Church songbook


of Professional Accomplishments

I received my Ph.D. degree in the Humanities, major – History, in 2009, based on my dissertation which discussed the contribution of the Congregation of Missionary Priests to the Polish musical culture. A 640-page book, published based on my work, was awarded in 2010 by the Musicologists Section of the Polish Composers Union with the Main Prize of Rev. Prof. Hieronim Feicht, C.M. Apart from teaching religious music work analysis, I lectured on the history of music, as a field of study, at the master’s degree program in the Intercollegiate Institute of Church Music in Kraków (Academy of Music in Kraków – the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Kraków) in the years 2007-2015.

My academic achievements, after earning the doctoral degree, focused on the problems related to the Polish church hymns, music education for the clergy and authors of religious music. My reflections concerning Polish hymns, musical works and their authors are authenticated not only by publications, lectures and papers, but most of all, my own, comprehensive and varied musical output, performed in Poland and abroad, awarded, released and recorded, which was the subject of a few studies.

The most important of my academic accomplishments is the section regarding Polish church hymns, the most significant of which, in turn, is to me, the 41st edition of the Hymnbook by Rev. Jan Siedlecki and the article Sakralność religijnej kontrafaktury świeckich utworów [Sacredness of the religious contrafactum of secular works].

I approached academic reflections on church hymns from various perspectives. From the historical perspective (a comprehensive article Śpiewy religijne w liturgii Kościoła [Religious singing in the Church’s liturgy]) and the analysis of people’s reception phenomena (Wariabilność melodycznej warstwy Gorzkich żalów na terenie Archidiecezji Krakowskiej [Variability of melodic layer of Gorzkie Żale in the territory of Kraków Archdiocese] – an equally comprehensive article). I studied hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes (the results of the research conducted, among others, on French sources, are provided in the book Jestem Niepokalanym Poczęciem [I am the Immaculate Conception]). I devoted a few of my publications to the hymns included in Gorzkie żale (Gorzkie żale. W 300-lecie powstania [Gorzkie żale. For the 300th anniversary.]; Miłość miłosierna źródłem nabożeństwa «Gorzkich żali» [Merciful love as a source of the “Gorzkie żale” service]; W poszukiwaniu pierwotnej melodii – najstarsze śpiewnikowe wersje melodyczne «Gorzkich żali» [In search of the original melody – the oldest hymnbook melodic versions of “Gorzkie żale”] et al). I wrote articles and released comprehensive publications on the history of other sung church services: the so-called Nieszpory polskie [Polish Vespers], Godzinki ku czci Niepokalanego Poczęcia [Prayers in veneration of the Immaculate Conception] (book: Zawitaj pełna łaski [Come, Full of Grace]), on Litania loretańska [Litany of Loreto] and Nabożeństwo majowe [May devotions to the Blessed Mary]. I examined the problem, overlooked in Polish reflections, concerning contrafactum (Sakralność religijnej kontrafaktury świeckich utworów [Sacredness of religious contrafactum of secular works].) This comprehensive article, discussing very rich literature (including foreign literature) plays an important role in my accomplishments. I do not avoid difficult topics, such as reflections on Polish hymns sung during a mass for children. The discord between recommendations of the Church and the pastoral practice seems to somehow paralyze authors who either avoid the topic or treat it selectively. In some texts I mention the problem of evaluating religious signing. It is an academic reflection necessary in argumentation during numerous, mainly emotional debates on Polish church hymns. Obviously, I, myself, am the author of many hymns and a reviewer of hymns written by other authors for the Archdiocesan Church Music Committee in Kraków.

As I mentioned before, my most important accomplishment in the field of Polish church hymns is the 41st 1424-page edition of the Hymnbook by Rev. Jan Siedlecki (version containing sheet music). I also published a version without sheet music, based on the basic edition. The methodology of work on this edition was described in the article “Doświadczenia w redakcji XLI wydania Śpiewnika kościelnego ks. Jana Siedleckiego” [Experiences while editing the 41st edition of the Hymnbook by Rev. Jan Siedlecki]. The enormity of conducted analytical and comparative work (an impressive source base placed at the beginning of the hymnbook) as well as the use of extensive knowledge of liturgics, dogmatic theology, history of music, Polish religious language writing rules, rules of music, composition, counterpoints – situate this hymnbook as my most important accomplishment after attainment of the doctoral degree. I subjected every hymn to a separate melodic, textual, historical and theological revision. I managed to establish many data about the origin of hymns and revised the melodic and textual record based on comparisons with many versions (among others, using two indices of hymns I drew up based on 23 hymnbooks). Together with my co-editor (pastoralist) we set the structure of the hymnbook. He was also responsible for the layout of the material on pages as well as selection of citations from the Holy Scripture and Church Fathers. The hymnbook received general recognition, first, of the Archdiocesan Church Music Committee in Kraków, as a result of which it was also approved by the Bishop of Kraków. Next, the hymnbook was approved by the President of the Polish Church Musicians Association after consultations with members of the association during the congress in Legnica (September 2015). After that, it received recommendation from the Church Music Subcommittee of the Polish Episcopate as well as from the Devine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments Committee of the Polish Episcopate, to finally obtain, in 2016, the official approval of the Plenary Conference of the Polish Episcopate as an official hymnbook of the Church in Poland. How does the 41st edition differ from the previous publications? It is enough to mention that the previous edition had 832 pages and did not have the approval of a Diocesan Bishop (required for using it during the liturgy), and in the subsequent printed versions I introduced a few hundred (around 700) corrections. The inability to remove some mistakes triggered the thought of a thorough review and creating a new edition.

