Sacred Music

Sacred Music is the official quarterly journal of the Church Music Association of America, and the oldest continously published journal of music in North America. It is the essential resource for every Church musician, professional or amateur, who is interested in the restoration of the sacred in Catholic liturgical life.

Sacred Music is a continuation of Caecilia, published by the Society of St. Caecilia since 1874, and The Catholic Choirmaster, published by the Society of St. Gregory of America since 1915. It is published quarterly by CMAA

"The greatest need of liturgy today is the restoration of the sense of the sacred," writes William Mahrt in his opening editorial to the Spring 2006 issue of Sacred Music (Volume 133, Number 1).

The CMAA is pleased to offer the following full issues for download

Volume 133.1
Volume 133.2
Volume 133.3
Download flyer.

Other selected articles in HTML:

If you are interested in participating in the current revival of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony in Catholic liturgy, you need to join the Church Music Association of American and receive its flagship journal Sacred Music.

With writers such as William Mahrt, Fr. Robert Skeris, Peter Phillips, Michael Lawrence, Kurt Poterack, Susan Treacy, and many other experts and reknown scholars and journalists, it contains the best analysis on topics important to Catholic musicians:

  • The method and theory of chant, with commentary on its theological and musical significance
  • The history and meaning of classics in the polyphonic repertoire
  • Important Church documents on music
  • Articles on starting scholas, and on dealing with the trials, tribulations, and triumphs in parish life
  • Commentary on the current state of music in parishes
  • Seasonal suggestions for music in liturgy
  • What the masters of sacred music from all times can teach us today
  • Reviews of new books, music, and recordings
  • News and events in the sacred music community

You will learn. You will be inspired. You will find the alternatives you have long sought in the world of Catholic music, and you will discover that you are not in this struggle alone.

You can receive Sacred Music by becoming a member of the CMAA with a donation of $30 per year. Who should join? Everyone interested in the cause of beautiful liturgy, including composers, organists, choir directors, cantors, and enthusiastic amateurs.

Or write the office of the Treasurer.

See submissions.

SM133.1Editor: Professor William Mahrt (Stanford University) (email)

Managing Editor: Jeffrey Tucker (St. Cecilia Schola) (email)

Editor-at-Large: Professor Kurt Poterack (Christendom College) (email)

Office of publication:
12421 New Point Drive
Harbour Cove,
Richmond, VA 23233
Make checks payable to the Church Music Association of America.

Music for review:
Susan Treacy
Ave Maria University
1025 Commons Circle
Naples, FL 34119

Membership in the Church Music Association of America includes a subscription to Sacred Music. Membership is $30 annually; student membership is $15 annually. Single copies are $5. Send membership/subscription fees, and changes of address to the membership, circulation and advertising office:

Office of the Treasurer:
William Stoops
12421 New Point Drive
Harbour Cove
Richmond, VA 23233

Submission information: Sacred Music accepts unsolicited submissions. We are interested in editorials on current topics in church music, analysis of current or historical documments, reports on parish life as it impacts pastoral liturgy, scholarly research concerning gregorian chant and classical polyphony, practical guides to sacred music, reports of concerts, reviews of new and older works, news reports, and letters to the editor. Send to (format: .doc, single spaced, embedded footnotes). Or fax: 240-363-6480


Submission Deadline

Typeset Deadline

Mailing Deadline


January 15

February 10

February 15


April 15

May 10

May 15


July 15

August 10

August 15


October 15

November 10

November 15


Additionaal Publications of the Catholic Church Music Associates
on behalf of the Church Music Association of America

1. J. OVERATH (ed.), Sacred Music and Liturgy Reform after Vatican II. Proceedings of the Fifth International Church Music Congress, Chicago/Milwaukee, 21/28 August 1966 (Rome 1969) xxiv + 290 pages, $ 10,--

2. Musicae Sacrae Meletemata
At its meeting on 21/22 September 1972, the Board of Directors of the CMAA began to lay plans for a series of scientific publications dealing with significant questions, problems and tasks in the areas of liturgy and church music. These plans matured and took concrete shape in succeeding discussions and conferences.

Two key words in contemporary theology are "dialogue" and "discussion," and many construe these words as meaning that all earlier theology -- to which in the XXIth century Vatican II itself already belongs -- is only a transitional point which has no place in a canon of faith which transcends the mere requirements of historical relevance. Hence the call to trace out all ecclesiastical and theological problems in a colloquium, quod sola caritate erga veritate ducatur (Gaudium et Spes 92), for which the participants are to prepare themselves that they partes suas agere possint (Gaudium et Spes 43). It is in such a love for the truth and for such discussion that both the legitimate liturgist and the competent Kapellmeister are trained, and they oblige both liturgist and Kapellmeister not only to regard their participation in this colloquium as one of their most important tasks in the Ecclesia hujus temporis, but also to conduct their side of the discussion rerum natura duce, ratione comite.

