Author Archive

Audio Available for Words With Wings

The complete audio library for Words With Wings is now available for free here. All 94 tracks are beautifully sung by choristers of the Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City, under the guidance of the School’s music director Melanie Malinka. The CD version is also available at

Why does Gregorian chant sound spooky?

Gregorian chant belongs at Mass…precisely because it sounds other-worldly! It’s a far cry from Mozart or Brahms, Bob Dylan, or even the Rolling Stones. Why is that?

Join me tomorrow night and begin to discover the simple theory behind its mysterious…

Sight, Sound, and Music in Hand

Noel Jones, of Frog Music Press, has discovered over the years that blind musicians are not just people who have no
vision, but sometimes are sighted and see with varying degrees of difficulty.  Here is his interview with Catholic music director…

We Pursue Chant Because…

Because of its inherent worth in the liturgy.  Because we seek solemnity and genuine worship.  Because it is robust and fragile, difficult and effortless at the same time.  Because it consumes us.  Because it is the right thing to d…

Mass with a Menu

Though we put together a Mass program every week, I’ve often wondered about its value.  The Gregorian notation is beautiful to look at, and it gives Mass goers the information (including translations) that our pastor feels the congregations needs. Is anyone really looking at it?  Also, when it comes to polyphony, it bothers to me to include the names of composers, their dates, and any other information about the pending “performance.”  I’ve always thought that this distracts from what the Mass is all about.  Seems I’m not alone.

I’ve been going through past issues of Sacred Music, and have come upon this piece from 1992, by Karoly Kope. On the “worship aid” that many Catholic parishes are in the habit of printing:

“Here we go again, aping Protestant ways!” Imitating something good is commendable and should not disturb me. But I felt that what was being imitated here was not a good practice at all. It was a practice adopted by those who have no Mass and who made the most of what was left of their service: a reading of scriptures and a sermon, encased in a musical setting. Remove all music from Protestant services, and there is not enough left for a true religious ceremony. That being the case, it is understandable why Protestants have always taken their church music more seriously than Catholics (the Mass remains intact even without a single note of music), and it explains, at least to me, why the Protestant congregation, rather than following a missal, follows a bulletin “program” with all that information about the music performed and the performers.”

Kope continues…

“To a Catholic like myself this in not only very foreign but also very disturbing. As a churchgoer I want to be absorbed in prayer and lost in the proceedings of the Mass. I don’t care to be told what the next “anthem” will be or who will play what on the organ. In fact, I prefer not to know. When something particularly beautiful strikes me and I want to know what it was, I simply ask and find out—after Mass.”

 Have we reached a point in time where printing a program is necessary, however?  Is the notion of “ritual” so foreign to worship that no one knows what is means any more?

Things can convey spiritual realities

I have asked Rev. Robert Pasley, CMAA Chaplain, to give a bit of an explanation of something we will be seeing at this year’s Sacred Music Colloquium, June 17-23 in Salt Lake City:  the catafalque at the Requiem Mass.




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Each year at the Colloquium, we offer a Requiem Mass for the
deceased members of the CMAA. Since the Motu
Proprio, “Summorum Pontificum”
in 2007, we have had the option of offering
the Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Liturgy as well. This year we
will celebrate a Solemn Requiem Mass with Absolution at the Catafalque. This
practice was prescribed for All Souls Day as well as any Solemn Mass for the
dead where the body was not present. This practice could be somewhat unsettling
if one is not used to it, or doesn’t understand it.

