Do you pray as a choir/schola?
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 690
    I'm in one small choir (3 solid members, another 3-5 learning) which sings a combo of Gregorian chant and traditional hymns. We always rehearse for 45 minutes or so before Mass, and always open rehearsal with prayer led by the director/organist. After Mass she leads us in pray again before we are dismissed.

    Over the years I've sung in three other small choirs regularly and not a single one of them prayed formally together before or after.

    I must say that the first-mentioned group has its weakness in terms of musical formation, and I don't like everything we sing, but there is a general attitude of reverence, respect, courtesy and propriety that existed in none of the others and is worth any price.

    I tried introducing prayer in two of the others but it was grudgingly resisted into oblivion in one, and in another was actually turned into a near-occasion of sin, which is really hard to imagine, but actually can be done.

    I still sing in the third group: great musical ability, great repertory, really penitential social dynamics. I think if I try suggesting we pray before singing, it will probably result in me being passive-aggressively bullied by the director in vengeance for attempting to 'outrank him'. But if we (Jesus, Mary and me) could actually make it happen, I bet it would awesome. I might start plotting how to do that.

    Do you pray before/after rehearsals and Masses or other events where you sing?

    If not, why not?

    If so, is it a long-standing custom or were you there when it was introduced?
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • MarkB
    Posts: 839
    The choir I am in prays at the beginning and at the end of 90-minute weeknight rehearsals; we do not pray during warm-ups that start 45 minutes before Sunday Mass. At rehearsals, beginning prayers are prepared on a half-sheet of paper by the director and read aloud by all, followed by asking for intentions from choir members for relatives or friends in need. Prayers at the end consist of the Lord's Prayer, a Hail Mary, and invocations to our patron, to St. Cecilia, and to the choirs of angels and saints. Nicely done, I think. Asking for intentions at the beginning helps to form bonds of care and concern.

    This has been a practice for many years, going back two other directors.

    I am flabbergasted that you have met with such resistance to prayer in church choirs.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 690
    "I am flabbergasted that you have met with such resistance to prayer in church choirs."

    Flabbergasted. Yes, exactly.

    I do live in a culturally Catholic country, which shall remain nameless, but I wonder sometimes if that might impact people being heavily involved in church activities without necessarily having an exteriorly evident spiritual life?

    Thanked by 1MarkS
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,674
    My choir sings the "Our Father" at the end of every rehearsal, a practice going back at least 40 years that I know of.

    Sing before warm-ups on Sunday? What are these warmups you mentioned? You mean all your people get to mass on time to sing anything before the psalm? I have 5 or 6 at least who are never on time.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,068
    We pray before rehearsal in one choir: it is perfunctory and customary and accepted by all, in much the same spirit as the vocal warmup we do immediately afterwards. Both the prayer and the warmup are always the same and take about a minute each. This choir has been doing so for decades, with some members still in it since the beginning. I sing with this choir.

    The other choir is a schola of young people. I direct them. We warm up beforehand without prayer. At the end, we never omit to sing the Marian antiphon of the season. Most of them spend their remaining 20 min or so before Mass in private prayer.

    I think a formal sung prayer before and or after rehearsal could address your problem. Maybe the Mode IV Angelus to start, and the Marian antiphon at the end?

    May God bless and prosper you.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 690
    Warmups? Would be nice at 8am... but we don't do that either. I hum the music in the taxi on the way to church to warm myself up...

    The sung prayer ideas are good!
  • Carol
    Posts: 760
    We pray before choir practice and we pray before Mass, but usually only a brief prayer and we do not usually have "intentions." This has been the custom for many years in our parish even though choirs have formed and disbanded over the years. We also warm up before Mass and nearly everyone is there 20 minutes early. We do sing (so far) only on the first Sunday of each month and for special liturgies so maybe that explains our prompt attendance.

    Actually, I am glad someone else mentioned "warm up." Yesterday, I was wondering whether warming up exercises before Mass in the choir loft were appropriate since there were a few people already in the church praying. What do others do about this?
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • I don't remember what was done before me,
    but I do ask that we sing or say prayers at beginning of each practice, and say prayers at the end.

