Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Breaking News: Piqua's Schola Cantorum

Here's what our music director announced on his web site today:

Benedictus Schola Cantorum

The mission of Benedictus is to bring about a rebirth of the musical treasures of the church, in particular the music that is to be given "pride of place" in the Liturgy, namely, Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. We will serve the church by singing at Sunday Mass at both parishes throughout the year, and bring this music to all the faithful. Our broader mission is to help surrounding parishes as well, by setting a standard for worship music in the context of the Holy Mass and other liturgical actions of the Church, in the form of concerts and workshops.

The Choral Obligation

Wednesday Evenings, 7-9 pm

Mass Schedule:
St. Mary, 9am, 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month
St. Boniface, 10:30 am, 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month
Holy Days of Obligation: TBA

Concerts: 7pm
Fall Concert (Christ the King Sunday)
Epiphany Concert (Epiphany Sunday)
Mission Commission Benefit Concert (Ascension Sunday)

Membership is open to any Catholic(or prospective Catholic) who attends, or is willing to attend St. Mary or St. Boniface Church.

Our Official Kick-Off Party is Scheduled for Wednesday Evening, September 12, at 7:00P.M.

Congratulations to John Wright, our outstanding music director, for his leadership, and to our growing choir that wants to bring out the Church's treasures.

If you are anywhere close to Piqua, and want to be part of this, you are most welcome. All you have to do is want to participate in beautiful music.

One caveat:

Our schola is just beginning, with baby steps; for the short term, of course we're going to sing what we already know, as we gradually learn to sing the treasures. So, don't be shocked by that. Second, this schola exists to serve these two parishes, so all chant, or all polyphony, isn't practical. But: if you want to be part of a renaissance of this awesome music, this is your chance!

Now, here are some opportunities to tantalize you:

* Weddings. Music at wedding Masses is, sadly, not very good; but the opportunity is this: no one ever sings anything at Wedding Masses anyway! So...what if we had a Wedding schola, that could sing various pieces? This would represent: a gift to a couple, an opportunity to learn and sing beautiful music, and above all, an act of worship pleasing to God. Imagine what a wedding choir could do?

* Funerals. Imagine the beauty that is possible, and remember, burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy.

Also, realize that funerals and weddings are evangelistic -- many come back to the Church, and this is where many form their impressions -- good or ill -- of "church music." Would you like to have more Catholics, in years to come, appreciate beautiful music? This is how you do it

* Extraordinary (i.e., "Tridentine") Usage Masses. As we all know, the holy father has said, after September 14, a priest may -- if people request it -- schedule public celebrations of the Mass according to the extraordinary usage. I haven't yet learned how to do it, but I will, as time permits. It won't be long, in my judgment, before someone asks for this, and I am willing to provide it. Wouldn't it be lovely to have some beautiful choral music for such a Mass, particularly on a special occasion?

My point is, this is an opportunity for anyone who wants to sing beautiful music.

If you are interested, click here to go to our music director's website, for his email.


marleythedog said...
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mrsdarwin said...

Next time we visit Ohio we'll definitely have to drive up to Piqua to hear the choir.

Our new priest is planning to form a schola. I'm so pleased to see this wonderful music having a renaissance -- not just because it's beautiful, but because it's holy.

Rich Leonardi said...

Awesome! One note of caution: midweek rehersals preclude the involvement of folks who travel for work. It's one of the reasons my "salon" meets on Monday evenings. FWIW.

Maureen said...

I like your choir director. :)

Anonymous said...

Here is a question. Some people would love to sing but can't, for different reasons. Some are tone deaf, other don't like to sing, and some can't read music. My problem is not having any range. My range is about 4 notes and after that I just make funny and scary noises! (I am not making this up.) A musical person once told me it was because the muscies of the throat and larynx were not used to singing but could be improved with training and practice. Is this true or not?
I would truly love to be able to sing church music! Why does God give the desire but not the voice?

John L. Wright said...


Most people speak with more than a four-note range and don't realize it. As long as you have a healthy voice box, you can be taught to sing at least eight notes reasonably well - perfect for what we're doing.

I belive your desire is God himself calling you to offer more to him than you think you have. He's famous for that!

