Welcome to 2009!

Well 2008 was certainly a busy one with our visit to the Canterbury Cathedral archives which proved to be a fantastically interesting morning in a most agreeable venue. We also had the very first ever (to our knowledge – feel free to get in touch if we’re wrong!) Gregorian 101 – a basic nuts and bolts Chant primer enjoyed by a small but enthusiastic group of chanters in October.

Earlier on in the year of course, we had had a chance to hear how it should be sung when we were lucky enough to spend an afternoon at Minster Priory. We are hoping for a return visit at some point this year so watch this space for details. Prior to that (no weak pun intended) abbet you all remember (that time it was, sorry) the morning we spent in Greyfriars in Canterbury.

Of course the big event of the year was our now annual Day of Chant: a candle-lit church, enthusiastic ‘Alleluias’, All Souls in Haiti and lots of fantastic chants for All Saints made for an unforgettable day in spite of the weather- it rained torrentially absolutely all day!

Philip Duffy of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge returned to lead our day. We had a mix of more experienced singers and beginners which helped with tackling the music. Philip had chosen some really beautiful antiphons and canticles for the Vespers Service we were to prepare. The ‘Alleluias’ of the New Testament Canticle were unforgettable, especially when Philip got us to sing them really enthusiastically. A talk by Helen Nattrass reviewed different traditions of observing All Saints and All Souls in different cultures. Jonathan Butchers stepped in at short notice and talked about the Monastic Community at Bec in France.

Father Mark Ball, Parish Priest of St. Mildred’s welcomed us to his Church for the Vespers Service. He had made a special effort, lighting the church with a host of candles and making every effort to observe the Solemnity of the Feast as we sang the First Vespers of All Saints at which he presided.

We are most grateful to Philip Duffy for his inspirational coaching and to Father Ball for his welcome and for making the Vespers itself such an atmospheric and lovely occasion.

Looking forward to an equally Chant-filled 2009!

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