Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor 

On my mind

At Lauds this morning, I found myself quite distracted. The more I chanted, the more distracted I became. By the time we arrived at the final psalm — the Praise Psalm — I was in no mood to praise anyone or anything, let alone the Lord who I knew was hearing every word going through my head!

Then something happened. We were a few verses into the psalm when I realized I was being swept along with it. The psalm and the chant had simply moved in and taken over my thoughts.. I was not overwhelmed by any large emotion, no “lightning bolt,” but rather a “still, small Voice” which was making itself heard through the chant.  That moment left me more able to ask God what was upsetting me, and for me to hear His answer. I am so grateful that He used the chant that way — to let me know what was really on my mind!

The Community of Jesus









Credit:Chants from a choirbook from Florence – Victoria and Albert Museum × 1500


Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

We recently finished a series of chant classes in our community in which everyone joined a schola, prepared a chant, and taught it to the other scholas. It was amazing to see how various individuals came together in these ad hoc scholas, and in just a few weeks’ time, learned to work and communicate together as a group.

When we completed the final class, we asked folks what they believed they had learned. Their responses included: “We learned about supporting each other,” and “We felt a new sense of mutual support within this group,” and “It was a ‘rush’ to feel the entire community join the chant after we completed the intonation.” The word “support” was the most common remark, and not one word about neumes was mentioned, (though they worked quite hard with learning the notation)! Everyone seemed to agree that they gained a greater sense of unity through participating in a schola. Once again, chant served a purpose beyond itself as we learned to support each other more in learning the chant and ultimately, in the worship service.


The Community of Jesus









Credit: Cartoon of St Philip’s Schola © Kath Walker 2011

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor 


Two weeks ago, I was sitting in Sunday Eucharist felling quite preoccupied. I found myself chanting more out of rote than with my heart engaged. The schola that was chanting the service was doing a lovely job and I really wanted to listen but had a hard time doing so.

The time came for the Gradual. The text that morning referred to Christ. Suddenly – it seemed to me – I was hearing the musical motive from the opening of the famous Christmas Eve chant introit, Dominus dixit ad me. That gentle chant for Christmas eve was now a trumpet call in my ear.

At that moment, I felt that God had reached straight through that chant, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Remember that I am right here”. God had regained my attention and it changed that entire worship service for me! Once again, the chant was God’s own voice, calling me to listen.

The Community of Jesus








By Sr. Nun Other

Springtime is a season of wordless beauty. It’s quiet response to God’s will gives witness to His love and faithfulness. When open and aware, mind clutter disappears, my unruly spirit subdued without a word being spoken.

II Corinthians 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with earthly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have our conversation in the world.


Holy Cargo

By Melodious Monk

I found this meditation inspiring and full of vision for the potential of life with God.

The theological truths about providence and guidance, about the ever-presence of God, and about his merciful indwelling in us must become concrete, lived possessions. Then we will succeed in living through the experiences and events of workdays and holidays, of bright hours and dark hours, right up to that central point at which God reveals himself as their deepest meaning. The secret, holy cargo entrusted to these events we are living through consists of his questions, his guidance, his leadership, his punishment, his judgment, his consolation, and help. 

Temples of God are located not only where churches are still standing. Rather, let the great temple arches stretch and raise themselves up wherever the human heart worships, wherever the knee bends, wherever the spirit opens itself, and where man’s highest potential is fulfilled by those who worship and love.    

The life of God is lived within us, within the deepest center of our being. Man becomes truly himself precisely at the point where he recognizes that the highest and brightest Being dwells within him. Moreover, he will rediscover himself and his own identity, as well as his faith in his own individual value, mission, and life options, to the degree that he comprehends human life as streaming forth out of the mystery of God. Then all that is negative and threatening is surmounted, its futility is exposed from within and simultaneously disempowered.

     -Father Alfred Delp, S. J.

The biggest question I always find myself asking God is “Why?”  Why is this or that happening, why, why, why? I’m always looking, rather un-patiently, for God to change some parts of my life. And if you are like me, with anything I bring to God I’m usually looking for a big, clear, dramatic (and swift) change! In my haste, I run rampant over the little secret joys the Holy Spirit tries to teach me each day. I think Father Delp has written out a vision, and a possible road map for how our lives can mysteriously be lived out to their best and most satisfying fulfillment.

june 3



Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

So Much Color!

