Father Cyprian Constantine, O.S.B., 74, a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey for 48 years, died Sunday, November 12, 2023 after a short illness. A native of Boulder, Colorado, he began the study of piano and violin at an early age, and was locally, regionally, and nationally-known as an organist. Additionally, he was an assistant professor at Saint Vincent College, where he chaired, at various times, both the Music and Fine Arts departments; and at Saint Vincent Seminary, where he also served for a time as academic dean (2004-2007), as director of liturgical formation (2007-2023) and, for the past 20 years, as schola director. He was also concert master, first violinist and principal keyboardist in the Archabbey Baroque Ensemble, and schola director for the Archabbey. For a six-year period he directed the Saint Vincent Camerata, a group specializing in the performance of Medieval and Renaissance vocal and instrumental music.
Father Cyprian earned the Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1971 at the University of Colorado, where he studied violin with Oswald Lehnert and organ with Don Vollstedt. He then entered Saint Vincent Archabbey, where he professed his final vows as a Benedictine in 1975. He earned the Master of Divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 1976 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1977. In the year 2000, he was granted faculties by the Ruthenian Byzantine Rite Archeparchy of Pittsburgh for Byzantine Rite Catholic parishes.
Father Cyprian received the Master of Music degree from Northwestern University in 1979, where he studied organ with Wolfgang Rübsam. Later, he returned to the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ in 1992. While a doctoral student at Colorado University, Father Cyprian was organist/director of music at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Denver and served as organist/choirmaster and parochial vicar for Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Boulder.
In 1982, he was chosen by the Benedictine Musicians of the Americas to participate in a study-tour of current liturgical music practices in European Benedictine houses. In 1985, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for summer research in Gregorian chant at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. The result of his study was Matins at Cluny for the Feast of Saint Peter in Chains, a reconstruction of the service from an 11th century Cluniac manuscript. This reconstruction was published by the Plainsong and Medieval Society of London.
Father Cyprian appeared many times as organ recitalist in the Saint Vincent College concert series, and in other series around the country: Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Pittsburgh; Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg; the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.; Whatley Chapel at the University of Denver, Saint Paul’s and Our Savior’s Lutheran churches, Trinity Methodist and First Baptist churches in Denver; as dedicatory recitalist in Covington, Kentucky and Baltimore, Maryland.
He was on loan to the Archdiocese of Denver from 1993 to 1998. There he was principal organist and associate director of music of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, chaplain of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Walburga, and director of liturgy for the Archdiocese of Denver. He also served on the Music Commission of the Archdiocese and was one of the organizers of the local chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM). He also served as an organizer and clinician at the national conventions of the NPM and the American Guild of Organists in Denver.
In the summer of 2000, he travelled to Rome to perform in a concert series in the Basilica at Sant’ Anselmo. Father Cyprian also served as a consultant on the construction of the new Basilica organ, which was dedicated in November of 2014. He gave one of the inaugural concerts on the organ the following spring.
Most of Father Cyprian’s life revolved around music. On a few occasions, he also undertook non-musical roles, including serving as associate director of Admissions and Financial Aid and assistant director of the Opportunity Program at Saint Vincent College; and, in 1990, Father Cyprian was invited to serve as secretary to the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Order, headquartered at the Collegio di Sant’ Anselmo, Rome, Italy.
He was predeceased by his parents, John George and Marian Olive (Willis) Constantine. Surviving are cousins Connie Jean Magee of Phoenix, Arizona; Janel Hall Schempf of Juneau, Alaska and Susan Horst of Truckee, California; and close friends Lonnie Graham of Northglenn, Colorado; John Buzard of Urbana, Illinois and Jayne Russo.
The reception of the body will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, November 16 in the Roderick Hall Parlor of Saint Vincent Seminary, with viewing until 5 p.m. A wake service will be held at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, with Father Prior Killian Loch, O.S.B., serving as celebrant and homilist.
A concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, November 17, with Archabbot Martin de Porres Bartel, O.S.B., serving as principal celebrant and Father Jean-Luc Zadroga, O.S.B., as homilist. The Rite of Committal will follow in the Marcy Mother of Mercy Mausoleum Chapel at Saint Vincent Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Benedictine Health and Welfare Fund at Saint Vincent Archabbey, 300 Fraser Purchase Rd., Latrobe, PA 15650.