Wednesday 15 December 2010

Term Card for Hillary 2011

Practices will be at 8.15 in Queen's College,
except for 3rd Week and 8th Week, when it will be on Thursday

First Week

Sat 22nd Jan 11.30am Sung Mass, SS Vincent & Anastasis
St Anthony of Padua, Headington

Third Week

Wed 2nd Feb 6pm, Sung Mass with Blessing of Candles:
Candlemas (Purification of Our Lady)
SS Gregory & Augustine

Sat 5th Feb 11.30am, Sung Mass: St Agatha
Milton Manor, near Abingdon

Fifth Week

Sun 13th Feb 12 noon, Sung Mass: 6th After Epiphany
SS Gregory & Augustine, tbc

Sixth Week

Sunday 20th Feb, Septuagesima
St William of York, Reading

Sat 26th Feb 11.30am Sung Mass: Votive Mass of Our Lady,
Shrine of Our Lady of Caversham, Caversham near Reading

Eighth Week

Wed 9th March, 6pm Ash Wednesday
Sung Mass with Ashes, SS Gregory & Augustine

Ninth Week

Sun 13th March 12 noon, Sung: 1st Sunday of Lent
SS Gregory & Augustine

Saturday 4 December 2010

Videos of First Sunday of Advent


Here they are. The camcorder gave up after the Offertory for some reason, but we have here the Introit (and Kyrie: since we were unable to get the polyphonists together for this occasion we sang Mass XVII)

The Alleluia

The Offertory, with the Offertory verses. This is an interesting one because the verses in the Offertoriale do something rather odd - when the antiphon is repeated it is pitched higer. The Triplex suggests this is a mistake, but we sang it as printed.

Sunday 28 November 2010

The Schola Abelis at Bel and the Dragon

We have sung our last Mass of the Trrm and the calendar year - and the fist Mass of the litugical year, complete with a Solemn Alma Refemptoris Mater, with the FSSP at St William of York, Reading.

We have repaired to a local restaurant named after one of the more colourful episodes of the Old Testament.

Videos (of the Mass!) to follow.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday 13 November 2010

St Didacus at St Anthony of Padua

Today is the feast of St Didacus, a great miracle worker of the 15th Century, a member of the Franciscan Friars Minor. Fr Aldo Tapparo sang a Mass in his church, St Anthony of Padua, in Headington, and we accompanied the Mass.
St Didacus is given the Common of Confessors, Justus ut palma. The ordinary our polyphonists sang was by Johannes Brassart (c.1400-c.1455), who was from the south Netherlands.

Here is the Introit Justus ut palma, followed by Brassart's Kyrie.

Here are the Gradual Os justi and the Alleluia Beatus vir.

Here is Brassart's Sanctus and Benedictus.

Here is the Offertory with its verses.

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More about this Mass here.

Friday 5 November 2010

First Masses of Term

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We have now sung in Blackfriars, for the LMS Oxford Pilgrimage, in St Birinus in Dorchester, for a parish requiem, and in SS Gregory & Augustine's, Woodstock Road, for All Souls
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The Pilgrimage Mass was in honour of Blessed George Napier, and before the Archbishop of Birmingham, who blessed a plaque in honour of the martyr whose fourth centenary it was. As well as singing at Mass, we sang the Te Deum, the Litany of the Saints and the Litany of Loreto on the procession, and at Benediction afterwards. Our polyphonists sang an unusual Ordinary, Nicholas Ludford's 'Missa inclina cor meum', and a motet by William Byrd, 'Miserere mei'.

At Dorchester we had a training day with Nick Gale, the Director of Music at St George's Cathedral in Southwark (ie the Catholic one!). We had a session with him before and one after lunch, and then sang a Requiem, again with polyphony. Nick Gale has his own approach to chant which will take time for us to absord and make our own fully, but was a fascinating day which had instant results. Nick's approach, based on the Graduale Triplex, is very much focused on the text (paying attention to the length of syllables in the text, as well as stressed syllables), attention to the dominant note (usually the 'reciting note'), and certain features of the neumes brought out in the Triplex. This all involves stressing and slightly lengthening certain notes, in ways which overlaps with, but is quite distinct from, the editorial suggestions found in the standard editions of the chant. Above all it rejects the rythmical system of 'twos and threes' created in the early 20th Century by some scholars, which attempts to bring the chant more into line with modern music.

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We were lucky in our timetabling because we sang the Requiem again a few days later at SS Gregory & Augustine, allowing us to consolidate what Nick Gale had taught us. The next challenge is for us to apply his principles to a new set of propers.

At Dorchester and SS Gregory & Augustine's the polyphonists sang the Requiem of Antoine Brumel (c1460-?1512/3): Kyrie, Sequence, Sanctus, and Agnus.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Freshers Fair!

We are Freshers' Fair, Exam Schools Room 11.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Term Card for Michaelmas 2010

We meet every week of Full Term on Wednesdays at 8.15pm in The Queen's College.

All our Masses this term will have a Rennaissance polyphonic ordinary
and Gregorian Chant propers.

