Music

Music web 2Sacred music has always been of great importance at St. Joseph. The church, with its outstanding acoustics, was dedicated on November 16, 1873, with the Heiligmesse by Haydn presented by the church choir and the Detroit Opera House orchestra. St. Joseph hosted the national convention of the American Caecilian Society in 1878, and again in 1895, during which the 38-voice St. Joseph choir sang alone and with a united choir of 150 voices. Today, three choirs continue this beautiful tradition of sacred music for the liturgy, chanting and singing choral works heard in St. Joseph in the 1870s. Parishioners and visitors are invited to pray the Divine Office with the clergy and candidates-in-formation at St. Joseph Shrine, who chant the Divine Office daily, including Sunday Vespers at 6pm followed by Benediction. In addition, all are welcome to share their musical talents in sacred, classical, and other styles of music through concerts at St. Joseph Day of Prayer and Oktoberfest, musical performances in the Social Hall, and additional special events. 

Choirs

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St. Joseph Cappella

St. Joseph Cappella is under the direction of Mr. Michael Semaan, Music Director and Organist of St. Joseph Shrine. This mixed choir (SATB) maintains a rich and extensive choral repertoire. From September to June, St. Joseph Cappella presents motets from all time periods, and polyphonic and orchestral Masses by composers such as Palestrina, Victoria, Haydn, Mozart, di Lasso, Beethoven, and Schubert. In May 2014, the St. Joseph Cappella successfully recorded and released their first CD entitled Liturgical Year Latin Motets. Support the sacred music program by downloading the album at iTunes or Amazon, or purchasing the CD at St. Joseph Shrine. New Cappella members are always welcome; if interested in auditioning or for any questions, please contact Mr. Semaan at (248) 250-6005 or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Chant Schola

The Chant Schola of St. Joseph Shrine is under the direction of Mr. Harold Rutila. The Chant Schola is responsible for chanting Gregorian propers throughout the liturgical year at all High Masses, including Requiems and Nuptial Masses. The propers consist of the introit, gradual, sequence, Alleluia (or tract), offertory, and communion. The texts of the propers, designated by Holy Mother Church, usually consist of verses from the Psalms. In addition to the propers, the Chant Schola also chants the Mass ordinary and seasonal hymns, unless these are being sung polyphonically by St. Joseph Cappella or Cantatio. The Chant Schola's direction, methodology, and stylistic interpretations of Gregorian Chant are drawn from the methods of the Abbey of Solemnes, as taught by Dom Joseph Gajard (1885-1972). To inquire about the Chant Schola, please contact Mr. Rutila via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cantatio

Cantatio, a select choir of twenty-five men, is directed by Mr. Michael Semaan and organized by Mr. Jack Day. This unique four-part (TTBB) men's chorus sings for liturgies at St. Joseph Shrine during the summer months, typically late June through August. Its deep repertoire includes motets and polyphonic and orchestral Masses by composers such as Singenberger (the first presiden of the aforementioned American Caecilian Society), Rheinberger, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Hassler, Bruckner, and Biebl. Men interested in auditioning for Cantatio should contact Mr. Day via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Organ

Music web 3The original organ at St. Joseph Shrine was Opus 121 of J.H. & C.S. Odell of New York. The dedicatory recital was held in March of 1874. The organ case of black walnut and American chesnut was built in Detroit by cabinetmaker Wilhelm Mayer, to a design by the architect of the church Franz Himpler of New York. It is the last nineteenth century organ case in Detroit to remain unaltered; even the original stenciling of the facade pipes survives. The organ itself has gone through many changes over the years, and in honor of the centennial of the church building, a new instrument was commissioned from William M. Worden. The case and as much Odell pipework as possible was retained. This new organ was dedicated on November 25, 1973, and it continues to this day to be a versatile and impressive instrument in support of St. Joseph's vibrant music program.