We find ourselves today in a “liturgical waiting period” between the Feast of the Ascension and the Feast of Pentecost. The chants for both of these feasts always strike me with the extraordinary musical coloring of their respective texts!

Have any of you ever played the game where you stand and look up into the sky, and wait for others to stop and see what it is you are looking at? Well, the chants for Ascension do exactly this with each of us! For example, look at the opening of the Introit for Ascension – Viri Galilaei (O Men of Galilee) – in which angels ask the disciples why they are looking up. Instantly, your eyes will be led in an upward direction as will your voice, chanting from the bottom to the top of the mode on just the first two words!

The chants for Pentecost are equally descriptive but in a rather more “fiery” way. The Communion antiphon for Pentecost – Factus est repente (A mighty sound from Heaven) – opens with a dramatic horn-call motive that gives an almost operatic quality to the opening words.

These are but two examples of the incredible ways which the sound of the chant is really the “sound of the words.” If you have a moment, take time during this wonderful period of anticipation between Ascension and Pentecost to learn and chant these two works I mentioned and enjoy the “discovery process!”


chant blog may 30.2014

All Things Bright and Beautiful

By Melodious Monk

This well known and beautifully simple hymn was originally written to teach children the Apostles’ creed by an Irish woman in the mid 1800’s. Though written for young people, it reminds, and teaches to some of us bigger children, lessons we may have forgotten. Through some of nature’s local examples, the hymn writer spends seven verses explaining to the kids the start of the creed “I believe in God the father Almighty the make of heaven and earth.”  So simple, and yet so profound. Jesus tells us not to worry, for everything is in God’s hands and control. This sounds so simplistic, and I blow it off without even finishing the sentence. Yet it is true; like children we are hungry and needy and dependent on God, but also like children we are full of wonder, creativity, playfulness and joy! It is not a negative to be dependent on someone else, or to be child-like. If you know the tune, try humming it to yourself or singing one of the verses, chances are it might make you smile!

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all. 

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one;

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows for our play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day;

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.


1 Heather

Consider The Lilies

By Renaissance Girl
I stepped out early Saturday morning with my cup of coffee and my dog. No one was around and the air hung with the silence of a spring morning, sparkling with sun and rustling branches and bird song, and the smell of flowers and cut grass. I stood for a moment and just took it in. Out from a hole in a nearby tree flew the Flicker I had seen around, and in flew his mate – changing of the guard. In bold relief against new green buds on a neighboring tree was the male Oriole – singing with everything he had. His song makes me stop in my tracks – such joy and clarity from this tiny, feathered body. And I wondered if God had fun creating all these creatures – every color, detail and unique voice lovingly placed. So much beauty in such simplicity. . . . Is that possible for us – humans with minds full of plans and worries and grudges and our own ideas – to return unrestrained praise to our Creator?

All Things New

By Renaissance Girl
Every day now there is a new flower open, or news buds on the trees. Birds are putting the finishing touches on their nests and baby rabbits are already appearing. It seems this year, perhaps due to our long, cold winter, the Resurrection itself was the catalyst for Spring and new life — as if the earth, unable to contain Christ, couldn’t contain itself and exploded into growth and color. I looked out over a nearby orchard with fruit trees covered in pink and white blossoms and thought of the verse from Revelation, “Behold, I make all things new.” And I feel hopeful that the God who loves to create beauty — new EVERY day — will draw new life out of me.

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor
Easter and the return of Alleluia
Now in the second week of the Easter season, rehearsals have begun for the chants which will take us all the way through Ascension and Pentecost. When our Schola gathered for its first rehearsal, one particular comment kept arising: “This piece sounds familiar, but it’s somehow not quite the same.” So, as we looked at each of the pieces, we discovered the same thing — the insertion of an alleluia either within the body of the text or added as a conclusion to the entire chant.
This made us stop and try an experiment — chanting a piece without the alleluia. The piece sounded fine — even complete. Yet, when we put the alleluia back into the piece, an entirely different character awakened in the chant! What a fabulous discovery! As the saying goes, “You don’t really know what you have until it is gone.” How true that is with our beloved Alleluia! Instantly, we knew that the restored Alleluia was a gift to us — a reminder of the continued joy of the Easter season.
Chant blog.April 26.2014