by Sister Fidelis
In doing some research this week I came across a quote by Dr. Mary Berry, musicologist and chant scholar who taught our community so much about Gregorian chant. I found it extremely inspirational and informative—once again a reminder that it is the text, mainly Scripture, that is the motivator in this form of prayer, and how much we have to gain by participating in it.
“The first ray of hope that came to me fourteen years ago, when I launched out on teaching Gregorian Chant and 96 came when I expected 20, has been amply fulfilled. People come because they sense in the Church a malaise which actually amounts to a crisis of faith and a positive attempt to water down the basic doctrines of Incarnation and Resurrection. I’ve told you something about the research and I’ve also hinted at the extent to which people, particularly the young, find the chant relevant to their Christian lives. In coming to the Chant they find the strong affirmation of the living Christian message in all its vitality and passion and youthful vigor. My experience is that it utterly refreshes, enriches and converts anyone who sings it. The latest researches to which I have referred have laid open, like a delicate dissection, this faith proclaimed through the intricate and superlative art of generations of unknown composers, closer in time than we are to the original revelation of God in Jesus Christ. They proclaim the sacred texts in a way that reveals the Church’s deep and traditional faith in the Son of God, made Man, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified for our sake, but also risen, ascended, glorified.” —Dr. Mary Berry, CBE, from a lecture given in 1985