Miss Singing Vespers? Another Home Chant Opportunity

Good news!

A Webinar on Chanting Monastic Vespers will be offered online by Jennifer Donelson (Director of Sacred Music at St. Joseph’s Seminary) from 5-6:10pm for the next few Sundays (May 3, 10, 17 and 24). Instruction will be provided in the first 40 minutes, followed by praying Vespers. The webinar is free and you do not need to commit to all of the sessions, but you will need to register in order to participate. Click the link above for more information.

Please feel free to share with anyone you think might be interested.

I hope to meet with you in prayer!

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Chant study at home

Hello all! I hope you had a joyful Feast of the Resurrection and that you are continuing to tap into the Pascha celebration as we endure the challenges of this coronavirus situation. The few schola events that we had planned are up in the air at the moment, so I unfortunately don’t know when the next time will be that we can get together, but that does not mean you can not continue learn about Gregorian Chant. If you find that you have extra time on your hands and would like to fill it with further study, here are a few resources that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home:

1. The monks at Clear Creek Abbey offer a great self-paced home study course, Laus in Ecclesia (Praise in the Church), which allows great flexibility in learning. It includes a text book, audio and video resources, and writing assignments to help the concepts sink in. Along with the fundamentals of understanding neums, rhythm, etc; the course also explores the history of the sacred music in the Church and introduces students to important figures to provide a well-rounded foundation for understanding Gregorian Chant. You can submit the homework assignments for grading and complete a comprehensive exam at the end in order to obtain a certificate (I am currently working towards the Level I and plan to continue to the Level II). See the website to order the book and for more details.

2. If you would like something a bit more structured, St. Joseph Seminary (Yonkers, NY) will be offering their Sacred Music courses online in June/July. There are two that may be of particular interest:

  • Principles of Sacred Music (June 1 – July 28)
  • Principles of Chant (July 13-17)

The classes are $500 to audit, with a 50% discount for first-time students. The classes will be much more thorough than what I can offer. I do not know if they will continue this online option in the future, so you may want to take advantage of the opportunity while you can.

3. Lastly, you may be interested in signing up for the Benedict XVI Institute email list. It is a wonderful organization based in San Francisco, which aims to “open the door of Beauty to God.” The pandemic has inspired them to offer chanted prayer opportunities online via Zoom, such as a national Litany of the Sacred Heart during the Triduum, Compline (night prayer), and a “Songfest for Our Mother in Heaven and on Earth,” which is scheduled for Mother’s Day. In joining their email list, you will receive invites the take part as more opportunities are offered.

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I hope you find these resources helpful in dedicating this unusual time to growing in the love of God. God bless!

Preparation for Easter

Hey everyone.

I know this has been a particularly difficult Lent, and it is with great sadness that we anticipate Easter Sunday without the full joy of being present in the liturgical celebrations. This is a time in which our small efforts will make a big difference in our ability to take part in the most significant day of the year.

With this in mind, you might be interested in these tools for learning the Introit for the Mass on Easter Sunday. The practice might be a helpful addition to your quarantine schedule, and it will provide a means for your voice and heart to unite in expressing the beauty of the day.

Here is the translation:

Introit. (Ps. 138: 18, 5, 6) I arose, and am still with You, alleluia; You rest Your hand upon Me, alleluia. v. (Ps. 138: 1, 2) O Lord, You have probed me and You know Me; You know when I sit and when I stand. Glory be… I arose, and am still with You…

The chant audio:

And the music:

I recommend learning primarily with the help of the audio, as well as practicing at least a few sections in solfege to try to sing the melody on your own.

Also, I would encourage you to consider reading the whole psalm (139 in most bibles, 138 in the Douay-Rheims) before you sing the chant on Easter morning. It offers a beautiful meditation on one’s relationship with God and His continual presence – even His entering in the midst of our darkness.

Lastly, be reassured that your prayer/chant on Sunday is truly not in isolation – you are witnessed by our Divine Lord, along with His angels and His saints. Allow this moment to be an opportunity to offer a small contribution to the Eternal Celebration.

Wishing you all a safe and prayerful Holy Week and a joyful Feast of the Resurrection!

