Sacred Polyphony

Sacred choral music holds an esteemed role in the Church’s treasury. After chant, it adorns the Sacred Liturgy, particularly when it employs liturgical texts and styles passed down through the centuries.

Polyphony, in the music theory sense, is a composition with two or more independent melodic lines that proceed horizontally to produce an effective implied or literal harmony as well. When the Church mentions sacred polyphony she is most often referring to the religious works of the masters of the Renaissance like Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, and others, although colloquially the term can be broadened to include other works that include multiple melodic lines.

To aid choirs to build a practical repertoire of sacred polyphony, the CMAA has produced The Parish Book of Motets. The book contains fifty-four motets of varying difficulty in English and Latin specially curated for the average parish choir, which can all be accessed for free on this site. Additional polyphonic resources are available below.


Accessible Choral Works