Sacred Music

by Paul Jernberg

Musicians will enter on this new work (the composition of sacred music) with the desire to continue that tradition which has furnished the Chruch, in her divine worship, with a truly abundant heritage.  Let them examine the woks of the past, their types and characteristics, ... so that "new forms may in some way grow organically from forms that already exist," and the new work will form a new part in the musical heritage of the Church, not unworthy of its past,

-Musicam Sacram, Art. 59

"Paul Jernberg is one of the best composers of sacred music around today. Whether for English or Latin it is always simultaneously traditional, evoking a sense of continuation with the great chant and polyphony of the Catholic tradition, yet still fresh and new. 

It is accessible to the listener – it has beauty and dignity appropriate to the Mass and  I have noticed that even congregations who are not schooled in traditional chant and polyphony enjoy it and respond immediately.Paul Jernberg is one of the best composers of sacred music around today. Whether for English or Latin it is always simultaneously traditional, evoking a sense of continuation with the great chant and polyphony of the Catholic tradition, yet still fresh and new. 

It is accessible to the listener – it has beauty and dignity appropriate to the Mass and  I have noticed that even congregations who are not schooled in traditional chant and polyphony enjoy it and respond immediately.

Also, I discovered as a member of a choir that sings his music regularly, it is accessible for the singer – I would say that most parish choirs could sing his music well. It is simple to sing without sounding simplistic and his harmonies are such that each part seems to sing better in combination with the others. Quite simply it seems to pull the best out of people. 

I hear different influences in his style, especially liturgical music for the Eastern rite. Nevertheless it seems wholly appropriate for the Roman rite for which this is written. Skillfully constructed it is powerful, sombre and dignified without ever seeming harsh; yet melodic and harmonious. There is no hint of dissonance but it never strays into saccharine sentimentality.

Also, I discovered as a member of a choir that sings his music regularly, it is accessible for the singer – I would say that most parish choirs could sing his music well. It is simple to sing without sounding simplistic and his harmonies are such that each part seems to sing better in combination with the others. Quite simply it seems to pull the best out of people. 

I hear different influences in his style, especially liturgical music for the Eastern rite. Nevertheless it seems wholly appropriate for the Roman rite for which this is written. Skillfully constructed it is powerful, sombre and dignified without ever seeming harsh; yet melodic and harmonious. There is no hint of dissonance but it never strays into saccharine sentimentality."

- David Clayton

Author of The Way of Beauty Blog

Co-author of The Little Oratory

©Paul Jernberg and Magnificat Academy.