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Saturday, June 28, 2008

The EnCHANTment Project - WEEK 2

We started the lesson with a prayer, then, because we had a few new people in the class, teacher David Molloy went over a bit of the history.

This included how the Monastery Library of Sankt Gallen in Switzerland has surving remnants of the earliest forms of chant notation and how the monks of Solesmes were the first ones to clean up chant in the 1880s and produced a Gregorian Missal.

In the US, Justine Ward, established a method for teaching chant and donated money to the Catholic University in the US so chant courses would continue to be taught.

In Australia, Dr Percy Jones and Fr Albert Lynch learnt the Ward method when they went to Rome for priesthood studies, and they came back and taught it at St Mary's Cathedral and St Patrick's Cathedral choirs in Sydney and in Perth, WA.

Then we learnt how to sing a torculus, as it says in the "Square Notes Workbook", so it "floats like a feather in the breeze". When singing a dotted podatus, we had to imagine "letting your feather float away".

Other points included:

+Speed up unaccented notes and slow slightly at accented notes.

+Quicken up in the middle of the phrase and slow down towards the end, because that's the pace of the language.

+Even though a porrectus is drawn like "swooping" notes, don't swoop.

"We sing some words slower to highlight a theological point in the text. For example, 'The Lord said to me, you are MY son," Molloy said.

We practised the O Salutaris, Pie Jesu, Confirma Hoc, and Alma Redemptoris.

Some good websites to check out include the Church Association of America ( and the New Liturgical Movement (

Molloy recommended some chant CDs – FSSP in the US ( and Sublime Chant by Richard Proulx and the Cathedral Singers (

For homework, we have to practice the Alma Redemptoris and finish the exercises in the workbook.

Fr T dropped in from Melbourne, along with a newly ordained deacon, Andrew.

We finished class with the Angelus, then went to lunch at the London Hotel, where the bartender looked amazed when 20 people ordered tap water and soft drinks with our meals.

Discussion included a Gregorian chanter's nightmare situation: after days of hard slog rehearsals, singing at a Mass where the priest leaves his microphone switched on and sings the chant at a s-l-o-w pace. "Priests, please switch off your microphones when the choir sings."

Afterwards, the Juventutem choir members went back to rehearse for a few hours.

The next chant class will be held this Saturday, from 9am to 12.30pm, at St Augustine's Church, 3 Jane St, Balmain, and costs $30, which includes a chant textbook. The workshops are being sponsored by Juventutem in preparation for the group's big WYD08 event on July 16 - a chant masterclass by US Gregorian chant expert, Scott Turkington, followed by Vespers with Cardinal George Pell, at the church in Balmain.

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