Pastor’s Letter, May 21

Brothers and Sisters,

We are blessed at Our Lady of the Rosary to have a fine young organist and choir master. Benjamin Philips loves his work and has done a great job developing our choral music program. We now have four choirs with over a hundred participants: Senior girls, junior girls, junior boys and the adult schola.

The documents of the Second Vatican Council teach clearly about church music. The pipe organ is to be given pride of place and Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony are to be the primary forms of Catholic liturgical music. Special efforts are to be taken to train and nurture choir members—especially children.

We are doing all this at Our Lady of the Rosary and Benjamin, along with our headmaster Mr. Curtin (who is himself a gifted composer and musician) work hard to lift our music program to an enviable level.

The words of the liturgy are sung in Gregorian chant or modified Gregorian chant. This core aspect of the liturgical music is supplemented with anthems and hymns sung by the choir and congregation.

The hymns are chosen to illustrate and illuminate the readings of the day. To get the most out of worship at OLR you should at least follow the words of the motets and anthems of the choir and follow the words of the hymns even if you can’t sing! Because the Catholic Church does not have a rich treasury of hymns many of the hymns are derived from the Anglican or Methodist traditions. None of them are contrary to Catholic doctrine, and most are deeply theological and scripturally sound. 

Thy hymns enable the congregation to enter into the sacred music of worship while the motets and anthems of the choir nurture our worship through the apprehension of beauty. St Augustine said, “He who sings prays twice” Music opens our hearts to praise in a unique way. The beauty opens our hearts, but we also become a little bit vulnerable when we sing. We open our mouths and minds and hearts as we experience the humility of singing. I say “humility” because few of us are great singers—when we sing, we take a little risk, and that’s a good thing!

Your Pastor,

Fr. Longenecker