An Introduction to the Church’s Documents on Music

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In this course you will learn the principles of liturgical music as requested and explained in the official documents of the Church, beginning with Pope Pius X's groundbreaking 1903 motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini and ending with the 2007 American bishops' document Sing to the Lord. Discussed throughout are the fundamental questions of music as sacramental revealer of the song of heaven and the relationship between music and active participation. Take this course on your own schedule and watch the lectures on demand with no expiration date. 

A beginner’s guide to what the Church teaches about music in the sacred liturgy

Taught by Dr. Denis McNamara

Dr. Denis McNamara is Associate Professor of Sacramental Aesthetics and Academic Director at the Liturgical Institute. He holds a BA in the History of Art from Yale University and a PhD in Architectural History from the University of Virginia, where he concentrated his research on the study of ecclesiastical architecture with Richard Guy Wilson and Carroll William Westfall.  

Dr. McNamara makes a specialty of bridging the gap between the Church’s great artistic tradition and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. He has also done groundbreaking research on scriptural understandings of architecture and the sacramental meaning of the classical architectural tradition.  

Watch the first 5 minutes of the course for FREE

Benjamin Frederick

Director of Music Saint Joseph Seminary College St. Benedict, Louisiana 

“In recent decades, much ink has been spilled over ‘what the Church says’ about sacred music, and it can be difficult for a Catholic in the 21st century to sift through all of the differing views. Denis McNamara offers a refreshing message: it’s not that complicated! In his series of lectures entitled ‘An Introduction to the Church’s Documents on Liturgical Music,’ Dr. McNamara demonstrates the consistency in the Church’s teaching on music in the liturgy, from Pope Pius X, through the Second Vatican Council, to the present day. These lectures provide the viewer with a much-needed foundation in liturgical music, and it is presented in a way that is accessible and engaging. I will be recommending this as a resource for my students, my colleagues, or anyone who wants to learn more about music in the liturgy.”

Tim Horneman

Parish Music Director Downers Grove, Illinois

“As a pastoral musician for more than two decades, I’ve learned it’s good to know what we’re doing as liturgists and parish musicians, but it’s more important to know why we do what we do. Because of that, I am very glad I took this course. In just a few hours, Professor McNamara cheerfully and effortlessly guides us through the Church’s approach to music and urges us toward thoughtful liturgies that both honor God and edify the faithful. Any pastoral musician, whether novice or experienced, will find a font of invaluable information to help unite their work more closely with the Church and, in turn, better serve the people of God at Mass.”  

Parish Music Director and Catholic School Music Teacher


Buy this course now for $249

Are you ready to study the Church’s liturgical life in an atmosphere that is rigorously academic and deeply prayerful?

At the Liturgical Institute students enjoy a mix of intense study and research; invigorating lectures and discussions; and active intelligent participation in the Church’s liturgical life with daily celebration of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, all with an eye toward the renewal of the Church.

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