Thursday, 18 November 2010

Edinburgh Festival and the St Margaret Schola

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

Those who know me personally understand my penchance for Gregorian Chant and how I consider it far and away superior to any Kumbaya style singing at Mass or any other religious gathering.  Yes, I know I am not very good at the chant and freely acknowledge my upper register was left behind during my pubescent years.  My long suffering schola director just smiles now and raises his eyes to heaven as I warble off pitch and end up in the basso profundo region.  

The schola was very kindly requested to assist St Mary's R.C. Cathedral choir during the world renown Edinburgh International Festival this year.  Along with the very competent Cathedral choir under the direction of Simon Nieminski we sang Vespers each Saturday during August to audiences of 100 plus each week.  In addition the schola sang Compline at 9 p.m. each Sunday evening; first Sunday in the Benedictine Rite, the following Sunday Roman, then Cistercian and on the last Sunday the Sarum usage.  

Sarum is not a "Rite" as such and was only introduced latterly into Scotland just before the Reformation in Glasgow and Aberdeen Dioceses.  As is was not widely used some serious research was required to ensure authenticity.  It was particularly challenging as the Latin pronunciation is profoundly different in places and, should your attention waver, one may slip into the norm without noticing.  Happy to say we were on form that evening and all syllables were clearly and correctly formed and enunciated.

Some examples: 

Celi (Sarum spelling of cæli)  - as in English “celestial”,
Genitrix – exactly as in English “generate”,
Ascendit – exactly as in English “ascent”.
Ecce – eck-say.
Dignus – dig-noose.

Between rehearsals and performances it was a very full month, with much travelling between Edinburgh and home.  So full in fact I was unable to do any fly fishing at all - the things I give up for Holy Mother Church!  Ach well at least the salmon were spared the sight of me splashing about the river like a beached whale whilst snagging my hook on every tree and bush on the banks.

I wonder if anyone else remembers the song from the words I used in the header?

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