Pax Christi Award to be Given to David Haas, Marty Haugen, and Michael Joncas

Haugen Haas JoncasSaint John’s Abbey and University will bestow its highest award, the Pax Christi Award, upon well-known liturgical composers David Haas, Marty Haugen, and Fr. Michael Joncas, this coming June.

In their letter to honorees, President Michael Hemesath and Abbot John Klassen, OSB, noted,

You have generously offered your musical talents and contributed greatly to the “full, conscious, and active participation” of the people of God in the liturgy as called for by the Second Vatican Council. Your compositions are sung by congregations and choirs and ensembles around the world, across a wide variety of Christian traditions. In your writing, speaking, and presenting, you have evocatively connected liturgical music with the work of the churches for peace and justice. Your commitment to sung liturgy exemplifies the Benedictine spirit, as shown in the first scholae cantorum founded by Benedictines in the 7th century to teach sacred music to youth, through the work for liturgical reform by our Fr. Virgil Michel and other leaders of the Liturgical Movement.

Previous recipients of the Pax Christian award include Cardinal Walter Kasper, historian Martin E. Marty, Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, Methodist ecumenist Albert Outler, social activist Gordon Zahn, apostolic delegate Archbishop Jean Jadot, Vatican Two council fathers Cardinal Leo Josef Suenens and Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, Lutheran (later Orthodox) historian Jaroslav Pelikan, and religious liberty theologian Fr. John Courtney Murray.

Among other award recipients in the field of liturgy are liturgical reformer Msgr. Frederick McManus, former executive director of the International Commission on the Liturgy John Page, and renowned liturgical composer Richard Proulx.

The award will be bestowed at Saint John’s in Collegeville on Sunday, June 25, 2017. The community Mass will feature compositions for congregation and choir composed by the award recipients. Singing at the Mass will be the National Catholic Youth Choir, the Saint John’s Boy Choir, and the Abbey Schola. The award will be presented at a banquet following the Mass.

St. John’s is home to Liturgical Press, the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, the Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s Preparatory School, and Saint John’s University which includes the School of Theology and Seminary, which offers the M.A. in Liturgical Music.


  1. A wonderful and well deserved honor!!! Their compositions, along with traditional hymnody make up the backbone of my music program, which is further enfleshed by chant and the work of other composers. Their compositions facilitate so beautifully the prayer of the gathered assembly!! They have furthered the cause of the reformed liturgy untiringly ( in words sung, spoken and preached) for many years, and they have inspired so many to continue the work of sung prayer in the vineyard of the Lord!

  2. The combined work of these three composers is an everlasting gift to the church. Their ability to merge the ancient psalm texts and traditional music of the people of God and the customary sung prayer dating back to the Gospels has provided the church today to worship and pray together. This recognition is well deserved.

  3. Proud as an SJU alum, proud as a colleague, and proud as a publisher. Thank you, Saint John’s, for recognizing their achievements, and congratulations, gentlemen!

  4. Congratulations! I believe Amy Grant has also been a recipient. Stellar award for great servants! You have blessed our world through your gifts of music, reason and faith. Deo Gratias!!!

  5. A long overdue acclaim for three men whose music has inspired me and the people of my parishes (not to mention countless others) for decades. Some of my fondest memories were the nearly annual songfests featuring these men at many an NPM convocation. Ad multos annos!

  6. Michael, David, & Marty, thank you for your many, many contributions to the liturgical music of the church. This truly is an overdue recognition.
    Certainly your music has brought joy and peace and challenge to our congregations. Your theologizing via music has challenged us.
    I’m grateful to be a colleague of yours and even more grateful to call you friends! Peace in Christ! –roc,sj

  7. Adding my comments to a long line of Apostles, Prophets, and at some time, Martyrs, I delight in the honor to be bestowed on you, my friends and colleagues. I am also delighted that I will be singing in the Abbey Schola that weekend, and hope to bask in the glory rightfully bestowed on these beacons of liturgical integrity. Thanks to your labor, liturgical music has reached a standard of excellence and simplicity which is a challenge for all to emulate.

  8. 3 solid musicians who present music that’s not boring, dull or irrelevant. I’ve been in places where the pastor restricts their work, but in most cases the pastor is gone. Keep up the good work and journey in faith.

  9. What a great honor to three great men. You have been such an important part of my parish life. Your music is so amazing and has gotten me through a time when I was very ill. Thank you and God bless all three of you.

  10. Congratulations on this great honor. The church is blessed by your gifts and talents, your humor and hope, your call to renewal and growth. Thank you for your inspiration and prayer.

  11. Just adding my congratulations, and even more so, my gratitude for your compositions. They have transformed many lives, certainly including mine.

  12. Not all their music is to my taste (and I still can’t bear singing about “some heaven light years away”), but so much of it is so much better than what came before it. The music of these gentlemen shows an improvement in standards and they are certainly worthy of this honor.

    1. @Steve Woodland:
      I agree—“Not in some heaven” sounds antisupernatural, Haas’s “We Have Been Told” owes too much to Haugen’s “Eye Has Not Seen,” and the tune of Joncas’s “I Have Loved You” sounds desultory to me. But I hope people will still be singing Haas’s musical Beatitudes decades from now, I want Joncas’s “On Equal Wings” (as my children used to call it) at my funeral, and Haugen’s “We Remember” is a work of genius. Congratulations to the three Minnesotans; what a combination of thought and musicality they have given us, and so generously. Great choice, SJU.

  13. Congratulations and thanks for all that you have contributed to NPM through participation in conventions, institutes, and as writers for Pastoral Music. As I feel about the energy of children, so I feel about your talents: If I had one-tenth of what you have, I would be truly blessed.

  14. God bless you David Haas, Marty Haugen, and Michael Joncas on your wonderful music through the years. Congratulations on this well deserved award. I admire your commitment to our music ministry.
    May you serve us through the coming years with many more glorious hymns. Thank you, thank you!

  15. This award goes to deserving composers who have put songs on our lips for many years, helping us voice our prayer and praise beautifully. Thank you, St. John’s, for recognizing the contributions of these composers to liturgical song. You speak for so many of us with grateful hearts for their work on our behalf.

  16. Wonderful choice, these three musicians have left an indelible mark on meaningful liturgical music. I have many precious memories of my first and second grade students sharing children’s Masses with our Catholic schools family using the music of Michael Joncas, David Haas and Marty Haugen. Thank you SJU and thank you great recipients of this Pax Christi award.

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