Happy Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
It is such a great day to begin our Intro to Chant series; under the heavenly mantel of our Blessed Mother. We will finish the evening singing the Salve Regina – you can practice with this recording if you are not familiar with it:
You might also be interested in this helpful article offering a scriptural understanding of why we refer to Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
I hope you can join us this evening!
As I mentioned previously, we will be offering an “Intro to Chant for Personal Prayer” series beginning next Thursday (August 22nd) from 7 – 8:30 pm. The classes will be held at St. Blaise in the parish office, which is in the building closest to the Church. Many of you have already participated in a similar beginners course, but it will still be helpful if you want further practice with reading square notes, singing solfege and Latin pronunciation. I am hoping that with offering the basics of chant, we will be able to provide more opportunities for those interested in incorporating Gregorian Chant into their prayer life.
Here is the schedule:
No worries if you are not able to make it to all of the nights – also, feel free to invite others who might be interested. Hope you can join us!
Just a reminder that there will be a Missa Cantata (sung EF Mass) at St. Blaise this evening at 7 pm in honor of Our Lady of Fatima. The propers are from the Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – you can print out the Latin and English translation below.
Hope you can make it!
I hope you are staying cool and dry in this crazy hot and rainy summer. I wanted to give you a heads up (if you are not already aware): Fr. Cizik is offering an EF (Extraordinary Form) Mass at St. Blaise on the 13th of each month in honor of Our Lady of Fatima. The next one will be on Tuesday, August 13th at 7pm, which will be a Missa Cantata (Sung Mass). With this, I am working to offer more chant related opportunities, so you can expect a little more action on this site in a couple of weeks.
If you were able to attend the previous two EF Masses with Fr. Cizik and it was your first experience, you may have been a bit lost at times. Don’t worry, it eventually becomes familiar enough to where you don’t need to follow every word of the missal (it took me 6 Masses before I was completely comfortable). There are some resources that can help embed what is occurring into your mind. One very helpful book is “Know Your Mass” by Fr. Manousos O.F.M. – it is written for older kids, so it aims to be enjoyable while also offering a good amount of content. Getting to know the EF Mass can also help in your appreciation of what is occurring in the OF (Ordinary Form) Mass.
Also, here is a video providing reflections from St. Francis De Sales throughout a Low Mass. There are also other images spliced into the video in order to assist your meditation.
Well done, everyone! It has been a great blessing to pray with all of you throughout this past Lenten season.
I would hate to restrict our experience of chant to the penitential seasons, so here is a little “bonus chant” that is worth learning. To express the joy of our Lord’s resurrection, the Marian Antiphon changes from the Ave Regina Caelorum to the Regina Caeli. Here is the Latin and a translation:
Regina caeli * laetare, alleluia: Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia: Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia: Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia, for He whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia, hath risen, even as He said, alleluia: pray for us to God, alleluia.
You might be familiar with the prayer in the simple tone:
Here it is in the solomn tone:
Follow along with the videos to become familiar with it. Here is a pdf of the two chants if you would like to print them out:
And just for an extra experience of joyful beauty, here it is in polyphony by Victoria:
Have a joyful Easter season!
I am currently preparing for the Communion chant during the Easter Vigil (you may have noticed the Latin/English translation on the Easter Vigil handout) and stumbled across this fun find.
First, here is the video that I am using to help prepare:
As I was searching for videos, I came across the same chant that is based on an earlier form of chant notation.
The images are from the Graduale Triplex, which presents up to 3 manuscripts. The square notation is from the original Graduale Romanum, the markings above are from the Laon manuscript, and the markings below (in red) are from St. Gall. Music directors sometimes use the GT to help decide how to express nuances within the chant notation.
Here is our Ancient Alleluia from the Triplex:
Originally, chant would be learned simply by listening, becoming familiar with the prayers and the melodic shapes – so don’t be surprised if it seems difficult to learn in only a few classes. This is a great time to learn chant because there are plenty of free audios available through youtube and other resources – otherwise, the best way to learn would be to move close to a monastery. Be sure to listen to a recording anytime you try to learn a chant (I recommend listen through a couple before settling on one to learn from – the quality of recording and speed/rhythm varies greatly).
If you’re curious, here is a little video with a basic history of music notation.
And if you missed it, check out the post on the history of solfege.
