SJC Choirs Blend Music History, Church, and Performance in Chicago

January 27, 2012

"At Saint Joseph's College, students not only learn about important genres of music history, they also experience it," says SJC Director of Choirs Kelly Ford.

On Sunday, February 12, 2012, the SJC Concert Choir and Chamber Singers will sing the "Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo"(short Mass in honor of Saint John of God), as part of a High Solemn Tridentine Mass at Saint John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago, Ill.

The Mass will be at 12:30 pm CST. As this is a regular Mass, all are invited to attend and there is no charge. Saint John Cantius Church is located at 825 North Carpenter Street in Chicago.

For more information about the event, contact Professor Ford at or by calling 219.866.6251.

This Mass is part of the regular liturgical calendar offered through the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius at that parish. Written by Joseph Haydn around the year 1775, it features the musical setting of the Ordinary prayers of the Mass (those prayers common to every Mass, including the Kyrie, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei).

"This music is so often performed as selected concert pieces, but it's a rare moment when we get to see it utilized for its original purpose," states Ford. "Catholic music comes from such a rich heritage and patrimony of arts within the Church. It's not merely a 'historical artifact' to be studied in a history textbook - it's a living part of not only our Church tradition, but the active Church today."

The Tridentine Mass, also known as Mass in the Extraordinary Form, is an option in dioceses throughout the country, and has been made even more accessible by the endorsement of Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. With a text in Latin and following the order of Mass from the 1962 Roman Missal, Professor Ford says it provides an ideal understanding of the music written by Haydn, and the context in which it was composed.

"As the choirs have studied the Latin text of the music, it has been so valuable not only from a historical and musical standpoint, but also from the perspective of the prayers of the Church, to discuss how the composer wrote his music to show emotion, a need for mercy, an awareness of the mysteries of our faith and all within the framework of the Mass."

The remainder of the music portions of the Mass will be sung as Gregorian chant by the Canons Regular, religious clerics, and brothers in residence at St. John Cantius parish.

Tom Lohmuller '11

"It's important to understand that this isn't a concert we're performing," says Tom Lohmuller '11, Saint Joseph's College alumnus and organist for this event. "We are actually singing the Mass - doing our best to offer prayers to God in song, and that's such an awesome experience. I have been to Masses like this before and it is an incredibly moving testament to the beauty of the Catholic Church."

Saint Joseph's College, named a "character-building college" by the Templeton Foundation and a "best Midwestern college" by the Princeton Review, is a four-year, Catholic college offering 27 majors, 4 group majors, 34 minors, and 9 pre-professional programs, complemented by the nationally acclaimed Core Program. Founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, SJC is located in Rensselaer, Indiana, approximately 90 minutes from both Chicago and Indianapolis, on a park-like campus of 180 acres and has an enrollment of 1,100 students.

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