Thomas More College Choir Sings for the Extraordinary Form, First Sunday of Lent

nashua-2007-09-16Here are some recordings of what we sang. Last Sunday, the First Sunday in Lent, the Thomas More College choir sang at St Patrick’s in Nashua, NH. We sang at the invitation of Fr Kerper, the pastor at St Patricks. The college has enjoyed a long connection with the parish, its longest standing chaplain, Fr Healey, is resident at the church. The Mass was composed by a German, Blasius Amon, in the 16th century – Missa Super ‘Pour ung Plaisir’. Our director, Dr Thomas Larson, did his usual and put his cell down amongst us in the choir stall and came up with these recordings.

I had never heard of Blasius Amon before Tom introduced this to the choir, but it is a great Mass for a choir to learn polphony on. Relatively simple, but still very good to listen to. I hope these recordings give a sense of it. As usual, remember this is an amateur choir recorded on a very simple piece of equipment. Below are the Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei from the Mass.

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I would draw your attention also to the Communion antiphon and psalm mediation. The antiphon is in the traditional plainchant, in mode III, as proscribed. The psalm is sung to the harmonised mode III tone composed by myself and harmonised by our Composer-in-Residence, Paul Jernberg.

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For the offertory mediation we sang the Stabat Mater Dolorosa. I don’t have a recording of this, but we based what we did on a You Tube video I found of some Norwegian monks singing it and so I reproduce that for you. They have altered the rhythm slighly, as those who know it will hear immediately. Also, they have a gentle organum (drone) going on underneath. Tom and I listened to this and Tom recognised that at various points they had not just one, but two organum drones going on (very subtly applied). So this is how we sang it. We sang the first verse in unison, in the second with the tenors and some altos singing an organum note corresponding to the very first note of the melody. The third we introduced in additional bass organum drone on a note a fourth lower. Then we started the cycle again. This has a powerfully contemplative effect.

We very much hope that we might be asked back in the future!

David Clayton

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David is an Englishman living in New Hampshire, USA. He is an artist, teacher, published writer and broadcaster who holds a permanent post as Artist-in-Residence and Lecturer in Liberal Arts at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. The Way of Beauty program, which is offered at TMC, focuses on the link between Catholic culture, with a special emphasis on art, and the liturgy. David was received into the Church in London in 1993. Visit the Way of Beauty blog at thewayofbeauty.org.

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