Once again, our schola will be singing for the Christmas Vigil Mass this evening at the 7 p.m. Mass at San Mateo. Some of us will also be returning to sing for the bilingual Mass tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. Our group size varies between six and eight members, depending on individual availability. Tonight I expect there will be six of us.
Last year, when we first began singing together... when Gregorian chant was completely new to most of the members, I told them that it would be easier with each successive year. I think they probably were thinking to themselves: "Oh, yeah... sure it will!", as they struggled to learn the meanings of the various neumes, ictus locations, rhythmic markings, Latin pronunciation, etc.
This year, beginning with Advent, they could see that I had, indeed, spoken the truth. As we prepared to sing the Ad te levavi Introit for the 1st week of Advent, it was like finding an old friend. As we moved through the Advent season, re-visiting the propers we learned last year and adding a bit to our repertoire, it was low-key, relaxed and very pleasant.
We are finding the same thing as we prepare our Christmas music for the season. We tend to sing more English hymns at this time of year than any other, due to the great affection most parishioners have for Christmas carols. But, we are continuing to expand our knowledge of the great treasure of music the Church has available to us. We learned the Puer natus Introit for Christmas Day so quickly I believe the schola members amazed themselves. We also learned another wonderful chant hymn for Christmas, Personent hodie. We'll be singing several chanted hymns before the beginning of Mass this evening and tomorrow morning including: Cordis natus, Puer natus, Resonet in laudibus, and Personent hodie. We'll also continue the singing of the Alma Redemptoris Mater at offertory each week during Christmas.
I am so glad to be a part in making these small steps toward a rediscovery of the liturgical music we are asked to sing at Mass.