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Parish choirs trained in the art of sacred singing

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The program aims to teach the core repertoire of sacred music of Pope Paul VI to schools, youth, parishes and clergy. Photo: Supplied
The program aims to teach the core repertoire of sacred music of Pope Paul VI to schools, youth, parishes and clergy. Photo: Supplied

On Saturday, November 11th the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Liturgy Office, together with the Australian Sacred Music Association, led a workshop for parish cantors and choirs at St Thomas of Canterbury, Lewisham.

The workshop drew 30 participants and commenced with an introductory talk by Dr Mariusz Biliniewicz, director of the liturgy office, on the central importance of liturgy in the life of the church, and the central importance of music in the liturgy.

His talk emphasised the directive of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which said that “The musical tradition of the universal church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art.”

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Three tutors from the Australian Sacred Music Association—Ronan Reilly, Stephen Smith, and John Brazier—led the musical sessions.

They led participants through a selection of hymns, the common and ordinary of the Mass, and finally the propers of the Mass.

The workshop concluded with a Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist in St Thomas Church, contextualising the musical content of the day, and showcasing possibilities to parish musicians of how to revive sacred music in their parishes.

The Jubilate Deo Program is run by the Australian Sacred Music Association in a number of dioceses across Australia.

The program aims to teach the core repertoire of sacred music of Pope Paul VI to schools, youth, parishes and clergy.

Drawing on the 1974 document Jubilate Deo, the program seeks to train cantors in what Paul VI described as a “minimum repertoire of Gregorian chant” to give effect to the sainted pope’s teaching that, “those who are trying to improve the quality of congregational singing cannot refuse to Gregorian chant the place which is due to it.”

The program will reach an important milestone later in November, when more than a thousand school students will join together at St Mary’s Cathedral to celebrate Mass using the repertoire they have learned through the program at their individual schools.

Keep an eye out on the Liturgy Office website for information regarding workshops for Cantors and Choirs in 2024.

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