Mass at Our Lady of Fatima

The schola sang beautifully at Our Lady of Fatima Church on March 14. Here’s what I posted on the CMAA forum:

Y’all will have to forgive me for bragging about my tiny schola. The Pope Benedict XVI Schola RULES.

Although the group has been in existence for an entire year, the membership has been in flux, and the four or five we have now are not the four or five we started out with. Tonight the current group sang its first Mass together, and I am so proud of them.

They sang beautifully, they listened well to each other, they watched me closely–and they absolutely made my week. Or maybe my month. My heart is full of gratitude.

We began with a prelude—the introit from the Anglican Use Gradual. For Mass we sang an introit hymn from a book this particular parish uses [Christopher Tietze’s Introit Hymns for the Church Year] and then Palestrina’s Jesu Rex Admirabilis, the simple Ave Regina Caelorum chant, the two-part Perosi Ave Maria, and Father Columba Kelly’s Communio for the third Sunday of Lent, with verses I pointed.

My job is to welcome, encourage, teach, and praise them–but they deserve all the credit for singing so well.

Note that most of the music I mentioned—including the Palestrina, the Perosi, the Anglican Use Gradual, and Father Kelly’s propers—is available free online.

I am preparing a guide to the propers for the website of the East Tennessee chapter of CMAA. I’ll post about it here when it’s available.

This year’s schola

We began this effort almost exactly a year ago, on Feb. 24, 2008. Our members have changed a bit–we’ve lost a few and gained a few. We gained a new member last Thursday, and I’m grateful for her interest. So now we have five regulars. Still a very small ensemble . . . but we’re making music.

I believe the only thing limiting us now is our small numbers. I’m praying for new members and have sent notices to a number of church bulletins in the Knoxville area.

Oh, and we are now rehearsing at Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville, arguably the most beautiful Catholic church in the area. I appreciate the welcome the music director and the priests have given us.

Come to the Sacred Music Colloquium

If you love chant and polyphony, whether you’re an utter novice or a veteran, consider spending a week in what’s been called "musical heaven" this summer. That’s where I plan to be.

What: Sacred Music Colloquium XIX

When: Monday, June 22, through Sunday, June 28

Where: Loyola University in Chicago

Who: sponsored by the Church Music Association of America

Find all the details here.

New FAQ on sacred music

Our friends at CMAA have revised the organization’s excellent FAQ on sacred music. It includes a great deal of information that could be used to help educate the faithful. And it could help bolster your position if you’re in the position of having to justify your use of chant and polyphony.

Resources for Sept. 13 Mass

It looks as though we have at least four who can sing Sept. 13, the vigil for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Below are links to some resources you’ll need. I’ll bring copies Tuesday night, but if you’re so inclined, you can download your own beforehand.

I’d like for us to learn Liszt’s setting of the ancient Latin hymn Vexilla Regis. Liszt includes two of the verses, here in English translation:

Abroad the regal banners fly,
now shines the Cross’s mystery:
upon it Life did death endure,
and yet by death did life procure.

That which the prophet-king of old
hath in mysterious verse foretold,
is now accomplished, whilst we see
God ruling the nations from a Tree.

We’ll definitely sing the Chabanel Psalm for the day and a chanted alleluia verse, as we did on Aug. 14.

The Communio is Per signum Crucis. The antiphon text (translated) is "By the sign of the Cross, deliver us from our enemies, O our God."

We may sing the Salve Regina chant.

And I’d like to learn a three-voice bit of polyphony if we can swing it. Good choices include Asola’s setting of Christus factus est and a Lasso setting of Adoramus te, Christe. Both are appropriate to the feast. Indeed, the Christus factus est text is the same as that of the Graduale for the day. The Graduale is the proper that is typically replaced these days by the responsorial psalm.

Count on a dignified hymn or two.

To listen to sound files of some of the pieces mentioned here, click this link and investigate the pages.

Our first Mass

I’ve been communicating most of our news via our Google group/e-mail list or private e-mail. But we have not been idle.

Five of us sang for the vigil of the Assumption on Aug. 14 at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Alcoa. I was very pleased with the group. We were small but mighty!

Highlights of the Mass included the Chabanel psalm for the day; a two-part "Ave Maria" by Perosi at offertory, followed by "Salve Regina," the seasonal Marian antiphon; and the chanted proper at Communion, "Beata viscera." Dignified hymns at processional and post-Mass recessional.

We’ve been invited to sing at St. John Neumann in Farragut for the vigil of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (also known as the Triumph of the Cross), and if we have sufficient numbers, we’ll do it. My initial thoughts include Liszt’s "Vexilla Regis," the Communio ("Per signum Crucis"), the Chabanel psalm for the day, "Salve Regina," and whatever polyphonic piece we can learn. Two possibilities are Asola’s "Christus factus est" and Lasso’s "Adoramus te, Christe." Both are available from cpdl in editions for three parts.

Note an addition to the sidebar at right: links to my public page on It looks like an easy way for me to share info and links on the fly with members.

If you’re interested in joining the schola, comment on this post or e-mail me.

By the way–there may be changes ahead in our rehearsal schedule. I’ll keep you posted.

What we rehearsed June 24

Last night three of us focused on Gregorian chant: the Communion chant from the Roman Gradual for the fifth Sunday of Lent, a couple of the four seasonal Marian antiphons, and the chant hymn Ave verum corpus. I realize that the Communio was a bit out of date, but it’s a nice one, and I already had copies in the music binders . . .

Unless you hear otherwise, assume that we will rehearse at Our Lady of Fatima for at least the next several Tuesday nights, 7 to 8:30 p.m. I’d like to get us on the schedule to sing a Mass seven or eight weeks from now. That’s plenty of time for us to master the music but not so much time that we get discouraged because the goal seems too far away.

I’ll keep you posted.


This afternoon we’ll be looking at the material we went over last time . . . and also I hope to introduce the chant hymn Ave Verum Corpus and the Kyrie of the Byrd Mass for three voices. (Here’s the Agnus Dei from the same Mass, if you’re interested.)

Those who would like to listen to a midi version of the Kyrie, visit Sheila Crossey’s site.

Or, better still, get thyself to Amazon or iTunes and purchase the Tallis Scholars’ disc with Byrd’s Masses for three, four, and five voices. I’ve had the good fortune to perform the Mass for four voices (my favorite) with Harmonia Vocal Quartet and the Mass for five voices with the Knoxville Chamber Chorale. So I guess it’s time to learn the next one.

the role of chant

Jeffrey Tucker has a fabulous post on The New Liturgical Movement , titled “When it is chant and when it is not.” Here’s an excerpt:

The famously unfulfilled mandate of the Second Vatican Council, that Gregorian chant should enjoy a principal place (principem locum obtineat) in liturgy, is finally being taken more seriously by Catholic musicians and ecclesiastical bodies. But there are many issues that are unresolved, mostly due to the lack of consciousness on the part of the musicians and clergy. The Vatican document from 1963 assumed more knowledge than most Catholic musicians and pastors currently have on this issue.
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