Based on my work on the hymnbook, a few articles were also written. Apart from the above-mentioned article, in which I described the method of working on the 41st edition, a text about ecumenical dimension of this edition is particularly important. In the article I raise issues which are important for the unity of Christians and their deeper historical awareness, as well as discuss the origin of many hymns, their co-existence in practice of various Christian denominations. Moreover, having noticed many discrepancies in different hymnbooks in terms of the origin of hymns, I considered it crucial to write an article entitled Problematyka źródłoznawcza w kontekście Śpiewnika kościelnego ks. Jana Siedleckiego [The primary source analysis problem in the context of the Hymnbook by Jan Siedlecki]. I gave a series of lectures and statements on the 41st edition – some of which were published (as mentioned in the publication list and in the CV).

A different area of my reflection on music is musical education of priests. For 13 years I have been teaching church music at the Theological Institute of Missionary Priests in Kraków, in which students of the Pontifical University of John Paul II, from a few monastic congregations, attend lectures. Apart from textbooks for six generations, audio materials (recordings of taught signing), published pastoral aids (Śpiewane Opisy Męki Pańskiej [Sung descriptions of the Passion]; Boże Ciało [Corpus Christi]), I discussed the educational problems on Polish fora (Rola muzyki w edukacji i formacji księży misjonarzy w Polsce – od koncepcji św. Wincentego po dziś dzień [The role of music in education and formation of missionary priests in Poland – from the concept of St. Vincent to this day] – on the musicological forum of the Polish Composers Union in Warsaw) and presented them in the intra-ecclesial reflection (Wychowanie poprzez muzykę [Upbringing through music]; Miejsce muzyki w duchowo-intelektualnej formacji studentów Instytutu Teologicznego Księży Misjonarzy w Krakowie [The place of music in the spiritual and intellectual formation of students of the Theological Institute of Missionary Priests in Kraków]). I do not avoid interviews to magazines, either (Ciebie Boga wysławiamy [We praise you God]; Wywiad z ks. Wojciechem Kałamarzem C.M. [Interview with Rev. Wojciech Kałamarz, C.M.]) to be able to address the problem to a wider audience.

The third area of my academic work is research on life and output of different authors of religious music. Apart from around a dozen of entries to Prof. Marek Podhajski’s dictionary, I also published a series of publications on life and achievements of Rev. Prof. Hieronim Feicht, C.M., Ph.D. I edited two books devoted to him (Wspomnienia [Memories]; Szkice do portretu Hieronima Feichta [Drafts for the portrait of Hieronim Feicht].) In the latter I presented results of my own studies in the archives of the Institute of National Remembrance. I also wrote articles about Rev. Feicht, the most important of which was published in the monumental work Księga Pamiątkowa Jubileuszu 200-lecia utworzenia Państwowego Uniwersytetu we Wrocławiu [Memorial book of the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the National University in Wrocław] (it refers to the text Ks. prof. Hieronim Feicht C.M. jako niestrudzony krzewiciel polskiej muzyki w okresie powojennym [Rev. Prof. Hieronim Feicht, C.M., as an indefatigable propagator of music in the postwar period]). Another musician, whose life and output I described was the long-standing editor of the Church Hymnbook by Jan Siedlecki – Rev. Wendelin Świerczek, C.M. (article Ks. Wendelin Świerczek C.M. – zasłużony badacz polskiej pieśni kościelnej [Rev. Wendelin Świerczek, C.M. – a meritorious researcher of the Polish church hymns]). Particular attention should be paid to the two supplementary articles devoted to Rev. Prof. Karol Mrowiec, C.M. (R.I.P. Rev. Karol Mrowiec, C.M. (1919-2011) – lecturer at the Theological Institute of Missionary Priests between 1947-1962, 1972/1973; Rev. Prof. Karol Mrowiec, C.M., Ph.D. (1919-2011) – a profile of a priest, musicologist and a composer). Based on the research on music manuscripts, some of which were preserved only in a draft version, deposited at the Jagiellonian Library – I wrote two articles about the output of forgotten Kraków composers from the interwar period: Bolesław Wallek Walewski and Kazimierz Garbusiński (Religijna twórczość Bolesława Wallek Walewskiego na chór mieszany [Religious output by Bolesław Wallek Waleski for a mixed choir]; Gorzkie żale jako forma oratoryjna na przykładzie kompozycji Kazimierza Garbusińskiego z 1932 roku [Gorzkie żale as an oratorio form based on the example of a composition by Kazimierz Garbusiński from 1932]). They were not only talented composers, but also meritorious musical activists and lecturers of music courses at Kraków’s universities.

