Sacred Music


Dr. Michael Conrady, Instructor | Dr. Joshua Taylor, Adjunct Instructor

The Sacred Music program at UNT is a unique program established to prepare students for music, worship, and arts leadership positions in today’s church. It attracts a diverse array of students from a variety of denominational contexts and musical interests- organists, choral directors, vocalists, worship leaders, instrumentalists, and more. Its interdisciplinary and ecumenical approach is designed to foster critical thinking as students explore, analyze and engage Christian music in a variety of contexts. 

Recognizing the existence of several models of professional church music leadership, this program provides a wide range of training in performance, professional, and academic skills. Every course features opportunities to learn from and interact with guest lecturers from the DFW area who are experts in their respective fields. 

SEMESTER 1 Foundations of Sacred Music

An introduction to the historical, theological and biblical foundations of sacred music, including contemporary manifestations, and critiques of worship. The class will also explore the use of the lectionary and church year in planning along with suggested repertoire and resources.​

SEMESTER 2  Introduction to Congregational Song

This course will explore the theological foundations of congregational singing from ancient hymnody through contemporary, modern worship music, and songs of the global church. Additionally, students will practice song leading techniques.

SEMESTER 3   Music Ministry in the Post-Modern Context

What is the role of worship and music in the 21st Century? How will music ministry and the role of sacred music change with a changing church? This course will explore these subjects in addition to planning considerations for the church of today.

SEMESTER 4   Church Music Administration

This course will consider best practices in planning, professional concerns, denominational identity, clergy/musician relationships and budgeting for the professional church musician.

Fall 2019 - News

Dr. Jesse Eschbach announces the appointment of Dr. Michael Conrady as Instructor of Sacred Music Studies at the University of North Texas.


Michael Conrady is the Organist and Choirmaster at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Dallas, TX. A native of Anthony, KS, he received his bachelor’s degree at Baylor University, where he studied organ with Joyce Jones. While at Baylor, he was the first-place winner of the 1998 William Hall Organ Competition. His graduate degrees include the Masters of Music (MM) in organ, the Masters of Theological Studies (MTS), and the Masters of Sacred Music (MTS) degrees at Southern Methodist University, where he studied Sacred Music with Michael Hawn and Chris Anderson, organ with Larry Palmer, and conducting with David Davidson. 

Postgraduate studies led him to the University of North Texas, where he studied organ with Jesse Eschbach for two years, specializing in 18th-century performance practices of France and Germany. He completed the Doctor of Ministry degree at SMU in 2019, studying liturgics with Mark Stamm. His doctoral thesis was written on the topic of Communion antiphons in the Roman Rite. 

Dr. Conrady oversees an active and vital music program at St. Thomas Aquinas that is known for musical excellence. During his tenure, the ministry has grown to feature eight diverse choirs, an exemplary children’s music program, a contemporary worship ensemble, a cantor ministry, and a concert series. As part of his responsibilities at St. Thomas Aquinas, he conducts three of the parish’s regular choirs (St. Thomas Aquinas Choir, St Francis Choir, and the Schola Cantorum) as well as the Palestrina Singers, a professional Renaissance choir which sings at special concerts and holy days throughout the year. 

In addition to parish ministry, Dr. Conrady also concertizes, composes liturgical music, and serves on a number of area boards and commissions related to music, liturgy, and theology. His involvement with the American Guild of Organists has included the roles of chairperson of the Robert T. Anderson Recital Series and the Southwest Regional Coordinator for Education. He was certified as an Colleague of the American Guild of Organists (CAGO) in 2005 and as an Associate (AAGO) in 2007. He has served on the Dallas Diocesan Liturgical Commission, the Diocesan Commission for Sacred Spaces, and as organist for the Diocesan Choir. He is active in the Hymn Society of United States and Canada, where he presented the opening hymn festival at the 2019 convention and has taught seminars on liturgy and music at previous annual conventions.


Joshua Taylor is the Adjunct Instructor of Sacred Music Studies in the University of North Texas College of Music and serves as the Director of Worship and Music at First United Methodist Church in Denton, Texas. Prior to returning to Denton, Dr. Taylor served as the musician for the ecumenical Iona Community in Scotland. Previously, he served as the Director of Worship and Music at First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, as the Director of Music at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Denton and the Director of Choirs at Navo Middle School in Denton ISD.  Taylor led the FPC Chancel Choir and Chamber Choir in performances for the 2016 Southwest ACDA convention in Kansas City, the memorial service for fallen Dallas police officers with Presidents Obama and Bush in attendance, and numerous concerts for the First Concert Series including collaborations with the Dallas Chamber Orchestra, Dallas Winds, South Dallas Concert Choir, and Turtle Creek Chorale. In 2019, the choir was selected as a finalist for the American Prize in Choral Performance for church choirs.

A skilled liturgist, music educator, and conductor, Josh’s responsibilities have included conducting youth choirs, coordinating Taizé worship experiences, and preparing liturgy for the congregations he has served as well as conference gatherings across the country. He is in demand as a guest lecturer, author, and seminar leader in the areas of worship planning, the music of pilgrimage, and as a conductor. He has presented interest sessions for the national ACDA conventions in Dallas, Texas (2013) and Minneapolis, Minnesota (2017) and the Texas Choral Directors Association, Southwest ACDA, the Kansas Music Educators Association, and the Presbyterian Association of Musicians. Dr. Taylor has published numerous articles on worship and music in the Choral Journal, Call to Worship, a publication of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Presbyterian Outlook, the United Methodist Discipleship Ministries History of Hymns, the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, the PC (USA) Office of Faith Formation Quicksheets Resources, among others. He was named the North Texas Children’s Choir Teacher of the Year in 2010.

His professional affiliations include two terms on the Executive Board of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians and directing that organization’s Mo-Ranch/PAM Worship & Music Conference in 2014. He has also served as the Vice President for the Church Division of the Texas Choral Directors Association and has sat on various committees for PAM, TCDA, and TMEA.

Dr. Taylor holds the doctor of pastoral music degree from Perkins School of Theology/Southern Methodist University, a master of music in choral conducting from Kansas State University, a bachelor of music education from the University of North Texas, and a certificate in ministry from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.