Second Week
Saturday 23 Oct: Mass for the LMS Oxford Pilgrimage
Blackfriars, Oxford, 11am

Third Week:
Saturday 30 Oct: Training day with Nick Gale followed by Mass
Requiem, St Birinus, Dorchester on Thames, 4pm

Fourth Week
Tuesday 2 Nov: All Souls
SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford, 6pm

Fifth Week
Saturday 13 Nov: St Didacus
St Anthony of Padua, Headington, 11.30am

Sixth Week
Saturday 20 Nov: St Felix of Valois
Chapel of Mapledurham House, near Reading, 11.30am

Eighth Week
Sunday 28 Nov: First Sunday of Advent
St William of York, Reading, 11am

Eighth Week
Saturday 4 Dec, Immaculate Heart of Mary
Milton Manor, near Didcot, 11.30am

Saturday 26 June 2010

Videos of Milton Manor Mass

The last Mass of term, and of the academic year, was at Milton Manor House on Saturday 19th August. We had a Votive Mass of Our Lady with a polyphonic Ordinary, Missa Sancta Mater, by Francisco Guerro.

Introit: Salve sancta parens

Gradual Benedicta et venerabilis & Alleluia Post partum Virgo

Offertory motet

Sanctus and Benedictus (before and after the consecration)

For photos of the Mass, see here.

Friday 25 June 2010

Videos of Newman Mass

I've been having a lot of trouble with camcorders and software, and now have a backlog of videos. Here are three of the Newman Society Termly Mass back in March 2010. This was a pontifical Mass celebrated by Abbot Brogan of Farnbrough. It was the Monday after the 3rd Sunday of Lent, a feria.

We sang from the front of the nave, vested, the first time we have done this. There would not be room in the sanctuary for a liturgical schola - certainly not for a schola of our size, there were eight of us.


Introit, In Deo laudabo

Gradual Deus vitam meam, and the Tract Domine non secundum, the latter of which is sung every Monday, Wednesday and Friday Feria Mass of Lent.

Offertory Exaudi Deus

A report on the Mass and the dinner which followed can be seen here.

Sunday 16 May 2010

First Masses of Term

We have sung two Masses so far: for St Joseph the Workman in St Anthony of Padua -


and for the Ascension (on the Thursday!) at the Oxford Oratory.

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Both went extremely well; we had polyphony for the first, Byrd's three-part Mass, and in the second we used for the first time the Medieval offertory verses which were reintroduced to the modern repertoir by the Solesmes research in the early 20th Century.

Technological problems and time constraints have prevented my from recording videos at these Masses but I hope to remedy this for future Masses.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Trinity Term 2010: Term Card

1st Week
Sunday 25th April
SS Gregory & Augustine, 10.30am

1st Week
Saturday 1st May (St Joseph the Worker)
St Anthony of Padua, 11am

3rd Week
Thursday 13th May (Ascension)
Oratory 12.15pm

5th Week,
Saturday 29th May (Whit Saturday, Ember Day),
St Birinus, Dorchester on Thames, 11am

6th Week,
Thursday 3rd June (Corpus Christi),
Oratory 12.15pm

7th Week,
Thursday 11th June (Sacred Heart),
SS Gregory & Augustine, 6pm

Practices are as usual at 8.15 in Queens'.

Wednesday 3 March 2010


Last Saturday we sang at the LMS Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Caversham, an extremely interesting church where the medieval shrine, which had been visited and endowed from at least the Norman Conquest and destroyed by Henry VIII, was re-established in 1959.

Introit Intret oratio mea, and Kyrie

It was the Ember Saturday in Lent, so we sang the Mass Intret oratio mea. We used the forma brevior, which has a prophecy, an epistle and a gospel, and not the long form with a total of seven readings with Graduals in between them.

We had an unusal polyphonic ordinary: La Messe de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machaunt, the earliest complete Mass setting by a single composer. In the Kyrie was alternated Machaunt's melody with the Mass IV Kyrie, on which it is based, which is how it is usually performed.

Here is the Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, just as a sound file.

The Gradual (Propitius esto Domine) and the Tract (Laudate Dominum) (they don't follow each other immediately in the liturgy of Ember Saturday, but I have cut out the part between them.)

Interestingly this Tract recurs in the Easter Vigil.

The Offertory and the Communion

There was no view of the Sanctuary from the choir loft to speak of, so I have experimented with still images, no images, and here just what the camera could see - the singers. I'm not sure what is the best way to present these recordings.

Thursday 25 February 2010

OGCS granted the right to use the Unversity name

The Oxford Gregorian Chant Society can now style itself the

Oxford University Gregorian Chant Society

by kind permission of the Vice Chancellor of the University.

It is a bit of a mouthful but reflects the place of the Schol as a student society of the University, with a degree of longevity and stability.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Gregorian Chant Network launched

A new organisation has been launched to promote Gregorian Chant: the Gregorian Chant Network. It will link Chant Scholas together for mutual support and organise training events: the first of these will be a three-day course, April 9-11th, with Nick Gale.

