EFF OSTROWSKI contacted me recently and asked me to put together a description of our musical & liturgical life here at the St. Lawrence Center (Lawrence, Kansas) which I am happy to do. What follows is based on our liturgies and other special events during the academic year.
Masses at the Saint Lawrence Center
MASS • Saturday 4pm Vigil — A typical parish Vigil Mass with Cantor, Organ and hymns from the St. Michael’s Hymnal. No chant propers, no choir. Attended by 120-150.
MASS • Sunday 8:30am — This is a smaller Mass attended primarily by permanent community members and some students. There is no choir, and the music is led by our Organist and Assistant Choir Director Katie Burchfield: An entrance hymn with organ from St. Michael’s Hymnal 4th edition, a cappella sung psalm and Gospel acclamation, English missal chants and communion antiphon from Simple English Propers. No recessional hymn.
MASS • Sunday 10:30am — This is the principal Mass of the day with attendance between 225 and 325 comprised of a wide cross section of students, permanent community, other people from town. The choir of 16-20 is likewise composed of students, faculty and permanent community members and is led by the Director of Sacred Liturgy and Music. This choir is the “flagship” choir of the St. Lawrence Center, with all members having some significant choral experience and able to read music at least minimally.
Mass begins with an entrance hymn accompanied by Organ with English Mass parts from one of the metered settings in the St. Michael’s hymnal. During Advent and Lent we do the Latin Missa Jubilate Deo for Mass parts. The Responsorial Psalm is introduced by the organ, intoned by a cantor and sung by the congregation as normal with choral verses on most Sundays. The Gospel acclamation—antiphon and verse— is done by a cantor. The Offertory Antiphon and verse is sung by the men of the choir from Simple English Propers, followed by an offertory hymn. The Communion antiphon and verse are sung by the women of the choir from SEP on most Sundays, with an occasional chant from the Gregorian repertoire for major Solemnities like Easter or significant seasonal Sundays (e.g. Second Sunday of Lent – Transfiguration). The communion motet or anthem is from the classic sacred choral repertoire both new and old (e.g. Palestrina Ego Sum Panis, Duruflé Ubi Caritas). With the exception of “super solemnities” such as Christ the King, there is no recessional hymn.
MASS • Sunday 5:00pm — This is also a large Mass, with similar attendance to the 10:30. In contrast to that Mass, however, both the congregation and the choir are comprised primarily of students. The musical format is more like a typical parish Mass with cantor, choir and piano accompaniment. The same hymns are sung as at the 10:30am Mass, but with no chant propers. The choral repertoire is sometimes the same as 10:30, but often supplemented with some Taize and other easier pieces. The choir sings on a three-weeks-on/one-week-off schedule and is open to anyone who is interested, regardless of singing experience and/or the ability to read music. It is therefore more of a training choir than the 10:30am. Even so, we still have a number of very experienced choral singers in the group. Also conducted by the Director of Sacred Liturgy and Music, this choir rehearses one hour before Mass.
MASS • Sunday 9:00pm — This is our Chant Mass and features the most distinctive format of any of the Sunday Masses at St. Lawrence. The lights in the nave are turned off with large candles on stands placed around the perimeter of the chapel and at the corners of the base of the Altar. Led by the Director of Sacred Liturgy and Music is a Schola of 4-6 male singers, all of whom must have a substantial choral and sacred music background. There are no hymns and all the sung propers are taken from SEP. We use the English Missal chants for Mass parts (Missa Jubilate Deo during Advent and Lent). The responsorial Psalm and Gospel acclamation are done a cappella—as is the entire Mass—with choral verses as arranged/composed by the director. Following the communion antiphon, we do a polyphonic piece such as Palestrina’s Jesu Rex Admirabilis or an English piece in two or three parts. After the final blessing, we sing the Salve Regina as a recessional. This Mass is usually attended by about 150 people, with a nice mix of town and gown.
Other Liturgies and Events
Tuesday Adoration — Beginning at 9am and going through about 10pm in the Chapel. Includes praise and worship beginning about 8:30pm and ending with Night Prayer and Benediction.
Easter Triduum — Done with an augmented choir like Lessons and Carols and similar to the format of the 10:30am Mass as described above, but with even more solemnity. The liturgical high point of the year here at the Center!
Annual Lessons and Carols Presentation — Now on its 28th consecutive year! Combined choirs doing classic a cappella and accompanied repertoire, the O Antiphons and an occasional men’s or women’s piece. The 10:30am Mass choir is core of the group, with others invited to join from the other groups and the permanent community. Publicly advertised and well-attended by about 200 people with a reception following.
We hope you enjoyed this guest article by Dr. Brian J. Nelson, Director of Liturgy and Music at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center.
Watershed readers may remember Dr. Nelson from his appearance on EWTN.