as well as the beautiful liturgies planned, those attending the conference will come away with a rich experience of the intellectual heritage and liturgical life of the Catholic faith. The serious intellectual inquiry into the sacred liturgy will prove fruitful for both academics and laymen alike. Attendees will meet Catholics from all over the world, and be afforded the opportunity to build good working relationships with others of those seeking to deepen their love of Christ through the Church’s liturgy, and to continue their work for liturgical renewal.

Approximately 300 participants are expected. Registrations for the whole conference will open on January 1, 2015, and part-time registrations will be possible beginning at Easter. More information about registration, affordable housing, and locations is available at the conference website:

The conference is being organized by Rev. Richard Cipolla, Ph.D., D. Phil (Oxon.) and Jennifer Donelson, D.M.A. Media inquiries may be made to 

The organizers are grateful to His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan for his kind permission to hold this conference in the Archdiocese of New York, as well as the gracious welcome of the Dominican friars and staff at Saint Catherine of Siena Church. This event could not take place without the generous support of the conference sponsors: the Knights of Columbus, The Cardinal Newman Society, de Montfort Music, Regina Magazine, Granda, Cantica Nova Publications, the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny, and the Church of Saint Catherine of Siena. 

Speakers and Topics

Dom Phillip Anderson, OSB (Clear Creek Abbey)
Living the Liturgy: The Monastic Contribution to Liturgical Renewal

Raymond Cardinal Burke 
Beauty in the Sacred Liturgy and the Beauty of a Holy Life

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (San Francisco)
Liturgical Leadership in a Secular Society: A Bishop’s Perspective

Rev. Dr. Richard Cipolla (St. Mary’s Church, Norwalk, Connecticut)
Liturgy as the Source of Priestly Identity

Dr. Jennifer Donelson (St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York)
Addressing the Triumph of Bad Taste: Church Patronage of Art, Architecture, and Music

Rev. Dr. Matthew Ernest (St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York)
The Formation of Priests in the “Spirit and Power of the Liturgy” (SC 14): An Assessment of the Implementation of the Constitution and Proposals for the Liturgical Formation of Priests in the 21st Century

Dr. Michael Foley (Baylor University, Waco, Texas)
The Reform of the Liturgical Calendar: The Reduction of Recapitulation

Mr. Gregory Glenn (Madeleine Choir School, Salt Lake City, Utah)
Liturgical Music is Non-negotiable

Dr. Margaret Hughes (Mount Saint Vincent University, New York)
Beauty as Educative?: Liturgy, Evangelization, and Catechesis

Rev. Thomas Kocik (St. Anne’s Parish, Fall River, Massachusetts)
The Reform of the Reform

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski (Wyoming Catholic College)
The Reform of the Lectionary

Mr. Matthew Menendez (Juventutem Boston)
Youth and the Liturgy

Dr. Lauren Pristas (Caldwell University, Caldwell, New Jersey)
The Reform of Liturgical Texts of Principal Feast Days (Collects)

Rev. Dr. Dom Alcuin Reid (Monastère Saint-Benoît, Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France)
Holy Week Reforms Revisited

Rev. Dr. Christopher Smith (Prince of Peace Parish, Taylors, South Carolina)
Liturgical Formation and Catholic Identity

Rev. Dr. Allan White, OP (Catholic Center at New York University)
Liturgical Preaching