It was launched with the involvement of more than 20 scholas around England, Wales, and Scotland, including the Schola Abelis, and is supported by the Latin Mass Society, Una Voce Scotland, the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, and the Association for Latin Liturgy. This is a major development in the world of Chant, in which many feel isolated in trying to promote the Chant and bereft of the necessary resources and training opportunities.

The GCN website already gathers together an impressive array of on-line materials, recommended books and useful links.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Long Crendon and Ash Wednesday

We had a splendid Mass with polyphony today in the church of Our Lady of Light, Long Crendon, in honour of Bl Thomas Belson and his companions. These men were executed for the Catholic faith in 1589 in Oxford; Thomas Belson was a resident of Brill, which is in the modern Catholic parish of Long Crendon.

The chants are of particular interest, if not merit, since they are unique to the Mass, and the Mass is unique to England and Wales. They were put together for the feast of SS Thomas More and John Fisher, and like most 'late' chant they use bits and pieces (texts and melodies) from elsewhere.

The Introit, Deus venerunt, followed by a polyphonic Kyrie: Cristobal de Morales, Missa Benedicta es caelorum

The Gradual, Effunderunt

Morales' Sanctus and Benedictus.

Offertory Noli meminisse

Communion, Sub altare Dei, followed by a polyphonic motet, the first part of Josquin's Tu solus qui facis mirabilia.

After Mass we had a very good meal at The Angel Restaurant, a gastro-pub down the road from the church.

Lent is now upon us, however. The Schola sang at the first Sung Ash Wednesday service for a number of years, in the Church of SS Gregory & Augustine, with the blessing and distribution of ashes.

Sunday 31 January 2010

Hymns and motets at Mass

This interesting quotation has been found by someone on the NLM and is reproduced by Fr Z. It is interesting because it emphasises how many of the reformers of the Missal after the Second Vatican Council saw themselves as implementing the principles of the Liturgical Movement, and were presumably horrified to see what actually happened - in this case the 'four-hymn sandwich', which from being a tolerated abuse in 1962 became an almost universal rule after 1970.

Bugnini’s own Consilium in 1969 offered the following instruction, consistent with the Vatican II emphasis on chant over vernacular hymnody. As printed in 1 Notitiae, 5 (1969), p. 406

That rule [permitting vernacular hymns] has been superseded. What must be sung is the Mass, its ordinary and proper, not “something,” no matter how consistent, that is imposed on the Mass. Because the liturgical service is one, it has only one countenance, one motif, one voice, the voice of the church. To continue to replace the texts of the Mass being celebrated with motets that are reverent and devout, yet out of keeping with the Mass of the day amounts to continuing an unacceptable ambiguity: it is to cheat the people. Liturgical song involves not mere melody, but words, text, thought, and the sentiments that the poetry and music contain. Thus texts must be those of the Mass, not others, and singing means singing the Mass not just singing during Mass.

The singing of 'any old motet', let alone one of an endlessly recylced set of vernacular hymns, at Mass, is rejected in favour of the Mass texts: these, indeed, are the voice of the Church, and we seek to gild the lily at our peril. When people talk about the things which 'always happened in the old days' they should remember that 'the old days' was a theatre of conflict between the Liturgical Movement and people who did not take the liturgy so seriously. We may not want to be quite as rigid as this quotation suggests - isn't the Vespers hymn of the day sufficiently intwined with the theme of the Mass, or the Ave Maris Stella on a Feast of Our Lady? - but it is worth keeping the ideal in mind. The texts of the Mass are the Church's commentary on the liturgical occasion, and we must let the Church have the final say.

The reform of 1970 bears little resemblance to anything the Liturgical Movement in its prime might have anticipated or desired, because the reformers themselves seem to have forgotten the respect which is due to the immemorial texts and customs of the Church. Instead of saying. 'The Church teaches us through the liturgy, and therefore we must exercise extreme caution in changing the liturgy', they seemed to be saying 'The Church teaches us through the liturgy, so however different the reformed liturgy turns out to be it will by definition be ok'.

Saturday 23 January 2010

Feast of St Agnes

On Thursday evening we accompanied a Mass at the church of St Anthony of Padua in Headington, for the feast of St Agnes, thanks to the hospitality of the Parish Priest, Fr Aldo Tapparo. This was a feast of considerable importance in former centuries, and had many chants composed for it, which are now also used for other feasts as well. There is a remarkable ceremony in Rome on this day of the blessing of the lambs, whose wool is then used to make pallia for archbishops; this year it was performed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Gradual 'Diffusa est' and Alleluia 'Quinque prudentes virgines'

Offertory 'Afferentur regi virgines' followed by the Vespers hymn Jesu corona Virginum, from the Common of Virgins.

Communion Quinque Virgines

At the end of Mass we sang the Alma Redemptoris Mater, to the Solemn Tone (the Roman version printed in the Liber: there are very similar Dominican and Sarum versions as well). All the camcorder showed was the back of the servers so I put in some still pictures.

For more on this Mass, and more photos, see the Chairman's Blog.