New Article in “Adoremus Bulletin” by CISM Director, Dr. Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka

A new article on singing the collects at Mass offers a step-by-step guide for priest, with the help of a trusted musician, to learn to match and control their pitched voice, and introduces them to sing the presidential prayers.

The traditional vesting prayers accompanying each item of the celebrant’s attire link the particular vestment to some spiritual reality. The prayer recited when assuming the alb, for example, reminds the priest that it is a symbol of being washed whiter than snow (Psalm 90:9) in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14), an appropriate reminder of the precious price of baptism. The stole is accompanied by a plea for the joy of eternal life despite one’s unworthiness. When the chasuble, often the heaviest garment of them all, is put on, the celebrant is reminded of Our Lord’s words in Matthew 11:30 that his “yoke is easy” and his “burden is light.”


In a similar way, the collects to be sung at Mass are appropriately clothed in the rich melodies which the Church holds in her musical wardrobe. Certainly, there are many overt prayers in the Psalms linking music and the offering of one’s self to God. Indeed, one might say that the garment of song, when it clothes the texts of the liturgy, is a symbol, a physical manifestation of the worship of God. Many a choir has prayed the following text before rehearsal, which captures this connection between song and the sacrifice one offers with that of Christ at the Mass: “May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:15).


Surely this could also be the prayer of any priest singing the orations. Let us see, then, how, on both a theoretical and practical level, the singing of the collects by priests can achieve for pastors and parishes alike a tailor-made fit of music and words.

Keep reading…

For pointed texts of the presidential prayers according to the Roman Missal‘s “solemn tone,” check out the liturgical planner at Cantica Nova Publications. Click on the “L” on each Sunday to see the texts of the prayers; Italicized syllables are on the lower pitch (SOL).

Thanks for joining us in our inaugural season!

As we conclude our first full semester of activities, we want to say “thank you” for being a part of the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music! Because of your support and participation, we have already been able to accomplish great things for Christ and His Holy Church.

As we gear up for our big summer session of courses, stay tuned to our website for events open to the public.

During the summer, several liturgies will be open to the public, and we look forward to welcoming a large incoming class of students studying in our graduate-level coursework, both online and in-person. We are just finishing up the application and enrollment process, and since our classes are full or soon-to-be full, we have now closed the application form.

In the fall we’ll announce our 2nd annual public lecture and concert series offerings, as well as workshops that are open to the public. We look forward to expanding these offerings in order to serve those desirous of learning sacred music.

And in November (7–9, 2023) we’ll host “The Musical Shape of the Liturgy: Celebrating the Life and Work of William Mahrt,” a conference open to registration by the general public. The conference program will be announced in the upcoming weeks, and registration will open soon thereafter.

Music of Faculty Member Frank La Rocca Featured in Wall Street Journal

From the article in the April 20th edition of the Wall Street Journal:

“Another fascinating example emerges in recent works of composer Frank La Rocca of the Benedict XVI Institute. Mr. La Rocca’s ‘Mass of the Americas’ draws on distinctly American Catholic religious themes. The work is a tribute to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the U.S., and Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of all the Americas. Musically, the ‘Mass of the Americas’ incorporates Mexican folk hymns into the fabric of contemporary high-church sacred music, while showing due respect for its sources. It also includes possibly the first Ave Maria ever set in Nahuatl, the Aztec language in which Our Lady of Guadalupe spoke to San Juan Diego.

“As with great Masses composed during the Renaissance, the Mass of the Americas has won new audiences—in packed celebrations in churches and cathedrals in Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, as well as Canada and Mexico. Prof. Michael Linton recently dubbed the work ‘the best piece of liturgical music for the Mass since [the requiem of Maurice] Duruflé.'”

Interview with Faculty Member Prof. Christopher Berry – Advice for Choral Directors

Professor Christopher Berry, who will direct the choir at this summer’s Choral Institute (July 17–21, 2023) was recently featured on Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast.

Looking for fresh ideas about how to take your parish choir to the next level, developing a repertoire of well-prepared polyphonic motets and ordinaries, helping your singers develop their technique and musicianship, and integrate it all into the bigger spiritual picture of the offering of one’s very self united to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross? Prof. Christopher Berry of St. Stanislaus Oratory in Milwaukee tackles all these topics, with advice about warm-ups, how to get through a bunch of repertoire with limited rehearsal time, and which motets and masses to start with.

To learn more about or apply for this summer’s Choral Institute at the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music, please visit: