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

"The liturgical music which Paul Jernberg is composing can take its place with dignity and grace in the Church's venerable tradition. In his work, and especially in his Mass of St. Philip Neri, we are presented with that lovely paradox which we find in the whole history of the Church's liturgical music, namely, music which speaks authentically in, and of, and for its own epoch, but which gathers into itself the whole foregoing tradition of liturgical music.

To compose such music is not an easy task for the composer. How does he acknowledge this immensely august tradition without merely copying Gibbons, Orlando di Lasso, Palestrina, Bach, and the rest, and at the same time compose faithfully for his own era? Muscular, and at times frivolous, efforts have been made in the last century to bring a new and 'creative' note to the task. But such efforts may run aground on the shoals of mere contemporaneity.

The highest reaches of music belong to the Church's liturgical tradition; and a sort of 'high point' seems to have, somehow, been attained in the polyphony of the European Renaissance. Benedict XVl has spoken explicitly of this achievement. In the music of Paul Jernberg, we have authentically contemporary liturgical music which arises gloriously and faithfully from this noble tradition."

- Thomas Howard

Author

©Paul Jernberg and Magnificat Academy.