Thursday, October 15, 2015

Anybody can chant

This beautiful rendition of Ave Maris Stella was performed by the choir of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Jackson, MI. The choir is directed by a good friend of mine. Before you continue reading, take a moment to listen to this lovely piece. It was actually recorded during Mass, so you will hear pew noises and people moving around for Holy Communion.

A wonderful example of polyphony, yes? Most of the singers are just amateurs...people who thought it would be nice to serve in the choir and volunteered. This is what they are capable of with just a little bit of training.

But here is the most amazing part - the choir director is also an amateur. Until he assumed leadership of this choir, he had never directed a singing group in his life; zero experience as a choir director. He was just an amateur singer who had cantored a few Tridentine Masses; eventually a few friends started cantoring with him and an impromptu choir sort of developed. He took charge of it about a year ago and this is where they are today. Zero experience leading a choir.

People who say chant is "too hard" are simply wrong. Anyone can chant. Any one can learn to teach others to chant. It is not insurmountable. All one needs is the will. The disappearance of chant from Catholic parishes has nothing to do with chant being inaccessible or too challenging; it is simply that people have decided they do not want chant.

Related: Our eBook "The Gregorian Schola for Beginners" by Ben Perry


Anonymous said...

I Was starting to wonder where things were with the ebook since I had heard from you in a while. I hope it gives people the tools to go out and do this.

Yes ordinary people in ordinary parishes can do this. My story and that of many others is similar to that of your friend. I began with very little experience with vocal music. A willingness to learn and put in some effort is what it takes.

Will Bloomfield said...

I'm another example of an amateur learning to chant and also lead a schola. I'm hopeful that more and more younger Catholics will learn this music and share it.

CPT Tom said...

I started a schola with a group of guys with a background in singing and some voice training, though not as a professional, none of us were. We did it because no else would. An ensemble group we eventually pushed (Kicked) to the front and leadership the best (and youngest) of us (nod to benjaminiperegrinus). Looking back over the last 7 years it is important to just "do it" because without a schola, it is infinitely harder to re-establish traditional worship (it's the big excuse "nobody knows how to sing that way.") and it is important to get the kids on board otherwise it cannot be sustained. Do it and say lots of prayers to Sts Cecilia and Gregory!

Meem said...

I especially like the tempo.

CatholicMommy said...

I'm convinced that God has His hand in the performance of these pieces by yes, amateur choirs. Truly He is giving special graces for choirs of good will to accomplish His Will -- the preservation of the treasures of His Church.

Here's a link to a couple of pieces sung by the girls' choir at our Mass. There is a lead-in with the chanted Offertory Verse, so wait it out and enjoy it. Our girls choir begun with 5 girls between the ages of 7 and 12 chanting the Victimae Paschali Laudes, the Easter Sequence. It was so angelic! Now, they're a bit older and a few more have joined the choir, now ranging in ages 7 to 16. You will hear the AMATEUR choir director providing the bass, as well as our AMATEUR organist singing the tenor. The chant heard in the pieces are done by young girls. Our recordings are amateur, also, so you'll need to excuse that lack of expertise.