Singing just a Simple Mass for Ascension Day

Last night our choir sang at our parish’s first Missa Solemnis since the 150th anniversary for Ascension Day. I thought it was a tremendous achievement both in the organ loft and on the altar for such a small parish to achieve this.  And the only reason we can do put it on a Mass of this calibre is quite simply because we do it every week.

As most can appreciate, you cannot just open a book and sing from it. neither can you just turn up on the altar and know where to stand and when to kneel etc.  In the past we have relied on additional help with both the music and on the altar, originally we had an MC who drove down in the snow from Crawley to make Mass happen and we even had brilliant chant singers who wouldn’t think twice about jumping in the car and coming all the way from Kent to help us out.  Now we just make it happen in the parish.

Last night, l thought the music was the culmination of what we have achieved. Our entire choir sang all the Gregorian Propers in full (with the exception of two cantors singing the Alleluia verses), Tallis O Sacrum Convivium and Victoria’s Jesu Dulcis Memoria and the Veni Creator Spiritus at the end to prepare us for Pentecost.  I decided we would not sing a polyphonic Mass this time for several reasons. It is half term this week and we simply had a two hour rehearsal before Mass, also l find that many EF Masses that l attend or l see advertised tend to have four semi-professional singers singing a polyphonic Mass and then one or two cantors, invariably male, rattling through the chant, almost as an after thought. The chant should be the prime focus, polyphony second, but sadly it rarely works like that. We also opted to sing the beautiful Mass I, the plainsong Mass for the Easter season which surprisingly does not get sung as regularly as it should do. The other point that is often underestimated, is that a plainsong Mass (probably with the exception of the Missa Di Angelis) requires as much work to sing well, as a polyphonic Mass. We have been singing Mass I for over a month now and it was only last night that l felt confident enough for the choir to sing the Gloria. These things take time if you are going to do them well.





Music for Holy Week and the Triduum 2014

Palm Sunday


Hosannah filio David – Chant

Pueri Hebraerorum – Schubert

Christus Factus Est – Anerio

God so Loved the World – Stainer

Vexilla Regis – Chant

Holy Thursday 8pm


Oculi Omnium – Chant

Mandatum Novum – Chant

Ubi Caritas – Duruflé

Ave Verum Corpus – Byrd

Pange Lingua – Chant

Good Friday 3pm


Christus Factus Est – Anerio

Reproaches – Victoria

Stabat Mater – Tartini

Vexilla Regis – Chant

Easter Vigil 8.30pm


Sicut Cervus – Palestrina

Confitemini Domino – Ravenello

Vidi Aquam – Chant

Regina Caeli – Palestrina

O Filiii et filiae – Chant

Easter Sunday

Victimae Paschali Laudes – Chant

Concordi Laetitia – Chant



Jeremy De Satgé RIP

IMG_6591It is with such sadness that l learnt this morning of the death of dear Jeremy De Satge. Jeremy was a brilliant musician, a leading light in promoting good Catholic liturgical music through his company The Music Makers, and a great supporter of our choir at St Mary Magdalen’s. He came down to hold a one day workshop several years ago, and we became firm friends. He would often drop me a an e-mail to see if l needed any help or advice running the choir and we even performed his music after he kindly sent me a set of his three part Communion Motets.

The photo above was taken at Birmingham Oratory in September 2013 when Jeremy showed us all how easy it was to teach children to teach Gregorian Chant and how easily they could take to singing Latin.

He inspired many.

His funeral will be held at 10am at St.George’s Cathedral, Southwark on Friday 14th March.

My prayers go to his family at this incredibly difficult time.

Candlemas Missa Cantata

B&W Candlemass 2nd Feb 2009-4

Tomorrow at 6.30pm there will be a Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary form for Candlemas, or The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary by it’s proper name. Unusually, the 10.30am will be a low Mass tomorrow, but then it is not very often Candlemas falls on a Sunday.

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It’s five years since our first ever Missa Cantata and it snowed heavily on that day. Our choir that evening consisted of myself and four others and l think l had barely sung a note of Gregorian Chant before then. I recall that it took me several weeks to learn the Adorna Thalamum, the antiphon for the Procession, and l had pages of crib notes about when to sing what.

Do come tomorrow night if you can, especially if you don’t usually go to a Latin Mass.  If you are familiar with Gregorian Chant and want to sing with us, then we are rehearsing in the presbytery from 4.15pm tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon.  Also, pray we have no snow or any other extreme weather event.

B&W Candlemass 2nd Feb 2009-7