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Praying with the universal Church

Ancient sounds: St Stephen’s Cathedral Schola in St Stephen’s Chapel for Vespers on February 22.

Ancient sounds: St Stephen’s Cathedral Schola in St Stephen’s Chapel for Vespers on February 22.

By Emile Ng

GREGORIAN chant is making a return to St Stephen’s Cathedral every Sunday afternoon with the addition of Vespers to the schola’s musical program.

Members will raise their voices in the St Stephen’s Chapel every Sunday at 3pm to join the global Church in singing Vespers, one of the prayers in the ancient Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office.

While there are many variations on praying the ancient Liturgy of the Hours, the Cathedral Vespers will be chanted from beginning to end, either in Gregorian chant or a modern variation.

The Vespers began on February 22 and is expected to be a long-term addition to the schola’s weekly repertoire.

Cathedral assistant music director James Goldrich said he had a “pleasant surprise” at the first Vespers on February 22.

“I walked into the chapel and every pew was full of young people,” Mr Goldrich said.

He said the number of young people who showed up to sing Vespers proved the ancient prayers were “eternal and could be current”.

Mr Goldrich said chanting Vespers also highlighted the importance of Gregorian chant and polyphony in Catholic liturgy.

“It’s such a natural accompaniment, and it is so uniquely appropriate to Catholic liturgies,” he said.

The constitution on the sacred liturgy document from the Second Vatican Council says Gregorian chant “should be given pride of place in liturgical services”.

Cathedral dean Fr David Pascoe said the introduction of Vespers was one way of responding to Pope Francis’ call to keep churches open.

Fr Pascoe said all were welcome to experience Vespers every Sunday at 3pm.

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