Our scholas have just completed the recording sessions for a Gregorian chant CD to be released later in the year. Of course, much of the preparation for the recording involved chanting together.
However, a large portion of the preparation and, I would venture to say, the most important part, involved the time we spent together not actually chanting. All of us had agreed together that we would, individually, take the time to really study the text – even use it in our devotional time – before delving into the chant itself. Then, we met several times as a group to discuss what we had discovered in the text and then how the chant illuminated the text.
After concluding this process, our chant rehearsals changed dramatically. We had a new unity of spirit, thought, and expression that went far beyond the neumes – the chant had transformed into a living conversation between us and God. Did each of us think exactly the same thing at exactly the same moment? No. Were we committed to a shared vision of each work? Absolutely! And, even more amazing was that within the groups, we had greatly varied levels of cantors – many very experienced – some brand new!
Perhaps though what I found most moving was that at the end of the sessions, we actually found it difficult to tell each other goodbye. We had experienced something together that would not have happened without a shared vision of each chant and the conversation it helped create.