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Incarnate in Word and Song Exploring Music in Liturgy and Life

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Incarnate in Word and Song
Exploring Music in Liturgy and Life
$14.96 - $17.55

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing,” Jesus says at the beginning of his public ministry. The work of the divine is made present to those listeners in God’s Word Made Flesh. Still today, this sort of encounter with Christ must be paramount in all activities of the church: liturgy, evangelization, catechesis, and conversion. By bringing music into dialogue with preaching and living the Word in our daily lives, we learn how we can better recognize Christ around us and help make his presence, his truth, and his love more tangible to all those who hear our voice and observe our acts of loving kindness.

To listen to the musical examples provided in the book, please visit the following links. 

O Magnum Mysterium 

Appendix: Musical Examples 
Example 1: “Celtic Alleluia” 

Example 2: “Amen” from Mass of Creation 

Example 3: “This Is How” 

Example 4: “Taste and See” 

Example 5: “The Cry of the Poor” 

Example 6: “Alleluia! Alleluia” 

Example 7: “I Give My Spirit” 

Example 8: “Psalm 137 - Let My Tongue Be Silenced” 

Example 9: “When in Our Music God Is Glorified”

Product Preview

Format: Paperback book
Product code: LP6769
Dimensions: 5½" x 8½"
Length: 128 pages
Liturgical Press
ISBN: 9780814667699
1-2 copies $17.55 each
3-9 copies $16.75 each
10-49 copies $15.96 each
50-99 copies $15.56 each
100+ copies $14.96 each
Written by Orin E. Johnson


Orin Johnson combines serious scholarship with the practical wisdom of thirty years in music ministry to highlight a topic that has long needed greater attention: the right relationship of the liturgical rite, music, and preaching. This accessible yet substantive book will help start an important conversation among the various liturgical ministries in worshiping communities.

Ann M. Garrido, Associate Professor of Homiletics, Aquinas Institute of Theology

Moving beyond traditional studies of the role of music in the liturgy, Johnson’s book explores what insights music and musical performance can bring to preaching. Johnson carefully shows his readers how preaching in our churches could be enriched if preachers incorporated basic insights from musical performance into their preaching. Reading at times like the work of a poet, the book is enriched by skillfully crafted examples that model attention to intonation, pacing, volume, and the need for silence. This book is a must-read for all preachers and those studying preaching, as well as parish music ministers. It serves as a poignant reminder of the need for presiders, preachers, and other parish ministers to work in concert with one another to help our assemblies raise their hearts and voices to the Lord.

Nathan P. Chase, Assistant Professor of Liturgical and Sacramental Theology, Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, Missouri

Written for preachers, evangelizers, lovers of scripture, and liturgical musicians alike, Incarnate in Word and Song draws on Johnson's considerable experience as a liturgical musician and composer to highlight the connections between the Word and music in liturgy and life. He explores the 'indwelling of music, liturgy, and the Word,' providing specific examples and suggestions, reinforced by quotations from Pope Francis's Desiderio Desideravi, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Catechism of the Catholic Church, and other documents, as seen through a lens of Dominican spirituality. Johnson poses questions and encourages readers to consider their own engagement with the Word ‘for their betterment and for the greater holiness of the whole Church.’

Carol Browning, liturgical musician, composer, and member of the Collegeville Composers Group

Incarnate in Word and Song is like an afternoon coffee break with an observant and inquisitive friend. Drawing from fields as diverse as theology, literature, hymnody, and homiletics, Johnson brings his years of experience as a pastoral musician to bear on the relationship between preaching and liturgical music. Read it for fresh perspectives on preaching in the rich context of the liturgy.

Rhodora Beaton, Professor of Systematic Theology, Oblate School of Theology

What can homilists learn from music ministers about preaching better? Quite a bit! The relationship between preaching the living Word in the midst of the assembly and singing that Word into life upon the lips of the faithful seems obvious but is rarely illuminated as deeply and clearly as Orin Johnson does in Incarnate in Word and Song. This book will inspire those who communicate the gospel in spoken word or ritual song to deepen their craft and work more closely together in leading the assembly to glorify God by their lives.

Diana Macalintal, Cofounder, TeamRCIA and

An expert in liturgical music and a gifted preacher himself, Orin Johnson explains how musical techniques from dynamics to poetry can help preachers craft more engaging homilies and reflections. Avoiding the trap of polemical arguments about liturgy, Johnson uses church guidance—especially Pope Francis’ new and difficult-to-parse document Desiderio Desideravi—to shed a refreshing light on the ultimate goal of both liturgical music and preaching, inspiring congregants to a more Christ-like life.

Colleen Dulle, America Magazine

Orin Johnson’s new work is an engaging exploration of the pastoral arts of preaching and liturgical music. Our tour guide, Johnson, is a master musician, composer, liturgist, and teacher who rarely lets his erudition show. He aptly resorts to humor, invites reader reflection, and, seamlessly, leads us to sincere spiritual reflection. Incarnate in Word and Song: Exploring Music in Liturgy and Life is recommended reading for preachers, musicians, liturgical ministers, and for every thoughtful lover of Catholic liturgy.

Peter Fisher Hesed, retired educator and director of music and liturgy


Orin E. Johnson has held professional music and liturgy positions for twenty-five years, currently at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church in St. Louis, Missouri. He holds degrees in music and theology from Harvard University, Radford University, and Aquinas Institute of Theology. His liturgical music is published with OCP and GIA, and he is a contributor to Living Liturgy,™ published by Liturgical Press. He is active nationally as a speaker, performer, catechist, and retreat and workshop leader.