Catholic musicians from all over the world gather to study sacred music.
The 28th annual Sacred Music Colloquium, hosted by the Church Music Association of America, has returned in Chicago for the first time in a decade. The event has drawn a crowd of more than 200 Catholic musicians for a week of study, prayer, and making beautiful music in celebration of the glory of God.
The occasion also marks the 55th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s document on the sacred liturgy. Sacrosanctum concilium specifies that chant should have “principem locum,” or first place, among all other music at Mass. While sacred music encompasses any song written for church services, these days the term is most commonly used to refers to Mass settings composed for choral groups.
The St. Michael Hymnal Facebook page shared a video of the Colloquium singers performing “Salve Regina” after evening prayer and they sound really good:
The Sacred Music Colloquium regularly draws attendees from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Australia. This year, however, they were also joined by participants from Hong Kong, Nigeria, Paraguay, and the Dominican Republic. The 2018 Colloquium featured Mass in Spanish, with newly composed proper chants in Spanish, and motets by the composers Morales (Spain) and Capillas (Mexico).
The event also offered Masses, in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, with settings from Palestrina and Victoria; motets of Richafort, Tallis, and Bruckner; as well as newly composed Mass settings by some participants. All attendees can sing in 2 different choirs, one for chant and the other for polyphonic works.
Fr. Robert Pasley, Chaplain of the CMAA, spoke about the importance of the event:
I’ve been coming to the Colloquium since 1990, the very first one. It has been absolutely essential to my formation as a priest to learn what the Church expects of us in sacred music. I have received formation in sacred music at the Colloquium that I never received in the seminary. Coming every year is something like a retreat. Not only do we sing beautiful sacred music, but I am deeply edified, as a priest, to see the devotion of Colloquium participants deepened and strengthened.
For the many young priests and seminarians who have come, the Colloquium opens their minds and their hearts to the great sacred music tradition of the Faith, and will help them as they prepare for the priesthood and to help God’s people. Laypeople should come to the Colloquium because it’s one of the only places that I know of where they can actually learn what the Church wants in music for Mass. Once they experience it, they’re overwhelmed by the beauty. They leave here on fire for the Faith, and, really, isn’t this what evangelization is all about?