The Beauty of Repetition
I recently had the opportunity to work with an extraordinarily enthusiastic group of cantors in preparation for a full Gregorian mass. As we moved through our preparations and, ultimately, the mass itself, I was struck by their sense of awe of and responsibility for the chant and how it was presented.
Even though we only had two hours of preparation time together, we all mutually stepped into a legacy of chanted prayer that had long preceded us, and will last long after any of us walk on this earth. It only takes a moment of pondering that thought to realize that we were joining ourselves into a type of repetition. In this case, repetition which changes every time it occurs. A bit of a paradox — perhaps. But just as liturgical seasons repeat every year, so do those scriptures which inflame and inform them and by extension — the chants, which help illuminate those texts!
It was that understanding in which I found myself standing with that group of cantors — the joy of having known these chants and yet discovering new dimensions and how these chants would enhance this particular mass. As you spend time chanting, take the time to return to chants which you already know – see what new insight they give you.