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Leonardo Zuno Fernndez

Sacred Music Seminar

Catholic Music since Vatican II:
A Brief Review of Music by Marco Frisina and Adam Bartlett
The Catholic Church, in its diversity and unity, faces some challenges with regard to its
output of sacred music, given its vision on the role that music should play in the life of the
Church. This vision is clearly outlined in Musicam Sacram, a document drafted about 50 years
ago during the Second Vatican Council. Some of these challenges include:
Encouraging a full, active, and conscious participation among the faithful in the liturgy;
composing music that may use the vernacular languages of the people, (and the challenges that
this presents to chant, which is usually in Latin); composing music that honors the treasury of
traditional chants that have been handed down, while still producing new styles of music; and
composing music that is sensitive to various styles and cultures, while maintaining a sacred and
dignified character.1
Some of the solutions to these problems involve more than simple musical answers. The
areas of discipline that intersect with these problems include theology, pastoral and pedagogical
approaches to interacting with the faithful, liturgical norms that must be observed, as well as
understanding the universality of the Church, while respecting the local character of each
community. In many cases, this task also involves a recovery of memory of the chants that may
have been long-forgotten or never learned by the faithful. It is in this complex context that some
composers have sought answers to address these problems posed by Musicam Sacram. This
paper examines some music by Marco Frisina and Adam Bartlett, because they intentionally
1 See Musicam Sacram, paragraphs 15, 47-53, and 62-67,

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address the concerns of the Council. Marco Frisina uses an integrated approach to composing
and Adam Bartlett uses a pedagogical approach. These terms will be defined shortly.
As one can see in the attached scores, Marco Frisinas approach uses a rediscovery of
Gregorian chant, all while presenting it in a new context, aimed at contemplation and
participation. Some of his music serves a presentational performative role, and some of his
music aims to involve the congregants in singing with the choir. The musical example I will
examine is from his Missa Resurrexit. This Kyrie and Gloria provide opportunities for
contemplation and listening, as well as opportunities for full, conscious, and active
participation, to quote Musicam Sacram.2 This integrated approach used by Monsignor Frisina
combines the old with the new, listening with singing, contemplation with participation and
through beautyinvolves the pilgrims on earth into the heavenly liturgy. A more thorough
analysis will follow briefly.
Adam Bartletts pedagogical approach aims to recover the lost memory of the sacred
chants of the Church, all while being presented in the vernacular (English). It also honors
liturgical guidelines in regard to what is most proper to sing in the Mass.3 Its aim is full
participation, and for this reason the chants are simple; in many cases, the same melodies are
used with different texts for various feast days. This way, the congregants learn these melodies
and are more likely to participate and sing along with the cantor or choir.

2 Musicam Sacram, paragraph 15.

3 Simple English Propers, v.This is why the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) speaks of adding
decorum to the processions (entrance, offertory, and communion) by singing the chants proper to them (44).
After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins (47). The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied
by the Offertory chant, which continues at least until the gifts have been placed on the altar (74). While the priest is
receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun (87).

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About the composers
The reason I selected these composers from the vast range of options is as follows.
Among Monsignor Marco Frisinas titles, these are some of his current responsibilities: Since
1991, he has been the Master of the Pontifical Lateran Choir at St. John Lateran (the Roman
Pontifical Cathedral church), rector of the Basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere (patron saint of
musicians), Consultant to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization,
Chairman of the Diocesan Commission for Sacred Art and Cultural Heritage, and Lecturer at the
Pontifical Lateran University, the University of the Holy Cross, and the Pontifical Institute of
Sacred Music. Since 1984, he is the founder and director of the Choir of the Diocese of Rome,
known as Il Coro della Diocesi di Roma.
Regarding the background of Adam Bartlett, he is the President and Editor of Illuminare
Publications and is editor of the Lumen Christi Series a collection of resources and worship aids
and hymnals that reflect the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. He has served as a parish
and cathedral music director for over 10 years, and has previously served as Assistant Director of
the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein, and as professor of Liturgical Chant at Mundelein
Seminary. He is an authoritative voice on topics of liturgical music.

