22 February 2012

GCN Biennial meeting: report on our activities

Dr Joseph Shaw
One of the things which happened at the meeting was a report by me (Joseph Shaw: photo courtesy of Henry de Villiers) on the activities of the GCN over the last couple of years. It's all been on this blog, for the most part, but here's a summary.

We have a new logo done for us - you can see it on the sidebar.

We've organised two weekend chant courses at the Oratory School; another will take place in April, led by Colin Mawby.

In collaboration with the Schola Gregoriana, there was a very successful series of chant training days in Portsmouth Cathedral, organised by our 'South' regional organiser, Neville MacMally.

Our London organiser, Matthew Schellhorn, has organised a chant day only a couple of weeks ago in Southwark Cathedral.

Training in Catholic cathedrals was one of the bright ideas we started the GCN with, and to be honest it has proved harder than I had hoped. Getting permissions together for such events requires more effort and coordination than in other venues, because more people are involved. However, we shall persevere, and I have recently met Bishop Davies of Shrewsbury who was enthusiastic about the idea for his own cathedral.

Something else I have done is the series of booklets of propers for diocesan feasts, which are now hosted on the LMS webstite, though the series is not yet complete.

Always eager to draw everyone with an interest in Chant together, I was delighted at the meeting to have representatives of the Ordinariate and the new Newman Institute, and even more pleased that they've agreed to be 'supporting organisations.'

I also drew attention to two important devopments: the establishment of the Ordinariate, and the publication of the new translation of the Missal. In both cases the forces of sanity in Church music are being given an extra opportunity. This isn't the end of the conflict, but it is certainly represents a more positive situation than before.

What we all need to continue to do, of course, is show the committment to excellence, and continual training of our singers, which alone will raise the standard of chant, attract more singers to it, and make it work as it should for the sanctification of souls.

21 February 2012

More 'supporting organisations' for the GCN

In the context of the Biennial meeting I can announce two more important organisations with a strong interest in Chant which have agreed to become 'supporters' of the Gregorian Chant Network:

Ordinariate of Our Lady
The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

The Blessed John Henry Newman Institute of Liturgical Music in Birmingham.

Both were represented at the meeting, the Institute by Fr Guy Nichols Cong Orat, its founder and Director, and the Ordinariate by the Rev Mr Daniel Lloyd, a deacon, who was one of the assistant clergy at Vespers.

They join our founding supporters:
Fr Guy Nichols., Cong Orat

The Latin Mass Society (which sponsors the GCN financially and administratively)

Una Voce Scotland

The Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge

The Association for Latin Liturgy

St Catherine's Trust.

We also have more choirs and scholas than ever affiliated to us - they now number over 30 - and we have 6 regional coordinators, working in the North West, the North East, London, the Midlands, the South, and Wales.

Furthermore, our meeting was attended by representatives from Una Voce France and the Irish affiliate of the Una Voce Federation, St Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association. UV France was represented by Henry de Villiers of the Schola St Cecile (and the New Liturgical Movement), and Philippe Nikolov of the Schola Reginae. The above photo of Fr Guy Nichols is from Henri's French blog post on the meeting.

Our aim is to be a forum for everyone involved in chant to be able to meet, discuss new initiatives, and give each other practical and moral support.

20 February 2012

GCN Biennial Meeting: Dr James MacMillan

I am going to do a series of posts about the meeting which took place on Saturday. In this one, I am posting the audio of James MacMillan's very interesting talk.


07 February 2012

St Edmund of Canterbury in the 1962 Calendar

St Edmund of Canterbury
St Edmund of Abingdon, or Canterbury, one of our saintly Archbishops of Canterbury, like his successor St Thomas of Canterbury spent a lot of time in exile, and indeed died there. He has two feasts in the 1962 Calendar in some dioceses. His main feast day in 16th November, but there is also a feast of his Translation (ie. the moving of his relics) on 9th June. He is particularly associated with St Edmund's College, Old Hall, Ware, where an important first-class relic is preserved and both feasts are celebrated; he is also the Patron of the Diocese of Portsmouth.

There are two different Mass formularies, with their own chants, for him. The one used by most dioceses on 16th November (ie Birmingham, Clifton, Liverpool, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Northampton, Plymouth, Salford, Shrewsbury & Southwark) is simply the Common of Confessor Bishops, Statuit ei Domini. The other, used for the Translation in the places where it is celebrated (Brentwood, Portsmouth, and Old Hall), and in Westminster, Brentwood and Portsmouth for the feast, is taken entirely from the Feast of St Edmund in the Sarum Missal. It is unusual, and possibly unique, to see a complete adoption of a Sarum Mass formulary (set of propers) in modern books. In terms of chants the pieces can all be found in the Graduale Romanum, but the Introit and Alleluia have textual variants to include his name. The alleluia is the same as St Francis of Assisi, but with 'Hic Edmundi' instead of 'Francisci'. He is also described as 'modicus', 'modest', rather than (as with St Francis) 'humilis', humble. Perhaps this is becuase, unlike St Francis, St Edmund did not manage to resist elevation to high office in the Church.

Fitting 'Hic Edmundi' into the space where 'Fransisci' is a bit of a puzzle, and we are very grateful for the help of Colin Mawby here. Mr Mawby, who was Director of Music in Westminster Cathedral in 1960s, can remember singing it in Westminster many years ago. It is good to have this kind of knowledge passed on to future generations. His help has enabled me to add this Mass to our list of Diocesan feasts on the Latin Mass Society website.

A booklet with these chants can be downloaded from the LMS website here. You can see our whole page of diocesan feasts here: