Paul Jernberg

Paul Jernberg's Mass of St Philip Neri - CD Available

MassNeri_finalOne of the best Mass settings in English I have ever heard  A CD of the Mass of St Philip Neri, is Music Director of St Lucy's and St Monica's parishes in Methuen, MA. He is also Composer in Residence and Choir Director at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is now available from

The whole Mass is sung, rather like an Eastern liturgy in which priest intones and calls and choir respond on behalf of the congregation. The recording has been done by the Chicago based, Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle met under the direction of conductor J. Michael Thompson

This has been released to rave reviews (see for example comments from musicians and bloggers including Peter Kwasniewski at the Chante Cafe, here. He says the following ' of the best English Mass settings I have ever seen.'

Charles Culbreth, a nationally respected choir director and composer, who has been a regular contributor at Chant Cafe and an important voice over the years in the Church Music Association of America commented: 'With the consistency of his expertise with Byzantine homophony, combined with near perfection and sheer genius of the harmonic/melodic construct of Paul Jernberg's setting, it cannot be just coincidence that Palestrina's patron bears the dedication of this Mass.'

The Our Father Glory to God in the highest



Psalm Tones for English - Learn to Sing Them in Half and Hour

Anyone can learn to sing the psalms Following a recent article about us singing Vespers at a local hospital, a number of people have been asking me about the music for the psalm tones that we use when we sing Vespers and Compline for the US Veterans at the VA hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire. In response to this I have put all the tones we have on a newly published page on this blog 'Psalm Tones' (see above). Before I describe what you will find there, I would just like to describe the last time we went to the veteran's hospitial in Manchester, NH. We arrived as usual and were greeted by Fr Boucher in the chapel. Nobody else was there. Fr Boucher thanked us warmly for coming and told us that several veterans had wanted to come but were too ill to go from ward to chapel, and two had died earlier that day. Fr Boucher wanted us to know how important therefore, our prayer was. So we sang Vespers and Compline just as intended and as beautifully as we could for those who could not hear us.

Coming back to the tones: these are so easy to pick up that even I can do it. Just to give you an idea, I am at the level of being able to pick out a tune on the piano with one finger reading notes from a treble clef (bass clef is beyond me).

There is an instructional video and sheet music for all the tones we have developed so far plus about a dozen examples of recorded psalms, most with scrolling score so you can see how the tone is applied to the text.

Because they are adaptable to any text, you don't need to buy any books or expensive CDs. You can apply them to your psalter - the video tells you how to mark the text so that you can do it. This means also that if you know even just one tone, then you could sing the whole psalter. As you learn more tones you can apply those too to the same text without any changes, you use exactly the same marks for each tone.

If you want sheet music for the harmonised psalm tones that you hear, then contact me direct. If we find that lots of people want them, then we'll put them up on the blog page too.

If you want  further information, sheet music or instructional CDs for the music of Paul Jernberg, including his Mass of St Philip Neri, contact Paul at

Just to give you a feel for one, here is the English version of the Nunc Dimittis.

And here is a plane tone without harmonisation - Mode 5

Send Out the L-Team - Making a Sacrifice of Praise for American Veterans

Recently when I went home to England we had a reunion of old college friends of mine. Most were not believers of any sort - I had known them since I was eighteen and so the friendships pre-date, by a long way, my conversion (I was 31 when was received into the Church and have just turned 50 fyi). It was great to catch up with everyone and see how they were getting on. I was interested by a recent decision of one. She had  given up teaching genetics at Imperial College, London and was now working for a company that would go into investment banks in the City and teach executives how to meditate to help them deal with the stress of the job. She been introduced to meditation when she took up yoga for the physical benefits and then was attracted to the 'spirituality' that is attached to it. In order to convince the executives that there is something to this Eastern meditation, they would be armed with statistics from scientific research. She said that there had been observable improvements in the condition of heart patients in hospitals when people meditated. The research shows, she said, that even if the patients did not meditate with the visitors or even if they were unaware it was happening, just have meditation going on in the building seemed to have a positive effect.

