KSMQ Public Television in Austin, Minnesota, recently aired the documentary “On Eagle’s Wings – Minnesota’s Sacred Music,” featuring St. Thomas artist-in-residence Father Jan Michael Joncas.
The one-hour production explores the dramatic shift in Christian sacred music for worship beginning in the 1960s. Minnesota is home to a significant number of highly accomplished church composers and musicians who have helped bring this new music to many denominations. According to Joncas, prior to this revival traditional church music was often drawn from bodies of work created in late antiquity and the medieval period (Gregorian chant), as well as the 16th century Reformations (congregational hymnody and polyphony), with particular developments marking each denomination.
Composer of the well-known hymn “On Eagle’s Wings,” Joncas explained how the needs of the church were changing and how he and his colleagues worked to fill the void. “We tried to provide liturgical music that would help the church pray while at communal worship, music and texts that were grounded in the Bible, influenced by the heritage, but also open to new insights, issues and styles arising in the modern world,” he said.
Other featured composers and text writers include Marty Haugen, David Haas, Sister Delores Dufner, Daniel Kantor and Lynn Trapp.