In this challenging time…

As we are adapting to mitigate the danger faced to our vulnerable brothers and sisters by the coronavirus, you may be interested in learning a prayer uniquely suitable for this time. The link offers more information, along with a helpful practice audio.

https://www.ccwatershed.org/2020/03/13/stella-caeli-a-hymn-against-pestilence/

You might also find this post regarding prayer in time of lock-down worthwhile (especially considering our special relationship with St. Augustine).

http://www.chantcafe.com/2020/03/hymns-for-times-of-lockdown/

Please take care.

Mary, Health of the Sick, pray for us.

About the Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary

Today (Feb. 11th) is the actual Feast day of the Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary (aka Our Lady of Lourdes). Our Mass on the 13th will be a Votive Mass, joining the devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes to Our Lady of Fatima. Aiming to prepare our hearts along with our voices to unite with the prayers, it is good to read through the propers beforehand to gain a sense of how the Church is guiding us through the celebration of this feast day.

You might want to begin with this overview of today’s feast day to obtain an understanding of the origin of the devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes.

Along with the historical perspective, it is also worth considering the significance of Our Lady of Lourdes as the patroness of “bodily ills.” While this is not surprising considering the number of miraculous healings associated with her devotion, her patronage is more directly rooted to the meaning of her title, the Immaculate Conception. Through it, we meditate on God’s intent to heal mankind from the fall in the very beginning. Identified as the Protoevangellium (first good news), Our Lord said to the serpent:

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

Gen 3:15 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

In this, God “conceived” of the woman in relationship to Christ, her Seed/our Savior. Thus, while we are brought into relationship with Christ through the sacrament of Baptism, Our Lady was relationship to Christ from her very conception in the mind of God. The Blessed Virgin Mary is not simply as a young woman in an isolated point of history, but the woman promised to mankind by God, and of whom Israel had been given special insight through sacred scripture. The Immaculate Conception is not just about the purity of Mary, but rather, it is about the beginning of God healing of mankind’s relationship with Himself . Just how Christ healed the sick to reveal the deeper reality of the forgiveness of sins, the miracles at Lourdes ought to lead us to a deeper trust in the saving love of God. It is a truly beautiful revelation that the Mass helps us to celebrate. With that, let us consider more deeply the prayers we will encounter:

IntroitApoc. 21:2, Ps. 44:2

I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. v. My heart overflows with a goodly theme; as I sing my ode to the King. Glory be… I saw the holy city…

We begin with the book of Revelation. Meditating on an insight into the life of Heaven that was revealed to a mere peasant girl in 1858, we recognize that the timeless enters into time. What occurred in the past continues to be a heavenly reality in the present. With this Mass in honor of the Apparition of the Immaculate Conception, we witness the beauty and joy that exists in eternal relationship with God.

Collect – O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for Your Son, we humbly beseech You that, recalling the apparition of the same Virgin, we may obtain health for both soul and body. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son…

LessonApoc. 11:19, 12: 1,10 – The temple of God in heaven was opened, and there was seen the ark of His covenant in His temple, and there came flashes of lightning, and peals of thunder, and an earthquake, and great hail. And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And I heard a loud voice in haven saying, Now has come the salvation, and the power of the kingdom of our God; and the authority of His Christ.

GradualCant. 2: 12, 10, 14
The flowers appear in our land, the time of pruning has come, the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.  v. Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff.

God’s plan for salvation begins to take place in Mary’s conception and fiat. In the barrenness of our fallen world, the Blessed Virgin’s hidden relationship with the life-giving Trinity is now revealed to the people of God.

TractJudith 15:10, Cant. 4:7
You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you are the honor of our people.
v. You are all beautiful, O Mary, and there is in you no stain of original sin. v. Happy are you, O holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise, who with your virgin foot have crushed the serpent’s head.

Judith, a young Jewish widow, liberates her people when she goes behind enemy lines and beheads Holofernes, the general of the Assyrian army. It is not her strength that defeats the enemy, but her total reliance on God. Likewise, it is not man’s own power that defeats the deceiver from the garden, but the humble handmaid of the Lord in in her simple cooperation with God. Thus, through the Tract, we are invited more deeply understand the Gospel by looking towards the foundation prepared by God in Israel, recalling that “New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.” (St. Augustine)

GospelLuke 1: 26-31 – At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And when the angel had come to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” When she had heard him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace with God. Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and shall bring forth a son; and you shall call His name Jesus.”

