Director of Sacred Music
or

Position title: Director of Sacred Music

Classification: Salaried -- Full time (40 hours per week)

Location: Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church

Reports to: Pastor (or someone delegated by pastor)

POSITION OBJECTIVE

The primary objective of this position is to maintain and grow a high-quality sacred music program at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish. This program is to be rooted in the sacred music tradition of the Church, most especially through Gregorian chant, polyphony, and to a lesser degree, hymnody.

GENERAL PARISH BACKGROUND

Our Lady of Good Counsel is a parish of the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph located in the Westport District in the heart of Kansas City, MO. Built in 1907, it is a beautiful church of traditional sacred architecture that seats roughly 300 people, and is home to a total weekend Mass attendance of 500-600 people. That number has grown significantly from an average of 300-400 on a weekend only three years ago. Currently the parish has a large and consistently growing number of young adults and especially young families. The average age of the parish, including children, is probably around 35-40 years old.

Over the past 20 years, the Our Lady of Good Counsel has become a place of liturgical beauty and reverence. We have over 20 boys regularly serving as altar servers at our Sunday Masses, make use of a communion rail for the distribution of Holy Communion, celebrate all of our liturgies exclusively ad orientem from a high altar, and make use of incense throughout the entire calendar year at our two largest Sunday liturgies (9:30am & 11:00am).

Additionally, we are the designated diocesan shrine to Divine Mercy & St. Faustina, and recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet after every Mass. There is a special love and devotion to Divine Mercy that has developed in the parish over 20+ years, initiated by long-time pastor Msgr. William Blacet, who passed away in June 2020 at 98 years old after having served as pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel from 1992-2017. Speaking of mercy, our daily 12pm Mass Mon-Fri welcomes 10-20 each day for confession.

Finally, the parish has given particular focus over the past several years to developing effective small group structures for married couples & individuals and a steadily growing “year-round” RCIA process, among other efforts. We seek to keep formal “ministries” at the parish at an absolute minimum, but formation and community at a maximum, so as to help parishioners fulfill their vocations of being witnesses to the faith in the home and in the world.

PARISH MUSIC BACKGROUND

Getting to the topic of music, Our Lady of Good Counsel boasts an excellent sacred music tradition stretching back 20+ years, with a choir that is accomplished in polyphony and a congregation that confidently (and joyfully!) sings at least one of the Gregorian Mass settings (Mass VIII). In the past two years, efforts have also been made to slowly introduce a second Gregorian Mass setting to the congregation (Mass XI).

The full Gregorian propers, chanted by the entire choir or a schola, have yet to be incorporated into the parish’s Sunday liturgy, but the person in this position would be expected to lead the choir in that direction, while maintaining excellent polyphony as well. At the moment, the current choirmaster chants, solo, the three proper gregorian antiphons in Latin during Mass, and the choir sings a motet after the Offertory Antiphon, and usually two more motets after the Communion antiphon. Hymns are typically used only for the entrance procession before reaching the sanctuary, while the recessional consists of a hymn followed by an organ postlude.

It is the pastor’s vision for Our Lady of Good Counsel to continue being a diocesan leader in sacred music, as has been the case over the past 20+ years. Concretely, this means growing the current choir, which numbers roughly fifteen singers, in size and ability. It also will mean forming an additional adult choir/schola and potentially a children’s schola as well. Because Our Lady of Good Counsel is home to a large homeschooling community, an expectation of the new choir director will also be to offer sacred music classes to homeschooling students during the week at the parish.

We have a traditional choir loft from which the choir and cantors sing, alongside an organ. For some quick specifications on the organ (and these are coming from someone with knowledge of sacred music, but not of organs… so the lingo might be off here), we have an electronic Rodgers 960DL, manufactured in 2000, comprised of three manuals and 76 stops. We are currently in the process of replacing circuit boards in the CPU after a power surge in December, 2019. Approximately 20 of the 76 stops are not working, although aside from that, the organ is largely functional.

