Unexpected Grace
  • As I noted in a post a few months ago, some of our most graced moments as church musicians happen when least expected. This past Sunday was such a time. As is our custom on the first Sunday of each month my Gregorian chant schola sings some, but not all, the Latin propers and a post-communion Latin hymn for the 9am novus ordo Mass. I prepare programs for each of these Masses so that the congregants have Latin texts with parallel English translations as well as some historical background . After nearly a decade of experiencing this Mass, people are supportive and proud of their distinction of having the only novus ordo Mass with sung Latin propers in the archdiocese. (Having a grand 19th century sanctuary with a high ceiling and near perfect acoustics hasn’t hurt the cause.)

    Being a large parish with three distinctive language groups, however, I’ve always been cautious not to overstate our success because numerically those who attend the 9am Mass are a distinct minority. I was quite anxious therefore when arriving at church this past Sunday to learn, due to a communication snafu only hardened liturgical musicians can appreciate, the 9am Mass was to be a parish first communion Mass. In other words, there would be many people attending who had never experienced a Mass with sung Latin chant and could be upset when their normal expectations weren’t met.

    With that as backdrop, the first communicants processed down the center aisle accompanied to Iubilate Deo, received their first communion hearing Simon Ioannis and meditated after communion to the sound of Regina caeli sung to the solemn tone. From the loft, I sensed that perhaps my fears were exaggerated since there had been a mood of quiet solemnity and an absence of common first communion excesses (flashing cameras, non-stop chatter or even a purposely dumbed-down homily). But it wasn’t until descending the loft stairs after Mass that I appreciated how misguided I had been. People were gathered to tell us how beautiful they found the chant and how it had made this day so special and sacred to them and their families.

    After wearisome year-after-year struggles to establish a mere foothold for chant, sometimes our efforts are not just justified but rewarded.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 150
    How wonderful! I'm so happy for you! These are the moments that make it all worth it, fleeting though they are. What a wonderful working of God's grace.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,015

    I am delighted! So wonderful. Would this be an appropriate image of the space involved?

  • Congratulations! Now remember to let your choir members know that they are appreciated -- in most cases, they don't hear it enough.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Liam,

    Yes, despite some photographic color distortion, that's the place.
    Thanked by 2Liam CHGiffen
  • RCS333
    Posts: 34
    That is wonderful! Thanks for sharing.