It’s an exciting time to be studying music at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. From working with a renowned composer to recording a professional CD, students will be reviving traditional sacred music within the Church.
The College’s music program has expanded to include Mr. Paul Jernberg, our new Composer-in-Residence. Mr. Jernberg has recently composed sacred music for a Mass which has already attracted attention from countries as far field as New Zealand, South Africa, England and Ireland. Now, continuing to answer Pope Benedict’s call to “prepare the future for a new language in the world of music,” Mr. Jernberg is coming to Thomas More College to give a series of intensive tutorials.
Over the last several years, Thomas More College has steadily developed its music program to include a serious exploration of and active practice in sacred music. As part of the core curriculum, students study music in its theoretical form. They gain a comprehensive understanding of the traditions and principles— often mathematical—that are behind truly beautiful music.
These classroom studies are complemented by learning to chant the Divine Office. Each morning and evening students gather in the chapel to sing Lauds and Vespers.
Twice each week, the Thomas More College choir gathers under the direction of Dr. Tom Larson and learns not only Gregorian chant, but also polyphony.
This fall, Paul Jernberg will enhance these learning experiences even further by offering students first-hand experience in composition and vocal training.
For Mr. Jernberg, composing sacred music is a conscious service to the New Evangelization. Regarding his latest composition of the Mass of Saint Philip Neri, he said, “It has been my goal to fulfill three essential criteria, namely, that it have a true sacred character, that it be imbued with the qualities of authentic artistry, and that by a certain noble accessibility it is able to be received into the hearts of ‘ordinary’ people of good will throughout the English-speaking world.”
Under the instruction of Mr. Jernberg and Dr. Larson, students will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to not only love sacred music themselves, but also to instill that love in others. Already, Dr. Larson has arranged for the choir to record a CD in the coming year, and to perform in surrounding churches and at local events. They will also substantially contribute to the College community by providing first-rate music for the holy sacrifice of the Mass and our frequent and festive banquets.
“For the Catholic,” said Dr. William Fahey, President of Thomas More College, “sacred music must be related to the Word of God. Sacred music assists in what Pope Benedict has called ‘the higher form of proclamation’—that is, when music is joined with care to the words of Scripture and the prayers of the Church, it assists in evangelization.”
Thomas More College intends to instill in its students a knowledge of the Beautiful whether it be discovered through the Church’s tradition of sacred music, the plays of Shakespeare, the poetry of Hopkins, or the syllogistic proofs of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The education is not meant simply to acquaint the student with this valuable knowledge, but to assist him in applying it to his life so that it may serve to foster his relationship with God. Our commitment to the best of sacred and folk music traditions is just one example of our efforts to bring about this mission. After all, prayer is the highest expression of a man’s fidelity to God, and Saint Augustine himself said that he who sings prays twice. It is, therefore, only fitting that the tradition of sacred music find a welcome home in the community, academic, and liturgical life of Thomas More College.