01 December 2016

Does anyone want a harmonium?

A (more or less) working harmonium is Holy Trinity Church, Hethe, Oxfordshire is available for anyone who wants it. (Contact details here.)

Contact the parish to see it or collect it.

Holy Trinity is a lovely church, which thanks to an enterprising former Parish Priest has a very interesting 18th century chamber organ (in need of some restoration). For some reason it also has this harmonium, which takes up a good deal of space in the tiny choir loft.

Someone: give it a home!

25 November 2016

Young Catholic Adults Douai Retreat & Schola Gregoriana

Young Catholic Adults and Schola Gregoriana Retreat
Douai Abbey  28th to 30th October

          For some years Associates of the Schola have been joining with the YCA on a weekend retreat, usually in the autumn at Douai Abbey.  The YCA is a group which promotes the spirit of orthodoxy with charity; it has a deliberately  non-divisive outlook, and uses the Church’s devotional heritage in order to aid souls.  It promotes celebration of Masses in the Extraordinary Form, Adoration, the Rosary, and other devotions. The YCA aims to promote a spirit of beauty and reverence in the Sacred Liturgy.  This aim accords with the similar aim of the Schola to proclaim the word of God through the divinely inspired music of the chant.  At these retreats the Schola leads the singing at Mass and the daily Offices, and encourages YCA members to join in rehearsals.  The lecture programmes of the YCA and Schola rehearsals are linked and timed to allow members of either organisation to attend both. Each day ends with a social gathering at which old friendships are renewed and new ones made.
          At the outset Christopher Hodkinson distributed music books covering the entire weekend, as usual beautifully prepared with translations alongside the Latin, coupled with full rubrics. On the Friday evening we sang Compline of the Feast of SS. Simon and Jude, ending with a Procession and Aspersion with Holy Water during the singing of the solemn Salve Regina.  Next morning we sang the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday (EF) at a High Mass in the parish church according to the Roman rite. Later in the morning rain curtailed the Marian Procession in the Abbey grounds in honour of Our Lady of Fatima. That evening we sang First Vespers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King, and after supper Compline in the Abbey Church sung with the Community.  On Sunday morning the Missa Cantata for the same Feast was celebrated in the parish church by Fr. Thomas Crean, the Chaplain to the YCA, according to the Dominican rite.
          Douai Abbey is a splendid venue for these very successful retreats.  Food and accommodation are excellent, and participants benefit from the peaceful atmosphere of the Abbey and the beautiful surrounding country. Everyone left hoping for a repeat visit next year.

Grey Macartney

29 October 2016

Altare Dei: a new magazine on Catholic liturgy

This is a new venture which I am pleased to bring to the attention of my readers. The first edition of this magazine includes both an intereview wuith and music by Colin Mawby, one of the Latin Mass Society's Patrons. You can buy and download it here.

1) Altare Dei will present in English featured articles not only from people in the anglosaxon world, but also from Europe, theologians and liturgists that will be translated, sometimes for the first time in English.

2) The cost is around 7 US dollars, but if you consider only the musicla insert will cost much more than that if bought separately.
3) The musical insert has, in this issue 12 pages of music, 6 original pieces from contemporary very good Church composer. Only for that Altare Dei would be a must. 
4) You can download the pdf right away, no shipping fees.

28 October 2016

A ruby anniversary for Mgr Gordon Read


Monsignor Gordon Read of Brentwood Diocese this year celebrates the 40th anniversary of his priestly ordination. As the National Chaplain of the Latin Mass Society, we made a little presentation to him at our annual get-together of Local Representatives in London.

23 October 2016

November chant courses in Scotland

1. Introductory workshop on liturgical plainsong at St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, on the afternoon of Saturday 12 November. The workshop is led by Benjamin Saunders, Diocesan Director of Music in Leeds diocese, who will also talk about the wonderful work he’s been doing to promote singing, especially among children, in Leeds and Bradford. Full details, including how to reserve a place, here: http://www.dioceseofaberdeen.org/archives/8341.

2. Gregorian Chant Weekend at the St. Ninian Institute, Dundee, 19-20 November: see the poster below for details (click on the picture to make it full size). The Institute is very happy to provide overnight accommodation for participants who may need it - the rate is £30 per person, per night on a B&B basis.  Lunch will be provided as part of the course.

