What does a choir need to sing polyphony and chant?
Polyphony has not been in most churches for a long time. Indeed, this is a historic moment, for there are musicians in every locality that can join to make this beautiful music come back to life! It was the privilege of Cathedrals and Basilicas in the Renaissance and now it can be in every parish. You can make it happen!
We can start with volunteers, then get to professionals.
Starting a volunteer choir that sings polyphony and chant is a joy and we must see more of them. Of course, polyphony can be sung best by professional musicians, singers, and singing instrumentalists. There is justice in recognizing that professionals have been given talent by God, a call to care for beauty from early on in life, they have shown dedication and have offered many sacrifices to approach beauty. In fact, most professional musicians have spent tens of thousands of hours perfecting their craft. The community can care for them, pay for their work, support them in crisis, give them a dignified retirement. This is charity for someone dedicated to the Mass. It was expected in the old Jewish temple. We ask that you set your heart on this kind of charity.
Here are some basics about singing polyphony:
1. SACRED MUSIC IS ITSELF A PRAYER
Polyphony and chant are nothing less than the sung Word of God. Its power is divine, so whether it is sung in Latin or in translation into your local language, polyphony and chant have power to convert hearts. When the Word of God is sung set to music with great beauty, it reaches far into our souls, and heals us, inspires hope and calls us to shake off sin for the good of others!
2. THE WORD OF THE DAY
Polyphony and chant sung at Mass are chosen for their text. They are meant to reflect in song the Word of God meant for that particular Mass. The magisterium has decided on what readings we will have in the cycle. Sacred music is part of the Mass, not a decoration but part of the voice of God speaking to us that day, from His lips, through the prophets and evangelists, with voices as instruments in His service.
3. THERE IS NO SOLOIST, ONLY STEADY VOICES
Chant reveals our hope in God as a whole, as the brotherhood of mankind. Polyphony reveals the angelic presence in heaven, singing the Word of God with love. There is no soloist, but equal voices, a balance of voices singing independently and yet beautifully together.
Here is one of the basic secrets of polyphony. Voices must be steady, so they can make the presence of the other voices ring in a togetherness that is more than harmony, it is heavenly help.
Beautiful sacred music at Mass strengthens the faithful and helps heal hearts. People talk often of how they feel closer to God, that it is easier to pray with this music in the sanctuary. Getting to professionals requires funding. What came first the chicken or the egg? In the case of the Mass, offering our best should come first, and supporting it will follow.
Our foundation is here to help you with all of this, from starting a volunteer choir to tuning, to rehearsal practices, to funding. Reach out to us and we can help you out. Give us your opinion to enrich what we have to offer others. We will be always grateful.
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