What’s your favorite sacred Christmas song? Does it stir your soul and move you to love our Lord more? There’s something about beauty that captures the heart in a powerful way.
John Morales spoke with the Very Rev. Fr. Joshua Caswell, pastor of St. John Cantius in Chicago, about the power of sacred Christmas music.
Fr. Caswell highlighted how sacred music, especially during Christmas, elevates our souls and connects us deeply to the birth of Jesus, our Savior. Recalling St. Augustine’s profound emotional response to church hymns, he emphasized how sacred music touches our hearts and aids in spiritual transformation. It’s not just about intellectual faith, but a heartfelt experience, manifesting especially in sacred music’s ability to reach out to everyone, including atheists and those estranged from the Church.
St. John Cantius, renowned for its sacred music, art, and liturgies, stands as a channel of hope in Chicago, drawing people closer to God through beauty. Fr. Caswell shared fascinating stories, including one about Prince Vladimir’s emissaries, who were mesmerized by the divine atmosphere at Hagia Sophia, leading to Christianity’s spread in Russia.
Discussing the Church’s 2000-year-old tradition of sacred music, from Gregorian chants to classic carols, Fr. Caswell revealed how these traditions continue to convert and inspire people today. He also shared the enchanting experience of Christmas Mass at St. John Cantius, where music and liturgy blend to create a heavenly atmosphere, with an hour of carols leading up to Midnight Mass.
Fr. Caswell’s favorite carol, “What Child is This,” beautifully captures the mystery of Christ’s birth and sacrifice. He also mentioned the annual festival of nine lessons and carols at St. John Cantius, a non-liturgical service combining scripture readings with choir performances, attracting a diverse audience and often leading to spiritual awakenings.