Helping with the liturgical music has had a deep and lasting effect on my soul. For one thing, my piano skills are mediocre at best, so it is a humbling thing for me to play when I cannot coerce anyone else to do it. Very good for my ego!
But the real joy is in expanding the little that I do (did?) know about the liturgy, with the help of my pastor, Fr. Ryan Erlenbush. He has patiently introduced me to the Graduale Romanum, and is consistently encouraging to my fledgling attempts to sing the traditional chants. Often, I find that there are little pieces that I had perhaps sung before, at a different parish, a long time ago. They flow out my memories and into the open spaces of my heart.
Alma Redemptoris Mater was the first Gregorian chant I ever learned, taught to me by a dear friend when I had many young children underfoot. It’s not the solemn one, just the simple one used for vespers from Advent through Candlemas. Fr. Ryan has had me sing it at the end of Mass each week during that time. I sang it for my students at UGF the week before finals. I sing it in the car on my way to work. And I taught it to my daughters. It calms me.
“Loving Mother of our Savior, though open gate leading us to heaven, and Star of the Sea, help thy fallen people, help all those who seek to rise again.
Maiden who didst give birth, all nature wondering, to thy holy Lord Creator. Virgin before and Virgin always who received from Gabriel’s mouth this message from heaven, take pity on us poor sinners.”
Candlemas marks the end of the official Christmas season…time to look forward to Lent. Wishing you shining lights in these dark days of winter.