October 7, 2012
Every few weeks, Mass will be celebrated with a type of sacred music, most often in Latin, called Gregorian Chant. the Gregorian Chant Schola is a new ministry at the parish which will supplement our community liturgies with this prayerful and reflective type of music. Reintroducing Latin to our Mass through this old type of music may prompt a few questions. No worries! Check out Fr. Roberts’ FAQ’s to find out how this will be a beneficial addition to our liturgies.
What is Gregorian Chant?
Gregorian Chant is a form of sacred music that developed in 8th century out of antecedent traditions of Latin sacred music in Italy, France, Switzerland and the Low Countries. As a rule, Gregorian Chant is in Latin, although there are some instances where the Greek language is incorporated into it.
Latin! I thought the Church got rid of that in the sixties. Why are we going backward?
Sacrosanctum Concilium, Vatican II’s (1962-1965) document on the Sacred Liturgy, made a wider use of the vernacular language possible in the celebration of the Mass. The same document stated that Gregorian Chant “takes first place” in the Church’s treasury of sacred music (SC, 116). Both Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI as well as our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have expressed a desire for greater use of Gregorian Chant in the Mass.
Doesn’t singing Gregorian Chant make it more difficult for me to participate in the Mass?
At every Mass those who are present should participate in the Mass as fully, consciously and actively as possible. Such participation presumes that one is receiving Holy Communion in a state of grace, present for the entire Mass from the entrance until the recessional and having made a sacramental confession of all of one's mortal sins number and kind. Making responses, either spoken or sung, is also part of participation. Listening attentively and carefully during Mass might even be more important than responding, however. Some Gregorian Chant can be easily learned by one who is inclined to sing. Other chants are meant to become prayer through attentive listening.
Why does it seem that Catholics are the only ones who worship in a dead language?
The use of a sacred language in worship is hardly unique to Catholics. Orthodox Christians occasionally use Church Slavonic and Koine Greek, neither of which is a spoken language today. The use of Hebrew is so important to the Jews that in modern-day Israel a dead language was revived as a spoken vernacular language. Hindu priests use Sanskrit; Muslims pray in Arabic regardless of whether or not it is their mother tongue.
How will this affect the Mass at Saint Alphonsus?
The Gregorian Chant Schola will sing about every three weeks, rotating through different Masses. All parts of the Mass that are normally spoken will of course remain in English. Those that are sung will be in Latin.
If you have any questions or wish to participate, feel free to contact Fr. Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org