St. John Henry Newman

A glance at some of the observances surrounding the canonization of St. John Henry Newman:

The London Oratory Schola Cantorum sang at Sunday’s canonization Mass in Rome, under the direction of Charles Cole:

Fr. James Bradley of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham appeared on EWTN (Great Britain) in a series of reflections about Newman’s life and importance:

And Mass at the Oratory itself was followed by a solemn Te Deum:

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The Ukrainian Catholic SingCon

In September, CMAA board member David Hughes and I had the pleasure of attending the second annual “singing conference” for musicians of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church held at St. Basil Seminary in Stamford, Connecticut, presented by the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission of the UGCC. For us Westerners, it was a beginner’s opportunity to become acquainted with the music of that Church, characterized by its traditions of harmonized chant.

For the eighty or so attending, it was a time to share with each other their experience as parish musicians and to learn from recognized experts, many of them connected with St. Basil Seminary or with the Sheptytsky Institute based in Toronto.

The program included sung celebrations of Vespers, Matins, some of the Little Hours, and of course Divine Liturgy, which on Sunday was celebrated by Bishop Bohdan Danylo of Parma, Ohio. That liturgy included some works by New York-based composer Roman Hurko, who directed one of the choirs at the “SingCon”:

Next year the conference will be held at the Ukrainian Catholic cathedral in Philadelphia, October 1-4.

More information and videos from this year’s conference appear at our sister site New Liturgical Movement and at the site of the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission.

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Pope Francis: take Gregorian chant “as the first model” of sacred music

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Address of the Holy Father Francis to the Scholae Cantorum of the Italian Saint Cecilia Association

Paul VI Audience Hall
Saturday, September 28, 2019

Dear brothers and sisters,

I welcome all of you, the president Monsignor Tarcisio Cola, whom I thank for his words; the Board of Directors, and you, cantors, choir directors, organists, who have come from the various parts of Italy.

You are part of the meritorious Italian Saint Cecilia Association, 140 years old from its foundation and still alive and working and desiring to serve the Church. The affection and esteem of the Pope for this Association are well known, in particular St. Pius X, who gave the people of God a synthesis of teaching on sacred music (cf. Motu Proprio Tra le sollecitudini, November 22, 1903). St. Paul VI wanted you to be renewed and active for a music that is integrated with the liturgy and draws its fundamental characteristics from it. Not just any music, but a holy music, because the rites are holy; adorned with nobility of art, because for God we must give the best; universal, so that everyone can understand and celebrate. Especially, it should be well distinct and different from the music used for other purposes. And he recommended that you cultivate the sensus ecclesiae, discernment of music for the liturgy. He said, “Not everything is valid, not everything is lawful, not everything is good. Here the sacred music must be joined with the beautiful in a harmonious and devout synthesis.” (Discourse to religious women dedicated to liturgical chant, April 15, 1971). Benedict XVI exhorted you to not forget the musical heritage of the past, to renew it and increase it with new compositions.

Dear friends, I too encourage you to continue on this road. To be an Association is a resource: it helps you to generate movement, interest, commitment to better serve the liturgy. An Association that is not the originator or owner of any music, but has love and fidelity to the Church as its program. Together you can devote yourselves better to song as an integral part of the Liturgy, with Gregorian chant inspiring you as the first model. Take care together for artistic and liturgical preparation, and promote the presence of the schola cantorum in every parish community. In fact, the choir guides the assembly, and with its own specific repertoire, is a skilled voice of spirituality, of community, of tradition, and of liturgical culture. I recommend that you help the whole people of God to sing, with conscious and active participation and in the Liturgy. This is important: closeness to the people of God.

The fields of your apostolate are various: the composition of new melodies, promoting chant in seminaries and houses of religious formation; supporting parish choirs, organists, schools of sacred music, and youth. To sing, to play, to compose, to direct, to make music in the Church are among the most things for the glory of God. It is a privilege, a gift of God, to express musical art and aid participation in the divine mysteries. A beautiful and good music is a privileged instrument for approaching the transcendent, and often helps even distracted people understand a message.

I know that your preparation involves sacrifices connected with finding time to devote to practice, with getting people involved, with carrying out feast days when perhaps your friends invite you to come and have fun. So many times! But your dedication to the liturgy and to its music represent a way of evangelization at all levels, from children to adults. The Liturgy is in fact the first “teacher” of catechism. Don’t forget this: the Liturgy is the first “teacher” of catechism.

Sacred music also reveals another duty, that of joining Christian history together: in the Liturgy resound Gregorian chant, polyphony, congregational song, and music of the present day. It is as though all the generations, past and present, were there to praise God, each with its own sensibility. What is more, sacred music and music in general builds bridges, brings people closer, even those far away; it knows no barriers of nationality, ethnicity, skin color, but draws in everyone, in a higher language, and always succeeds in bringing into harmony people and groups, even of very different origins. Sacred music brings people closer, even with brothers to whom we sometimes do not feel close. For this reason, the singing group in every parish is a group where there is an atmosphere of availability and mutual help.

