Gregorian Chant in the Parish -- Music as Art

Photo credit: OC-Travel
Each year as I travel to Catholic shrines the world over, young people keep telling me how much they enjoy the art of Gregorian chant.  I hear this frequently, especially from Millennials and members of the so-called Generation Z (the demographic cohort after the Millennials).

As an example, I recently toured the south of France with a group of students from North America.  Our itinerary included a short stop at the famous Fontgombault Abbey, a traditional Benedictine Abbey that has preserved the use of Gregorian chant.  On the last day of the tour we queried the youth to tell us what was their highlight.  The majority of the students said without hesitation, their favorite was the monastery and hearing the monks chant.  The adult chaperones, on the other hand, had other interests.  The generational gap could not have been more clear.

This led me last month to turn my monthly Catholic travel column carried by the B.C. Catholic into a good news story on Gregorian chant.  The article illustrates - one example from Canada - of how a seasoned pastor along with the help of a professional musician can work together to help make their parish choir the best it can possibly be by creating a volunteer Gregorian Chant schola that sings weekly.  The result?  They pulled it off, with a clear majority of young people preferring the chant Mass.  It is my hope this article may give pastors and church musicians a few ideas on how to better make the argument for chant, especially in relation to the themes of  "art" and what young people like.

There has always been a strained relationship between the ideal and the reality when it comes to sacred music in the liturgy.  Today a new generation of millennial Catholics is discovering a fascination with the art of Gregorian chant, seeing it in a fresh light, a mirror of the earthly liturgy as a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy.  Accentuating the appeal of chant for this new clientele is the respect that it shows for the divine majesty as well as the pastoral intention of edifying the faithful during the liturgical services.

Read the rest of the article here: Fraser Valley Parish Offers Oasis Filled with Gregorian Chant

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