Hence, although its content remains flexible, the series Musicae Sacrae Meletemata in no way forms an official anthology. It commemorates no significant anniversary, nor does it appear, like the aged hag in a Keltic festival, as a sign that the king's powers are waning. It is rather presented as an attempt to help make more fruitful for our own day the ideal so aptly described by Michael von Faulhaber : "The soul of all culture is the culture of the soul."

Vol. 1 = R. SKERIS, Chroma Theou. On the origins and theological interpretation of the musical imagery used by the ecclesiastical writers of the first three centuries, with special reference to the image of Orpheus. (Altoetting 1976) 259 pages, $ 25,--

One hundred seventy consecutively numbered texts are presented to illustrate not only the use of musical images from the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Odes of Solomon through Eusebius of Caesarea, but also theological and philosophical attitudes, as well as the role of music in everyday life. These texts are carefully analysed with a view to clarifying their objective meaning in the light of the contexts in which they occur. Though the primary goal is the eludication of the of the theological purpose of the individual authors, the antique sources of the imagery are pointed out in detail, and an attempt is made to sketch out the beginnings of a long process of liturgical adaptation.

In addition to the abundant literary evidence presented, the book also contains a well-documented chapter discussing the relevant archaeological evidence, centring upon the figure of Orpheus in the catacombs and on early Christian sarcophagi, whereby a new interpretation of the of the Orpheus images is presented. The subject in all its aspects has been investigated with an unprecedented thoroughness : the author cites more than 70 classical and 600 modern authors in text and notes. In addition to several pages of illustrations, the book contains scriptural and patristic indexes along with indexes of the classical and modern authors cited. Already referred to as "a typical product of the Doelger school," the volume (written in English) will prove valuable not only to church musicians and liturgists but to church historians, patrologists, classical philologists and early Christian archaeologists as well.

Vol. 2 = R. SKERIS (ed. & tr.), Crux et Cithara. Selected essays on liturgy and sacred music translated and edited on the occasion of the seventieth birthday of Johannes Overath. (Altoetting 1983). 290 pages, $ 30,--

Thirty articles by theologians, canonists, composers and church musicians; includes an English translation of the reports read out to the Fathers of Vatican II before they voted upon key texts of Chapter Six in the Liturgy Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium (pages 169/83). Temporarily out of print.

Vol. 3 = R. SKERIS, Divini Cultus Studium. Studies in the theology of worship and of its music (Altoetting 1990) 245 pages, $ 20,--

Six studies in liturgical theology, eight hymnological studies, and a documentational supplement containing English translations of importsant addresses by Pope John Paul II, Cardinals Casaroli and Ratzinger, Abbot Jean Prou of Solesmes, and J, Overath.

Vol. 4 = R. SKERIS (ed.), Cum Angelis Canere. Essays on sacred music and pastoral liturgy in honour of Richard J. Schuler. (Saint Paul 1990) 416 pages, $ 20,--

Nineteen essays including "Some Reflections on 'Contemporary' Hymns" (Mary O. Hubley) and a documentary appendix containing six articles by R. J. Schuler, among them "A Chronicle of the Reform" (pages 349/416), a gold mine of relevant historical facts.

Vol. 5 = Laszlo DOBSZAY, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (Front Royal 2003) 217 pp., $ 24 postpaid.

This thought-provoking book from the pen of a musicologist and chant historian who is also a practicing church musician and conservatory professor, presents a unique perspective upon present-day liturgical questions which affect the Catholic church musician’s daily work in a fundamental way. Prompted by the growing dissatisfaction with the “new liturgy” introduced after (and not by) the last Council, the author analyses post-conciliar Catholic ritual worship as a liturgy, which is to say according to the proper nature of this special field of religious life, according to its own Eigengesetzlichkeit or specific inner laws.

The first five chapters treat such topics as the hymns of the Hours, Holy Week, the Divine Office, the chants of the Proprium Missae versus ‘alius cantus aptus,’ and the Lectionary and Kalendar. The last three essays treat the Tridentine movement and the “reform of the reform,” the high church/low church dichotomy in Catholic church music, and church music “at the crossroads,” on the example of Hungary.

At the beginning of the XXIth century it seems clear that there can be no understanding of the present parlous state of musica sacra in Catholic worship without understanding the intellectual pedigree of the “reform” which birthed it. This “reform” has its own intellectual pre-history, and in order for some of us to continue the search for improvements in the present situation, its origin and genesis must be properly delineated and understood. Diagnosis precedes prognosis. What this book offers, is a great essay in diagnosis. In many cases, the author’s insights deserve to be taken to heart by all concerned.

3. Music in Catholic Worship
A 2 CD set in memoriam Theodore Marier. $ 12,95 post free. Explains and demonstrates these topics : An Introduction to Sacred Music; The What and Why of Gregorian Chant; Polyphony Old and New; Good Hymns for Better Worship.