For all of this, dear brothers, I thank you and encourage you. The Lord help you to be constant in your commitment. The Church esteems the service that you present in the community: you help it to feel the attraction of the beautiful, which detoxifies us from mediocrity, lifts us higher, toward God, and unites hearts in praise and in tenderness. I bless you and all the members of the Saint Cecilia Association. May our Lady protect you. And since he who sings prays twice, I trust that you will also pray for me. Thank you!

(translation by RC from the Italian original text, edited)

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Tournemire in Pittsburgh

This November, the city of three rivers is to be favored with a full performance of L’Orgue Mystique, the chant-inspired suite of works by Charles Tournemire. Organist Richard Spotts will be performing from the collection on November 4 and again daily from November 9 to 17 at various churches in the Pittsburgh area.

Ann Labounsky, professor of organ at Duquesne University, appeared with Mr. Spotts in a short video about the event. (I hope it’s visible to everyone.)

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From the Colloquium: Vespers, July 5

On Friday evening of the Sacred Music Colloquium in Philadelphia, Vespers were celebrated for the feast of St. Anthony Maria Zaccaria according to the traditional Roman office, with Fr. Robert Pasley, chaplain of CMAA, presiding. The choir was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Edward Schaefer, and the organist was Professor Ann Labounsky.

A Marian Mass in Spanish (Colloquium Mass audio)

Again this year the Sacred Music Colloquium included a Mass celebrated in Spanish: this time a votive Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with wonderful music of the Spanish Renaissance, on Thursday, July 4.

The Mass setting was La misa Caça by Cristobal de Morales, and the Mass included motets by Guerrero and de la Torre.  The propers were sung in new plainchant adaptations by Janet Gorbitz and Jennifer Donelson.  Music for the Mass can be viewed in the colloquium repertoire book at pages 103-134, except for a motet by Cornelius Verdonck of the Spanish Netherlands, which was a late substitution.

Photos by Charles Cole are on-line at New Liturgical Movement, and here are audio excerpts:

    1. Prelude: Bach, Fantasia super “Komm, heiliger Geist” (BWV 651)
    2. Processional interlude
    3. Introit: Un gran señal
    4. Kyrie: Morales: La misa Caça
    5. Gloria: Morales, La misa Caça
    6. Psalm: Tú eres la honra de nuestro pueblo (Mahrt/Cabezon)
    7. Alleluia, Dichosa tu
    8. Offertory: Dios te salve, Maria
    9. Interlude
    10. Motet: Verdonck, Ave gratia plena
    11. Interlude
    12. Sanctus/Benedictus: Morales, La misa Caça
    13. Padre nuestro
    14. Agnus Dei: Morales, La misa Caça
    15. Communion: Nos ha hecho
    16. Interlude
    17. Motet: Guerrero, O celestial medicina!
    18. Interlude
    19. De la Torre: Adoremoste, Señor
    20. Vierne: Toccata from Suite Nr. 2, op. 53:

Thanks to the anonymous attendee who posted a video of portions of the Mass on-line; the above image is a screenshot from it.

Colloquium Mass Audio: July 3: Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle

On the third day of the CMAA Sacred Music Colloquium, Fr. James Richardson offered Mass in the Ordinary Form on the feast of St Thomas the Apostle, at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. The Latin propers were sung with Gregorian Mass IV; among the the motets sung were Quia vidisti me, Thoma by Hassler, Mitte manum by Isaac and O salutaris hostia by Anerio. Organist Michael Garrepy performed works by Mendelssohn and Bach. Photos by Charles Cole are on-line at New Liturgical Movement, and here are audio excerpts:

1. Prelude: Mendelssohn: Op. 37, Nr. 2 (partial recording)

2. Processional

3. Introit: Mihi autem

4. Kyrie, Mass IV (Cunctipotens genitor Deus)

5. Gloria IV

6. Gradual: Nimis honorati sunt

7. Alleluia: Gaudete justi

8. Credo III

9. Offertory: In omnem terram

10. Hassler: Quia vidisti me

11. Sanctus IV

12. Pater noster

13. Agnus Dei IV

14. Communio: Isaac: Mitte manum tuam

15. Anerio: O salutaris hostia

16. Bach: Kyrie (Gott Heiliger Geist), BWV 671

Dom Alcuin Reid on “liturgical integrity”

On Wednesday, July 3, liturgical scholar Dom Alcuin Reid, prior of the Monastère Saint-Benoît in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France, gave the second plenary lecture at CMAA’s Sacred Music Colloquium, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. His talk on authority in liturgy recalls the teaching of Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei that

“Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition.” The liturgy, the liturgical rites themselves, are an intrinsic part of the handing on of the faith received from the apostles. They are not mere decoration or ornament. The rites and prayers that have developed in the life of the Church are sacred vessels which bring apostolic tradition to us. Thus they are privileged sacramentals worthy of profound respect.

That is why Catholic liturgy is sacred. That is why Catholic liturgy is not that which any individual or group ‘likes’ to do, but is what we do ecclesially, in accordance with what is handed on to us in tradition. That is why the Sacred Liturgy enjoys a theological objectivity and cannot be altered without the greatest of prudence and due proportionality.

Against a subjectivism that would make the liturgy depend on “whatever the priest wants” or whatever this or that particular pope wants, according to personal opinions, Reid proposes principles of “liturgical integrity”. A text of his lecture appears in Catholic World Report.