Sunday, November 10, 2013

In Medio Ecclesiae

Every year on a Friday morning in late spring, St. Dominic's church in southwest Washington DC is packed to overflowing as Dominicans, their relatives and friends come to witness the ordination of the newest Dominican Fathers of the Eastern Province in the large acoustic space.

Over the last two years, the Schola of Dominican friars have been travelling from the province's formation house of studies (pictured) at the opposite end of town to St. Dominic's to make a record, In Medio Ecclesiae.

Having attended Masses and Vespers sung by the friars for over a decade, I'm a big fan of the unified sound they achieve with the apparent effortlessness of those who sing together all day, every day. Choir directors know how hard this unity is to orchestrate, but the schola, conducted by Fr. James Moore, OP, of the Western Province, sings as one, with a sense of strong forward motion. The sound is manly and joyful.

The majority of the pieces are motets; one, an original composition by one of the friars in formation, is a highlight of the entire album, Thine Are the Heavens, by Br. Vincent Ferrer Bagan, OP. Other pieces include chanted Latin antiphons to Sts. Dominic and Thomas Aquinas, and there are several hymns, sensitively arranged and sung.

Proceeds of the album, available now for download and soon to be printed as CDs, will support the ever-growing student brother population as they prepare to become Dominican priests and consecrated brothers in service of the Church.