Chant is an ancient musical form developed in an era far removed from our own. It takes time to grow to appreciate its peculiar modes of expression. That said, chant’s beauty and effectiveness as a means to prayer are so broadly attested that we can be confident of great spiritual discoveries in the repertoire if we approach it with an open mind… When we chant, we enter into a musical meditation on the Word of God in our midst, spoken to and through us. – Fr. Peter Funk
Welcome to the Church of the Resurrection's Gregorian Chant Choir Page.
We are a group of church music singers, drawn and gathering regularly from a host of area parishes and churches, sharing in the celebration of a holy catholic Mass liturgy that continues to live in the sacred houses of the Triune God uninterrupted for over 1200 years.
The group was started by Dr. Stephen Lay in the Autumn of 2006, nine singers without musical background, possessing a youthful desire to encounter the mystery and beauty of the ancient song of prayer. Learning began in modern music notation, using the Oregon Catholic Press book Laus Tibi Christe.
After two years the chant choir was joined with a group under the direction of choirmaster Mia Coyne, M.A. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) in Ilchester. Mia Coyne brought the group into the light of the ancient notation of neumes or square-notes, which are the simplest yet the most flexible rhythmic language that notated music has perhaps ever witnessed.
The neumes are a doorway into a vast, today largely, hidden heritage of spiritual splendors. Becoming one mixed choir, a way was also opened for development in organum and renaissance polyphony.
The two combined choirs were blended with yet more singers from the parishes of St Agnes, St Paul’s, and St. Louis. The choir has also attracted Protestant and Anglican singers.
The Regina Caeli Schola Cantorum (RSCS) has now served for four years at “COTR” and “OLPH” in bi-weekly alternating service at daily Saturday morning Masses, singing from the Parish Book of Chant and Simple English Propers. It has also served at special feast days and vigils of feasts, such as the holy days of The Immaculate Conception, The Assumption, Good Friday, Pentecost and The Transfiguration.
The Schola also served monthly at The Chapel of St Martin’s Home (Little Sisters of the Poor) in Catonsville, Maryland, singing Latin ordinaries and English propers.
The Regina Caeli Schola has been called to celebrate, singly and with other ‘scholas’, entirely Latin liturgies in beautiful churches: St Benedict’s in Baltimore; St Joseph’s Catholic Church in York, PA; St. Bartholomew’s in Manchester, MD; St Mary Catholic Church in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia; The Shrine of St Anthony in central Howard County, MD and The Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore.
It has also served with the ranks of the St Alphonsus Schola directed by Mr. David Sullivan on a first Sunday of the month schedule for Mass in the Extraordinary Form in downtown Baltimore, and Our Lady Queen of Poland (“Old St John’s”) in Rockville, MD directed by Mr. Richard Rice.
It has also joined with hundreds of other liturgical music ministers from across the country to participate in worship and study at The Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. (2009) and at the Sacred Music Colloquia held at Pittsburgh’s Church of the Epiphany (2010 & 2011) and at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City Utah (2012).
During 2011, the Regina Caeli Schola Cantorum prepared and sang the full suite of Gregorian propers, ordinaries and polyphonic meditation motets for the Solemnity of the Ascension, at St. William of York Church. RCSC most recently prepared Missa Cantata (‘sung Mass’) in observance of the Feast of St Dominic on August 4th, and for the Feast of the dedication of St. Michael the Archangel on September 29th, both at St. William of York, on Route 40 in West Baltimore.
On going missa cantatas are being prepared and offered at Our Lady’s Center in Ellicott City. MD. The next Missa Cantata will be held on November 14, 2012; the Requeim Mass for the Dead.
Children of God
The Regina Caeli Schola has witnessed Chant as a power creating unity between parishes and communities, christians everywhere, and also as an instrument of evangelization. In a Church that is ethnically rich, a family of faithful from every corner of the world, especially in Howard County - home to a population of over 60 ethnic peoples, Chant sung in Latin creates one tongue belonging to no single nationality, a language uniting nations and peoples, as well as centuries.
It has also experienced the heritage of our Catholic Church through the Church’s sacred architecture. In sacred places of worship benefitting from stone construction, naturally produced resonant interiors blossom chant into the most ethereal utterance. Assisted by traditional church architecture, the full realization of Eucharist, the wedding banquet of the Lamb in Heaven, enters the here and now, appearing as revelation, in the desert of a modern world, which has often inadvertently deadened churches with carpeting, wall textiles and acoustically lifeless layouts.
Jesus accepted the extravagant anointing of Mary Magdalene.