Just a little extra help:
Fr. will sing the alleluia 3 times, with us repeating for each, then the cantor will sing the verses with all singing the alleluia. The Latin verse in the video is from Psalm 118(117) which is what will be sung in English. …See if you can sing a whole alleluia in one breath.
The video shifts to a simplified melody when repeating the Vidi aquam rather than using the original version – at our Vigil, the full melody will be sung when it is repeated after the verse.
Feel free to bring your handout with you – it would be great to have additional voices singing along.
Have a great Holy Week!
Just some helpful videos if you would like to become more comfortable with the chants on Holy Thursday:
(remember, the Kyrie/Christe/Kyrie will each be sung twice)
We will repeat the first 4 verses until Fr. finishes the procession and is preparing the incense, then we will begin the Tantum ergo.
Visit the Reproaches post to practice for Good Friday (3pm) and/or Tenebrae (8pm).
We will be singing the Reproaches two times on Good Friday; during the Veneration of the Cross in the Liturgy (3pm) and during Tenebrae (8pm). It will be sung with a cantor/all dynamic, which I think will help make it more accessible. There are some difficult parts, but with a bit of practice, I do believe you will be able to sing along.
There are two sections:
Here are some audios to help prepare:
1. Holy is God. Holy and Mighty One. Holy and Immortal One, have mercy on us.
First, practice the melodies a couple of times slowly with solfege:
…and all together with the words at normal speed. I included the Greek verses in the audio to help with simply memorizing the melody and rhythm.
2. This one is much easier, so I think it will be fine to become familiar with the words and the melody at the same time.
Practice these a couple of times and you will be able to sing it pretty easily on Good Friday.
And for a special treat: here it is, sung beautifully in Latin by the Benedictine Nuns of Mary, Queen of the Apostles (if you would like to listen to more chant, I recommend any of their cds [along with the Norbertine Monks of St. Michael’s Abbey]). You will notice that both the Latin and vernacular versions retain the Greek parts of the Trisagion. Enjoy!
The melody for the Canticle of Zachariah is more elaborate than the psalm tones, so I thought it would be easiest to do the antiphon and the canticle in the same post.
First the antiphon – here it is in solfege:
…and with the words:
For the canticle itself, keep in mind that the cantor will sing the first verse solo in order for everyone can hear the melody. Then the low voice side will have the even # verses and the higher voices will have the odd #.
When you feel comfortable, try going through the canticle, then sing the antiphon. You’re moving from sol (the last note of the canticle) to do (the first note of the antiphon), so getting that relationship right is important. A way to check is to pay close attention to “peace” (last word in the canticle) – it should sound/feel the same as “his” in the antiphon.
If you have been attending Vespers, it wont take too long for you to catch on with the Tenebrae service this Good Friday. The cantor will sing the antiphon (and the first verse of the psalm so that you can hear the melody), followed by the two sides singing the psalm/canticle antiphonally (though be sure to pay attention to the lead cantor on your side to follow the stand/sit dynamic), with everyone repeating the antiphon at the end.
The antiphon melodies are more elaborate than the psalm tones, so I wanted to offer an opportunity to become familiar with it throughout this week. Each antiphon will first be presented in solfege, which will help you to become familiar with the spacial relationship between each note, followed by the antiphon with the words. For a refresher on how to sing with solfege, check out the Chant Basics with the Pater Noster post.
Take your time with learning – I realize the recordings might seem fast initially. First try humming along – matching the pitch and feeling the difference in your vocal cords as you move between notes. When you have over 50% success with humming, sing with the solfege – and even try doing it on your own without the audio. When you are feeling more comfortable, sing with the words of the antiphon. Also – no worries if you do not master it by Friday – the purpose is to pray – you can always sing more quietly.
1st Nocturn (psalm +Lamentation from the Prophet Jeremiah)
2nd Nocturn (psalm + reading from St. John Chrysostom)
3rd Nocturn (reading +Reproaches)
Canticle of Habakkuk
…The antiphon with the Canticle of Zachariah (sung every morning at Lauds) will presented in its own post – this is plenty for now. Enjoy!
Just a heads up for everyone taking part in Vespers at St. Monica’s this Wednesday: with our move into Holy Week, the hymn we are singing will be different than the hymn during Lent. It’s a little tricky, so I put together some practice audios. Try singing each verse a couple of times – it might take a while, but once you get the melody locked down, it’s not too bad. Be sure to pay attention to the qualisma (squiggly note) – it indicates that the note before it gets a “more weight” in its expression.
