For the first time, we sang for the feast day of St Hillary, the saint after whom Hillary Term is named: the 'Athanasius of the West'. We accompanied a beautiful and well-attended Dominican High Mass in Blackfriars.
Michaelmas Term was a busy one for the Schola Abelis, with a new intake of student singers. As has become usual, they tend to be graduate students. Our numbers at events have been up to ten, which is a lot for a chant schola.
We have this term focused on Oxford venues: the Mass we accompanied in Blackfriars is captured above; the one in St Benet's Hall, below.
Last Saturday evening the Schola Abelis, sang Vespers in Merton College Chapel in Oxford.
Fr Richard Biggerstaff, the Director of the St Barnabas Society, officiated.
We don't often do services in Anglican chapels, but Vespers is a rather different proposition from Mass. It was an opportunity for the Schola to tackle the somewhat different challenges of the Divine Office, compared to Mass, and to sing in the wonderful acoustic of Merton's historic chapel, as well as to honour St Barnabas and beg his interecession for the important work of the St Barnabas Society.
This supports Anglican and other ordained ministers who become Catholic, frequently losing their livlihoods in doing so. Go and support them through their website here.
The Schola Abelis is the only choir in Oxford focusing on Gregorian Chant. And though I say it myself, we sounded very good at Vespers. Anyone, from Town or University, who is interested in singing with us should contact us (). We don't expect previous experience singing chant - or anything else. I should mention that it is an all-male schola.
These days we are being looked after, in the capacity of cantor and trainer, by Will Dawes, a professional singer based in Oxford with an excellent knowledge of chant. Amusingly enough, he also directs an all-female liturgical choir. There is something for everyone in Oxford!
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Founded in 2006 as a student society of Oxford University, we have an all-male chant schola and a mixed polyphonic consort to sing Gregorian Chant and Renaissance Polyphony in its intended setting in the Traditional Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, in association with the Latin Mass Society.