As a composer, I also approach topics related to composing skills (a short article Podstawowe zasady kompozycji chóralnej [Basic rules of choir composition]; and an interview in a book/doctoral dissertation Ewolucja zapisu języka muzycznego w utworach na flet solo kompozytorów polskich drugiej połowy XX w. i początku XXI w. [Evolution of recording the musical language in solo flute works by Polish composers of the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century]). As a priest, in my other publications, I touch upon pastoral and theological problems. I also wrote reviews of records with choral music. For six years I was a secretary of a scored magazine entitled “Pro Musica Sacra”.

I am planning to return to the subjects discussed in my academic reflections in the field of music theology and esthetics (Muzyka drogą do Boga [Music as a way leading to God]; O znaczeniu pokory w muzyce [On significance of humility in music]) in my book Muzyka nie zbawia. Problematyka niedostrzegalnego przenikania elementów religii, emocji, piękna i liturgii [Music does not save you. The problem of imperceptible permeability of religion, emotions, beauty and liturgy], which I am currently working on.

My composing output is versatile. It includes works for solo instruments, smaller and bigger audience, orchestra, choral, vocal and instrumental, solo electronic as well as electronic works accompanied by acoustic instruments and a vocalist. The majority of them were composed in Poland or abroad, while some of them also became the subject of academic dissertations.

The most important work in my musical output is the Passion Triptych: Stabat Mater, Passion Motet, Tristis est anima mea, which contains two works awarded with first prizes. The above-mentioned compositions were created in different times; nevertheless, they complement one another in narration of the Passion: from the Gethsemane Prayer through the Passion on the Cross to Virgin Mary Lamenting the Dead Son. They are also the best object for examining my composing skills, as I tried to express in them, in a slightly different way, the principle of creating music accompanied by words: music as the servant of the word. This concept, prevailing in church thought, which to a large extent determined also composers of the epoch, e.g. the Baroque, is the basic principle of how I approach music accompanied by words in my work. Shaped by tremendous achievements of the past eras (and not in isolation from their wealth), I try to follow the word, using a new and possibly my own language, penetrate it and deepen the meaning, lending it individual, self-experienced interpretation. A certain departure from this principle is the work Tristis est anima mea, which, by principle, is nothing but “wandering” around different styles and types of expression, as reflected in Roman Brandstaetter’s texts used in this composition. A certain theological and esthetic complement of the triptych is the two-part Modlitwa zawierzenia [Prayer of Entrustment], which was ordered by the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio as part of the REJ Project 2005.

In my compositions I pay a lot of attention to the form. I always plan it thoroughly and implement it in different ways. It has a logical, yet variable shapes and structure. In works that contain a text, its structure is of high importance in shaping the form. In purely instrumental works, the form is precisely planned based on my inner thoughts. To be honest, a story without words is closer to my esthetics than sonoristic sounds created for the words as such. I do not, however, avoid sonorism. It is always an element of my expression, not its goal, the best example of which is the work entitled Fonos presented during the Warsaw Autumn festival.

Choral music is especially important in my composing output. It embodies the struggle with the image of a performer. This group of compositions includes very difficult works that require professional musicians (Psalm 8), but also very easy ones, for amateur choirs (some pay tribute to John Paul II). The ideal I am still pursuing and wish to achieve is to record, in a possibly easy way, ambitious, original and attractive sounding solutions, i.e. works that are easy to read, but at the same time, sound spectacular. I believe I managed to attain that goal a few times, e.g. in Psalm 150 or Niepokalana Królowa [Mary Immaculate Queen], Słowiański Papież [Slavic Pope] (works published by PWM).

Rev. Wojciech Kałamarz, C.M., Ph.D.
ul. Misjonarska 37
30-058 Kraków
Theological Institute of Missionary Priests in Kraków,

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