26 September 2016

Chant Training at Ealing Abbey, London


Chant from the Gregorian Missal and other sources is learnt and sung each week, and at a Mass in the Abbey Church one Sunday each month as well as a Mass at a local care home monthly.  Beginners able to sing in tune and experienced singers are welcome.
6.40 – 8 pm every Wednesday in the Bulbeck Room, Ealing Abbey, Marchwood Crescent, W5 2DZ

Enquiries:  Fr. Peter Burns, OSB  020 8862 2100 / ealingabbeypottery@gmail.com

25 September 2016

Chant training: now at Spanish Place, London

Updated: these classes have moved from Farm Street to Spanish Place.

Schola Gregoriana
Gregorian Chant Instruction
Directed by Dr. Peter Wilton, B.Ed (Hons.)  M.Mus
(Editor of chant for the Office of Vespers for Westminster Cathedral Choir)

Discover the profound beauty and infinite variety of this timeless music by learning to sing it.

From 6.30 to 8 pm on Tuesdays:
October  25th
November  8th,  22nd,  29th
December  13th ( at 26 The Grove, Ealing, W5 5LH)

At  St. James’s Spanish Place,    George Street,  London,  W1
(nearest tube station:  Bond Street)

Study will include square notation, pre-stave neumes, interpretation, music for the Mass, daily offices, music for special occasions, psalmody and texts in different languages.

Anyone able to sing in tune is welcome, with or without chant experience.

Cost:  £5 per evening
Enquiries to Mr. Grey Macartney,  26 The Grove, Ealing, W5 5LH
Tel:  020 8840 5832            E-mails:  grey.macartney@gmail.com

06 August 2016

Dominican Rite Compline in York, 21-27 August

As part of the Yorkshire Medieval Churches (Church Explorers) Festival 2016, and to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Dominican order, the Rudgate Schola are going to be singing Compline by candlelight using the old Dominican Rite (with its processions) each evening from Sunday 21st August to Friday 26th August at 8.30pm. On the final day, 27th August, they shall sing Vespers using the Roman Rite (Extraordinary Form) at 3.30pm and conclude with Dominican Compline at 8pm.

The venue for all of this is St Mary's Church (the oldest in York), Bishophill Junior, York YO1 6EN.

06 May 2016

Chant Conference in Toronto, August 11-14, 2016

As about a quarter of this blog's page-views come from North America, I think it worth mentioning this forthcoming event in Canada.

Prof. William Renwick writes:

It is going to be a wonderful time, focusing on practical chant singing, but also with a series of lectures on chant in honour of the late Dr. Andrew Hughes, who did so much to further research in Gregorian Chant.  Our guest clinician is Adam Bartlett, who will also be directing the chant for the Sunday mass.  There will also be sung offices each day, a banquet, and a concert.  All events are at the beautiful St. Augustine's Seminary.
Please go to
http://www.gregorian.ca/wp/index.php/colloquium-2016/for full program information, registration, and accommodation.

I would add that the line-up of speakers looks most impressive.

04 April 2016

Successful GCN Chant Weekend


After a gap of two years, we were able to organise a residential Chant Weekend again this year, in parallel with the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat.


It was led by Colin Mawby and Chris Hodkinson; a dozen singers attended. As usual, the singers on the course were able to accompany the liturgies of the event, three Masses, Vespers and Benediction, two Complines, and a procession of thanksgiving: which, in accordance with tradition, started with the Te Deum and concluded with the Canticle of Zachary.


So there was plenty of live, liturgical singing, with an appreciative congregation, as well as practice, theoretical discussion, and a session on organ accompaniment of chant.


The Family Retreat was also very successful, and the combined event attracted more than 90 people. The Retreat was led by two yound priests from the community on Papa Stronsay in the Orkneys, the Sons of the Holy Redeemer: Fr Magdala Marie F.SS.R and Fr Jean Marie F.SS.R.. Both the Retreat and the Chant course were sponsored by the Latin Mass Society.


13 March 2016

Palm Sunday and Easter Resources from the Schola Gregoriana Malvernensis

In a previous post I shared some examples of Lenten Tracts in a simple organum setting by Alastair J. Tocher, director of the Schola Gregoriana Malvernensis. Here are some further resources for Palm Sunday and Easter:

Palm Sunday: The Gradual (Gregorian, with simplified psalm tone verse).

