Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gregorian Chant: Like Dying and Going to Heaven

Here's a little vignette from my personal life which should give us hope:

This past weekend, I faced the difficult task of playing the organ for my grandfather's funeral. (R.I.P.) The day before, I met my uncle and one of the music people from the very beautiful Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in McSherrystown, PA to prepare for the Mass. (I'll try to get pictures of the church from my phone to the computer. No guarantees here folks; I'm no technician.)

I made one request: to sing the In Paradisum from the Requiem Mass at the final commendation. Happily, this request was granted. When the lady from the church heard that this would be sung, she got very excited and began to tell me all about the Gregorian chant record which she and her husband had purchased many decades ago. She said (I paraphrase), "My husband and I listened to it late into the night, and my sister, who lived with us, was awakened by the music. She said that at first she thought she had died and gone to heaven."

My uncle, who was standing with us, chimed in. (Again I paraphrase.) "What's that other chant from the Requiem Mass?"

I said, "The Dies Irae?"

"Yes. I want to learn how to sing that."

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