Sacred Music


The Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul invites you to join us for our 2019-20 Sacred Music Concert Series (download flyer here). Save the dates!

September 29, 2019 5:00 pm - Organ Recital by Dr. Sarah Harr, FAGO:  The Life & Legacy of Paul Manz: 1919-2019

November 10, 2019 5:00 pm - Requiem Concert by Gloria Dei Schola to benefit for Food for the Poor

December 12 & 13, 2019 7:00 pm - Roueché Chorale & Orchestra Candlelight Lessons & Carols

December 19, 2019 3:00 pm - Jubilate Deo Youth Schola Concert at Alexian Village Town Hall in Signal Mountain, TN

February 22, 2020 8:00 pm Chattanooga Bach Choir & Orchestra - All Beethoven concert featuring Beethoven Mass in C. Tickets $25 at *

POSTPONED (Date TBA) - The Mass: Acoss the Ages - Mozart Coronation Mass, Misa Criolla in Spanish, and more - with Chattanooga Girls Choir, McCallie Boys Choir, Voci Virili, Voice of Reason - donations accepted to benefit our historic Basilica "Under One Roof".

* Ticketed event to support the non-profit organization

Donations are welcomed at all the concerts, to support the programs and the causes they benefit


At all our sung Masses at the Basilica, we have the common objective of offering sacred music that fulfills the vision and standards of the Catholic Church, especially as handed down by the Second Vatican Council.

  • At the 9:00 a.m. Sunday Mass in the Ordinary Form, our Basilica Choir, directed by Debi Crabtree, leads the singing of the Ordinary, Propers, and congregational hymns. Offering simple tone chant, familiar four-part harmonies, and practice on the same morning of the Mass, even those with the most demanding schedules can find time to "make a joyful noise until the Lord." in this choir. Other liturgically appropriate musical instruments are also invited to support the singing and enhance the music.
  • At our 11:30 a.m. principal Sunday Mass in the Ordinary Form, our 5:00 p.m. Missa Cantata on the fourth Sunday of the month, and on holy days and designated basilica celebrations, our Gloria Dei Schola, directed by Maria Rist, leads the singing of the Ordinary, a selection of chant and choral Propers, and congregational hymns. They also offer a selection of polyphonic motets and other sacred choral music at each Mass. The pipe organ is played, and occasionally other instruments are played, as appropriate to the season. This advanced ensemble accepts singers who can commit to regularly singing the principal Sunday 11:30 Mass, holy day Masses, and/or the fourth Sunday 5:00 pm ancient form Missa Cantata. Balance among the choral parts is important in this ensemble, and thus at certain times this group may invite new singers for certain voice parts (i.e., soprano, alto, tenor, and bass). Attendance at an intense weekly Thursday rehearsal from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. is required, as well as the commitment to learn one's own part between rehearsals. Ability to match pitch and blend in the choir is essential. Due to the challenging repertory of music, some ability to read music (in either chant or modern notation) is important. Sight singing skills and vocal technique will be developed and improved by participation in this ensemble. Also, audio samples are provided for most of the music to aid in learning.
  • At the 5:30pm Saturday Vigil Mass in the Ordinary Form, the singing of the Ordinary, various settings of the Propers, and hymns is led by a rotation of skilled cantors who sing regularly in our choirs. The pipe organ is played, and occasionally an instrumental or vocal solo is offered, appropriate to the liturgical season.
  • Our 1:30 pm Sunday principal Spanish sung Mass in the Ordinary Form has a choir of enthusiastic singers and instrumentalists of all ages and chants the Ordinary and Propers of the Mass as well as a selection of Spanish language hymns and the Ordinary of the Mass. This choir is now leading our Hispanic congregation to sing the traditional music of the Church, including Missa Jubilate Deo, Pater Noster, and Missa de Angelis.
  • Our Jubilate Deo Youth Schola has class most Fridays at 4:15 p.m and participates in our parish life by singing regularly in the Sacred Liturgy and at other celebrations and devotions. All youth from grades 2 – 12 who can read words are welcome to participate in opportunity for learning, worship, and fellowship.

  • Combined Choirs - On certain days, our choirs join together to bring our fullest offering of sacred music to the celebration. These celebrations include the Sacrament of Confirmation, First Holy Communion, parish anniversaries, the Corpus Christ Eucharistic procession, anniversary Masses, and some holy days.