I was happy to believe that she was right and that the research backed her up. However, my reaction was that if anything good was coming out of this, then it was because it was participating in some way in Christian prayer, whether they knew it or not. I would contest that the fullness of what they are doing is in the traditional prayer of the Church and there is every chance that this would be even more powerful if done.

When I got back to the US I contacted local hospitals and asked if they would like a small group of people to come and sing Vespers on a regular basis. What is surprising and some ways dismaying, is that I couldn't find anyone who had ever heard of this being done before. There are Christian prayer groups who visit hospitals, but I don't hear of people making regular commitment (beyond the occasional concert) to pray the liturgy. Shouldn't the liturgy of the hours be one of our most powerful weapons as part of the New Evangelisation?

I didn't expect anyone to welcome us with open arms. All I wanted was for us to be tolerated, so that we could pray the Office for them. If nobody wanted to come we didn't mind, we wanted to pray for them regardless. The point in my mind was to make the personal sacrifice in prayer, praying for the well being of the patients and for the hospital as a community. Having said that, we would make every effort to chant beautifully for God regardless of how many others attend.

I was delighted when the Catholic chaplain at the VA Hospital, the American armed services veterans hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, invited us to come in every other Monday evening. Fr Boucher is an old friend of mine and the college. Since September, myself and Dr Tom Larson from Thomas More College have been leading a group of male students in Vespers and Compline on Monday evenings. Because we were singing the psalms, we have presented it as ecumenical and administratively this enabled us to fill an available slot in the chapel and it has attracted a few non-Catholics

The veterans at the hospital know that we are there but very few have been able to come each time. Most are too ill or injured even to be able to get up one floor from the ward without someone dressing them and bringing them up and those helpers aren't always available. Even then, I am not fooling myself that large numbers want to come but can't make it. This is an unusual thing. But we are undaunted. A regular group of up to a dozen guys has been going in and singing the psalms. We keep the door open and sing loud enough so that it floats down the corridor for the wards to hear. They are always surprised at the effort we make to sing well on their behalf and in order to praise God. It has been gratifying to hear how readily those who come, many who have never been to any Office before, can sing with us, and want to. We are singing in the vernacular so that any visitor can understand and join in. Nevertheless the tones are modal and have the feel of the plainchant tradition and this I think draws them in. (They were developed for the liturgy at the college).

I am not usually the sort for public prayer. I wouldn't go out and sing in public, in this way if I didn't feel that we have is is beautiful and accessible and fits naturally with the language  I have done processions in public before, cringing with embarrassment at the songs we are singing and having to offer it up as a penance in order to keep doing it. Unlike those, I am happy to sing these in a in the range that is natural to me. They feel vigorous and masculine, yet pious and respectful of God, so we hope promoting the right internal disposition. We are doing this for soldiers after all.

For any who are interested we did some very recordings of what we have been singing (the recordings below). Some are in unison and some are harmonised.

Although I would love to see this tested, I can't comment on whether or not it measurably reduces the stress levels of heart patients, but regardless I am happy that this is benefitting these people and this community in ways that cannot be measured. I make the point to the students who come along, that one thing we can be certain of is that this is a sacrifice that is worth making. We jokingly call ourselves a crack squad from the 'L-team' (L for liturgy!)

I would like to finish by acknowedging how gracious and positive the hospital staff and the priests and ministers of various denominations at the hospital have been towards us, in allowing us to come and offering personal encouragment.

Here is the Our Father we sang (which was originally composed by Paul Jernberg, Thomas More College's Composer in Residence for his St Philip Neri Mass)

...and the Magnificat sang:

as you listen to these, try to remember they are not professional recordings. They are recorded on a cell phone by a group of amateurs. One of the great things about Paul's arrangements is that someone who sings as badly as me can learn my part and sing it.