Palm Sunday: The Tract (Gregorian, with alternating psalm tone and organum verses).

Easter Sunday: Gregorian/Polyphonic Gradual. Alastair has prepared a new edition of the Gradual - Haec dies - for Easter Sunday in which the Respond (the initial portion) is sung in Gregorian chant but with the Verse sung in a simple four-part setting by Cesare de Zacharia (circa.1594).
The edition is available free for liturgical use.

Easter Sunday: Gregorian/Polyphonic Alleluia. He has also prepared a new edition of the Alleluia - Pascha nostrum - for Easter Sunday in which the initial Alleluia is sung in Gregorian chant, the verse is sung to a simple psalm tone (VII), and the final Alleluia is sung in a simple four-part setting by Giuseppe Pitoni (1657-1743).
The edition is free for liturgical use.

Many thanks to Alastair for sharing these, and best wishes to all of you who are currently preparing music for the Holy Week and Easter liturgies.

04 March 2016

GCN Chant Training Weekend 2016


The Gregorian Chant Network's annual big chant course - a three-day intensive course (Friday afternoon/evening to Sunday morning) - will take place 1st to 3rd April 2016. That is, Easter Friday to Low Sunday, the weekend after Easter itself, at Ratcliffe College, near Leicester.

It will be led by Colin Mawby, the well known composer, and Christopher Hodkinson, one of the Musical Directors of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge. 

Each of them has an enormous experience of chant, its interpretation and performace, and having two chant teachers will enable participants to be divided for various purposes in the course of the weekend, enabling everyone to be taught in a way appropriate to their experience.


The course has always run alongside the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat. Apart from seeing the vast number of small children devoted to the Church ancient liturgy, which is always fun, this means that participants in the chant course have the opportunity to sing at a succession of live liturgical events with an appreciative audience. Each of the three days has a Traditional High Mass, which have a special interest because it will be the week after Easter. There is also Compline on two days, and Vespers and Benediction on the Saturday. The Retreat this year will be led by two priests of the Sons of the Holy Redeemer from Papa Stronsay, Fr Magdala F.SS.R and Fr Jean F.SS.R .

For prices see here.

The GCN's hope is that the course will be taken by enough members of a given group to make a difference to performance when they get home, and not just by an individual here and there. It is up to Chant Directors to make this happen!


More details.
Online booking form.

Or email us: info@stcatherinestrust.org

12 February 2016

A Lenten Tract Setting in Organum (UPDATED with Tract for Lent I)

The Lenten Tracts are some of the most challenging items in the Gregorian repertoire, both for length and difficulty. Some editions of the Liber Usualis include an appendix, setting the text of the Tract to a Psalm tone - the minimalist approach.

Alastair J. Tocher, director of the Schola Gregoriana Malverniensis,* proposes a more interesting way of making the Tract manageable for small choirs, giving the opening verse in its original Gregorian setting, and setting the subsequent verses to a plainsong Psalm tone, alternating with parallel organum. He writes:
It is not original but rather merely follows the arrangements used by a founder of the Association for Latin Liturgy, Dr Dick Richens, and used at Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge over many years. We never had it written down, just vaguely annotated in our graduals.
Click here for an example. This is the Tract for the third Sunday in Lent; if there is enough interest, Alastair may be able to produce settings for some of the other Sundays of Lent.


UPDATE: Here is the Tract for the First Sunday in Lent - just in time for anyone who is panicking about tomorrow's Mass!

Do let us know if you use any of these settings.


* "The main blessing for the [Latin Mass] community here at Worcester - St John the Baptist, Spetchley - has been the arrival of the Schola Gregoriana Malverniensis who sing at a monthly Mass in the Traditional Rite in the chapel." Margaret Parffrey, 'Diocesan Digest', Mass of Ages: the quarterly magazine of the Latin Mass Society (Spring 2016).

23 January 2016


The earliest forms of chant notation show various signs called neumes "in campo aperto", that is, without any ruled staff-lines to indicate pitch; "in campo aperto" means "in an open field".

Click here to learn more.