I love to sing Gregorian chant. I really do. Our Divine Office books with musical notation and Latin words on the right and English translation to the left are a GPS for focusing one’s mind on spiritual things. My mind, however, is often a trampoline for thoughts that lead to….mistakes. We sing chant antiphonally, verses alternating between men and women. Recently I heard a lone female voice join the men on the last two words of a Psalm verse. It was mine. I considered a cough or foot scuffle diversion – anything to cover the fact that my mind was that far astray. Instead, conscience prevailed. I kneeled (as is our custom), confessed, and re-focused. Until the next time.
My only previous experience as an extended choir member was singing Haydn’s Creation with the Cape Cod Symphony several years ago. This year I was invited to join the choir for a recording of Miserere Mei, Deus (Psalm 51) by Josquin de Pres (French composer 500 years ago). This piece is a five-voice version of the psalm we chant every Friday at Lauds, so the Latin words are very familiar. For the recording the challenge is to sing together, in time, in tune, with the same tone, while reflecting the full meaning of the words. Only by the grace of God, much help, and a great deal of work can I hope to reach this goal. The photo shows the score open to the most difficult bass line I am to sing. I now have a much richer understanding of what it means to sing to the Glory of God!