OLD GREGORIAN CHANT MANUSCRIPT FROM HUNGARY
Why does ChantWorks focus on the Holy Mass?
God’s Word grounds us in goodness, truth, and beauty. The three transcendentals speak to the soul and impact every aspect of our lives.
Mass brings transcendence into the lives of Christians, reminding them of the sacrifice and eternal promise of Jesus. The Holy Spirit inspired the form and content of the Mass over the centuries. As the immutable laws of aerodynamics lift a plane, following the true form of the Mass lifts the hearts and souls of participants.
Our Chanted Word series follows the Mass’s three Bible readings and Responsorial Psalm as designated. The liturgical year recounts main events in the life of Christ from Advent (preparing for the birth of Christ) through Ascension (Christ’s returning to heaven). This allows us to follow him as did the original disciples.
From the Ascension through Christ the King (Christ’s dominion), the Liturgy of the Word leads us through the main concepts of Christianity as revealed in the Bible.
Why don’t the videos and podcasts match what I hear at Mass?
The Readings and the Psalm are exactly the same. They sound differently because the Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel are chanted instead of spoken.
An ancient principle, chant intensifies our understanding of the sacred text by bonding words with melody. In the case of chant, words drive the melody. The rhythm of chant makes the message easier to understand and remember.
Contrarily in metrical songs, melody is created first and the words adapted.
Another point of difference is that ChantWorks singers present the Entrance Antiphon, the Alleluia, and the Communion Antiphon. The Catholic Church has determined these chants are integral to the Mass and special to each daily liturgy. Thanks to these chants, the whole Mass is greater than the sum of its parts.
In contrast, when hymns or contemporary worship songs replace traditional chants, these often do not connect with the Readings. Jarring shifts in style and content make the Mass feel disconnected and blast people out of their prayerful state of mind.
Why include Latin?
Latin is a beautiful language and powerful Catholic tradition. It improves one’s command of English since many words have Latin roots. It’s widely used today in the fields of law, science and academics.
For certain important liturgies, ChantWorks includes chants in Latin with English subtitles. Such chants are essentially untranslatable into musical form. Latin grammar is compact, English grammar sprawls in comparison. Original Latin chant can’t be sung in English without alterations to the melody and significant loss of beauty.
What’s the story behind the video art?
Like chant, Catholic art enhances thought, emotional appeal, and retention. Back to the early Church in Late Antiquity, church buildings have been adorned with paintings, sculptures, frescoes, and mosaics. Catholic faith rejoices in the beauty and goodness of God’s creation, which can be reflected in true art. The Incarnation of Christ means that the second person of the Holy Trinity took human form and lived among us. Since Christ shared our human form and human nature, He wanted us to see Him. Art that depicts Christ, Mary, the apostles, saints, and great events from the Bible make the Readings vivid, to help us believe and understand.
How do I use these materials in daily life?
ChantWorks videos and podcasts are online and on demand. It’s a great way to put aside the cares and stress of the day, creating an oasis of calm and beauty.
How can I use these materials with a prayer group?
Bring your laptop or tablet and set it up for full view. You can also plug your laptop into a monitor or big screen TV. Quality speakers are a plus. Feel free to stop the video at any time to discuss the readings and art, and then move into your prayer. If your group has embraced lectio divina, the music and art will help your meditation.
What about parish music directors?
The videos and podcasts can be used for audio training, and to accustom your choir to feel the flow. The spirituality of chant arises from the sacred text itself, so the flow of the verbal phrases shapes the pace and melodic structure of the chant.
It differs from both the rhythms of pop music and the metrical structure of contemporary worship songs. Learning to sing chant begins with intuition about flow. Feeling chant is similar to feeling the breath of the Holy Spirit. Without musical intuition of non-metrical flow, chant becomes blocky and monotonous, which garbles the sacred text.
When choirs chant the Propers, congregations develop an appreciation for chant. It’s amazing how quickly people pick up the Ordinary and learn to sing it by ear. This is especially true if the same chants are used for most seasons of the liturgical year.
The constant introduction of new contemporary worship songs puts congregations in a bind. Few people read music, but many feel insecure about their voices. The people’s musical shyness puts the burden on the choir. Chant provides an escape from both the congregational shyness and the choir’s temptation to perform.
Cantors can easily rehearse with the podcasts, listen a couple of times, then sing along. Chants are recorded from the Pew Missal, available from Ignatius Press.
Listen and sing along, while looking at the square notes in the Pew Missal. You’ll soon learn to read Gregorian chant notation. It’s more suitable to the musical form than modern notation. ChantWorks also provides free sheet music to download for important chants that aren’t included in the Pew Missal.
Listen a time or two, while following along in your copy of the Readings for the day. Match the reader’s pace and intonation. You’ll learn to pronounce difficult words. Like a classically trained professional, rehearsal allows lectors to better understand the reading in order to read more effectively and proclaim the Word of God in a most memorable fashion.
- Parish Confirmation classes
- Adult faith formation classes
- Catholic middle and high schools
Everyone has different learning styles. Many students appreciate visuals that supplement explanations and stimulate class discussions.