San Antonio, TX - Sacred Music Lecture
  • Sacred Music Lecture By Dr. Christopher McElroy

    Saturday, November 5, 2016
    10:00-11:30 a.m.
    The Atonement Academy
    15415 Red Robin Road
    San Antonio, TX 78255

    Musician and theologian, DR. CHRISTOPHER MCELROY (Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, UK), will present a lecture entitled “Sing, choirs of angels: Sacramental imagination and the Thesaurus Musicae sacrae.” The lecture will be held in the school library and is open to the public. Sponsoring partners of this event include the Alamo Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church.

    In an encounter with the Priests of the Diocese of Rome in Lent 2015, Pope Francis stressed the purpose of the liturgy as being to help the faithful enter into God’s mystery and to experience the wonder of encountering Christ. People should feel the wonder and allure “that the apostles felt when they were called, invited. It attracts – wonder attracts – and it lets you reflect,” the Pope went onto say.

    The Treasury of Sacred Music (TSM) spoken of in article 114 of Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), the liturgical constitution of Vatican II, has all but been ignored by the vast majority of parishes and cathedrals worldwide. Whilst on the face of it this might variously be put down to aggiornamento, a desire to distance from pre-conciliar practice or a belief that choral music in the liturgy and actuosa participatio are not compatible, this presentation will argue that the problem runs deeper than that, and is at its heart, one of theological aesthetics. The lecture will propose that by understanding the role of the TSM in the liturgy through the category of theological aesthetics, we will be able to support the teaching of SC 114.

    Dr. McElroy will propose that liturgical music is not simply a model to be followed, but a mystagogical encounter with the form of beauty which takes place over an extended period of time and which seeks to form us sacramentally in our relationship with the world. Whilst the notion of ‘Catholic Imagination’ is alive and well in the fields of literature and visual art, it is rarely explored as related to choral music in the liturgy. This presentation will discuss unlocking the arts in worship.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact event organizer Dr. Jennifer Seighman:


    Presenter Biography:

    Christopher McElroy was born in Liverpool and educated at the city’s Bluecoat School. He moved on to study at Huddersfield and Liverpool Universities graduating BMus and MMus respectively. During this time, he held organ scholarships at Wakefield, Leeds and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedrals.

    After graduating with his Master’s degree Christopher spent four years living and working on the East Coast of the USA holding the post of Director of Music at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, New Jersey. During this time, he established the churches noted children’s choir programme, and also founded the concert series ‘Music at Immaculate’ which featured internationally known artists and ensembles.

    In September 2004 Christopher returned to England to take up the appointment as Assistant Diocesan Director of Music for the Diocese of Leeds. During this time, he founded and directed the Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme, the largest church based programme of choral music for young people in the United Kingdom. In addition to managing this programme, Christopher was the Assistant Director of Music at Leeds Cathedral, conducting the choirs and playing the organ at the daily celebration of Mass and Vespers.

    As an organist and conductor Christopher broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio, he appears on several CD’s and has performed recitals and concerts at venues in the UK, Europe and the USA. His choirs have won medals and awards in several competitions, including the World Choir Games (Graz, Austria: 2008) the National Festival of Music for Youth (Birmingham, England: 2009) and the North Wales Choral Festival (Conwy, Wales: 2011)

    As an academic, Christopher was awarded a PhD from Liverpool University for his thesis on the reception of Vatican II here in England & Wales. He teaches on the MA in Sacred Music at Liverpool Hope University, has published several articles and regularly leads workshops and seminars in the field of liturgical music.

    In January 2012 Christopher returned to his home city of Liverpool to take up the position of Director of Music at the Metropolitan Cathedral. He trains and directs the professional choir on a daily basis in services and rehearsals in addition to overseeing the wider music life of the Cathedral. In 2012, Christopher directed the world première (and subsequent broadcast première on BBC R3) of Roxana Panufnik’s ‘Joy at the Sound’ drawn from the Choirbook for the Queen. The Cathedral Choir, under Christopher’s direction, toured to Rome in 2014, singing for the Holy Father at a Papal Mass in St Peter’s Basilica and singing services in other notable venues throughout the city.

    In July 2014 Christopher received the award of Doctor in Philosophy from the University of Liverpool for his thesis: ‘The Treasury of Sacred Music: A Hermeneutical Investigation to the Reception of Chapter Six of Sacrosanctum Concilium in England.’

    Christopher is currently working towards a new book looking at how liturgical music might more profitably benefit from dialoguing with a wide variety of partners including eschatology, cosmology, doxology, imagination and the three transcendentals: beauty, goodness and truth. This book seeks to address the weakness in many contemporary theologies of liturgical music which treat liturgical music in a very narrow, over rationalistic and functionalist manner.

    Christopher is a member of the ISM, the Cathedral Organists Association and currently serves as Chair of the Conference of Cathedral Directors of Music which brings together Music Directors of Roman Catholic Cathedrals across the UK and Ireland.

    Outside of music and academia Christopher has held a season ticket at Everton FC for many years, and is an avid long distance runner with Mossley Hill AC running his first marathon in 2016!
  • Mystagogical, indeed!
    That is the dimension of sacred music that simply does not exist in the minds of too many Catholics, clerk and lay alike. They should want to 'go there' - but there are few, very few, who could even point the way.
  • rollingrj
    Posts: 347
    Plenary speaker at Colloquium 2017?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,153
    Will there be a live webcast? I won't be able to go (will either be getting ready to have or recovering from rotator cuff surgery), but would love to listen to, watch it.
  • Great question. Yes we will stream a live webcast for those who can not attend next Saturday. I'll post the link here in the coming week.
  • We look forward to welcoming Dr. Christopher McElroy to San Antonio tomorrow for his lecture on the treasury of sacred music and its theological implications in the liturgy. We'll have refreshments at 10:00 a.m. followed by Chris's lecture. Hope to see you there! For those unable to attend in person, we will have a live webcast starting around 10:15 a.m. tomorrow. Please click the link below any time after that to access the video.
  • Thanks very much... enjoying the lecture now.
  • I'm sure that this was eloquent.
    Sadly, I missed hearing it.
    Will it be possible to hear a replay?
  • Yes, the video is still available to watch anytime.
  • Heath
    Posts: 934
    All the above links are dead; jseighman, is this lecture archived in another place now? Thanks!