  • Music Education - Our Jubilate Deo Youth Schola classes incorporate music lessons. The Basilica has begun to offer occasional adult music classes in sight singing. Private piano and organ lessons can also be arranged through our staff organist and professional music teacher, Andrea Tierney, at 423-243-6350. If you are interested in music lessons, please contact Maria Rist or Andrea Tierney.

  • Concerts - As a recently designated minor basilica, we open our doors to the community to share the gifts of our beautiful architecture, acoustic space, and pipe organ as we present concerts of inspirational choral and instrumental music. We are working toward a full series of concerts each year that feature our own talented musicians and special guests. For current concert offerings, see  SACRED MUSIC NEWS above. Some previous concerts are highlighted below:

On August 6, 2017, Basilica organists Andrea Tierney and Cody Lawyer presented a recital of ancient chant settings through fiery twentieth century compositions. LISTEN HERE to Andrea Tierney's performance. LISTEN HERE to Cody Lawyer's performance. 

Here is a clip of guest organist, Jim Fry, practicing before our 125th Anniversary organ recital: Trumpet Tune in D Major by David Johnson.

The Basilica presented the Voci Virili Men’s Consort in a sacred music concert, A Capella Traditions,on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 6:30 pm. This concert featured religious songs from different musical eras and cultural traditions, arranged for men’s voices.
LISTEN HERE to the Feb. 12 2017 VOCI VIRILI concert
LISTEN to the conclusion of the concert

  • Workshops and Community - In response to the Church's call to educate the faithful on sacred music, the Basilica participates in - and plans to eventually host - workshops in collaboration with the Church Music Association of America (CMAA). For the past couple of years, our Director of Sacred Music has attended the CMAA's Annual Sacred Music Colloquium. Not only can we all gain knowledge, skills, and experience by attending these gatherings, but we make valuable connections with other parishes, clergy, musicians across our region, the U. S., and beyond.
On August 15, 2015, we participated in such a workshop at Our Lady of the Mountains Roman Catholic Church in Jasper, Georgia, less than 100 miles from the Basilica. Several parishioners from the Basilica and other parishes around the Diocese of Knoxville attended, along with 130 people from six states. Our own pastor, Fr. David Carter, gave a rousing keynote lecture.
Click here for the written edition of Fr. Carter's keynote address: Re-discovery of the Church's Sacred Tradition: II Kings 22
Here is a report on the 8/15/15 sacred music workshop that was published on Corpus Christi Watershed.
Here are some more photos photos from the Summer Sacred Music Workshop in Jasper, GA on August 15, 2015.

Our Basilica hosted the Southeast Summer Sacred Music Workshop II on July 22-23! Click here for more information and to connect with Southeastern Sacred Music.

Learn More

To learn more about the music we sing at the Basilica and why we sing it, please visit our Joy of Tradition page. There you will find articles about the Church's current teachings on sacred music and our rich Catholic heritage of Gregorian chant and polyphony. Terms like the Sung Ordinary and Propers are explained here. And you can watch, listen, and learn the various settings of the Ordinary parts of the Mass that we sing as a a congregation.

Please contact our Director of Sacred Music, Maria Rist, at 865-335-0588, or through the Contact button below, to learn more about sacred music at the Basilica or to discuss opportunities to contribute to the ministry.

Photos of combined choirs and Jim Fry's organ recital for our 125th Anniversary:  courtesy of Stephen Golder
Photos of Corpus Christi procession 2015, choir and pipe organ at Midnight Mass 2015, and parish organist, Andrea Tierney:  courtesy of Robin Rudd
Photos of Basilica Choir:  courtesy of Stephen Golder and Fr. David Carter

Diocese of Knoxville

The Diocese of Knoxville has a new Music Commission, established by Bishop Stika and chaired by Glenn Kahler, Director of Music and Liturgy at Sacred Heart Cathedral. All parishes and Catholic schools of the diocese are represented. All music ministers of the diocese are encouraged to register with the commission via the website, which contains a calendar of events, musician registry and forum, educational resources, and information about the new Adult Choir, Children's Choir, and Handbell Choir which is being formed to serve at diocesan liturgies and events, especially at the new Cathedral.


Click to Contact

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