The Music of Roman Hurko and the Principle of Noble Accessibility

Below is some new music written by Roman Hurko, a Byzantine Catholic. It is the Our Father from his Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, which has recently come to my attention.I have written a couple of times on the importance that I place on the reestablishing our traditions of art and music as living traditions in which there is a dynamic creativity that communicates to people today. We are looking for a popular culture that does not compromise on its principles. The phrase that seems to summarise this idea is 'noble accessibility'.My first reaction to the music of Hurko was that although I like it, might not correspond to the principle of noble accessibility. I can't imagine many congregations being able to sing this - it is just too difficult. It was my colleague Paul Jernberg a choral music specialist and himself a composer who introduced me to this music. In some ways this is surprising, for Paul is adamant that this principle of noble accessibility must be present in liturgical music. So I asked him about to tell more about this. The points he made in response are given below, but to summarise, he told me that for him there are two aspects accessibility. First is one that means that the music is simple enough for an average congregation can sing - the St Michael Prayer that I recently featured comes into this category. The second emphasises the meditative aspect of liturgical music - it might be so difficult to sing that only the choir can handle it, but it must something that the ordinary congregation can listen to easily and in the right way. All of this without compromising on its beauty. Here is what he wrote:

• The noble accessibilty that needs to characterize all Catholic sacred music, is important both in congregational and choral music, each of which has an important place in the Liturgy.

• Whereas music composed for the congregation needs to be “singable”, music composed for choirs needs to be accessible to the minds and hearts of the congregation as they hear it! It needs to communicate in a musical language that the faithful can readily receive, and which through its beauty and sacred character lifts hearts to the transcendent.

• Yes, there might be some formation needed here, as those unaccustomed to the tradition of Sacred Music adjust to its contemplative nature. However, one should not be required to undergo extensive musical training in order to appreciate music in the Liturgy! The formation required will be more theological and spiritual, rather than musical.

• The choral music of Roman Hurko, composed for choirs singing the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Eastern Catholic Rite), is an eminent example of this noble accessibility in choral music. His melodies, harmonies and rhythms are composed in such a way as to communicate to the common man, a profound beauty that lifts the heart and mind to prayer.

This aspect of listening as well as singing is important in the liturgy. Some settings or parts emphasize the vocal participation of the congregation; others, such as polyphonic settings in the Western tradition, call forth the more meditative participation of the congregation. Antiphonal singing, an important aspect of both Eastern and Western liturgical traditions, engages us in both ways. Sometimes this involves having the congregation divided into two groups, while at other times the antiphonal principle is manifested through the choir alternating with congregation. In the latter case, it is appropriate for the choir to sing more ornately beautiful and challenging settings, corresponding to their musical abilities, while the congregation sings simpler arrangements.'

As an artist I am always thinking about the parallels between sacred art and music. In the case of art participation is not a requirement - we don't expect everybody to be painting in church, that would be art therapy! But the other aspect of accessibility does apply. It is down to artists to work within the traditional forms in such a way that ordinary church goers will respond easily and willingly so that it raises their hearts and minds to God.

Roman Hurko's website is; and a link through to his iTunes page, for anyone who would like to download his music, is here.

Paul Jernberg is Composer-in-Residence at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Merrimack, NH.

Why Create New Art or Music When There's Plenty of Good Old Stuff Around?

For me a living tradition in art (and the argument would apply equally to music), is not simply one that preserves and hands on the great work past, it is one also that reapplies its core principles to create new art or music. But one might ask, why bother? With the standard of reproductions in art now, you could have a Fra Angelico in your church at a fraction of a cost of commissioning an original work of art. Similarly, there is so much chant and polyphony already composed, you could have something different but of the highest quality every Sunday for several lifetimes.