Join the schola; if you find it's not for you, you can at least say you gave it a shot. Plus, you'll meet others who love church music and want to learn to sing better, themselves.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement, John!
I will take this opportunity to also say I've read your blog because I was interested in finding out more about the plans for the Latin liturgy and Gregorian chant - which I look forward to. I thought your general attitude was so inspiring because the focus of your work seems to be creating beautiful liturgical music. Many people your age are dedicated to getting ahead, getting attention, or whatever, but your attitude reflects a higher goal and it is very obvious. I think you make a great role model for the youth in your parish - not many of them may seek a similar career, but they could take your attitude of service to the Lord into any career they choose for themselves. I hope you are getting some high visibility in your parish, for that reason.

Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous - I wish we were doing that in my choir!

To the first anonymous: people have unique limits to their range, but everyone does indeed have at least one full scale. Using your voice is a little like using a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it will get. You probably also need to learn some proper techniques, which will make it easier and less of a strain. But definitely try!

Mike L said...

(I attended a Benedictine seminary back in 1962 before VII and heard a lot of Gregorian Chant. After 4 years of work with the choir master our senior deacon managed to produce two different notes when singing, even in plain chant. This was not a failure of trying or lack of help.

Not all can sing. It not only requires a healthy voice box, but also a healthy set of ears, and a nervous system to process it. Despite the claim by some, not all can sing, and perhaps not even most can be taught to sing well.

Personally, I have significant distortion in my hearing. A single note I can hear, two notes blend together and start to produce noise, polyphony is best described by me as cacophony, a great noise in which no tune can be distinguished or a word understood. What I produce when I try to sing is probably even worse than what I hear.

Believe it or not, there are some of us that would appreciate a bit of silence in church, I time to think, a time to pray, a time to listen to God and not be disturbed by a great noise.

I wonder, is there a place for people like me in the Catholic Church anymore? It does seem to me that there is a large push to make the Mass into a wonderful concert so that people can feel uplifted.

Now that those who want a Latin mass (and I would at times enjoy having a Latin mass with its quiet and peacefulness) can those of us who want a quiet mass also request one and have our request considered?

Hugs to all,

Mike L

Father Martin Fox said...

Mike L.

Thanks for your post.

I'd like to offer two answers to your comments, one theological, one practical.

The theological answer concerns your comment that "It does seem to me that there is a large push to make the Mass into a wonderful concert so that people can feel uplifted."

Realize that Mass is, by its nature, meant to be sung, from the entrance chant accompanying the procession, to the "Deo Gratias"/"Thanks be to God" sung by the people that properly concludes Mass. No, that doesn't mean everything must be sung, all the time. But it does mean that, contrary to what many think (and perhaps, although I am not sure, what you think), that music is being "added to" the Mass.

Simply put: the Mass is music, even when it is not always sung as such, that is what it is.

Now, indeed, sometimes music is added to the Mass -- i.e., most hymns and so forth are additions, that at best are substitutes for the proper, sung prayers of the Mass -- i.e., the entrance, offertory and communion chants.

Now, as to the practical answer. I don't know where you are, but I would be very surprised to learn that you can't find a Mass where there is little music included.

Here, at St. Boniface, the 7 am Mass has a paltry amount of music: when I offer it, I do sing several of my prayers, and invite a sung "amen" and a sung "Alleluia" in response. On a feast day, we may sing a hymn a capella and maybe some of the other prayers. The other two priests, I know, sing almost nothing.

Does that strike you as not quiet enough? I ask because I really don't know; and because, in my limited experience, this sort of early-morning Sunday Mass is not uncommon.

I do totally sympathize with you about quiet. For example, I have begun saying the prayers over the bread and wine quietly (as I may), and I do try to sit quietly at various points. But it's hard, and here's why: you might be amazed the wrath that is directed at a priest if Mass "goes too long."

John L. Wright said...

Make no mistake, musicians love silence. If they are afraid of silence, they don't know what music is for, which comes from the silence, and to silence returns. Pro silence is good; anti song is a bit much for a student of the Liturgy to understand.

Paul said...

Great stuff, Father. It's been wonderful to watch the transformation at your parishes via your blogging.

cjmr said...

Trying not to covet your starting a schola. There is no way our Music Director would ever start a schola--she likes the modern 'hymns' and grumbles that music younger than me is too old and fuddy-duddy.

But I still sing in the choir, because I can't NOT make a joyful noise unto the Lord...

Mara Joy said...

what a neat article! I tried to do something like it recently (but I haven't actually started the schola, I've just invited people to join.) I wish my parish was at the place yours are at...