In 1963, as they ordered a “general restoration of the liturgy itself,” the bishops of the Second Vatican Council acknowledged one musical repertoire as “specially suited to the Roman Liturgy”: Gregorian Chant. There, they said, in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “other things being equal, chant should have pride of place in liturgical services” (SC 116).
Gregorian Chant has a lot going for it: it gives primacy to the human voice in worship; it sets texts that are, for the most part, drawn from Scripture; it is music designed to accompany ritual action; it unites us to the worship carried out by generations of our ancestors; it is music that has only been used to worship God. We use the Gregorian chant because it fits the ritual well. But at other times, the ritual itself will suggest the use of other music.
Liturgy has always been affected by local cultures, and it draws on the unique strength of those cultures - as well as on the treasure of music inherited from previous generations. What we know as Gregorian Chant, in fact, is the product of many cultures: It is similar, in some respects, to chants of the synagogue, to ancient Greek Chant and hymnody, to some early music of the Eastern Church, and to secular and religious music of the Frankish Kingdom.
Chant is meant to serve the liturgy and the text. We are invited to rediscover this treasure of music and to be invited to meditate and pray with Sacred Scripture as it is set to music. Here at St. Joseph we have two opportunities to rediscover this important part of our Tradition. On November 5th and 6th we will be hosting Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB who will lead a workshop on Chant. He is renowned for his work of translating and adapting Chant for use in English.
We are also creating a Schola - a group of people- who are interested in learning and singing Chant. Under the Direction of Ana Maria Nunes they will meet on Wednesday evenings starting on October 6th 2010.
More information on both these initiatives is available at the parish office.