Pope Francis’ Mass to include music of Father Joncas

| September 18, 2015 | 0 Comments
Pope Francis will hear music by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis' Father Jan Michael Joncas when he presides at Mass in Phildelphia Sept. 27. CNS/Paul Haring

Pope Francis will hear music by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Father Jan Michael Joncas when he presides at Mass in Phildelphia Sept. 27. CNS/Paul Haring

Minnesota will have yet another connection to Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the United States  when music composed by Father Jan Michael Joncas is performed as part of the pope’s outdoor liturgy on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway Sept. 27.

Up to a million people are expected to attend Mass with the pope.

Father Jan Michael Joncas

Father Jan Michael Joncas

“Exultate, Justi,” a processional written to be played “stately and powerful,” was created by Father Joncas, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who is artist-in-residence and research fellow in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

“I was surprised, delighted and humbled to learn that a composition of mine would be used for one of the papal Masses in Philadelphia,” Father Joncas said. “Since it’s been around since 1998, I think people must have already heard it and used it in other celebrations.”

The cathedral-style composition’s refrain is sung in Latin, “Exultate Justi: Exultate justi in domino, in domino / Exultate justi cum magno gaudio,” meaning, “Exult, O just ones, in the Lord, in the Lord / Exult, O just ones, with great joy.” The verses are built on the canticle in 1 Timothy 3:16, with a cantor singing various epithets about Christ and the people responding: “Adoramus te,” or, “We adore you.”

Father Joncas said he hasn’t been told yet how the music will be used at the papal Mass.

“My suspicion is that it will be part of the prelude music before Mass,” he said. “I think it will probably be done as I composed it: for congregation, cantor, and SATB choir [soprano, alto, tenor, bass], accompanied by organ, two trumpets, two trombones, French horn and timpani.”

Exultate, Justi“Exultate, Justi” was commissioned by the Diocese of Helena, Montana, for use in their diocese for “festival” liturgies in their cathedral, especially ordinations and the Chrism Mass, Father Joncas said.

Renown for the popular “On Eagle’s Wings,” Father Joncas most recently has published companion hymn texts, “Within Our Hearts Be Born” for Advent and Christmas, and “We Contemplate the Mystery,” hynms for Lent and the Triduum.

The University of St. Thomas Newsroom contributed to this story.

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