OffertoryLuke 1:28
Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.

Adopting the heavenly perspective, we approach the Blessed Virgin Mary with the words of the angel Gabriel; seeking her intercession as we offer our prayers and sacrifice in the Mass.

Secret – May the sacrifice of praise which we offer You, O Lord, through the merits of the glorious and Immaculate Virgin, be to You as a sweet savor and may it obtain for us the health of sould and body which we desire. Through our Lord…

CommunionPs 64: 10a
You have visited the land and watered it; greatly have you enriched it.

The subheading for Psalm 64 is “a hymn to the people of the captivity, when they began to get out.” With this verse, we praise Our Lord for freeing us from the slavery of sin. In receiving the Eucharist, our poor spirits are enriched by Our Lord’s own eternal body and blood; the fruit of the Immaculate Conception.

Postcommunion – May the right hand of Your immaculate Mother support us, O Lord, whom You have filled with heavenly good, that by her help we may be found worthy to enter our eternal homeland.

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I hope you find this little preparation helpful. I know our focus on singing can sometimes distract us from the content of the prayers, so the more you have already in your heart, the easier it will be to maintain an awareness of the significance of what we are expressing. Please do not forget that you can offer this Mass in prayer for the healing of yourself or a loved one. Thank you for your continued work in preparation. I look forward to praying with you on Thursday.

Practice Melodies for Ordinaries on Feb 13th (Mass IX)

Here are some practice audios for the Ordinaries this Thursday. The pace is a bit faster than the initial practice post, so go through it a couple of times in order to become comfortable with it. You can practice in solfege, then switch to the Latin. I hope to do a separate post for the Gloria – please use the previous Ordinaries post to practice in the meantime. Enjoy!

Kyrie

Sanctus

Angus Dei


Practice Audios for the Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary

Here are the audios to help practice the propers. I am not a pianist, but they should still be good enough to give your voice a feel for the melodies. Go through it with your solfege sheet until it becomes comfortable, then sing it with the Latin. I also included an audio of simply speaking the Latin to help with pronunciation.

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Introit – after the Entrance hymn – Cantor intones, schola sings from the asterisk to the double bars. For the psalm verse and the Gloria Patri, the cantor begins and the schola joins in at the asterisk. After the “Amen,” everyone repeats the full Introit antiphon.

Vidi civitatem

Melody
Latin

Tract – after the Gradual/before the Gospel (instead of the Alleluia – if you are wondering why, here is an article explaining “pre-Lent”: Septuagesima to Quardragesima) Cantor intones, schola sings from the asterisk to the double bar. Cantor sings the two verses with the schola singing again at the asterisk on pg 2.

Tu gloria

Melody
Latin

Offertory – after the homily – Cantor intones, schola begins at the asterisk and sings to the end.

Ave gratia

Melody
Latin

Communion – Cantor intones, schola begins at the asterisk. Cantor will sing two verses from the psalm, schola sings the full antiphon, repeating as needed.

Visitasti terram

Melody
Lain

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I will put together a post with melody audios for the Ordinaries which I hope to share by Monday.

Also, I recommend familiarizing yourself with the translations so that you know what we are singing. If you would like to look through the prayers and readings for the Mass, you can find the Latin with the English translation here (put in 2-11-2020 for the date if it is not already there). The image at the top of this post relates to the meditations within the Mass that day.

Happy practicing!

Ordinaries for Feb 13th

I’m sorry I had to cancel the Beginner’s Schola class on Jan 30th, but I hope the videos in this post will help you prepare on your own. We will be working primarily with Mass IX (Cum jubilo), which is used for solemnities and feasts of Our Lady. The Mass that will be offered on Feb 13th will be a Vigil Mass for the Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary (aka Our Lady of Lourdes). You are probably already familiar with our singing format, but I will add little notes to the videos to refresh your memory.

Kyrie – cantor will sing the first kyrie, schola will sing the second, with the two alternating throughout the rest of the chant. For the last kyrie, the cantor will sing the beginning half and the schola will join at the double asterisks **.