Have a good last few days of Lent!
We will be offering Tenebrae at St. Blaise on Good Friday, so I thought it would be helpful to share a video provided by Wyoming Catholic College. The video presents a sense of Tenebrae before the changes that were made to the Divine Office a bit before Vatican II. While many have experienced a Tenebrae service composed of gospel readings and hymns relevant to our Lord’s passion, providing a valuable opportunity for meditation, we will be offering a service closer to the original, rooted in the Liturgy of the Hours.
Tenebrae is essentially composed of Matins (the Office of Readings – containing 3 “nocturns”: psalm/reading and lesson) and Lauds (morning prayer: Psalm / Canticle of Habakkuk / Psalm / Benedictus [Canticle of Zachariah]). It will probably take us around an hour. It will primarily be in English, with a verse in Latin at the end. Although it is a bit more challenging than Vespers, I believe it will be very accessible to anyone who has taken part thus far, and a beautiful prayer experience for any new comer.
We will have an intro/practice class on Saturday (April 13th) at 6pm in St. Blaise parish office. I will post practice videos after that Saturday so that you can prepare throughout the week. Tenebrae will begin at 8pm on Good Friday. I hope you can join us!
The Church Music Association of America (CMAA) regularly offers a summer chant course at Duquesne University (June 23rd – 28th) which is a great opportunity to develop a more thorough understanding of Gregorian Chant. This summer, they will offer two courses: a Chant Intensive, as well as Laus in Ecclesia (level 1). I’ve taken part in three Chant Intensives since I began learning chant and have found them incredibly helpful even as a beginner. This year, I’ve signed up for the Laus in Ecclesia course.
The week culminates on Friday with a chanted Mass for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at 1pm. Even if you are not able to attend the course, you are welcome to take part in the Mass to experience the beautiful potential of chant within the Ordinary Form. More information can be found in the link below. If you are enjoying Vespers, I hope you will consider taking part in the Chant Intensive – I’m sure you will not regret it.
Information about chant opportunities during the Triduum, including Tenebrae will be posted early next week. See you at Vespers!
More information will be posted next week. Feel free to invite friends!
The Canticle of Mary in weeks I and III is a bit more tricky than the other melodies we encounter, so I thought it would be helpful to offer an additional audio to build on what we already learned in Getting to know the Psalm Tones: Weeks I and III. While we practiced the melody using solfege in the “Getting to know…” post, the podatus (the two ascending notes on the second syllable) and clivis (the two descending notes on the second-to-last syllable) in the melody tends to trip people up. These notes correspond with the non-italic, underlined syllables in the verse.
Here is an audio of the Canticle, sung with the melody… I tried to retain the rhythm that occurs when we sing it antiphonally (pause at the * and a minimal break between lines), which made me a bit light headed. To avoid this, you might want to practice singing along with every other line. When we sing Vespers together, the higher voices will have the first verse, and the lower voices will have the second verse, alternating back and forth throughout the rest of the Canticle. Feel free to focus on the verses that you will be singing. After going through it a couple of times, try to sing the Canticle without the audio at your own pace.
Also, if you have a question or if you would like to see a post about a particular topic, please feel free to make a suggestion through the Contact page. It is likely that if one person has a question, others are probably wondering the same thing. I’m happy to do a little extra homework : )
Have a great week!
I thought it would be good to include a little more info about the hymn that we have been singing. It is a translation of the 9th-century hymn, Iesu, quadragenariae. Here is a video of the Latin, sung during Vespers in Rome. I included the melody under the video, along with the Latin, our translation, and another translation. See if you can follow along!
Some helpful instruction with reading the melody: Each neume (note or cluster of notes) is for one syllable. The first line of the hymn is shown by the neumes up to the first quarter bar. The second line goes to the half bar, Third line goes to the next quarter bar, and the fourth line finishes to the double bar.
I included the additional translation because although I think ours is a bit more accurate, the second one is able to be sung to the same melody as the original Latin. The translator may have taken some poetic license in order to make the syllables work. The words of the second translation still makes for a worthwhile meditation, so either translations are great for prayer. Here is a video of the second translation:
And lastly, what actually inspired a post on the hymn was a writing I came across by St. John Paul II on The Grace of Repentance, helping us to focus on the purpose and fruit of the sacrament. With our hymn directing our Lenten practices of penitence, fasting, and prayer towards union with Christ in order to share in the true joy of His resurrection, I thought the Pope’s words offer a worthwhile supplement to meditation on the hymn.
