Saturday 30 May 2009

Mass at Mapledurham, Vigil of Pentcost 2009

Today we had a Sung Mass at Mapledurham House. I didn't have my camera or camcorder with me (for a change!) but we had a schola of 11, including our coach Adrian Taylor, the chapel was filled to capacity (which is forty people!), and it was a wonderful occasion. Mass was sung by Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP, who is based in Reading.

The weather was glorious. We had lunch in the nearby 'Pack Horse Inn' and returned to the house for a tour. It was a Catholic house continuously through penal times, and is still occupied by descendants of the Blount family who owned it then - the Eystons. Mr John Eyston having inherited it at the age of four, has spent a lifetime in a painstaking restoration. It is open to the public on Saturday afternoons in the Summer, and is worth a visit.

So you have something to look at, here are a couple of photos from my mobile phone, and a link to some much better one of our Mass in this chapel last year.

Thursday 28 May 2009

More videos

Lesser Alleluia, Virga Jesse & Greater Alleluia, Ave Maria

Offertory Beata est Virgo

Communion Unde huic, followed by the hymn Ave Maris Stella

Sunday 24 May 2009

Chant Training Day

On Saturday our annual public Gregorian Chant Training Day took place. The first of these was led by the late Dr Mary Berry; since then they have been led by Mr Philip Duffy.
Chant day6
Having a public event such as this is intended to stimulate interest in the Chant, especially among local Catholic singers, as well as providing an opportunity for Schola members to experience a nationally recognised Chant expert.

We rehearsed the hymns of Benediction (we attended the regular Benediction on Saturdays at 11am) and the Votive Mass of Our Lady, Salve sancta parens, with the variations for the Easter Season, with Mass IV. We had sung most of the chants before and Mr Duffy was able to focus on the interpretation.

A matter of particular interest in Tempore Paschale is where to stress the word 'alleluia'. Alleluia is added to many of the chants in the Easter Season, so we sang it again and again. The syllable marked as stressed is the third - allelUia - but Mr Duffy explained that there is a secondary stress on the first: ALlelUia. Or better, the second and the final syllable are de-emphasised. You can hear how we sang alleluia after a day of Mr Duffy's instructions!

The day concluded with Sung Mass at 3.30pm, accompanied by the participants, celebrated by Fr John Saward, who had very generously hosted the event in his church and hall.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

'Catholic congregational music a laughing stock'

James MacMillan, the Catholic composer, has sent a message to Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who just been elected Chairman of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and is being installed as Archbishop of Westminster tomorrow. It is about Church music. He says:

Liturgical "activists" have used the vacuum after the Council to push their own agenda of de-poeticisation, de-sacralisation, and a general dumbing down of the Church's sacred praise. Pope Benedict is determined to confront the problem. The faithful are fed up with sloppy practice, inappropriate, terrible music and the gradual drift away from Catholic standards in the liturgy. My hope is that Archbishop Nichols will give a clear lead in the pursuit of profundity in liturgy. This means a recognition that there were terrible mistakes made in the past few decades that have made new Catholic congregational music a laughing stock.

See The Times.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Worcester College Sarum Vespers

We've been alerted to this event.

Join the Worcester College chapel community, on Wednesday 27th May, at 9.00 pm,
for a reconstruction of sung Vespers of the medieval Office in honour of St
Augustine of Canterbury. This will be the latest in a series of such services
which feature performances of medieval liturgical music, much of which has not
been heard since the Reformation, transcribed from local sources. On this
occasion the service is from the Denchworth Antiphonal, a manuscript used at the
parish of St James, Denchworth, near Wantage, which has many connections to the

Several items from the early modern Denchworth parish library, now deposited in
Worcester, will be on display, including a chained volume and a commonplace book
for the use of the incumbents 'for ever'. This is a unique opportunity to see
some volumes perhaps intended for practical use in an early modern parish.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Ambrosian Chant

A former Oxford chant singer (just before the formalisation of the current schola as a University society, in fact) has been spending time in Milan, and sends me this video which demonstrates Ambrosian chant notation. Fascinating stuff.

Perhaps the current Secretary would be able to demonstrate the chant of the Premonstratensians in a similar way? We should always bear in mind that we we do, with the Liber Usualis, is basically in the 'Roman' tradition, which is simply one of the traditions of Chant in the Latin Church, to say nothing of the Greeks, Armenians and other Rites!

Saturday 2 May 2009

St Joseph the Workman: the Schola Abelis on song

This feast was created in 1955 as an antidote to the May Day events organised by Socialists and Communists. Here is us singing the Introit,

and the Greater Alleluia and Alleluia.

Since this is Friday of First Week, in University terms, we had very limited rehearsal time so we decided to sing Mass VIII, 'Missa de Angelis', which has a bad reputation in Gregorian Chant circles for being overused, and, because of the period in which it was composed, it is said to be influenced by Baroque musical style. The same is true of Credo III, which we also sang. Still, everyone knows these pieces, so minimal preparation is required. And the proper chants of the Feast of St Joseph the Worker fall rather into the same 'late' category, only more so!

They still sound pretty good if they are sung well.
St Joseph5
We sang St Joseph the Workman last year, when it also fell on a First Friday; last year it was displaced from 1st May by the Ascension, and was celebrated on May 2nd.
St Joseph6
Here's the Offertory (pitched a little high!), followed by the hymn Caelitum Joseph.

and the Communion: