All posts tagged: chant

Gregorian Chant in Pastoral Ministry and Religious Education

What role does the Church’s treasury of sacred music play in contemporary pastoral ministry and religious education? How does one build a sacred music program of excellence which serves as an integral part of the sacred liturgy and is also effective both in drawing souls to Christ and forming people in the Catholic faith? St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in Yonkers, New York, is hosting a national conference March 10-11, 2017 which hopes to encourage discussion of answers to these and other questions. The conference will bring together clergy, seminarians, scholars, musicians, teachers, and Catholic school administrators to consider the place of Gregorian chant and excellent choral music in the life of the Catholic Church in America today. The conference seeks to inspire attendees with ideas for starting or continuing to develop sacred music programs of excellence in Catholic parishes and schools. The conference organizers also hope to encourage discussion about the vitality and necessity of beauty and sacred music in the catechesis and formation of Catholics, as well as in the evangelization of non-Catholics and …

Review: “O Emmanuel” by J.J. Wright

An album of Advent and Christmas music incorporating chant, hymnody, and jazz, performed by a children’s choir, a quartet of adult singers, traditional chamber instruments, and a jazz ensemble. On paper (or on screen), this combination is perhaps more suggestive of avant-garde performance art than reverent sacred music. But the new album O Emmanuel brings this unlikely ensemble together in a spiritually edifying and musically thrilling way. Featuring music written and performed by Grammy-winning composer, conductor, and pianist J.J. Wright (along with the Notre Dame Children’s Choir and Fifth House Ensemble), O Emmanuel is an exciting demonstration of the ways in which sacred music can bring together seemingly disparate styles not only from the Church’s long musical tradition but also from more recent developments in Western music, as Wright describes here in his interview with Church Life Journal. Like the Advent season itself, O Emmanuel is full of surprises. The album begins with “Gabriel’s Message,” an Advent hymn narrating the Annunciation event that deserves to be much more broadly known than it is. Here, Wright’s …

The End of All Our Exploring: The Entrance Rite

“Could I bring some home?” “Sure, is that enough?” “Could I have some more? He has a big forehead.” Last Ash Wednesday I spent six hours distributing ashes at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The Cathedral staff estimates 50,000 people come through St. Patrick’s on Ash Wednesday. “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return.” “Wow . . . thank you.” St. Patrick’s has a strange effect on the people who walk by. Every day of every year all sorts of people come in. It’s hard to imagine a squat building drawing much attention at all in this city of skyscrapers. Of course skyscrapers are, as so often diagnosed, the product of striving, materialistic, anthropocentric, Pelagian capitalism. But I think those towers say something else. They show we haven’t lost our inertia. There’s something we still want. We just don’t have it yet. St. Patrick’s gives people a little momentum. This is a city where buildings and people scramble over each other, rat-racing like vines to get higher. St. Patrick’s teaches …

Why Chant is Good for Children

My three year old son is a regular Mass-goer. Aware of his very short attention span, we make sure to sit in the front each and every Sunday. He loves when there is singing, especially chant. He loves elaborate processions. He loves incense and stained glass. He loves churches. But, it’s the words that bore him. Through the eyes of my son, I have noticed how much of the Roman Rite requires an understanding of speech. There are the opening rites, which are always read (except for the interruption of the Gloria). There is the Liturgy of the Word, which is read. There is the homily, which is read (when one is actually written but that’s for another post). There is the Universal Prayer, which is read. There is the Eucharistic Prayer, which is read. There is the Our Father, which is said. There are the closing rites, which are read. Music in the Roman Rite functions seemingly as an interlude to the actual work of liturgical praise. It’s like, “Hey, it’s getting wordy, let’s …