Last spring, Philip Barnes (Classics) was awarded an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters by The Aquinas Institute of Theology at St. Louis University. The degree honors Barnes’ 30-year leadership of the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus.
Here are remarks by Reverend Seán Charles Martin, president of the Institute:
Our second honoree is Philip Barnes. In looking at Philip’s activity, I wonder when he ever sleeps. He is the director, of course, of the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, who we heard as we processed in for this commencement ceremony. He is also a music minister at one of the churches here in Midtown, and he teaches Latin and Greek – which, of course, I love as a Greek guy myself – at the John Burroughs School. This is his thirtieth year with the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. I had not been in St. Louis very long before I heard of the Chamber Chorus and Philip’s work in highlighting neglected choral masterpieces, many of which have been composed by women. Or, if they were composed by men and the text was damaged, he had musical scholars complete the work, many of whom were also women. In addition to highlighting music that we might otherwise have forgotten, the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus under Philip’s direction over these past thirty years has brought to our attention perhaps neglected sacred spaces in the St. Louis region. So I’ve been able to go to churches, some of which are Catholic, some of which are Lutheran, some of which are synagogues, and so forth, that I might not otherwise have seen. I think those of you who are native to St. Louis know that sacred architecture in this city is glorious. We are in one of those edifices tonight – this beautiful College Church – but there are others that dot the landscape of the St. Louis region, that remind us that all of us must acknowledge the call of the transcendent within us. One of the things that I think I am particularly appreciative of the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus under Philip’s direction has been how both visually and aurally those of us who are privileged to attend those concerts are reminded that truth is beauty and beauty is truth, as John Keats says, and that is all we need to know. So, Philip, thank you for these thirty years with the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of beauty and truth in our lives as human beings and – especially for those of us associated with Aquinas Institute of Theology – our lives as followers of Jesus.
The citation here also says, “Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the authority granted us (myself and Dean Michael Mascari) by the Master of the Order of Preachers and by our Board of Trustees, we gladly confer upon Philip Barnes the degree of the Doctor of Humane Letters with all the honors, rights, and privileges pertaining thereto. Given by virtue of the authority vested in the Board of Trustees on this tenth day of May, two thousand and nineteen.”
Thank you, Philip.