Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The choir at Saint Benedict's Monastery is a "schola." "Schola" is short for Schola Cantorum, the Latin term for a school or group of people who join together to learn and sing ecclesial chant, the song of the church. It is a choir, but one dedicated to the ancient chant tradition-- although that's not the only music they sing. On Christmas Eve before Mass, there is a half hour of music, some traditional carols sung with the congregation, and several amazing numbers by the schola. Saint Benedict's Monastery has a long tradition of wonderful music, and several Sisters who are well known for writing hymns and arranging liturgical music.

I brought in my flip video camera to film, primarily, two liturgical dances that were going to be part of the caroling service. I was so taken by the music, however, that I tried to capture that as well. I was sure the sound would be awful, given how far away I was from the choir, but it turned out quite nicely. The church has amazing accoustics, and though there is definitely an echo, and it's not good at all for the spoken word, music is extremely lovely in that space. In fact, I don't think proper microphones would have helped all that much, as the sound might have been out of balance. I do wish I'd been closer to get better video quality. If you could see how tiny this camera is, though, and how far away I was, you'd be amazed at what I captured!

So here it is, the schola, singing "Of the Father's Love"
text by Aurelius Prudentius (4th century)
arranged by Christine Manderfeld, OSB

And here is a traditional Spanish carol, "A La Nanita Nana" with Christine Manderfeld, OSB, on flute, Katherine Howard, OSB, on cello, and Elisa Ugarte on guitar.

1 comment:

Connie said...

Beautiful. I've wanted to join a schola for many years. Many years ago I was lucky to be in a small mixed-voice choir that did "of the Father's Love Begotten."

Good goosebumps!