Archbishop names director of institute for sacred music
by James Rygelski, Review Editor
A priest who is an accomplished musician and authority on the Church’s musical heritage is moving to St. Louis to head the new Institute of Sacred Worship for the archdiocese.
Archbishop Raymond L. Burke is announcing through a memo sent to all parishes today, April 4, the appointment of Father Samuel A. Weber, OSB, as the institute’s first director.
Father Weber is a professor in the divinity school of Wake Forest University in North Carolina and also a monk of the St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. He has “a wide experience of pastoral work and teaching,” the archbishop stated in his memo.
The archbishop’s memo indicated that the new office will offer to parish music directors and choirs several educational programs, including those in Gregorian Chant; singing of the Mass in English, particularly the Entrance Antiphon, the Responsorial Psalm and the Communion Antiphon; the Liturgy of the Hours; and the full implementation of the English translation of the Roman Missal. Father Weber, who will live at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, also will offer instruction to seminarians.
The archbishop, both through the memo and an e-mail interview with the Review, said he established the new sacred music office after talks with various people within the archdiocese involved in the music sung at Mass.
“The concern does not come from a negative judgment on the music presently used for sacred worship but from the sense of the Church’s perennial, that is, constant, responsibility to make the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy as worthy and beautiful as possible,” the archbishop told the Review. “Given that sacred worship is the highest expression of our life in the Church, the desire is to offer every possible help for the most worthy and most beautiful possible celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.”
Father Weber is an accomplished organist and Church music composer and arranger. He earned a degree in sacred theology from the pontifical athenaeum St. Anselm in Rome. He also earned a master of arts in classical languages from the University of Colorado-Boulder.
In an e-mail interview, he said he’s long been involved in projects to encourage lay participation in sacred music.
“For many years now I have been working on resources to enable all to participate fully in the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours. Most recently, I played a part in producing the ‘Mundelein Psalter,’ a resource that allows for simple and immediate participation in the Liturgy of the Hours in parishes. I am told that families also find the ‘Mundelein Psalter’ helpful in family prayer,” Father Weber said.
“It’s going to be a great boost for the archdiocese to have the institute under the direction of Father Weber, a very talented man and a holy priest,” Father McCumber said.
He said the overall purpose of anything the institute would do would be to improve “our experience of the Paschal Mystery.”
The archbishop reiterated that his action is in keeping with what the Holy See desires for proper musical settings at Mass. “The Holy See has rightly asked that musical settings be provided for those parts of the Mass which are to be sung, for example, the Responsorial Psalm and the various acclamations. Father Weber has been distinguished for his work of setting these texts to music which is beautiful and accessible to the congregation,” the archbishop told the Review.
“A number of new settings will need to be prepared for the new translations of the Roman Missal, which will be approved in the coming time.
“It is my desire that our parishes have the help which they need to sing the various parts of the Mass. Clearly, other parts of the Church will be able to reap the fruit of his labors on behalf of the archdiocese,” he said.
The archbishop said people have expressed to him the desire to use Gregorian Chant at Mass and other celebrations. Father Weber said his approach to instruction “is always flexible and friendly.”
Asked about any negative reaction he may receive to Gregorian Chant, which is sung in Latin, Father Weber said: “People’s sensitivities are important. I would say, ‘Come and see.’ Then I would be available to assist as best I can to help all come to a deeper appreciation of the Church’s teaching and directives about gregorian chant and our heritage of sacred music.”
Any move to improve the quality of music for sacred liturgy is to be welcomed with open arms. In this case there are several reasons to be grateful to the Archbishop for this move:
- Providing training to parish musicians and music directors will be of the most practical help in actually implementing more of the Church’s traditional sacred music.
- Providing training in Gregorian Chant to parishes and seminarians will enable the faithful and priests to actually use chant– music which the Second Vatican Council held must retain pride of place. Tell any “Vatican II changed all of that” friend you know that one sure way to implement the council’s vision for the Mass is to regularly employ Gregorian Chant.
- It is a great idea to have such a qualified musician to take a proactive approach to devising appropriate musical settings for the more accurate English translations of the Novus Ordo Missae– the Mass most Catholics in the Archdiocese have experienced. This will further reverence and fitting worship in this form of the rite.
- Finally, a wider use of chant and other appropriate sacred music will encourage more priests to implement Summorum Pontificum and actually celebrate in the extraordinary form.
Below is an excerpt from the email on behalf of Archbishop Burke to parishes concerning this appointment. It goes into more detail about the goals of the Institute (emphases mine). Thanks to the reader who led me to it:
TO: THE PRESBYTERATE OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SAINT LOUIS AND THE MEMBERS OF THE ARCHDIOCESAN CURIA
FROM: ARCHBISHOP RAYMOND L. BURKE
REGARDING: CREATION OF THE INSTITUTE OF SACRED MUSIC IN THE OFFICE OF SACRED WORSHIP, AND APPOINTMENT OF FATHER SAMUEL F. WEBER, O.S.B., AS THE FIRST DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE
DATE: APRIL 4, 2008 – MEMORIAL OF SAINT ISIDORE, BISHOP AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
It gives me great joy to announce the creation of the Institute of Sacred Music in the Office of Sacred Worship of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. I am also happy to announce the appointment of Father Samuel F.Weber, O.S.B., as the first Director of the Institute of Sacred Music, effective May 12th next.
The Institute of Sacred Music is part of the Office of Sacred Worship and is under the supervision of Father William W. McCumber, Director of the Office of Sacred Worship. It has been established to assist me inproviding a fuller cultivation of Sacred Music for the celebration of the complete Roman Rite. Among the activities of the Institute will be the following: 1) programs of education in Sacred Music, especially Gregorian Chant, for parish musicians, musicians of other Archdiocesan institutions and interested individuals; 2) assistance to parishes with the singing of the Mass in English, for example, the Entrance Antiphon, the Responsorial Psalm and the Communion Antiphon; 3) assistance withthe singing of the Liturgy of the Hours; 4) assistance to parishes which wish to develop a schola cantorum for the singing of Gregorian Chant; 5)programs for the full implementation of the English translation of theRoman Missal in the Archdiocese; and 6) particular assistance to the programs of Sacred Music at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.