Saint Agnes Podcast: Chant in the Parish

The following is a short podcast on the subject of Gregorian chant at the church of St. Agnes in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The interviewer is the pastor, Fr. Mark Moriarty, who is interviewing the parish chant masters Paul LeVoir and Mark Pilon.  St. Agnes has the rare distinction of being arguably the one sanctuary in the nation where a Solemn Latin High Mass has been celebrated every single Sunday without exception for over one-hundred years.  This is no small accomplishment, considering the stormy years of the postconciliar era.  Naturally, the art of Gregorian chant plays a big part at St. Agnes, where it has always been given "pride of place," without exception, even during the most difficult of years when chant was de facto forbidden in the name of all things new and modern for the sake of modernity.

Meanwhile, Vatican II instructed in the clearest possible language in the year 1963: "The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as proper to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116).      

The podcast is an overt invitation for Catholics to experience and embrace sung Mass in the Roman Rite with Gregorian chant accompaniment.  While the subject of the podcast is the traditional music of the Roman Church, an interesting conversation unfolds that helps listeners to appreciate this rare gift.  Indeed, nowhere in music history has the term "traditional" been more in place than in connection with Gregorian chant, rooted as it is in the pre-Christian services of the Hebrews.  Historians illustrate, as Christian song, chant adopted distinctive characteristics as early as the third and fourth centuries of the Christian era.  It was then fully developed in the seventh century and expanded during the ensuing four-hundred years.  Then, given the natural cycles of time, chant deteriorated in the sixteenth century but was restored in the late nineteenth century.  Today it is again being heard in various parishes, making a genuine comeback in many places, in essentially the same form it had about a thousand years ago.  Chant is the symbolism and imagery of a common religious art embodied in the cult of sacred liturgy.  It is a common inheritance of knowledge which makes Catholics conscious of their identity and gives a common memory of our past.  This is a good news story - feel free to share it with others.  Many thanks to the leadership of Fr. Moriarty and to professional choristers Paul and Mark for their years of dedicated singing at St. Agnes.  

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