Our faith, heavily permeated by the theology of the
Incarnation, uses things to convey spiritual realities. The highest realities,
of Divine institution, are the Sacraments. The greatest sacrament is of course the
Holy Eucharist, where the elements of bread and wine are changed into the Body
and Blood of our Lord. Sacramentals, or blessed objects, are used to dispose us
to the many graces that come from God. Finally, symbols, art, music and
architecture lift the mind and the heart to God. 
The catafalque is either an empty casket or a wooden form
made to look like a casket that is covered by the black pall and surrounded by
six unbleached (orange) candles (when they are available); it is a symbolic
representation of the deceased. When it is present, the priest sings the
absolution for the deceased as if the body was present. The body was the Temple
of the Holy Spirit and must be shown the greatest respect, even
The use of the catafalque also calls to mind the stark
reality of death and judgment, but in contrast, the hope of God’s mercy and
redemption. We offer the absolution for the dead and we pray that we will be
prepared for death. We realistically and vividly face the reality of death and
just as realistically and vividly we profess our belief in the Resurrection.
Our faith is strongeven
stronger―by meditating
upon the death we know will come to all of us.


Chant Workshop in Irving Texas, July 12 &13

Learn how to read square notes on Friday, and stay for more advanced sessions on Saturday.  Pre-registration required. Complete information here.

Colloquium Music Packet Online

The music packet for Sacred Music Colloquium XXIII has been posted and is available for download.

Job Opportunity in Indianapolis

Director of Music - St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church
Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana

Position Purpose: The
purpose of this position is to lead worship and devotion music for the
parish and various other needs of visitors and friends of St. John the
Evangelist Catholic Church. St. John’s is the oldest Catholic Church in
the city and is currently celebrating its 175th anniversary. It is a
growing parish with 45% of its congregation under the age of 30. The
young adult movement in the heart of the city, combined with an
outstanding traditional parishioner base, makes it a wonderful place to
minister and serve. Check out the active parish life at

Major Responsibilities:
The Director of Music for St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church will
lead all liturgical and devotional music for the parish and various
special events of the highly visited downtown parish. Specific
responsibilities include:
+ Preparing, accompanying (organ and
piano)and leading music for all Solemnity Masses including Weekend
Masses, Holy Days and various special Masses hosted throughout the year.
Preparing, accompanying (organ and piano)and leading music for special
devotional prayer including weekly Adoration, Stations of the Cross,
Divine Mercy Sunday, Processions, and special devotional worship during
Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.
+ Recruiting, growing, teaching and leading volunteer Traditional Choir and Young Adult/College Choir.
+ Recruiting, growing, teaching and leading volunteer cantors for all Masses, special liturgies and devotions.
+ Preparing and leading music for all parishioner weddings and funerals.
Coordinate music for various special liturgies hosted by St. John’s
including but not limited to: St. John Girls Academy Annual Mass, Serra
Club Mass for Vocations (September), Archdiocesan Race for Vocations
Mass (First Weekend of May), Red Mass (October), Ancient Order of
Hibernians (Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day), Equestrian Order of the
Knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, and any other Archdiocesan,
Ecumenical or Church related liturgies hosted by St. John’s
+Verify the maintenance and upkeep of the 50-stop Goulding & Wood Pipe Organ and Baldwin Piano.
+ Program and maintain the control unit for tower bells and carillon.
+ Attending Ministry Team meetings and retreats as requested by the Pastor.
+ Serve as a liaison and resource to the Worship and Devotion Parish Commission.
+ Working collaboratively with the Pastor to prepare excellent worship and devotional music for requested events.

Qualifications: St.
John the Evangelist is seeking a highly motivated and faith filled
member of the Roman Catholic Church to serve as Director of Music.
Additional qualifications include:
+ Knowledge and love of the Catholic Church and Committed to all Church teachings
+ Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree
+ Excellent Musical Skills
+ Excellent Leadership and Organizational Skills
+ Knowledge of Universal Church Liturgical Documents and GIRM
+ Ability to lead choirs in a variety of Traditional and Contemporary Sacred Music
+ Experience in accompanying, singing and conducting
+ Team Oriented and Visionary

Submit letter of application and resumes to:
St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church
c/o Father Rick Nagel
126 West Georgia Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46225

For questions or more information contact Father Nagel at [email protected]

Colloquium Registration Ends Saturday

Don’t miss your chance.

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