The “Soli Deo Gloria” Schola is a music ministry of volunteers helping each other to sing the Mass according to the Roman Gradual in a growing number of liturgies in Southern California. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Soli Deo Gloria is an education ministry, not a performing group.
Chant is simple: our breath and the Word are the only two ingredients we need, and they were given to us.
Then, why does chant sound foreign to many 21st century Catholics?
Our answer is twofold:
1- Because our ability to chant is cluttered by too many assumptions. We learn by removing them. We can then use properly what we already have.
2-Because we have not really tried to chant. Once we give chant a fair try, it no longer seems foreign, but rather natural.
What are the undesirable assumptions we need to remove? Below are a few wrong ideas that like me, you may have encountered:
“Bad music in Catholic churches is to be blamed on modernists musicians. We are helpless victims. There is nothing we laypeople can do about it.”
“For Mass, the priest and church musicians provide me with all i need to participate. No preparation is needed from me. I just show up at Mass. Showing up already makes me a Top 20 Catholic.”
“I am not a singer. I can talk, and I can recognize tunes. But I cannot sing.”
“I certainly can’t sing without the support of a steady beat, and/or a musical instrument,”
“Some (other) people in our parish are talented musicians. Let them shine at Mass, animate our liturgy, impress visitors, and maybe even God.”
“Money is usually needed to make our liturgy impressive enough.”
“I sub-contract everything I do not do well. Singing at Mass should be no exception. I contribute money for the singers.”
“if one can earn money or benefits (ex: solos) singing in another denomination, one should get the same opportunities in our Catholic liturgy. Is not liturgical ministry subject to the laws of supply and demand?…”
…All the above are common, yet WRONG ideas. Let’s get rid of these first. We have to de-learn to re-learn.
On Sundays in San Pedro, we prepare to sing the 5:15 Mass. How do we prepare?
1- connect with our breath, we befriend the vowels that will carry our singing tone, and the consonants that must interrupt this flow, as lightly as possible, to form words. We gain awareness of the instruments we ALL were given: breath, words.
2- we learn the “three degrees of participation of the faithful” defined by the 1958 and 1967 Instructions on music in the Sacred Liturgy (Read 1958 text in italic below, or download: de-musica-sacra-et-sacra-liturgia, and see paragraph 25). Then, when we are ready, we are going to sing the Mass where we are invited to do so.
Is it enough? We believe that true excellence in liturgical music grows organically from a broad participation, itself the result of musical training proper for the congregation.
Per the 1958 Instructions for Music in the Liturgy:
” In solemn Mass there are three degrees of the participation of the faithful:
First, the congregation can sing the liturgical responses. These are: Amen; Et cumspiritu tuo; Gloria tibi, Domine; Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est; Sed libera nos a malo; Deo gratias. Every effort must be made that the faithful of the entire world learn to sing these responses.
Secondly, the congregation can sing the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie eleison; Gloria in excelsis Deo; Credo; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei. Every effort must be made that the faithful learn to sing these parts, particularly according to the simpler Gregorian melodies. But if they are unable to sing all these parts, there is no reason why they cannot sing the easier ones: Kyrie, eleison; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei; the choir, then, can sing the Gloria, and Credo.
Thirdly, if those present are well trained in Gregorian chant, they can sing the parts of the Proper of the Mass. “
Rehearsals are to learn, with the most advanced chanters helping the newer ones. We start at the beginning each time: the Word (logos) and the breath (Spiritus) together create chant (see also How do I start? ).
2- To prepare practicing the Ordinary of the Mass, visit: Credo III, Gloria VIII, Pater Noster, Jubilate Deo Mass, Mass VIII (De Angelis) (JP2 : we sing Mass VIII), Mass IX (Cum Jubilo) and/or download this App Square Notes on your cell phone.
3- To prepare practicing the Proper, review the calendar below, download the appropriate Sunday, and listen to the music files and/or download this App Square Notes on your cell phone.
See also: Books, books, books,…