Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seminarians Learning Vespers

Here is a report from Rome concerning the tutorial sessions on the Antiphonale in Latin from Solesmes.

The priests and seminarians of the Pontifical North American College are no strangers to Solemn Vespers. Most Sundays and some Solemnities, the day draws to an end with a solemn celebration in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. In fact, the seminary's celebration of the Divine Office on these occasions is remarkably similar to that which takes place every Sunday and Solemnity in St. Peter's Basilica. The major difference is the use of the vernacular for the psalms, lectio brevis, and preces.

However, the seminarian who compares the texts of these Vespers (in St. Peter's or PNAC) with the editio typica altera or the English translation of the editio typica of the Liturgia Horarum will inevitably ask why so often the antiphons that are sung on these occasions don't correspond to the ones printed in their breviaries. Surely this is not some innovation of the seminary or much less, St. Peter's? So where do they come from?

Saturday evening, February 20, 2010, ten members of the seminary community got a "hands on" answer. Under the direction of Fr. Pierre Paul, OMV, the director of the Cappella Giulia and former PNAC choir director, they received instruction, rehearesed, and used the new Antiphonale Romanum (Volume II, the Vesperale) for the very first time in St. Peter's Basilica.

In Fr. Pierre's office in the Fabrica di San Pietro they learned about the work the monks of Solesmes put into producing this volume, some of the differences between the Antiphonale and the edition of the Liturgia Horarum composed for recitation, including the way the Gregorian antiphons were selected and the tones used.

Needless to say, it was quite a momentous occasion. It was prayerful and simple to execute. Not only did they walk away with a better understanding of the composition of Liturgical books but with a more profound sense of the Tradition of the Church and Her chant. They also have the privilege of being able to say that they were the first to use the Antiphonale in St. Peter's Basilica, right next to the very Rock on which the Church is founded. Deo Gratias!


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