    Since our practices follow a sung Mass, we don't really need a warmup, although I like them.
    Thanked by 2Incardination Carol
  • TCJ
    Posts: 832
    We do spoken prayer at the beginning of choir practice and sung prayer at the end. That's just how I did things right from the start with a brand new choir. No difficulties with it.
    Thanked by 2Incardination Carol
  • janetgorbitzjanetgorbitz
    Posts: 944
    My choir always prays for each other at the end of every rehearsal... we have a short time for prayer requests (and keep each other in prayer in the time between rehearsals as well). We sing either the Our Father or Ave Maria each time...

    I think it is very important for us... it helps us to know if someone is going through a struggle and needs prayers -- makes us kinder to each other and more compassionate. I have sung with groups for whom that wasn't the norm and also had very cordial relationships with the fellow choir members, but I think the best friendships have formed when we pray for each other as well as sing together.
    Thanked by 2Incardination Carol
  • Incardination
    Posts: 832
    Choirs I've belonged to at times past typically say a prayer (usually a Hail Mary) at beginning or end of practice.

    Choirs I direct sing a variety of prayers... usually a Gloria Patri (since that prayer typifies what we aspire to do through our music) with an invocation of our patron saints (Philomena and Dominic Savio, each representing our two goals of honor / glory to God and drawing souls to Christ). We do this before / after all practices (including before Mass). Sometimes I have changed it up - one year we sang the seasonal Marian anthem either simple or solemn tone through the year; another we sang the Hail Mary in French; sometimes we'll do a chanted Angelus; sometimes we'll end with a motet as our prayer.

    in another was actually turned into a near-occasion of sin


    SO sorry to hear that. Prayers for success in turning that around.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,821
    The student choir I led always started with the chanted Angelus as set by Dom Charpentier, by their own choosing.

    The polyphonic choir I co-lead always starts thus:

    A) Physical stretches, including a massage chain. (I'm a bit of a hedonist, what can I say.)
    B) Vocal warm-ups - scales, arpeggios, breathing exercises, etc.
    C) Chanting the Ave Maria, Pater Noster, and Gloria Patri, followed by invoking Ss. Gregory, Caecilia, Dunstan (our Patron), and the saints of the parish, diocese, and feast day

    We conclude thus:

    A) Chanting the "Benedicamus Domino/Deo Gratias" from the Divine Office
    B) Heading to the local diner for an epic cock-and-bull session.

    Somewhere in-between practice gets done.

    But the prayer helps practice, definitely. Helps keep you focused why you are doing this in the first place. If singing in church = prayer squared, making it prayer cubed isn't much further of a step, at least.
  • ...outrank him... [??????!]

    You cannot, can not, out rank your choirmaster. The only person in the parish who outranks the choirmaster is the pastor. What you need to do is suggest (respectfully) your ideas about choir prayer to him or her and let it be. This is his or her choir, not yours.

    As to the value of choir prayers, I commend them highly and believe that every choir should practice them. I have gone so far as to compose little prayer offices for the beginning and ending of rehearsals. Each begins with some veriscles and responses, continues with a psalm about music, a 'chapter' (which is a biblical verse about music or musicians), and closes with a collect, the Our Father, and a closing versicle and response. Each 'office' is sung in its entirety - all of it. The choirs that I have used these 'offices' with have appreciated them. They definitely sanctify the rehearsal and tie the choir and its work to the liturgy, which is the point of all church choir music making.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 461
    Choir begins with the Sign of the Cross and the Collect of the coming Sunday or feast, for which we are preparing. This was one of my few innovations last year when I began. I feel this begins to establish the relationship of the music we are learning to the remainder of that day’s liturgy. The same Collect is repeated Sunday before the warmup, so singers hear it three times (which may, eventually, open up spiritual riches so long obscured by the 1970 Opening Prayers...) Warmups follow. Rehearsal ends with the Sign of the Cross, the Hail Mary, said by all, and an invocation of St. Cecilia specifically, and all the angels and saints. The high school schola does likewise.

    Adult schola, since its inception before my time, has always begun with the Asperges me or the Vidi aquam, according to season. No prayer is said at the end.