Existing Literature on the Topic

The existing literature surrounding the topic of post-Vatican II music spans from
theological and pastoral commentary, which helps to give a background within which one can
understand Catholic liturgy and the music played therein. Musicam Sacram outlines the vision
of the Second Vatican Council for the role of sacred music in the Church. Sacrosanctum
Concilium outlines liturgical norms that must be observed in the celebration of the Mass. Some

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of the other papal documents cited in the bibliography help trace the importance and the role of
sacred music in the context of liturgical worship, and what its proper handling is. While there is
much theological literature on the topic of music, not very much has been said on the musical
and compositional implications for addressing the concerns of the Council. It is for this reason
that it is important to address sacred music from the point of view of a music theorist and

Analysis of Musical Examples

Although Monsignor Frisina has composed other music in the vernacular extensively, the
Kyrie and Gloria from Missa Resurrexit are both in Latin. This particular example is ideal for
the Easter season, and it quotes pre-existing segments of chant from the Missa de Angelis
throughout the composition. In fact, it uses phrases of chant, dispersed throughout the
composition. In between each phrase one finds beautiful choral expansions that employ various
kinds of compositional techniques common to sacred music.
One noteworthy development in these examples is that there are plenty of opportunities
for the assembly to sing, so as to form a call and response type of dynamic. This creates an
antiphonal kind of setting, where the congregation acts as one choir and the choir acts as its
counterpart. The assembly is expected to sing the traditional Gregorian chants (one phrase at a
time), while the choir uses arrangements that complement the chant. During the time when the
choir alone sings, this becomes an opportunity for the faithful to reflect on the text that is being
sung. This fulfills the vision of Musicam Sacram in many ways: by honoring the treasury of
chant in the Church, by employing the traditional texts of the Mass, by using the human voice

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and the organ as the primary instruments, and by involving the congregation in the way that the
Council envisioned.
From a practical perspective, it takes longer to sing through a Kyrie and Gloria of this
type, but it is perfectly apt for a high solemnity, such as the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday.
However, this would not be a setting that the average parish might use on a weekly basis, due to
time and other logistical constraints. However, for pedagogical reasons, a music director might
first teach the Missa de Angelis to the congregation in preparation for the high Easter
Finally, here are some observations about the music itself. Frisina uses imitative canons,
homophonic singing, and text painting in a way that allows the music to bring out the meaning of
the text.4 Here it is evident that the music is at the service of the text, as has been the longstanding tradition of Catholic sacred music. The music never draws attention to itself, but rather
acts as the instrument through which the text can accomplish its goal, while helping the music to
inspire the faithful through beauty.5
Regarding Adam Bartletts example, which I am calling a pedagogical approach to
address the concerns of Musicam Sacram, it is really quite simple. As the title of this source
suggests (Simple English Propers), the content deals with the Mass propers. These are sung in
4 See Frisina, Singing the Faith: Music and Liturgy Seeking the Face of Christ.The voice and musical instruments
are the means of music. The human voice is the principal and immediate means of music. It is the pre-eminent
instrument, being the symbol of communication itself where a man himself sings to another man. It is the first kind
of music that appears in all cultures from birth. Through singing, man speaks in a special way, distinguishing trivial
communication from poetry. Singing is always reserved for higher occasions, for prayer and ritual, for joy and
feasting, for love, which has its highest expression in poetry and music. Apart from this, we should not forget the
social value of singing, from stadium chants to political choirs, from war songs to national hymns.
Choral singing has a special role in rituals: the union of different voices merged into a single musical event is a clear
symbol of the union of the group and the people, whereas solo singing takes on a specific and authoritative role we
would call a ministry which the community accepts and to which it gives a specific role.
5 Frisina, Singing the Faith.This is the amazement of beauty, of contemplation, an advance of that contemplation of
the glory of God which will make us joyful forever in heaven.

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English, and they are very easy for congregations to learn. They are based on chant or chant-like
melodies, but in such a way that the structure of the English language is honored, while
maintaining musical integrity.6 This may very well be Adam Bartletts primary contribution to
the way he responds to Musicam Sacram: namely, that he re-introduces chant to a people who
have either forgotten it or have never had the opportunity of learning it; and this is done in a way
that meets us where we are in the sense that it is presented in English with simple melodies
that encourage participation on behalf of the congregation.
In the introduction of Simple English Propers, Bartlett explains why we should sing the
Propers of the Mass. He states:
If we are to grant chant pride of place at Mass (41), the propers of the Mass clearly need
greater attention. As Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in The Spirit of Liturgy, The biblical and
liturgical texts are the normative words from which liturgical music has to take its
bearings. However, despite the frequent mention of Mass propers in many documents,
there has been a surprising dearth of resources available to sing the propers in English,
which is a step toward singing the Mass instead of just singing at Mass.7
In keeping with the pedagogical character of this book intended for parish use, the introduction
includes an explanation of how chant works, and the introduction of the organ part includes an
explanation to the organist on how to use the optional organ accompaniments. In addition to all
of these resources, Bartlett has included practice videos on this website:
http://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2014/may/19/simple-english-propers-practice-videos/. In this
6 See Musicam Sacram, 54.In preparing popular versions of those parts which will be set to melodies, and
especially of the Psalter, experts should take care that fidelity to the Latin text is suitably harmonized with
applicability of the vernacular text to musical settings. The nature and laws of each language must be respected, and
the features and special characteristics of each people must be taken into consideration: all this, together with the
laws of sacred music, should be carefully considered by musicians in the preparation of the new melodies.

