For any question that may not be answered below:
Who maintain this site?
Hervé (pronounced Air-Vey), Catholic cantor, singer and children choir director started this site in 2013.
Why this website?
Its primary purpose is to support the chanting groups at the JP II Center in Yorba Linda, and at Mary Star of the Sea San Pedro. Live group rehearsals are more efficient if preceded by individual practice. Individual learning is more efficient in frequent short sessions. I hope this website can make such frequent individual practice easier (example: “De Angelis” Mass settings).
Chant is a beautiful expression of the Catholic “Both…and…”.
The chanter experiences both the confidence from the scriptures chanted by an engagement of his/her whole body, and the vulnerability inherent to exposed singing.
Elisabeth-Paule Labat writes:”Chant is also, like other music, infused with nostalgic yearning and with joy. But through its medium, these two sentiments, apparently opposed, cause no disquiet in the soul that lives and probes them with the clear insight of faith.” (From “the song that I am” p.98). Also, Chant carves the voice.
Catholic means “universal”. Latin is the language common to all Catholics, worldwide. Of course, not all-latin-all-the-time is necessary. But some-latin-by-all-catholics will cement the unity of the Church. Again, Musicam Sacram and Sing to the Lord are must-read documents for any Catholic singer.
Also, those of us who have an interest in the history of the Church will understand how much latin can unveil to us. For a musician, getting acquainted with latin will open 1,500 years of deep and exhilarating musical tradition to meaningful exploration. Western music grew from plainchant. And plainchant grew from reading the Bible aloud (“cantillating”). Could the same path be explored in English? Of course. In fact, some recent music publications have made it easier to chant the Bible in English. Some examples are on this website.
How does this ancient ancient music answer the “Pastoral” need of a music ministry?
I have observed many music ministries function more like community choirs than liturgical ministries. The pastoral success seems to be measured by the budget that is raised to finance paid professional musicians, accompanists or singers, who then increase the musical level of the ministry, along with new expenses in hours of practice and copyrighted music (see also: “How we get stuck.”). When we measure pastoral success by the solemnity, beauty, and spiritual development attained by the sole active participation of parishioners, there is no better “return on pastoral investment” than gregorian chant. Temporary professional help might be needed to demonstrate, but is no longer necessary once volunteers have gone through the liturgical cycle and keep investing thirty minutes to one hour of practice a week, often just before Mass (see Talent and Participation). Chant also carves the voice and will benefit every singer. If the “Pastoral” need extends to the finances of a parish, then Chant is the most sustainable of all liturgic music ministries.
Where can I read more about this?
A great place to start are three short articles that were written by Father Cassian DiRocco and published in the bulletin at Mary Star of the Sea:
Embracing what is ours, part two- Gregorian Chant
Embracing what is ours, part three- The Mass Propers
Episode 11 of season 2 of “The Liturgy Guys” podcast hits the nail right on the head. “Liturgical asceticism” expresses very well what this website is about: practice makes perfect!… Exactly. I recommend this podcast.