Here's why I think it is important. First is variety. It just seems a terrible shame to think of any tradition being a closed door in which there is no possibility of something new. For all that we have much to draw from already, to see how mankind under inspiration can still create something previously unimagined is a wonderful thing. The seemingly limitless variety that is possible, points, I think to the limitless well of grace that is the ultimate source of that inspiration.Second is that we need new expressions in order to attract more people. All the artistic traditions of the Church reflect timeless principles and so have something within them to which every person, potentially, can respond. Traditional chant and polyphony, or great art even in reproduction or original but pastiche, still has the power to touch many people and draw them into the Faith. The timeless principles that unite all good art and music will always have an effect. I speak from personal experience: I was bowled over by my experience of hearing Palestrina at the London Oratory. With a live performance in unity with liturgy, this was old music, but still fresh and new to my ear.Nevertheless, a living tradition will be one in which there are artists and composers who are constantly creating new work, without ever compromising on the core principles that define it. In doing so it will reflect and speak to its time and its place in a unique way. When the timeless and the time-bound aspects are in harmony, you have the most powerful effect. When this harmony is present it will appeal to most people. For many, I believe, it will stimulate into life that part that that can respond otentially to all other traditional forms. Once this is done then there is every chance that many who previously would have been unaffected by centuries old chant or polyphony will now respond. This is the special value of 'new traditional' art and music.If there is an imbalace in the timeless and time-bound aspects (or just a poor attempt at both), you risk creating pastiche on the one hand, or sentimental imitations of modern secular fashion on the other. Iconography demonstrates this perfectly. Aidan Hart, my teacher always says that those who understand iconography well can look at any icon without knowing anything about it, place to a particular geographical location and to a time period within 50-100 years. What is changing here is not the principles that define the tradition - these never waver; but how they are applied. This is how, for example, we can distinguish between Russian icons and Greek icons and within the Russian style Gregory Kroug and Andrei Rublev.

Sometimes the modern expression is not something never seen before, but a re-emergence of an old style, that has its time again. Fra Angelico is an artist who seems to be liked a great deal at the moment, and so any artist who could capture the qualities of his art would do well I think. Having said this, however closely we follow a past form, that time-bound aspect will never be absent altogether. Each artist is a unique individual and even the most cloistered monk will susceptible to the culture of his day. This individual aspect of the work cannot be quashed altogether. The task for the artist, or composer, is to direct it so that it conforms to what is good, true and beautiful. To certain extent this will be an intuitive process but creativity is directed by conscious reason as well. When the artist is responding to a clearly defined need then this latter aspect comes into play particularly.

I think the music of composer Paul Jernberg does this. You can hear is music here. We have been collaborating in developing music for the liturgy of the hours at Thomas More College for the last year and we will be working together at the summer retreat at the college in August where the aim is to teach people how to sing it. What is so great about this is first, how appealing it is and second how easy it is to sing at a satisfying level. This is what the ideal of noble simplicity is all about.

Here's another example. We had a priest who visited regularly and even if celebrating a novus ordo would always lead us in reciting the St Michael prayer after Mass. He used to turn to the tabernacle as he said it. I thought that it would be great if we had an image to focus on, so I painted one for the back wall. Then I then asked Paul if he could come up with an arrangement so that we could sing the prayer. Very quickly he adapted a traditional Byzantine tone to it. In this case there is minimal change musically, because he felt it didn't need it.

This arrangement has been very popular. The students have picked up on it and completely on their own instigation now sing it in four-parts harmony every night after Compline. Dr William Fahey has asked that we sing it after each Mass in response to the attacks on the Church in connection with the new healthcare legislation. Dr Tom Larson, who teaches the choir at the college is so enthusiastic about it that took this up to his men's group in Manchester, New Hampshire. Within 15 minutes they learnt it and enjoying it so much they decided to record it on a mobile phone. Next day it was up on YouTube, and this is what you see here. As you listen to it remember that this is a cell-phone recording of an amateur choir of 5 men of varying ability (including myself on bass - right at the bottom in more ways than one) singing it virtually unrehearsed.

