Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sacred Music Retreat

Wow, the last 8 days have been full to say the least. Last Sunday, I worked my last weekend at my old parish and my daughter was baptized at my very last mass at the parish. That evening I left for a Sacred Music retreat which I attended from Sunday evening until Friday. Saturday, I started my new job. No rest for the wicked, I guess.

I wanted to say a bit about the retreat which took place at the seminary in Mundelein, IL. It was a great opportunity for some prayer, rest, and association with other like-minded musicians.

The setting was intimate with only about 20 participants and the campus there is isolated and beautiful. We prayed the Divine Office 3 times a day (Lauds, Sext, Vespers) with mass in the early evening. Presentations were in between interspersed with lengthy periods to relax, pray, read, or hang with the other retreatants.

It was very enlightening to be able to engage in public prayer with other professional musicians in a wonderfully resonant acoustic which was ideal for chant. We chanted english settings of the Divine Office propers composed by Fr. Samuel Weber (make sure to get on his e-mail list; he recently composed settings for the new translations of the Mass . . . e-mail him at and request to be put on his list). Though it took me a couple of days to really be able to pray in this way and not be focused on musical things, I must say that it was a very spiritual experience. Fr. Samuel was present at the retreat; a very holy man with a profound depth of knowledge when it comes to the sacred chant. Also had a very quirky sense of humor but amusing nonetheless.

Our retreat master was Fr. Jordan Kelly, a Dominican priest who was very soft-spoken and pious. The man was quite the intellectual and a tremendous speaker to boot. The man's history in liturgical music is interesting; he is an accomplished organist who hung with the NPM camp for many years and worked with some heavy-hitters (Bob Batastini, Leo Nestor, John Romeri) until converting to the other side of liturgical music fairly recently. He's all about chant and polyphony now, baby. He had some great anecdotes about the aforementioned musicians as well as other folks that I know of but have never personally met. Great priest.

I may write more about the retreat (I believe there are plans to do another one next year; I highly recommend attending if you're able) but I'm a bit exhausted.


At Tuesday, July 04, 2006 11:57:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

Thank you for this fascinating report. It's so encouraging.

Here is an "official" report from the CMAA on its colloquium.


At Tuesday, July 04, 2006 5:02:00 PM, Blogger ScholarChanter said...

Fr. Jordan Kelly was there!?!?!? Good for you. I hope he does more liturgical music workshops!! I attended his ordination 3 years ago.

At Thursday, July 06, 2006 11:32:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

if you would like to write this up as a news item for SACRED MUSIC, please drop me a note

At Thursday, July 06, 2006 11:33:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

whoops, mailto html doesn't work. Write me at

At Sunday, July 09, 2006 4:55:00 PM, Blogger pater said...

Dear Praying Twice et al:

Thanks for your kind words, and I'm glad the retreat was helpful.

I've been blessed in all my teachers who taught me to love the chant and the great choral masterpieces of the tradition; each had a particular gift to offer.

How blessed we are to be "called to the feast" and not just a meal!

Fr. Jordan,op


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