The Gregorian Chant Group  is an informal group meeting on Wednesday evenings from 7.30 to 8.30 to explore the wonderful repertoire of plainchant.

We meet next on Wednesday 15 November at 7.30 in the parish hall, and will go through until 13th December.

With Advent only a couple of weeks away, it’s time to introduce some Advent chant into our singing this evening, beginning with the well known hymn ‘Creator alme siderum.’  It is the office hymn for the evening service, and dates from the 7th century.  It’s found in the New English Hymnal no. 1.  The tune is simplicity itself.  We’ll sing it first in English then later on in Latin.
Here it is in Latin.
Our psalm for Advent is 126 (125), When the Lord restored the fortunes of Sion.
We will carry on learning the Salve Regina solemn tone – we’re nearly at the end of this wonderful 11th century composition.  Here is a link.
Soon it will be time  for the Marian antiphon for Advent, Christmas and the period after Christmas that takes us up to Candlemas – Alma Redemptoris Mater.  Like the other Marian antiphons, it has a simple and more elaborate solemn version.  We will sing the simple version, which can be heard here.
And here is a summary of the other Advent and Christmas chant for singing and for listening to right up until when we stop for our summer break on December 13th:
Canticle: The Magnificat (in English)
Hymns: Veni Redemptor Gentium (St Ambrose); Christe Redemptor Omnium (sometimes known as Jesu Resemptor Omnium
…and O Come O Come Emanuel in Latin!

We’ll listen to the best known Christmas antiphons, Puer Natus Est, and Hodie Christus Natus Est.

On Wednesday 6 December our bass cantor from the Choir of St Georges, Dick Leeson, will be joining us to sing the beautiful Advent Prose ‘Rorate Caeli’ with its antiphon ‘Drop down ye heaven from above.’  The chant group will sing the antiphon and Dick will sing the verses, all in English.  It can be found in NEH 501.

 The other item we will sing together is the hymn ‘Ubi Caritas’ – while associated with Holy Week rather than Advent or Christmas, it is sung throughout the year and is a ‘must have’ in the chant repertoire.  Once again Dick will sing the three verses in Latin while we will sing the antiphon ‘Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.’

Last 6 September marked the first anniversary of the forming of the Chant Group.  It has been a fascinating journey exploring the psalms, hymns, antiphons and canticles of this great repertoire, in a very congenial and welcoming environment.  Thank you to all those who have shared that journey with me this year.
September has several Marian feasts, and our focus is Our Lady of Sorrows on the 15th.  Depending on numbers (and how cold it is!) we will meet in the parish hall then go over to the church on either the 13th or the 20th September to sing the chants associated with this particular feast – the Magnificat and the Stabat Mater, and adding the Salve Regina for good measure.
Here is a lovely youtube video of a Polish congregation singing the Stabat Mater in what looks like a freezing church.

During Easter the group learnt the 11th century Easter sequence ‘Victimae Paschali laudes  and the most famous Gregorian hymn of all – Veni Creator Spiritus.  Composed in the ninth century by Rabanus Maurus as an invocation to the Holy Spirit, it is sung at Pentecost and at other solemn occasions including coronations.  A paraphrased version in English (‘Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire’) has been sung at every English coronation sing Charles I.  If you’d like to hear it, this excellent version here on youtube offers the music, text and translation in one.

We also looked at Psalm 126 (125), the Salva Nos antiphon, and the Eastertide Marian antiphon ‘Regina Caeli.’
Chant is the ancient traditional music of the Church, and consists of a single melodic line, needing no instrumental accompaniment.  Much of the music is as simple as it is beautiful, and is also easy to read even if you have no previous musical experience.

Times, seasons, moments of life and the Church year will provide us with endless opportunities to sing a variety of psalms, antiphons, hymns and canticles in English and Latin.

There are many beautiful and exciting chants for us to sing this year, and here are some of the highlights:

For Candlemas, February 2nd, the Nunc Dimittis in Latin with its special Candlemas antiphon ‘Lumen ad revelationem.’
For the Anunciation on March 25th, Ave Maria, the ancient prayer beloved of Christians for centuries in both East and West.
For Lent, the Lent Prose ‘Attende Domine’ with its penitential lyrics but surprisingly cheerful tune.
Then for Easter, the stunning Medieval sequence ‘Victimae Paschali’ with its wide melodic range and dramatic sung dialogue between Mary and the disciples describing the Resurrection.
And lastly, for Pentecost, one of the best known and most loved gregorian hymns, ‘Veni Creator Spiritus.’

The venue is the Parish Hall, on the corner of Angus St and Goodwood Rd. Parking is available in the car park of Holy Cross Church opposite St George’s.

New members most welcome. Please contact Sarah Clay (Director of Music) 0488 133 645