“Why do you make trouble for the woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
Pride of place and Principal place
Music styles have entered and left Holy Church down through the ages. But the word of God, embodied in Gregorian Chant, exists outside time and fashion and remains inseparable to this day from the core of Catholic tradition. It is eternal, like the Trinity, because it speaks God’s word itself, the word of Scripture. Chant is rooted completely within the sphere of the sacred, and invokes no other parlance; it is a music only of churches.
Gregorian Chant has an inimitable quality and benefit upon all active listeners and all those who work with pure affection to offer it well. Chant is an essential element of assuring a true sense of sacredness, beauty and divinity in the Eucharist.
Gregorian Chant has always been emphasized, most recently in Vatican letters as in Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (2007), as the liturgical song of primary choice for the Holy Catholic Mass. To serve as the ideal poetic wisdom voice of Scripture, neither an accessory nor aspect of Mass, but a vital element organically fused with the Mass itself - because it grew up with the Mass, the development of Chant music ministry in our time is limited only by the level of literacy cultured at parishes, in practice and knowledge.
Bishop Jan Liesen has said that “the new” that we read in newspapers, tomorrow is already old and gone. But the Word of God, is always fresh, always new. The Voice of wisdom does not require revision; the coming of age of God’s Word, never comes.
Appearing as a tradition for the first time around the year 765 A.D., Chant has always sought to be “the clothing” of the Word. The syllabic melodies of Chant are the vesture of the directly quoted Bible, just as our priests are bedecked in beautiful vestments, serving in persona Christi. Chant melodies cannot stand alone; they are utterly dependent upon and are shaped around the Word itself.
Through the chant, The Word of God is sounded in a committed, but unforced way. The poetry appearing is celestial and also humble. This occurs not by choice or intent, but by origin and grace. Chant is ever ancient, ever new. It is the Word of God, the beautiful sounding of the Word. Chant is the treasure of angels.
You nourished your people with food of angels and furnished them with bread from heaven, ready to hand, untoiled for, endowed with all delights and conforming to every taste. - Wis. 16:20
Join us, if you wonder with hunger about the singular grace of Chant, which is sacramental and transformative, according to the will of the Holy Spirit, but as importantly, allows its servants to enter into God’s very substance – the Word itself - while giving glory to God in an unsurpassed excellence, bringing benefit to His people and helping our starving time recover a true sense of the divine in Liturgy. Please contact Stephen Lay.
Isn’t Chant sung in Latin?
Chant is ordinarily sung in Latin, a language that can be absorbed gently through persevering exposure. English translations stand side by side with every word of chanted Latin these days. But it is also sung in English, through a wealth of recently devised music books that make adapted chants readily singable and comprehensible.
Latin literacy is not a prerequisite for participation. Most Catholics already know and often by heart what is occurring at any given moment of the Mass. By admission of reputable Church authority, it is possible to make an offering of one’s singing in beauty and intention without simultaneous comprehension, though to sing with comprehension is the most ardent offering any church musician can make. Beginning to learn Latin has the twin benefit of enriching English, as so much of the American language has incorporated Latin into itself, a fact that is profoundly transparent (i.e. lost) to many today.
Rehearsals are Tuesday evenings from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm in the chapel or a multi purpose room. For more information, including singing schedules and sacred music literature links please visit the Regina Caeli Schola Cantorum blogspot.
The Sacred Music Community
The realm of catholic Sacred Music has been accelerating in its depth and breadth of participation and revitalization over the past 20 years, anticipating the current reforms of the 3rd Roman Missal. Mobilized by the words of two Popes who have called artists into the Church to serve Her, to lay their talents at Her feet, this movement, which is now attaining levels of participation not seen since Vatican II, has been fostered by a lively national and international online community, including a youth sector, which has embraced the goodwill nature of largely free, “open source” Internet sharing. Literally thousands of chants and sacred choral music representing the most sublime art ever created for the Church, or on earth, are available online, free.
The discovery of this inexhaustible library is begun at MusicaSacra.com, the catholic website of the Church Music Association of America (CMAA), a non-profit organization devoted to the dissemination of sacred music literature meant for the increase of liturgical literacy in Catholic Churches across our nation and throughout the world. The earlier of two parent music associations which became one in 1965 to form the CMAA, dates from 1874. The quarterly published journal Sacred Music is the oldest, continuously issued music publication in the United States.
Beyond republishing ecclesial directives, the CMAA greets the catholic laity and clergy, and all others hungry for literacy in the divine arts of a sung worship, with a spirit of charity and clarity. The CMAA adjunct ChantCafé.com is an informal meeting place for conversation about the riches of church history, the inexhaustible treasuries of the Church’s sacred music - its selection, preparation and offering - and the joy of pure fellowship among all those who have fallen in love with the Word of God, the pearl of great price. The Chant Café reveals a church musician community alive in the extraordinarily rich culture of the Catholic Church, knowing how to enjoy the blessings of the Lord and life.