Independent Study on Liturgical Music Aesthetics

Fall Semester, 2006

3:45 PM – 4:45 PM

Fr. Jan Michael Joncas



Proposed Course Outline:


T 12 Sep: Introduction and Overview


Homework: Identify 5 central questions for research in liturgical music aesthetics


T 26 Sep: Exploring Aesthetics


Required Reading: “Aesthetics”, “Music, aesthetics of” in the on-line Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Recommended Reading:

  • Kivy, Peter ed. The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics 2004
  • Arthur Danto, The Abuse of Beauty: Aesthetics and the Concept of Art. 2003
  • Korsmeyer, Carolyn ed. Aesthetics: The Big Questions 1998
  • Goldblatt, David and Brown, Lee ed. Aesthetics: A Reader in the Philosophy of the Arts 1997
  • Bender, John and Blocker, Gene Contemporary Philosophy of Art: Readings in Analytic Aesthetics 1993
  • Władysław Tatarkiewicz, History of Aesthetics, 3 vols. (1–2, 1970; 3, 1974), The Hague, Mouton.
  • _____.  A History of Six Ideas: an Essay in Aesthetics, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1980.
  • Eduard Hanslick, The Beautiful in Music, trans. Gustav Cohen, New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1957.

T 10 Oct: Exploring Liturgy


Required Reading:


  • Metzger, Marcel.  History of the liturgy: the major stages.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1997.


  • Mitchell, Nathan.  Liturgy and the Social Sciences.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999.


  • “Definition of Liturgy” in Vagaggini, Cipriano.  Theological Dimensions of the Liturgy.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1959 -.


Recommended Reading: appropriate articles in:


  • The Study of Liturgy.  Rev. ed. Ed. Cheslyn Jones et al.  London: SPCK / New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992.


  • The New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship.  Ed. Paul Bradshaw.  Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.


  • The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship.  Ed. Peter Fink.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1990.


T 24 Oct: Exploring Music


Required Reading: “Music”, “Philosophy of Music” in on-line New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians


Recommended Reading:


Liturgy and Music: Lifetime Learning.




T 7 Nov: Exploring Liturgical Music


Required Reading: Joncas, Jan M.  From Sacred Song to Ritual Music: Twentieth-Century Understandings of Roman Catholic Worship Music.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1997.


Recommended Reading:


Liturgy and Music: Lifetime Learning.



T 21 Nov: Exploring Liturgical Aesthetics


Required Reading: John Witvliet’s Survey of Liturgical Aesthetics in Liturgy Journal (Notre Dame)


Recommended Reading:


Saliers, Don.  Worship Come to Its Senses


Lathrop, Gordon.


T 5 Dec: Exploring Liturgical Music Aesthetics


Required Reading: Joncas, Jan M.  “Core Questions in Liturgical Music Aesthetics” Pastoral Music


N.B. Final Paper due at class time.



Learning Assessment:


1)      For each session, the student will prepare a written summary of the required reading(s), indicating a) the central assertions of the text; b) how the central assertions of the text relate to other course reading and discussion; c) what questions for further research the student has.


2)      A final paper (8-10 pages, double-spaced, using a font no smaller than 12 pt, employing standard American academic English vocabulary, spelling, grammar and syntax) offering an aesthetic assessment of a single piece of liturgical music, explicitly informed by the explorations engaged in throughout the semester.  The paper should be submitted in electronic format as a .doc file and sent to  The paper is due at class time on 5 December 2006.