E JUST FINISHED the second day, or the first full day, of the Sacred Music Colloquium. A normal Colloquium day basically starts with Lauds at 8am followed by the Solfege warmup. And then we break into seven chant choirs for the morning chant session. After that is the breakout sessions with various topics. The plenary session was given by Fr. Jonathan Robinson after lunch and followed by the polyphony rehearsal. Then the day ends with Mass, dinner and Compline.
This morning, I went to the first chant rehearsal. I am very blessed to be able to join Dr. William Mahrt’s Chant Improvisation Choir. I am not going to go into the methods of chant improvisation here. If you want to know more about that, consider participating in the Colloquium next year in St. Louis from June 20 to June 25.
Dr. Mahrt is such a knowledgeable man and I learned something interesting in his class today: singing the ninefold Kyrie in the Ordinary Form Mass. In the Ordinary Form, Kyrie is supposed to be sixfold (Kyrie-Kyrie, Christe-Chrite, Kyrie-Kyrie). However, the ninefold Kyrie (Kyrie-Kyrie-Kyrie, Christe-Christe-Christe, Kyrie-Kyrie-Kyrie) may be used due to musical concerns. Some of the Kyries, like Kyrie III, in the Graduale Romanum have to be sung in ninefold. Dr. Mahrt said that the ninefold Kyrie helps the congregation to learn the Ordinary quicker and encourages the external participation. And of course, the number, “3”, represents the Holy Trinity.
Fr. Jonathan Robinson, the superior of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Toronto, gave a very good talk after lunch. He talked about the importance of beauty. We must bring people to the truth through beauty and it is our responsibilities, as Catholic musicians, to make sacrifices to preserve beauty. Now, I would like to write a little bit about the inspiring talk by another priest, Fr. Robert Pasley.
Fr. Pasley is the chaplain of the Church Music Association of America and he gave his annual Chaplain Talk after dinner tonight. In his talk, he encouraged those who are participating at the Colloquium for the first time to be open to some traditional practices in the Liturgy: celebrating the Mass ad orientem, receiving Communion on the tongue while kneeling at the altar rail, etc.. Through participating in both Forms of the Mass, we can see the mutual enrichment between the two Forms. We can see the differences and similarities between the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form. It is very important for church musicians to know and understand both Forms of the Mass. We need to know the Vetus Ordo because the Church had been celebrating it for hundreds of years and it helps us understand the origin of the Novus Ordo. And I think knowing the Novus Ordo is just as important. It is the Form that is being said more widely in the Church. We must read the documents and understand it in light of Tradition. Knowing the Liturgy, the fullness of Roman Rite, is an essential part of being an excellent church musician.
And here is a video from the English Novus Ordo Mass taken by Ben Yanke.
Lord, Make Me to Know Thy Ways by William Byrd, directed by Dr. Horst Buchholz