In his 2013 pastoral letter to the Diocese of Marquette, Bishop Alexander Sample (now the archbishop of Portland, OR) noted that not all religious music is sacred music, but only that which possesses three qualities: sanctity, beauty and universality.
Liturgical music, authentic and sacred, has been defined by the Church as Gregorian chant and polyphony. Many forget that a major component of the liturgical movement of the twentieth century was the recovery of this musical heritage of the Church.
From Pope St. Pius X to the Second Vatican Council, Holy Mother Church has consistently reaffirmed that sacred music is most appropriate for the Mass. In Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitutuon on the Sacred Liturgy, we find the following:
“The Church recognizes Gregorian chant as characteristic of the Roman liturgy: therefore, in liturgical celebrations, other things being equal, it is to hold first place.” (SC 116).
Simply put, Gregorian chant is the soundtrack of the Mass.
With this in mind I am pleased to highlight the release of The Assumption featuring the Monastic Choir of the Abbey Notre Dame de Fontgombault. The basis of the album is a 33rpm record taped in 1973. An additional five pieces have been included from the 1990’s, two of which were played on an organ constructed by the monks of the Abbey.
The visual design and overall sound quality of this release by Valley Entertainment is outstanding and includes the following pieces for the Mass and Vespers:
1. Organ: Plein jeu and Fugue, from the “livre d’orgue” of Pierre du Mage (1674-1751)
2. Introit “Signum Magnum”
3. Kyrie IX
4. Gloria IX
5. Gradual “Audi Filia”
6. Alleluia “Assumpta est Maria”
7. Credo V
8. Sanctus IX
9. Agnus IX
10. Communion “Beatam me dicent”
11. “Deus in adjutorium” Antiphons and Psalms
12. “Assumpta est Maria”
13. “Maria Virgo Assumpta est”
14. “In Odorem”
15. “Pulchra es”
17. Short Response
18. Hymn “Ave Maria Stella”
19. Verse “Exaltata est”
20. Antiphon and Magnificat
21. Antiphon “Salva Regina”
22. Recessional: Organ Suite of Faux-Bourdons in dialogue, Anonymous (16th Century)
23. Ringing of the Bells for the Angelus
Let us hope that we continue to see the liturgical movement authentically realized with Gregorian chant given pride of place in the liturgy. To that end, this beautiful recording of the Monastic Choir of Fontgombault will introduce even more of the faithful to the musical treasures of Holy Mother Church.