7 Bartlett, Simple English Propers, v-vi.

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way among many of his other contributions to church music in the United StatesAdam
Bartlett is helping musicians to honor the requests of the Council.

Further Study on this Topic

It is my hope to continue to analyze this topic in the form of a doctoral dissertation, so
that I may find musical solutions to the concerns raised by Musicam Sacram and to the results of
the Enquiry into the State of Sacred Music.8 To this end, it will be useful to have a broad
understanding of the tradition of sacred music in general, and specifically of the 20th century,
leading up to the second Vatican Council with special attention to Edward Schaefers Catholic
Music Through the Ages: Balancing the Needs of a Worshipping Church. In addition to this, I
will research what kinds of music has been published as a response to Musicam Sacram, and will
try to make determinations about what has worked and what has not fulfilled that vision. Third,
in order to better understand the music of the composers mentioned above, I will try to schedule
interviews with each of these composers, in order to gain first-hand information from them about
this topic. Fourth, I will research the results of the survey to the enquiry mentioned above, in
order to make determinations about what are some areas for further research in the future. In this
way, I hope to propose some approaches that work well for composing music that honors these
requests and is thus in keeping with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

8 The Pontifical Council for culture recently sent a questionnaire to dioceses all around the world
to evaluate in what ways the requests of Musicam Sacram have been implemented. To view this
enquiry, visit: http://www.cultura.va/content/cultura/en/dipartimenti/music/enquiry.html

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Primary Souces
On theological and pastoral topics:
Pontifical Council for Culture: Enquiry into the State of Sacred Music. Pontifical Council for
Culture. Vatican City. http://www.cultura.va/content/cultura/en/dipartimenti/music/enquiry.html
Musicam Sacram: http://www.adoremus.org/MusicamSacram.html
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium:
Committee on the Liturgy, General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) (Washington, DC:
United States Catholic Conference, 2003).
General Instruction of the Roman Missal: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/themass/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal/
Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction on Music in the Liturgy, Musicam Sacram (MS)
(March 5, 1967).
John Paul II. Centenary of the Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini:
Pope Piux X. Tra le Sollecitudini: http://www.adoremus.org/MotuProprio.html
Ratzinger, Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Ignatius Press: San Francisco. 2000.
Pope Paul VI. Jubilate Deo: Reproduction of Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis Edition. Sacred
Congregation for Divine Worship. 1974.
Vatican Council II, Volume I: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents. Edited by Austin
Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company: Northport, NY. 1975.
Saint Benedict, The Rule for Monasteries, trans. Leonard J. Doyle (Collegeville: Liturgical Press,
1948), Chapter 19.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, In the Presence of the Angels I Will Sing Your Praise: The
Regensburg Tradition and the Reform of the Liturgy in A New Song for the Lord: Faith in
Christ and Liturgy Today, trans. Martha Matesich (New York: Crossroads Publishing, 1997) 128146.
The Missale Romanum, editio typical tertia (Rome: Typis Vaticanis Polyglottis, 2002).
"Much has been done, but there remains much still to do"
by Adam Bartlett

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Popes Message for 50th Anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium

Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
Online Edition:
March 2014, Vol. XX, No. 1, News and Views

On musical topics:
Arvo Prt Centre. In principio. The Word in Arvo Prts Music. Editors: Hedi Rosma, Kristina
Krver, Kai Kutman. Publisher: Arvo Prt Centre
Bouteneff, Peter C. Arvo Prt: Out of Silence. Publisher: SVS Press
Arvo Parts Appointment to the Pontifical Council for Culture:
Arvo Parts composition for Pope Benedict XVI:
Arvo Prts Concert in honor of Pope Benedict XVI: https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedictxvi/en/speeches/2010/october/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20101001_concerto.html
Marco Frisinas wesbiste: http://www.marcofrisina.com/
Marco Frisina. Singing the faith: Music and Liturgy seeking the face of Christ. Keynote

