The 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time marks our parish choir’s fourth birthday. We were formed after a particularly challenging, cold, January, Sunday Mass when no one wanted to sing. The choir were just a willing, slightly coerced, group of parishioners who were brought together to lead the singing of the usual four hymns.At that time, the singing of the Ordinary in Latin was already established in the parish, something which had thrilled me when l first stumbled into St Mary Magdalen’s as a lapsed Catholic. As we moved into Lent, I started to discover these incredible pieces that I had never heard before. The Pange Lingua, the Attende Domine, Ubi Caritas and so on.
Four years on, and the choir has grown from strength-to-strength. We no longer just lead the four hymns, infact we don’t even sing four hymns anymore… From Taize chants, we moved to Gregorian Chant, from singing Ostinatos, we moved onto polyphony. Chant is still our speciality, its what I am now most passionate about, simply because it is the music of the Mass – it is what we should be singing. Our neighbours, at the Sacred Heart have a superb polyphonic choir so there is no point attempting to compete with them . Anyway, historically we were always known as the parish of the chant, and the Sacred Heart sang the polyphony.
For me, some weeks I grumble, I threaten to resign, I shout at choir members, I get frustrated as people come and go. Looking back over these four years, it is one of the best things that ever happened to me and I hope for the parish and I owe my thanks to Fr Ray for making it happen, and for our fantastic team of people including Adam, our organist, who turn up week after week to sing in our dusty organ loft.
As I type this, the ‘Deo Gracias’ from Benjamin Britten’s ‘Ceremony of Carols’ have just come on the radio, which I remember singing at school. ‘DEO GRACIAS’ indeed.