Documentary explores Minnesota’s sacred music

Categories: Around the Diocese

The Visitor


Sister Delores Dufner

Sacred music songwriter and musician Benedictine Sister Delores Dufner, a member of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, is one of the composers interviewed in the documentary “On Eagle’s Wings: Minnesota’s Sacred Music.”

The one-hour program, produced by KSMQ, the public television station in Austin, Minn., aired on Ash Wednesday and can be viewed on YouTube at

It explores the dramatic shift in sacred music beginning in the 1960s when major religions attempted to reach out to a younger generation of followers.

Prior to this revival, traditional church music was often taken from the body of work created in the late 1800s.

Father Jan Michael Joncas, composer of the well-known hymn “On Eagle’s Wings,” explains how the needs of the church began to change and how he and his colleagues worked to fill the void.

Other featured composers include Marty Haugen, David Haas, Daniel Kantor and Lynn Trapp.

music“I was particularly touched by the deep commitment by all of the composers to the greater sense of ritual participation in the liturgy,” said Anita Fischer, director of the diocesan Office of Worship. “They compose, not for themselves, but for the praise and worship of our creator by the people of God.”

Fischer is shown in a clip as the psalmist at Bishop Donald Kettler’s installation Mass in November 2013. Shots of others from the St. Cloud Diocese include The Diocesan Festival Choir, David Orzechowski, Ann Cota and the choir from Mary of the Visitation Parish in Becker and Big Lake.

Three men worked together to produce the documentary. Matthew Bluhm, senior legacy producer at KSMQ, was executive producer; Charles Czech was lead producer and Shawn Lewis, who has been directing the TV Mass for the St. Cloud Diocese since 2006, served as co-producer/editor.

“One of the most interesting things to me was when Father Joncas mentioned how sacred music is any music that leads someone into a sense of transcendence,” Lewis said. “When people start singing good words from liturgy combined with beautiful music, it takes on a life of its own.

“As composer Dan Kantor said, ‘The end result is something bigger than itself.’ That’s where the power of the music is.”