Preparing Pastoral Music Leaders
The Master of Sacred Music (MSMus) provides graduate-level training in the art of leading sacred music. This program offers musical and theological depth, and will equip persons from any Christian tradition with the tools required to lead music for worship in congregations and other settings. Areas of specialty include organ, piano, composition, guitar, voice, and conducting.
The MSMus program consists of 20 credits from Emmanuel College and the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. Students must complete an integrative project practicum that assesses the student’s vocational leadership competency, as well as an oral exam that assesses the theo-musical competency of the student. The program may be completed purely on a part-time basis, and up to eight years are allowed for completion. Students are admitted in the Fall semester only.
Ten Level 1 and 2 courses, for a total of 20 credits, including core courses at both Emmanuel College and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, as well as electives and additional requirements in each Level. The degree may be completed purely on a part-time basis, and up to eight years are allowed for completion.
Upon completion of the Master of Sacred Music program you will be able to demonstrate:
- An informed musical sensibility in performance practice.
- Basic knowledge of Christian scripture, history, and theology.
- Competency in the skills, gifts, and arts of ministry appropriate for leadership in local congregations and other settings.
The MSMus Experience - Testimonials
When I enrolled in the Sacred Music Program at Emmanuel, I hoped to spend one semester outside my own context. That dream came true in the spring of 2012 from January to April when I studied at the Seminary in Matanzas, Cuba–el Seminario Evangélico de Teología de Matanzas. Academically, I was able to work on a project on Cuban hymns written from the Cuban revolutionary experience – rigorous original work that has now been published. I also studied conducting with internationally renown conductor Maestro José Antonio Méndez who drew out my own musical conducting instincts in the very embodied pedagogies of Cuban choral conducting. I did some of my academic work by distance supervised by Emmanuel professors and I sang in two choirs and participated in a Masters’ seminar on liberation theology.
There are six words that sum up the kind of learning that I experienced: community-oriented, relational, intercultural, embodied, rigorous, and collaborative. My daughter and I lived with the seminary community and learned about life for Cuban students. (My husband and son came to visit for two weeks in the middle of the semester). We struggled to figure out how to buy toilet paper and food for our temporary household and relied on our fellow students to help us cope. They also nourished us with their friendship and good humour. I greatly improved my Spanish and of course my then 13 year old daughter easily surpassed me; by the end of our time there, I sent her to get groceries to save myself the embarrassment of mis-communicating. The most difficult barrier to intercultural learning that I encountered was the enormous difference in wealth between the two countries. Yet, I experienced profound and generous hospitality over and over again: my friends, professors and staff opened their hearts and homes to us. I remain grateful for the financial support from the Catherine and Murray Corlett and the Joyce and Garth Legge scholarships which made it possible.
This community, relational, intercultural, embodied, rigorous, and collaborative learning also encapsulates my whole experience of being at Emmanuel for the Sacred Music degree. Subsequently, as a doctoral student working with Professor Swee Hong Lim, I had the privilege of sharing some of the music I learned in Cuba with the TST Choir. I also put my intercultural learning to good use when I had the additional opportunity to travel to Jamaica where I participated in an international conference on worship sponsored by the Council of World Mission. Most recently, I returned to Cuba with Professor Néstor Medina where we co-taught a course on theology, culture and worship in Matanzas. The original opportunity to learn in another context helped make these other projects possible!
Music at the Global Institute of Theology, Costa Rica, 2014
It was a dark and sultry July night when I landed in San Jose, capital city of Costa Rica two years ago. Clutching my bags, I scanned an endless-seeming line of people holding up placards with the name of the person or group they were waiting for. None had my name or that of the Global Institute of Theology (GIT), the organism I had come to work with. After frantically walking around the waiting area, I borrowed a taxi driver’s cell phone to call the Institute! Apparently, I was not the only GIT participant arriving on the same plane. We all soon found each other and clambered into a mini-bus to be driven to our final destination.
In the summer of 2014, I joined an international group of young pastors-to-be at the Universidad Biblica Latinoamericana which housed the Global Institute of Theology for twenty-five glorious days . The participants came from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and America; we would spend almost a month together, praying, studying, and singing. The university is perched on top of one of the highest points in San Jose, a city that is already at a high altitude. In the early morning, one can look down on the cloud cover over the city.
There are close links between Emmanuel College and the GIT. Peter Wyatt, the director of the academic programs, was once Principal at Emmanuel; his wife Joan led the worship teams. Fraser Williamson, a student at Emmanuel at the time, was also invited to join the Canadian contingent. GIT had approached the Master of Sacred Music program director, Swee Hong Lim to find a student willing and able to help with the music ministry. I gladly accepted the challenge.
Students came to worship right after breakfast and early in the evening before playing a friendly soccer match on a small field beside the residences. I led a group of ten wonderful singers, drummers and a pianist who came for a brief choir rehearsal before each period of worship. We bought three djembe drums and other percussive instruments to accompany our song. The drums called us to worship and enhanced the global music we sang. We felt the power of the drums around us. The power of the voices, the power of community, and the many cultures from around the world were united by percussion. The drummers were from South Africa, Lebanon and India. Each worship team introduced songs from their own countries. Some songs were even composed during our stay at the university. One of them claimed: Cristo no està muerto, el està vivo! (God is not dead, He lives) was sung to a lively rhumba rhythm. As we sang and swayed to the music, this central tenet of Christianity was affirmed. We were truly members of one global community, united in love and in music.
Becca Whitla Publishes Book on Liturgical Music and Colonialism
Becca Whitla (Emm 1T3 MSMus, Emm 1T9 PhD) recently published her book, Liberation, (De)Coloniality, Liturgical Practices: Flipping the Song Bird.
When asked about her publication, Whitla said, "It is a product of my time doing doctoral studies at Emmanuel. It is also a reflection on my many years in music ministry both in community and in the church. Studying at Emmanuel allowed me to find language to articulate the things I had experienced as a musician and song leader, namely the ways colonialism, or coloniality, had a hold on musical practices. In the book, I focus on song (text and music), singing, and song leading. In addition to critiquing our hymnic canons and practices for their coloniality, I explore ways to be decolonizing and liberating, proposing some initial principles for liberating liturgy at the end of the book. I have to give a shout out to my supervisor Bill Kervin, committee members Lim Swee Hong and Pam Couture, as well as to colleague Néstor Medina, and of course to the whole Emmanuel community! I do plan to have a book launch in the next couple of months. Stay tuned for further details."