Paul Jernerg has just been made Composer in Residence at Thomas More College. He will be composing music for us to showcase and visiting to give master classes in performance and for those who have the ability, composition. One of the things we have asked him to do is to compose a Vespers of St Michael the Archangel and I can't wait to hear it.


The Logos of Sacred Music, by Paul Jernberg

A composer tells us his approach in composing works that are fresh and new, while reflecting the timeless principles that constitute sacred music. Listen also to his beautiful newly composed Mass.  The following is an essay written by the composer Paul Jernberg. Paul has composed his Mass of St Philip Neri for the new translation of the Mass. In the essay below he discusses the principles that guide him in composition and which enable him to compose new music in accordance with timeless principles. We have been singing his compositions at Thomas More College - I have been working with him in creating psalm tones for the vernacular that are modal and so sit within the tradition.This has enabled us to chant, for example, the traditional Latin proper for communion and then a communion meditation in English without any sense of disunity.

What characterises both the compositions you can hear here and the music he has composed for us at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is how simple it is to perform, yet how good it sounds. He really has hit that standard of noble simplicity - music that is so beautiful that you want to sing it, and so simple that you can. Furthermore, there is not even a hint of sentimentality in his music.

I have punctuated the text of his essay with links through to audio of the St Philip Neri Mass so that you can pause and listen as you read along. The attached audio files have been recorded by members of the Parish Choir of St. John's in Clinton, MA and of the Chorus of Trivium School, a Catholic high-school in Lancaster, MA (plus myself and Dr Tom Larson from Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and an additional member of Tom's amateur chant and polyphony choir, the Schuler Singers). Please bear in mind as you listen to them that they are not professional recordings and precisely because it is amateur singers that you are listening to it represents an endeavor to incarnate the ideal articulated in the essay on the Parish level:

The Logos of Sacred Music

An introduction to the Mass of Saint Philip Neri


The composition of this work has been my response to the need for a fitting musical setting of the Ordinary from the new English translation of the Roman Missal. In the creation of this music 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 it possess a noble accessibility will allow it to be received into the hearts of ordinary people of good will throughout the English-speaking world.

Sacred Character

Music in the Liturgy of the Catholic Church should by its nature have a distinct identity that is contemplative, vibrant, and rooted in ancient tradition. In the perennial Catholic vision of the Liturgy, all of its sensible elements are intended to provide a sacred space that is worthy to welcome the sacramental Divine Presence. This intention would seem to surpass the reasonable scope of ordinary human creativity, as the finite aspires to welcome the infinite, the creature to create a worthy space for the Creator. And yet, both faith and aesthetic sensitivity perceive that an inspired tradition has indeed developed over the course of the centuries – including aspects such as architecture, visual arts, and music - which has fulfilled this task in a marvelous way.

In the West, this inspired musical tradition has as its foundation a vast repertoire commonly known as Gregorian Chant. Any composer who wishes to approach the task of composing music for the Roman Catholic Liturgy in a serious way, should thus be thoroughly versed in the study and performance of this repertoire, realizing the littleness of his own efforts in relation to the greatness of the tradition. The composer should also seek to understand and apply those musical principles of Gregorian Chant that have allowed it to serve its purpose so aptly. As expressed by the authors of the post-conciliar Church document, Musicam Sacram:

Musicians will enter on this new work with the desire to continue that tradition which has furnished the Church, in her divine worship, with a truly abundant heritage. Let them examine the works of the past, their types and characteristics so that “new forms may in some way grow organically from forms that already exist,” and the new work will form a new part in the musical heritage of the Church, not unworthy of its past.[1]

And furthermore:

Let them produce compositions which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music, not confining themselves to works which can be sung only by large choirs, but providing also for the needs of small choirs and for the active participation of the entire assembly of the faithful.[2]

