Pray for future singers and choir directors

As I was sending out a reminder for the start of Chorister classes, I took a second glance at the roster and thought readers of the Chant Cafe might be heartened by some numbers.  

Last year we had about 35 kids in the program, then lost about 5 more as people moved or committed to other things.  Over the summer, I asked our priests to pray and encourage more kids to join, especially a few more boys.  And I followed the same recruiting plan.  Pray and invite.  Explain the program.  Repeat. 

Deo gratias, our efforts are bearing fruit!  This year’s roster has:

  • 45 young singers- from 
  • 24 families
  • 22 boys
  • 23 girls
  • 15 new students, incl 3 returning.
I don’t know about you, but I get very misty and very serious about training young people in Gregorian chant.  These are the singers and choir directors of the future, and I am their unworthy teacher.  So I’m praying hard that I will be given the graces to assist them in learning their liturgical heritage, and the tools to make their own effort in building up the Church. 

Since Our Lord is at the center and the final end of all our work in sacred music, please pray that through their studies this year the St. Anne Choristers may grow in love and knowledge of Him, and continue to serve Him with gladness.

The Choral Year- Onward!

For many of us, the choral year is about to start again.  To all the directors, accompanists, and singers,  here’s wishing everyone a year of musical growth and rich spiritual rewards of our hearts’ desire.  Thanks to those who, week after week, dedicate time and energy toward preparing the sacred music.  Welcome to the newbies, those experienced singers joining a choir, and the veterans of many seasons.   With joy and sacrifice, we accomplish a great work of love for God!

This year, let’s sing with hearts decided on loving The Lord and His Church, in a way that is deeply joyful and courageous.  Let us be all the more fierce in our resolve, in solidarity with suffering Christians of our times.  Sing strong and carry them in all your prayers.  Where false religion hides behind masks and cowardly- heinously!- terrorizes the innocents, destroying all in its path, let our True Faith shine brightly, building up the weary, heartening the confused, and pointing all to the Heart of Jesus.

Many would say that we have a small part to play in the drama of our times.  But what a glorious task- to praise God, to make Him known!  This choral year, may God give us an increase of love, and courage and joy needed to advance the gospel through our work in sacred music.  Onward!

How Can We Prepare?

Many of us have learned of Wednesday night’s attack on two FSSP priests serving in Phoenix, AZ.  Area police continue to hunt for a gunman who murdered Fr. Kenneth Walker, and critically injured Fr. Joseph Terra.  The crime has been reported as a burglary.  No motive has been determined.

Fr. Walker visited our parish in San Diego as a deacon, three years ago.  He struck me as a singularly gentle, innocent, and humble young man.  When I saw his picture in the news today, I had a hard time imagining the level of cowardice and malice needed to take his life.

When members of the Body of Christ are brutalized, it can be difficult to resist an overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness.  As more details of his murder come to light, we may well discover Fr. Walker was martyred.  How can we honor his life?  How can we prepare a response in our own lives?

It is my honor to direct a few groups of incredibly dedicated and delightful people.  At a rehearsal tonight, after discussing Fr. Walker’s murder, I stood at the podium and saw a mix of faces filled with sadness, uncertainty, fear, and resolve.  I encouraged them to respond to this tragic attack by renewing their resolve to live a life for Jesus.  To choose now, and to prepare now.  May God give us the strength to remain faithful, to fight, to resist, to pray, to console, and to offer all to Him.

Our Sung Prayers Help Prepare Us
We who work in the field of sacred music as choir directors, organists, and singers possess a great treasure in the sung prayers of the Church.  To the extent that we give our talent and training to glorify God and to edify the faithful, we contribute to spreading joy, hope, and peace.  In our chants, we embrace a full range of human experience- joy, wonder, contrition, sorrow- and we trust that God will bring good out of evil.  

One thing I love about Gregorian chant is how it serves to unite believers across time and borders.  To develop a common chant repertoire that strengthens Christian bonds of charity is part of the genius of the sacred liturgy.  For the singers under my direction, I suggest an “emergency chant pack” of sorts that contains memorized, internalized pieces.  Some prayers we memorize together, and more are chosen by the individual.  These time-tested prayers are doctrinally rich, melodically beautiful, and can serve as sources of strength and consolation during the toughest of times.
What chants would be on your list?