Gloria (Mass VIII – missa de angelis) – We will be using Mass VIII for the Gloria to help simplify things and to become more familiar with this longer chant. At some point, we will change the Gloria with the different Mass that we are singing, but for the time being I think it is best to stick with one. Previously, I believe we alternated cantor/schola at the double bars, but I would like us to try with the everyone singing the full chant together (Fr. will intone). Please familiarize yourself with the Latin pronunciation – we will also sing this at a bit of a quicker pace.

Sanctus – cantor intones, schola joins in at the asterisk and sings through to the end.

Angus Dei – cantor sings each of the “Angus Dei,” schola sings at the asterisk, stopping at the double bar.

We will brush up on these chants on Feb 6th and then focus on learning the Propers. I will also post practice videos to help with that (though they will not be as well produced as these).

Thank you for taking part!

Practice Canceled

Hey everyone: I unfortunately will be out of town this week due to a family emergency and need to cancel the practice this Thursday, January 30th. We should still be good for the practice on February 6th (6:30 – 8pm).

Keep an eye on this site though; I will post practice videos for the Ordinaries in the hope that we can briefly go over them and still have time to learn the Propers on the 6th.

Thank you for understanding – I hope to see you at practice!

An Advent Hymn for the 13th

I just happened to come across a beautiful meditation on the Rorate Caeli, an Advent Hymn which the schola will sing after the Communion verse on the 13th. Here is a recording of the chant to help you become familiar:

The meditation is from the Dominicana Journal (click the link to read), reflecting on the content of the hymn, as well as providing a great example of “word painting” in chant.  As Br. Damian describes in the article:

With the first word of the Church’s pleading, the imperative Roráte, the notes move upward reaching the highest pitch on heavens (caéli). From heaven’s heights, the chant descends downward with the hoped for dewfall (désuper), rising slightly to the clouds (núbes) from which the notes rain forth with justice (plúant jústum).

I hope you have a chance to read the article in full.  See you on Wednesday!

Beginner’s Schola for the upcoming EF Mass (Dec 13th – in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Microsoft Word - BeginnersScholaFlyer2.docx

We will be learning Mass XVIII (the Ordinary chant setting for ferias, vigils, etc. during Advent and Lent), along with a few hymns appropriate for the season.  Please invite anyone you think might be interested.  I hope you can join us!

Advent Update

Happy New Liturgical Year!!!

Unfortunately, we are not able to organize sung Vespers at St. Monica and St. Blaise this season.   With praying Vespers during Advent and Lent for the past 3 years, I’m going to miss coming together to chant the psalms, along with meditating on the O Antiphons in preparation for the birth of Our Lord.  I hope that we will be able to resume again in Lent.

The good news is that with Vespers (and the rest of the Liturgy of the Hours) being the prayer of the whole Church, you are not alone in your prayer even if you are in the privacy of your own home.  There are many very helpful tools available if you would like to include Vespers (or the other “hours”) in your Advent prayer life.  Here are some that you might want to check out:

On the radio:

WAOB 106.7 FM – Morning Prayer @ 7:15am, Evening Prayer @ 5:30pm (M-F), 7:25pm (Sat-Sun)

Podcasts:

Monastery Podcast – by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Missouri, they post Lauds (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer) each day.

Praying the Liturgy of the Hours Podcast – a series of discussions exploring aspects of the prayer, by Fr. Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V.

Apps:

Laudate – a free app with the daily readings, Liturgy of the Hours, and plenty of prayers.  The translations are not the official (Grail) translation due to copyright issues, which means that a person under obligation to pray the hours (Priests/Religious) is not be able to use the LOTH from this app.

Universalis – this app has a small fee (though I believe the first month is a free trial), but it provides the official translation along with other features.  It is essentially the Laudate app, but better.

IBreviary – another very good app with the official translation.  I believe you need to download the information each day, so you will also have to remember to delete it afterwards in order to not use up all the space on your phone or tablet.

Books – the hard copy is a little more difficult at first, but it offers a deeper understanding of the structure of the prayer (plus, you don’t have to worry about the battery or internet connection).  Here are two options:

Christian Prayer – this contains Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer and is a great place for laypersons to start.  Here is an article to help explain setting the ribbons.

