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Sacred Music

In the words of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, “[music] has the power to lead us back ... to the Creator of all harmony, creating a resonance within us which is like being in tune with the beauty and truth of God, with the reality which no human knowledge or philosophy can ever express.”

Acknowledging the exalted mission sacred music has to the service of God and understanding the profound impact that music has upon the liturgical celebrations at the National Shrine is what guides the efforts of the Musicians of the Basilica.

In the simplicity of daily worship in the Crypt Church, the organ accompanies the assembly at four Masses. Additionally, during midday liturgies, Basilica cantors lead the congregation in sacred song.

On Sundays and Solemnities throughout the year, the Choir of the Basilica, the resident professional choral ensemble, sings at noonday solemn Mass. The choir sings the Ordinary and Proper texts of the Mass, drawing freely upon the Church’s rich legacy of sacred music, as well as worthwhile contemporary musical expression worthy of the sacred Liturgy. For occasions of even greater importance in the Liturgical Year, brass ensembles, strings, wind instruments and timpani are employed for even greater festivity and solemnity.

The National Shrine houses four pipe organs; instruments which not only add dignity and majesty to worship, but have the unique ability to lead an assembly of thousands in prayer and praise. Three Möller organs grace the Great Upper Church and a magnificent mechanical action organ abides in the Crypt Church.

Stepping beyond the walls of the Basilica, bells from the Knight’s Tower are heard, calling the faithful to prayer. The Basilica’s campanile houses a 56-bell carillon, a gift of the Knights of Columbus. The bells are rung throughout the day, each hour, prior to Mass, and at the Angelus. Visitors can also listen to carillon recitals each Sunday at 2:30 pm while walking around the grounds of the Basilica.

The Basilica also offers concerts and recitals throughout the year. The Summer Recital Series features Sunday afternoon concerts of carillon and organ by an array of distinguished artists. The Annual Christmas Concert for Charity takes place each year in early December. For more information on upcoming concerts, click here.

Organ, choir and carillon recordings are available in the Shrine's Gift Shop and Bookstore.


A Jubilee Concert of Marian Music

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