Information about Marco Frisinas background:

Bartlett, Adam. Simple English Propers for the Ordinary Form of Mass: Sundays and Feasts.
Church Music Association of America. 2010.
Music in Catholic Worship (MCW) (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1972).
The Music of the Catholic Church: the Search for an Acceptable Offering (Mundelein, IL:
Hillenbrand Books).
Plato, Ion, 534 D, in The Dialogues of Plato, 4 vols., 4th ed., trans. B. Jowett (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1954), I:108.

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Musicam Sacram Revisited: Essays in Honor of Robert W. Hovda, Series IV. NPM Publications.
Silver Spring, Maryland, 2007.
Schaefer, Edward - Catholic Music Through the Ages: Balancing the Needs of a Worshipping
Church (8.2.2008) Paperback August 2, 2008
Secondary Sources
On theological and pastoral topics:
Edward Schaefer. Vatican II and Musicam Sacram. Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the
Sacred Liturgy, Online Edition - November 2006, Vol. XII, No. 8.
OKeefe, Katie. Sacred Music 50 Years After Vatican II - A Questionnaire.
Mannion, M. Francis. Masterworks of God: Essays in Liturgical Theory and Practice
(Chicago/Mundelein, IL: Hillenbrand Books, 2004), 116-143.
St. John the Evangelist Parish: Liturgical Music Survey, Final Report.
International Church Music Congress Chicago-Milwaukee, August 21-28, 1966. Johannes
Overath, editor
On musical topics:
Paul D. Hillier. "Prt, Arvo." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University
Press, accessed April 7,
2016, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/20964.

Sacred Music online journal

Is there a place for Latin in liturgy today?
On Gregorian Chant: http://media.musicasacra.com/publications/sacredmusic/133/1/1_1.html
David Hiley. Western plainchant: a handbook. Oxford England: Clarendon Press; Oxford; New
York: Oxford University Press, 1993. ML3082 .H54 1993
Studies in medieval chant and liturgy in honour of David Hiley. ML2902 .S88 2007 and
M2149.5.J85 L48 2015.

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Mahrt, William Peter. The Musical Shape of the Liturgy. Church Music Aociation of America:
Richmond, VA. 2012.
Haas, David. Music and the Mass: A Practical Guide for Ministers of Music. Liturgy Training
Publications: Chicago, IL. 1998.
Turino, Thomas. Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation. University of Chicago Press:
Chicago. 2008.
F.C. Lehner, Music (Philosophy), in The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967 ed.
Dr. Barbara Murphy and Rev. John Arthur Orr. "CATHOLIC CHURCH MUSIC TODAY IN
THEORY AND PRACTICE: PART I." Sacred Music Today. Winter 2004, Vol. 131, No. 4
Holy See Surveys Sacred Music 50 Years after Vatican II, Newsletter, Volume L FebruaryMarch 2014
An Interesting Roman Initiative: Sacred Music: Fifty Years after the Council

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Proposed Abstract for Doctoral Dissertation
The Second Vatican Council, in its document Musicam Sacram, raised many problems that have
yet to be addressed in the area of sacred music. These concerns involve: encouraging the
participation of the faithful; composing music that has the sacred characteristics of chant while
being relevant to people today; writing music that is culturally sensitive; and writing music that
may use the vernacular among other issues. While many composers have highlighted some of
these concerns in their way of composing, most times they neglect many other elements thus
not fulfilling the vision of the council for sacred music.
While much has been written about this topic from a theological and pastoral point of view, very
little has been said from a point of view of a music theorist: namely, what musical implications
exist as a way of addressing the concerns raised by Musicam Sacram? My research in this topic
aims at examining these implications in the vast and complex range of problems raised in this
Using the music of Arvo Prt, Marco Frisina, and Adam Bartlett, I will propose a presentational,
a pedagogical, and an integrated approach for composing sacred music that meets the standards
of the Council. I argue that fulfilling this vision is entirely possible, even in a wide variety of
ways, as exemplified by these three composers. By means of a close study of the state of affairs
in sacred music, this project will examine musical solutions to a very complex theological,
pastoral, and musical problem.