4 Volume Breviary – in addition to Morning/Evening Prayer, this offers the Office of Readings and Common of Saints.  This would be a good investment if you are already comfortable praying with the apps or the Christian Prayer book.  Here is another article (from the same author) with tips to get started.

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I hope you find these resources helpful.

A bit of good news: there will be a Missa Cantata (Sung Extraordinary Form Mass) at St. Blaise on Friday, Dec 13th at 7pm.  I will be posting information later this week if you would like to take part in the schola.

Lastly, the Marian Antiphon for the season of Advent is the Alma Redemporis Mater – here is a practice video to refresh your memory:

 

Have a great Advent!

Illuminated Requiem exhibit/presentation at St. Blaise

requiemposterStBlaiseThe last opportunity to see the Illuminated Requiem exhibit will be this Wednesday, Nov 20th at St. Blaise.  The exhibit has been visiting different locations throughout the month of November, seeking to assist in prayer for the deceased.  Join us at 6pm for the presentation, exploring the content of the prayers of the Requiem Mass.  While the presentation will be of interest for anyone curious about Catholic Art or Sacred Music, it is particularly directed towards supporting those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Please extend an invitation to anyone you think might be interested.  I hope you can attend.

Schola prep – just some extra help with singing

We have not focused on the specifics of singing in the past – largely because I am not trained in this area, but also because praying through chant does not require a soloist voice.  It is a little different when seeking to sing for the Liturgy though.  In this case, the extra effort in training our voices to be able to express the syllables and notes with clarity is of greater importance.  You do not need to have a great voice to be in a schola (which is a place of learning – mastery is not required), but it is good to have the desire to improve.

Luckily, we live in an age with YouTube, which offers a seemingly infinite number of opportunities to learn for beginners.  Here is a helpful video with just some basics about using your voice.   I will continue to share videos in this area from time to time, so click the “follow” link if you would like to receive a notice in your email.  Also, feel free to recommend any videos that you find particularly helpful.  See you soon!

 

Joy/Sorrow Practice Videos

Great job with learning the Te Deum and Lux Aeterna!  As I mentioned, I would not expect to master a chant the first time it is introduced.  Often, you need a night to let things sink in, forget some things, then restudy it, (and repeat).  By this, you develop what you have learned in order to move from simply trying to sing the right syllables and melodies to become words that are expressed with beauty from the heart.

Also – I have a confession: I found two typos in the Te Deum handout; which makes for a fun test  : )

Here is a video of the chant being sung antiphonally (two sides alternate at the double bars); can you find the typos?

You can download a correct pdf of the chant here:

te-deum-simple-tone

Hopefully there will be a chance to sing it at the end of the year for an opportunity to obtain a plenary indulgence.  You might also be interested in this article, which I found helpful in developing a greater appreciating for this somewhat arduous but incredibly valuable chant.

And here is a practice video for the Lux Aeterna:

The chant is only the first 50 seconds, then continues to the post communion and finishing with the Requiescant in pace.  I hope that in committing the chant to heart, you will not only be able to use it for your own prayer, but also be able to unite with the prayer more fully when you encounter it in the Mass.

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Be sure to click the “Follow” button if you would like to receive an email when a new post is shared.  This will keep you up to date about the next chant opportunity and any fun resources that I come across.  It was great working with you all!

Eucharistic Prayer Videos

Great job last Thursday! I just wanted to share a few videos to help with practicing the chants that were introduced.

You’ll notice in this recording of the Ave Verum, the schola is singing antiphonally; one side chants the line to the double bar, then the other side chants to the next double bar.  This not only preserves the voice (monks an nuns do a lot of chanting throughout the day) but also allows an opportunity to meditate in the midst of the prayer – incorporating both singing and listening into the act of turning one’s heart towards God.

 

And here is a practice video of the Hymn to the Sacred Heart:

If you’re curious about the connection between Our Lord in the Eucharist with His Sacred Heart, here is an article about a miracle in 2008.

I hope these prayers help to strengthen your relationship with Our Lord in His gift of the Eucharist.

Next week is our last class in this series.   We will be learning two prayers – one for times of joy and the other for times of sorrow.  Feel free to invite anyone who might be interested.