December 2010 Newsletter

Newsletter – December 2010

Canterbury Festival success
We had encouraging success with our three appearances in the Canterbury Festival. We sang our short midday service, ‘The Angelus, the Ave and the Salve’, in three of Canterbury’s mediaeval chapels. The first Saturday of the Festival we were in St. Thomas’s Hospital, Eastbridge, the second Saturday in Greyfriars and the final Saturday in St. John’s Hospital, Northgate. The most intriguing of the three venues was St. John’s Hospital, a hidden gem totally invisible from the busy city centre streets. This eleventh century mediaeval foundation, from the time of Bishop Lanfranc, is currently home to a number of older people. The Tudor porter’s gate in Northgate is well camouflaged within a row of mock-tudor shops. Of course once you know it is there, you wonder how you ever walked past it without noticing. Raising the sneck and walking through the gate, you encounter a scene which could be from any age. A close of stone houses with clipped geometric hedges surrounds a green of manicured turf. Quiet serenity quiet pervades the scene as the street-noise recedes behind the heavy door. Winifred, the Resident Historian, took us on a tour showing us the oldest parts of the foundation’s remains; then the mediaeval lavatories, now obsolete, and the contemporaneous hall and dining room, still in use. Our final destination was the Chapel. We sang through a couple of familiar chants to warm up and then rehearsed the hymn to St. John the Baptist, ‘Ut queant laxis’; the famous source of the sol-fa note-names. We felt it was appropriate for us to sing this iconic piece of chant dedicated to the Hospital’s Patron in a building which would have known the music for hundreds of years.
In each venue many members of the public came to hear us and join in. I wonder how many of them feel a little nervous when they discover it is not a concert and ‘audience participation’ is strongly encouraged. We hope to build on this success for the 2011 Canterbury Festival.

We are currently looking for someone to help us keep our website up to date.

We have had a bit of a lapse with keeping our website refreshed since the summer. Anyone feeling they might wish to help in this way could contact Jonathan Butchers
Plans for 2011
Saturday 26th February 2011 – Morning of talks on ‘Early church architecture and liturgy’
Our first event of 2011 will be a Saturday morning with some talks about early liturgy, church architecture and use of space in churches. This will take place at the Franciscan International Study Centre, Giles Lane, close to Kent University. The event will begin with our very brief AGM at 10am. The talks will be by Dr. Helen Gittos of Kent University on early church architecture and liturgy and Mary Berg on the Norman Churches of Kent. The event will conclude around 12.00. We will arrange for a space in ‘The Unicorn’, St. Dunstan’s, for all those who wish to have lunch together afterwards. Mindful of the slightly ad hoc arrangements for eating during the Canterbury Festival, we will make sure we have a tick-box to ensure there are enough places for all. More details in January.

Lent 2011 – Compline at St. Paul’s
We have been invited to sing Gregorian Chant Compline in St. Paul’s Church, Canterbury on two occasions during Lent. The service of Compline never changes. So those of you who sang for the St. Anselm’s Compline or for the two services we did for the Christian Meditation Society last summer, you need have no fears. More details early next year.

Looking ahead – Saturday 28th May 2011
We are organising a whole-day workshop led by Philip Duffy to review and perform our new edition of the Vespers for the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary taken from the Hereford Breviary and the Worcester Antiphoner. The music has been edited and the order of service prepared by Helen Nattrass and Chris Smith. We hope to attract participants from further afield to join us for a day of ‘home-grown’ scholarship. There will be singing sessions and talks over the course of the day culminating with us singing the Vespers. More details around Easter.

Later in the summer we hope to arrange what has become our usual afternoon at Minster Abbey; theme to be agreed with Mother Nikola. We will also be planning our appearances in next year’s Festival.

CGMS Officers – 2011 Elections coming up
In February 2011, Tim, Jonathan and Helen will have done our initial three years getting the Canterbury Gregorian Music Society up and running. At the time we set up the Society we agreed between ourselves that we would do three years in the first instance to see how things went. We had a committee meeting in early November and agreed we were all willing to continue in our posts. But now is your chance to stand for one of the officers’ positions if you would like to add your weight to the direction the Society takes in future. In the case of the Committee remaining unchanged, we may consider co-opting some members to help us. Any nominations should be received by Jonathan Butchers

Local Gregorian Chant Services
Angela Franklin-Ryan wants to announce that there will be Midnight Mass, using the Old Rite (Tridentine) Mass in the Church of St. Augustine at Ramsgate on 24th December at 9pm (Carols at 8.40pm). Anyone who wants to join their choir to sing the Gregorian Chant settings for Mass is welcome.

St. Thomas’s Catholic Church in Canterbury continues to hold a Gregorian Chant Mass at 11 o’clock on the 1st Sunday of the Month. Next dates: 2nd January 2011, 6th February 2011

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Faversham holds Gregorian Chant Mass on the 1st Sunday of each month at 6pm. For those who would like to sing, rehearsal is 5pm in the Church for Mass at 6pm. We go for a beer afterwards! Next dates: 2nd January 2011, 6th February 2011. Minster Abbey has Gregorian Chant Vespers every night at 6pm.

Helen Nattrass

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