Liturgical composers will receive St. John’s highest award

St. John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville will honor three distinguished liturgical composers — David Haas, Marty Haugen and Father J. Michael Joncas, in June with its Pax Christi award, the highest award the institutions grant.

“All three of these individuals have worked hard to create music and texts that draw congregations into a full and active participation in the liturgy of the church,” said Benedictine Abbot John Klassen. “Each one is an outstanding composer, writing music that is accessible and memorable, that wears well over time, and texts that speak to the challenge and grace of living the Gospel.”

Since 1963, the Pax Christi Award has been given to more than 60 recipients, including internationally recognized leaders “who have devoted themselves to God by working in the tradition of Benedictine monasticism to serve others and to build a heritage of faith in the world.”

Father J. Michael Joncas, left, David Haas and Marty Haugen. (Photo courtesy of The Catholic Spirit)

Though the composers are internationally acclaimed, the three men have local ties to the St. John’s community. Father Joncas has taught liturgy at St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary and both Haugen and Haas have participated in a range of musical events on campus.

“It is simply amazing and wonderful to have these three composers in our midst, in the state of Minnesota,” Abbot Klassen said. “Each of these composers in his own way attends to issues of justice and peace and weaves them into their texts and music. Each of these writers is skilled in drawing on the rich resources of Scripture for its sense of faith in God and how we are to stand with those who need our help.”

A Mass will be celebrated June 25 at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville featuring compositions by the award recipients. The National Catholic Youth Choir, the St. John’s Boy Choir and the Abbey Schola will sing. The award will be presented to Father Joncas, Haas and Haugen at a banquet following the Mass.

Abbot Klassen noted some of his personal favorites — Father Joncas’ version of Psalm 91, “On Eagle’s Wings,” and “Take and Eat,” Haugen’s “All Are Welcome” and his Creation Mass, and “We Have Been Told” and “We are Called” by David Haas.

In addition to hearing the hymns in Catholic churches, “you will find the work of these three composers in the hymnals of Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and Mennonites, to name a few. In other words, their music is an example of ‘applied ecumenism,’” Abbot Klassen said.

“These composers are building bridges between churches by creating music that all of us are able to sing together. Furthermore, the very titles of the hymns noted point to the prophetic character of these works. ‘All are welcome?’ Really? We have to really be converted as a church for that to be true.”

Author: The Visitor

The Visitor is the official newpaper for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

1 comment

Not a fan of these composers. These three have a lot of popularity but their music is really not liturgically sound enough for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

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