by Sr Fidelis
The Introit and Schola
The opening chant sung at the Eucharist is the Introit. The Introit sets the tone for the service. We think of it as a functional chant because it accompanies the procession. The text of the Introit is usually taken from the Psalms, but both Old and New Testament references are used as well — especially around certain Feasts and Solemnities. The Introit is sung, followed by a psalm verse, and then the Introit is chanted again. At the Community of Jesus, we all join in singing the Introit.
The group of singers who lead the chanting during the Eucharist is called the Schola. Eucharistic chants range from fairly simple tunes, like the Introit, to florid soloistic chants. The Schola usually stands in a circle called a corona or crown. Singing in a Schola requires the ability to listen carefully to one another, so that the group moves and sings as “one voice”.
Dom Cardine, a monk of Solesmes, France who has done a great deal to restore the chant to its original state, once said that a Schola member should always sing “with his ear on his neighbor’s throat”. This is a wonderful metaphor for the kind of sensitivity and oneness that the Schola strives to achieve as they lead the worship.