"Human beings need beautiful things; human beings long for beautiful music that is suited to divine worship."
“Our Lord chose to give His divine life to us through the perpetual hymn of praise offered up by His Church—above all, in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If we are aware of the stupendous magnitude, the awesome, holy, divine, immortal, life-creating mysteries we adore and receive, how could we not yearn to give to the Lord all we can and the very best we can—all that is within our hearts, of course, but also the so-called ‘externals’: the most beautiful works of art, be it the church itself and its furnishings, the vestments and vessels, the ceremonies, or the music, which has such a profound effect on our inner life. Everything should be noble, uplifting, in harmony with the Church’s tradition, pointing unambiguously to the heavenly, the eternal, the divine. It has always been my desire and prayer that the music I write would give glory to God and raise minds and hearts to Him, whom we long to see face to face.”
-Dr. Peter Kwasniewski
In addition to being a teacher and writer, Kwasniewski has enjoyed a parallel career as a choirmaster, cantor, and composer of about 150 works of music.
After studying composition and conducting with Roy Horton and voice with Carol Horton at Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey, Dr. Kwasniewski became assistant choir director at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California (1990–1994). He served as director of the Schola Cantorum at Old St. John’s Catholic Church in Silver Spring, Maryland (1994–1998), director of music at the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria (1999–2006), and founding choirmaster and schola director at Wyoming Catholic College (2007–2018).
Kwasniewski’s Mass settings, motets, hymns, carols, antiphons, and acclamations have received numerous performances from 1990 to the present. The Mass settings are Missa Spiritus Domini (1994), Missa Spe Salvi (1995, rev. 2012), Missa Brevis à 3 (1997), Missa Hereditas Mihi à 3 (2016), Missa Honorificentia Populi Nostri (2017), and Missa Rex in Æternum (2018). His Seven Mandatum Antiphons (2010) were dedicated to Arvo Pärt on the occasion of his 75th birthday; the maestro personally accepted the dedication.
Full-length concerts of his music have been given by the Ecclesia Choir under Timothy Woods in June 2016 at St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago, and by the Vittoria Ensemble under Rick Wheeler in April 2018 at three locations in the Denver area. The Scottish ensemble Cantiones Sacrae and the English ensemble Cantus Magnus have performed a number of Kwasniewski’s works.
Kwasniewski has also written a three-movement wind quintet Fire and Flame, premiered in Lander, Wyoming, by the Antero Winds on January 15, 2012; a violin sonata, as yet unperformed; organ accompaniments for English plainchant; and pieces for brass quartet and string quartet.
He has published numerous articles on music, especially on the recovery and renewal of sacred music in the contemporary Church.
Sacred Choral Works (Corpus Christi Watershed, 2014)
"O Passio Magna" - SATB (ChoraLife)
A prayer on the Passion of Christ, full of compunction and sweetness. Published by ChoraLife here.
Sheet music for any of Kwasniewski’s music (including pieces already included in Sacred Choral Works) may be purchased electronically by request. Discounts are given according to number of intended copies. The composer will send a complete listing of works upon request.
Many recordings of my work may be found on my YouTube channel:
From the Missa Honorificentia Populi Nostri:
From the Missa Spe Salvi:
Settings of the Tantum Ergo:
- How We Should Sing—And Why People Don’t Sing
- Pride of Place in the Roman Rite
- Do We Trust the Church’s Judgment—Or Our Own?
- “Don't Let the Best Be the Enemy of the Good”
- Sacred Music vs. “Praise & Worship” - Does it Matter? (Part 1)
- Sacred Music vs. "Praise & Worship" - Does it Matter? (Part 2)
- Rediscovering Sacred Music with the Youth of Today
- Sacred Music as Occasion of Grace for Modern Man
- A Blueprint for Parish Musical Reform
- Why Offer God the Finest of Human Artistry?
- Church Music versus Utility Music
- Sacred Music, the Need for Beauty, and the Beatific Vision
- Sacred Music Is Alive and Well
- “Human beings need beautiful things”
- How to bring better sacred music to your parish
- Sacred music: Echoing on Earth the heavenly choir
- Church choirs: The good, the bad and the ugly
- Banish All Guitars and Pianos from the Church
- Guitars have no place in the Catholic Mass. Here’s why
- We must end bad Church music for the same reason Jesus drove money-changers from the Temple
- Bob Dylan tunes with Christian lyrics can never be ‘sacred’ music
- The Prohibition of the Piano in Church Still Stands—and for Good Reasons
I am passionate about sharing with others the beauty of Catholic sacred music and its perfect suitability for the liturgy. If you would like to organize a sacred music workshop in your community, featuring talks and hands-on exercises in chant and polyphony with a view to a solemn celebration of Mass and the Divine Office, please contact me to discuss possibilities.