  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 405
    Before rehearsals and the Mass
    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
    "Bless, O Lord, us Thy servants who minister in Thy temple.
    Grant that what we sing with our lips we may believe in our hearts,
    and what we believe in our hearts we may show forth in our lives.
    Through Jesus Christ our Lord." In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    After rehearsals and Mass
    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
    "May He (O Lord, Jesus Christ), support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in His (Your) mercy may He (You) give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest and peace at the last." In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
  • ClemensRomanusClemensRomanus
    Posts: 1,018
    We use that prayer before rehearsal chant with its versicles and Collect that was posted here a few years ago.
    Thanked by 2Incardination Carol
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 690
    Absolutely flabbergasted at the diversity and creativity of the examples and the sense of community many of you seem to have!

    Massage would definitely be wildly inappropriate, but other than that I'm starting a list of brilliant ideas. God repay you!
    Thanked by 2Carol Incardination
  • When I'm directing a schola, we begin rehearsal with a prayer taught to me by a beloved, now departed CMAA member:

    Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, all our actions by Thy holy inspiration and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance, so that every work and prayer of ours may always begin from Thee and through Thee be happily ended, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
    V: O Mary, conceived without sin; R: Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
    St Cecilia, pray for us. St Gregory pray for us. St N (parish patron), pray for us.

    I'm very gratified to hear some choir members reciting the prayer with me, as that's how I learned it too. I've even heard it used in another schola in our area.
    A while back, one schola member asked me why we don't pray in our rehearsals. I responded that we always do pray at the beginning. After that, he started showing up on time, more or less!
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,068
    In other words, Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help: that in all our works begun continued, and ended in thee, we may glorifie thy holy Name, and finally by thy mercy obtein everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Verbis vero alteris, Actiones nostras, quaesumus Domine, aspirando praeveni et adiuvando prosequere: ut cuncta nostra oratio et operatio a te semper incipiat, et per te coepta finiatur. Per Christum...

    How rich and how lovingly worded and reworded a prayer that is. And how fitting for the occasion.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,864
    We pray at the end of our weekly rehearsal. There was a guy who has quit who would usually have a formal (read) prayer ready. I try to get somebody else to do it, but I'm usually the one. Usual ingredients are thanks for the opportunity to serve and petitions for the health of out (very small) membership and for those who need to sing with us to be brought to us.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,674
    Sometimes I pray for deliverance.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,068
    Lord have mercy on me, a singer.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,341
    This is from Plainsong for Schools, we use it before practice,image
  • ClemensRomanusClemensRomanus
    Posts: 1,018
    That’s the one we use.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • >> one year we sang the seasonal Marian anthem either simple or solemn tone through the year

    yes!
    For a long time we started practices with the chanted Angelus; now everyone can do it from memory. And now we're doing the same with the seasonal Marian anthems.
  • just thought I would thank the OP for starting this lovely thread. :-) :-)
  • stulte
    Posts: 334
    My schola has dinner together every Monday evening. We then rehearse and end the evening by singing Compline/Night Prayer. Sometimes our pastor is with us and sometimes it's only us.
  • Salvete! It's my first time posting here! I sing in a Gregorian schola.

    We sing Evening Prayer (LOTH) before our TTH rehearsals and Night Prayer (LOTH) afterwards using the settings of Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB (I think).

    We pray the Rosary before our Sunday EF Mass and sing Evening Prayer (LOTH) after Mass.

    I like that antiphon and prayer that tomjaw posted. Thanks!
  • WGS
    Posts: 279
    And here is the Oratio Choristæ, in Latin:

    ℣. Dominus vobiscum;

    ℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

    ℣. Oremus.

    Bénedic Domine * nos servos tuos, qui mínistrant in templum tuum. Dona, ut quod ore cantámus, corde credámus; et quod corde crédimus, opéribus comprobémus; per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.


  • We always pray, same with the choir I used to accompany, and also a community choir I sing with. It would be strange not to. I admit sometimes we forget during busy times, but I can’t imagine anyone being opposed to praying!
    Thanked by 1Incardination