This course examines the historical and compositional trajectory of liturgical music with an eye toward its pastoral applications, from early Christian communities to the Church of today. We will listen to repertoire illustrating the various stages within this evolution while learning to analyze and comment on it from musical, liturgical, and pastoral perspectives. We will explore the ways in which the Church has responded to the developments in liturgical music, and we will consider the impact of these responses on liturgical music ministry in parish settings today. The lectures are constructed in such a way that students of all disciplinary backgrounds will be able to engage the material. In other words, no assumptions will be made regarding previous musical, historical, or theological training.
Unit 1: Music of the Biblical and Early Christian Communities
- Introduction to the Course
- Music in the Old Testament
- Music in the New Testament and Early Christian Communities
Unit 2: Liturgical Music of the Medieval and Early Renaissance Periods
- The Unification of Christian Worship and Liturgical Music
Unit 3: Liturgical Music of the Late Renaissance, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and the Baroque Eras
- Liturgical Music of the Late Renaissance
- The Reformation
- The Counter-Reformation and the Council of Trent
- Liturgical Music in the Americas
- Liturgical Music of the Baroque Era
Unit 4: Liturgical Music of the Classical and Romantic Eras
- European Liturgical Music in the Classical Era
- The Liturgical Renewal of the Nineteenth Century
- Roman Catholic Liturgical Music of the Twentieth Century (pre-Vatican II)
Unit 5: Liturgical Music Following the Second Vatican Council
- The Second Vatican Council
- Liturgical Music in the United States (post-Vatican II)
- Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
- Typically 15-20 students in each course.
- All lecture text available online in text format.
- Examples of music, with explanations, watchable via streaming video.
- Supplemental readings provided online.
- Written assignments (150-200 words) required.
- Facilitator-moderated chat sessions with participants in course.
All course materials are available in the course.
A highly recommended text that participants may want to refer to during or after the course is Paul Westermeyer’s Te Deum: The Church and Music (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997). This book provides the framework for our discussion on the development of liturgical music within a historical and cultural context. Its accessible prose, meticulous footnotes, extensive bibliography, and useful timeline make it a valuable resource.
- Read assigned texts and listen to music samples; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
- Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
- Write a short reflection on a musical selection in each unit.
- Write 150-200 words in response to the assignment in each unit.
- Participate in at least 3 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
- Complete the course evaluation.
- 4 to 6 hours per week, depending on your background and schedule.
A certificate of completion awarding 30 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.