Outgoing director of liturgical music reflects on his time at The Saint Paul Seminary

Editor’s note: Dr. David Jenkins served over 30 years as the Saint Paul Seminary’s director of liturgical music. He’ll be retiring this summer; below are his reflections on a career of providing sacred music for the seminary.

I came to the seminary in the fall of 1988 to take a staff position as music assistant to the seminary director of music, Sue Martin.

I grew up in the Twin Cities but before coming here had been the music director at a parish in Elmira, New York.

It was an exciting time of renewal at the seminary — the seminary had just affiliated with the College of St. Thomas, the Master of Arts degree program in pastoral studies started under the auspices of the School of Divinity, the new administration and residence buildings were about to open, the St. Mary’s chapel renovation project was underway, and planning began for the new pipe organ for the chapel.

When Sue retired in 1991, I became the liturgical music director, an administrative position with faculty status. Since that time, I have been in charge of the chapel worship music, and I have worked in the formation and instruction of seminarians and lay students in music and liturgy.

It has been a gift to work with so many fine seminarians and lay students, and to develop collaborative relationships with many excellent colleagues.

Much of my time each week is spent in individual rehearsing and coaching in skills that will help future ministers become good leaders of prayer and worship. I was also blessed to able to continue the tradition established by Sue Martin of directing a mixed-voice choir of seminarians, lay students, staff, and friends.

Among other liturgies and events, this choir sang for the annual lessons and carols service that has been such an important collaborative effort, community celebration and form of outreach.

Much of my classroom work involved collaborative teaching of practicum classes in liturgy, which gave me the opportunity to learn from so many fine colleagues.

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