Along these same lines Pope Benedict XVI recently pointed out:

It is possible to modernize holy music, but this cannot happen outside the great traditional path of the past, of Gregorian chants and sacred polyphonic choral music… [3]

What are the “qualities proper to genuine sacred music” that need to be followed attentively in the composition and performance of new works? This is in fact a crucial question which requires much more space than the scope of this introduction would allow, in order to be answered adequately. However, a few first principles can be briefly articulated here:

  • The human voice is always the primary instrument, and often the only instrument. Being an integral part of man, rather than his exterior creation, the voice has a unique capacity for intimate expression of the depth and breadth of human feeling and experience. It is equally accessible to all people and all cultures. When the organ or other instruments are used, it is for the purpose of supporting or enhancing, rather than dominating or supplanting, the voice.
  • The rhythm of the music is united with the natural rhythm of the given sacred text, either through assuming the textual rhythm as its own, or by engaging in a gentle interplay with it. Any strong metrical or rhythmic effects that might overshadow the meaning of the text are avoided. With a few exceptions, Gregorian chant is characterized by a non-metered rhythm that allows great freedom in respecting the meaning and flow of the Word.
  • Melodic lines and harmonies are carefully chosen to evoke dispositions and emotions that are appropriate to liturgical worship and interiority, and which steer clear of secular associations. This distinction is not meant in any way to demean the multifarious beauty that belongs to secular life and art, or to deny its transcendent dimension, but rather is meant to facilitate the flourishing of each - the sacred and the profane[4], divine worship and social intercourse - in its own proper time and place.

Authentic Artistry

It does not do justice to the nature of the Liturgy for its music to be merely correct, even according to the above-mentioned principles. In order for sacred music to reach its full stature, composers and musicians need to exercise true artistry, in which knowledge, inspiration, and skill all play a vital role.

Many may object here, saying that liturgical music is meant for “prayer rather than performance,” implying that prayer, being a humble, intimate communication with God, excludes or minimizes the need for artistry, which by its nature demands a focus on the externals of music-making. There is an element of truth in this, namely, that the relational dimension of the Liturgy is of immeasurably more importance than the artistic dimension. However, it is this very relational dimension which should motivate and empower composers and musicians as they devote all of their skill to create something as beautiful as possible for God, the Beloved. In addition, a certain level of artistry in composition and choral performance provides a foundation from which the other participants in the Liturgy can more fully interiorize the meaning of the words and more prayerfully join in the singing of their parts.

In the context of sacred music, compositional artistry will be manifested in gracefulness and dignity   of melodic line, harmony, and dynamics, rather than in striking effects or grandiosity. The artistic performance of this music by cantors and choirs requires, among other things, diligent attention to precision of pitch and rhythm, natural resonance, lively and sensitive dynamics, appropriate tone quality, and clear diction. Qualities such as interiority and unity of sound among voices should preclude any harsh effects or displays of virtuosity, however appropriate these latter might be in    other contexts.

Composers and performers of all kinds of music bear witness to the fact that the phenomenon of inspiration is a mysterious but important element in their creative process. How much more should the composer of sacred music, conscious of the dignity of the Liturgy, prayerfully seek that inspiration which will give his music a living, joyful, peaceful identity, beyond the mere notes on the musical score? When this gift is skillfully cultivated, choirs and congregations can in their turn participate in an experience of inspired beauty, which is directed toward the praise and glory of God.

Noble Accessibility

One of the clearest messages from the Second Vatican Council to composers of sacred music, was the need to create music that would facilitate the “full, conscious, and active” participation of the faithful:

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else, for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit…[5]

How can music help to achieve this goal, while faithfully maintaining the other foundational qualities listed above? On the one hand, unceasing and genial efforts should be made to help priests and lay people to re-discover the great traditions of sacred music that are in fact their rightful patrimony. Too often this heritage has been ignored or rejected on the false premise that it is no longer relevant to modern man. On the other hand, the legitimate development of culture, as well as the authorized use of the vernacular in the Liturgy, beg for the conception of worthy new music to accompany both Latin and translated Liturgical texts. And in order for this music to fulfill its purpose, it needs to be imbued with a noble accessibility that allows it to be not only admired, but also deeply welcomed  by “ordinary” people so as to become a fitting and authentic expression of their faith.