PARISH YEARLY MUSIC RHYTHM

Currently the parish Mass schedule, and what the music director would be responsible for, looks like the following:

  • Saturdays
    • 9am Regular daily Mass
    • 4pm Sunday Vigil Mass (currently a low Mass with no music)
  • Sundays
    • 8:00am Organ + Cantor (potentially working towards a schola)
    • 9:30am Organ + full choir (no choir from Corpus Christi to Labor Day)
    • 11:00am Organ + cantor (working towards a schola)
  • Holy Days of Obligation, when falling Mon-Fri (if Sat, Mass is at 9:00am)
    • 12:00pm Organ + Cantor (ideally working towards a children’s schola)
    • 7:00pm Organ + Cantor (ideally working towards a schola)
  • Feast Days special to the parish (Mass times and musical accompaniment will vary)
    • St. Faustina (Oct 5)
    • St. John Paul II (Oct 22)
    • Our Lady of Good Counsel (Apr 26)
    • 5-6 feast days chosen for celebration of a Sung Mass in the extraordinary form (accompanied by organ and schola)
    • First Fridays (including exposition & benediction)

ESSENTIAL DUTIES:

  • Choral conducting
    • Recruit, train, rehearse, and conduct choir members for 2-3 choirs/scholas (Labor Day until Corpus Christi). Right now there is currently one choir, as mentioned above.
    • Conduct parish choir(s) for all major liturgies (Sundays,excluding summer, all Holy Days of Obligation, & Holy Week).
    • Recruit section leaders for the choir and additional instrumentalists if & when approved by pastor
  • Organ accompaniment
    • Prepare preludes, offertories, communion music, postludes, hymns, choral accompaniments, and Ordinary accompaniments for all three Sunday liturgies listed above.
    • Be available for weddings and funerals as needed
    • Coordinate current repair efforts as well as continued maintenance of the instrument.
  • Teaching
    • Teach children of all ages from the parish how to sing Gregorian chant and polyphony
    • Teach the adult members of the choir(s)/schola(s) how to sing sacred music, particularly Gregorian chant.
    • Coordinate with the pastor on other efforts in the formation of a parish community that values the sacred liturgy.
  • Administration
    • Communicating effectively via e-mail and phone with choir members, musicians, and pastor (or someone delegated by the pastor)
    • Compile and maintain a list of approved music for weddings & funerals, as well as musical guidelines for weddings and funerals.
    • Find substitute organists, cantors, and/or choirmasters when necessary.
    • Compiling and editing any leaflets or booklets that may be needed to assist the congregation with music.
  • Other
    • Fostering an atmosphere of reverence and decorum among choir members, primarily through one’s own example of proper worship of God during Mass.
    • Given the continued growth of the music program at OLGC, flexibility is needed regarding duties as the program grows.
    • Adequately preparing the parish for any significant changes for Mass via bulletin explanations, links to music on the website, etc.

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, ABILITIES

 

  • Choral conducting
    • Strong conducting skills, both in the areas of polyphony and Gregorian chant.
    • Ability to teach people, with no previous background, how to sing Gregorian chant.

 

  • Organ
    • Strong foundation in organ technique, with the ability to improvise, prepare and perform solo repertoire, accompany for choir and cantors, lead congregational hymns, and read 4-part polyphonic choral scores.

 

  • Other
    • Accurate and extensive knowledge of all Church documents pertaining to sacred music within the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite liturgy, and a working knowledge of other liturgical documents as well. This includes a good grasp of the principles found within, at minimum, the following:
      • Tra Le Sollecitudini (1903)
      • Musicae Sacrae (1955)
      • De Musica Sacra et Sacra Liturgia (1958)
      • Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963)
      • Musicam Sacram (1967)
    • Firm knowledge of the musical structure of the Mass, particularly the 18 Gregorian Mass settings found in the Graduale Romanum, and the role of the propers in the Mass.
    • Familiarity with the musical structure of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, or the willingness to learn. Currently Our Lady of Good Counsel celebrates Sung Masses in the extraordinary form on a select number of feast days throughout the year (around 5-6 times per year).

BASIC QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least two years of experience leading and conducting sacred music.
  • Minimum two years experience of organ playing, including experience accompanying chant.
  • Thorough knowledge of the musical structure of the Mass.
  • Undergraduate degree in music, musicology, vocal performance, organ performance, or another related field is preferred.

Note: All employees are required to comply with Diocesan Safe Environment requirements, which include a clear background check, signing the Ethics and Integrity in Ministry Code of Conduct, and completing Protecting God's Children training.

 

 

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