FYI – We sing this hymn on weekdays during Lent until Holy Week. Thus, we will encounter a new hymn on Wednesday during Holy Week at St. Monica’s (but not at St. Blaise because we will have Tenebrae on Good Friday). I will post how to sing the new hymn prior to that Wednesday, so please check this page again if you want an intro. You can also receive an email when there is a new post by signing up through the “follow” link on the bottom right of the page.
We are blessed at St. Monica’s and St. Blaise to be singing the Ordinary parts of the Mass in Latin during this season (and often during the season of Advent). The Ordinaries (put to music in different Mass settings) are the parts which do not change – as opposed to the Propers, which are particular to each Mass (I’ll post on the Propers sometime in the future).
Becoming comfortable with Latin is incredibly helpful in deepening one’s faith. In praying with the language of the Church, it helps us transcend our local perspective, praying with the same words as other Latin Rite Catholics around the world, as well as with our brothers and sisters in previous generations. Through this, our prayer expresses a desire for unity in peoples of various nations, tongues, and time periods, fulfilling the universal meaning of the word “catholic.”
To assist with learning the Latin Ordinaries, I thought I would post a few videos so that you can become more comfortable singing them during Mass. You may notice with these videos that the rhythm is a little different from the way it is sung in church. This is because the music books that we have in the pews are written in modern (“round note”) notation, which is based on time measurements, as opposed to the free rhythm that occurs in chant (“square note”) notation. (See the post on the Pater Noster for a more complete explanation). I’m using videos with chant notation for learning because the modern notation is actually aiming for the same sound, it is just difficult to translate because the difference in musical language.
You will also notice the different Mass #s associated with the chants. This is because the Latin setting that was composed for the Ordinary Form was created by choosing the melodies from various Masses (there are 13 Mass settings in the Extraordinary Form) that were most accessible to the average person. When a full Chanted Mass is offered, we sometimes use a complete setting from one of the original Latin Masses, which can be learned by the congregation, but it just takes more time.
This chant is actually sung in Greek. If you’re curious about why that is, you can read a very interesting article from Aleteia here. In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, each verse is sung three times, giving it a Trinitarian quality. In the Ordinary Form, the verse is sung by the priest or cantor, then repeated by the congregation.
Lord have mercy / Christ have mercy / Lord have mercy
We often do not use the more elaborate melody for the final verse, but pay attention to the cantor at Mass – maybe it will be used at some point – it would be good to be prepared ; )
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
This element was not part of the Traditional Mass, and is a bit unusual in that we have different responses available in English, so many in the pews might not know what is actually being sung. Unfortunately, the translation is not included with the music in the books, but it is on the white handouts in the pews. This acclimation is based on 1Corinthians 11:26.
The mystery of faith. r. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.
In the Extraordinary Form, the cantor sings the beginning of each verse with additional voices joining in after the asterisk (as occurs in the video). In the Ordinary Form, the congregation often sings straight through after it is initially intoned. It is helpful to be aware of this difference if you attend an EF Liturgy. (See John 1:29 and Revelation 5)
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
Although the Gloria is not sung during Advent or Lent, here is a video of the chant in case you encounter the Latin ordinaries outside of those seasons.
Lastly – if you haven’t already – please consider “following” this blog through the link on the bottom right. An email will be sent to you when a post is added, so you will stay up to date with helpful information and upcoming chant opportunities. Feel free to share the page with anyone you think might be interested.
Have a great week!
I’ve added a podcast to the resource page which you might find interesting. Square Notes: the Sacred Music Podcast was launched very recently, and plans to discuss topics such as Church documents on sacred music, the music of certain composers or eras, Gregorian chant, the role of music in Catholic education, and techniques for directing a better choir rehearsal (from their about page). There will be interviews with bishops, priests, music directors, teachers, composers, philosophers and theologians, along with others who have been strongly effected by sacred music. Subscribe to catch each new episode as it is made available.
Visit their website for more details. Happy listening!
I’ve posted this video before, but if you’re somewhat new to this site and have been working with the chant tutorials, this might be a fun video to help develop your understanding of solfege.