When this quest for full participation has been separated from the need for true sacred character and authentic artistry in liturgical music, as has often been the case over the decades since Vatican II, the results have been deeply disturbing for those sensitive to the musical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of the Mass. As world-renowned maestro Riccardo Muti recently observed:

The history of great music was determined by what the Church did. When I go to church and I hear four strums of a guitar or choruses of senseless, insipid words, I think it's an insult… I can't work out how come once upon a time there were Mozart and Bach and now we have little sing-songs. This is a lack of respect for people's intelligence. [6]

This interview, in which Muti praised the efforts of Pope Benedict to promote a renewal of sacred music, was a tremendous encouragement to me in my composition of the Mass of St. Philip Neri. He speaks authoritatively on behalf of all great musicians and all devout Catholics when he pleads for the renewal of sacred music in the Church’s Liturgy. At the same time he understands the need for accessibility:

Rather than obsess over creating masterpieces, contemporary composers should “prepare the future for a new language in the world of music - not one but several languages - that are more closely connected to the needs of people.” [7]

In searching for compositional models that do integrate sacred character, authentic artistry, and noble accessibility, I have in fact found two wonderful sources of inspiration. The first is the harmonized liturgical chant of the Russian Orthodox Church, developed by composers such as Smolensky, Chesnokov, and Rachmaninoff. The second is the music of Jacques Berthier written for the ecumenical Taizé Community in France, which has brought an elegant simplicity and power to the singing of sacred texts by very large groups of people. In each of these cases, composers with highly sophisticated skills have deliberately set aside the kind of harmonic and rhythmic complexity appropriate to the concert hall, in order to bring intense depth and beauty to simpler forms that thus become nobly accessible to “common” people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Both of these sources have been my constant companions in the composition of this musical setting of the Mass.

St. Philip Neri

I have chosen to name this work in honor of Philip Neri, because his life and apostolate, which effected such a great spiritual and cultural renewal in 16th century Rome, have also been an ongoing inspiration to me and the choirs that I have had the privilege of directing. Through his Oratory movement, which combined prayer, study, works of mercy, joyful fellowship, and the cultivation of the arts, he became a patron to great composers such as Palestrina and Animuccia. Influenced by the contagious holiness and joy of St. Philip, they were able to create a magnificent new repertoire of sacred polyphony, rooted in the ancient tradition of Gregorian chant, but also responding to the new needs and inspirations of their day. My hope and prayer is that the Mass of St. Philip Neri might be one small flame in a similarly authentic renewal of sacred music, faith and culture that is so needed in the Catholic Church today!

Paul Jernberg                                                                                                                                             Clinton, Massachusetts                                                                                                                 February 24, 2012

You shall sprinkle me, listen here

Lord, have mercy, listen here

Glory to God, listen here


Mystery of Faith

Holy, Holy, Holy

Lamb of GodLink

[1] Musicam Sacram, Art. 59; quote from Sacrosanctum Concilium, Art. 23

[2] Sacrosanctum Concilium, Art. 121

[3] Comments by Pope Benedict during a concert conducted by Dominico Bartolucci, June 24, 2006.

[4] The word ‘profane’ here is used in its first meaning, which is ‘outside the temple’ (Gr. pro - fanus).

[5] Sacrosanctum Concilium, Art. 14

[6] Riccardo Muti interview with ANSA.IT, May 27, 2011

[7] John von Rhein interview with Muti in the Chicago Tribune, January 29, 2012