For the next few weeks, I have asked our organist and choirmaster to use the pastor’s letter to explain the way forward for our parish music program. Fr. Longenecker
It has been a great pleasure to serve as your new Organist and Choirmaster since October of last year. Arriving in the midst of a pandemic, it was a very pleasant surprise to find a church that was thriving, despite great adversity. I am very much looking forward to the future, especially with the redevelopment of our church’s music program.
I would like to take a moment to share with you some more information on one of the new groups at Our Lady of the Rosary; our Schola Cantorum.
What is a Schola Cantorum? In English, it simply means Singing School. The concept is ancient, with the first official Schola Cantorum having been founded by Pope Gregory the Great in the year 590. This choir was made up of men and boys who devoted their lives to enhancing the Mass through liturgical music. This Schola Cantorum sang at most papal functions and is the basis of today’s Sistine Chapel Choir, the Holy Father’s personal choir.
In modern times, the role of a Schola Cantorum has been expanded beyond Gregorian Chant to include hymns, motets (sacred choral music in Latin), and anthems (sacred choral music in English). At Our Lady of the Rosary, the Schola Cantorum will sing these alongside the Girls’ Schola. Our liturgical music will be drawn from the centuries of Catholic tradition and will include the works of great composers such as Palestrina, Byrd, Rheinberger, Elgar, MacMillan, and more.
The Schola Cantorum is not only an excellent opportunity for the men of the parish to get together and sing great music, but also a chance for musical catechesis. In addition to singing, there will be opportunities to learn to read chant notation, to familiarize yourself with different choral traditions, and to discuss church music more broadly.
The only prerequisites are the basic ability to read music, a love for great liturgical music, and the desire to learn and improve. Please do not be concerned if you are not a good sight-reader, or if you are a bit rusty when it comes to reading music. Singing in the Schola Cantorum will help you with that. We will also have four section leaders who will help form a solid foundation, so you need not worry about being the only person on a part!
If you are interested in joining the Schola Cantorum, please feel free to see me after Mass for an informal chat.
As St. Augustine said, “He who sings, prays twice!”
With best wishes,