Chant helps vocations

Norbertine seminarians practice five times a week
St. Michael's

St. Michael’s

The following comes from a January 3 posting on the EponymousFlower blog.
The regular Choir Brothers of the Premonstratensian Abbey of St. Michael in California have published a new CD with Gregorian music from the liturgical hours of their community.

The abbey at Silverado in Orange County is bi-ritual and preserves the Old Mass and the Novus Ordo according to the prescriptions of the Second Vatican Council for Liturgy. Gregorian chant and liturgy have promoted growth of vocations through the years for the abbey.

In an interview with the Catholic News Agency the Premonstratensians have explained why the brothers have taken this particular manner for the spreading of Gregorian Chorale.

“The beauty is made through the lifting up of the faithful, in order to build them, so that the Father can be praised in Mass” said Father Ambrose Criste, novicemaster of the abbey.

The thirteen tracks of Gregorian Chant: Together on the Way includes liturgical texts, hymns, and a litany. The songs were recorded in the St. Michael Abbey chapel, located in Silverado.

Father Chrysostom Baer, the abbey’s cantor, said he chose the selected pieces as “the most Catholic things I could get my hands on.”

The selections were originally sung by the Norbertine canons to introduce and complement three performances by the Pacific Symphony Orchestra in Costa Mesa.

“We were going to give them some Catholic prayers,” said Father Baer, “and hopefully through the beauty of the moment, they would join their hearts to ours.”

The selections sung by the Norbertines at the concert hall in February of last year were then recorded so as to bring the music to a wider audience.

“It’s a really excellent vehicle for evangelization,” said Father Baer. “I ran into someone just two weeks ago who recognized our habits from one of those concerts, who had more questions and wanted to come visit.”

Father Criste noted that their music is so beautiful because chant plays a major role in the Norbertine life. “It’s something we do throughout the day, every day,” he said.

The abbey’s public mass is chanted four days a week, and every day the Liturgy of the Hours is chanted. The seminarians of the order have choir practice five days a week, “which consists almost entirely of Gregorian chant.”

Father Criste said that chant is not just for religious communities. In the parish, “ideally, I would think it should play a daily role,” he reported….

“Together on the Way” will be St. Michael’s fourth CD release. All are part of an effort to get the word out about the community, as they aim to build a new monastery and school to accommodate their vocations boom.

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  1. This is only natural that Gregorian chant and Latin feeds vocations to the Holy Priesthood, as well as the TLM, drums, guitars, tamborines, profane secular music are not intended for the Holy Sacrifice of The Mass. God bless the Norbertines and may they continue to grow like the F.S.S.P. and The Institute of Christ the King.

  2. respectlife says:

    Wished it was the norm in our churches today. Today’s music liturgy at Mass doesn’t really speak to the heart of worship. We need everything that supports the results of a Holy Mass during our service. I miss the days of Holy Chants at Mass.

  3. Now if we could only get the Norbetines to go over to the closest abortion mill—and chant, lives could be saved and then there would really be good reason to chant.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      That is an excellent idea JOHN. I would love to see that happen.

    • Maryanne Leonard says:

      What a wonderful idea, John!

      • What a calming and holy influence chant would have at an abortion clinic. It might even turn some lives around and save some babies. It is certainly worth a try. One of my friends sends me Mass cards on holidays from the Norbertines, and I always enjoy getting them.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


      You will often find Norbertines from St. Michael’s Abbey praying at abortion killing centers.

      Fr. Leo Celano, O’Praem was arrested on Holy Saturday 1989 at the infamous Westminster Planned Barenhood as well.

      Please write of that of which you know!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Maryanne Leonard says:

        Kenneth, that’s good news and not something all of us knew. We should write what we know about, of course, and share with open hearts and sincere Christian intention, but if we don’t know something specific, how can we even know that we don’t know it? I don’t think we want to chastise John for having such a good idea if he didn’t know that Norbertines from St. Michael’s Abey are already praying at “abortion killing centers,” as you so aptly put it. I never heard though that anyone has ever chanted or sung at these prayer gatherings, and I’ve attended quite a few. That doesn’t mean it has not happened! And I hope you would not chastise me publicly for not knowing, and for daring to say that I don’t know of it. This forum is for open discussed, and personally I learn a great deal on it, and not a little from you, Ken! Keep it up, as you are one fierce warrior for Christ and for honor. I’m really glad you share here, even when I disagree with you (which is unusual), because I learn so much. It almost feels like we know some people who post a lot, doesn’t it? I think John’s idea of chanting (or even singing hymns) outside abortion clinics is worthy and hope it has been, is being, or will be implemented.

      • God bless the Norbertines. I am sure there are many who are living today who owe their lives to their prayers and presence in front of the abortion clinic where their mom once was.

      • Well, along with that monk’s arrest at the abortion mill was the arrest of every saint in Heaven.

      • Mr. Fisher, this is off subject. A while ago you posted that you were interested in finding out who was behind the changes in the liturgy. Have you heard of Fr. Bill Leonard, S.J.? I read in a com box on America Magazine that he was brought to VII by Cardinal Cushing. “He was one of the pioneers of the dialogue mass and other liturgical innovations in Boston in the ’50s” says the commenter. I have more info on VII from a book by former bishop of Green Bay Aloyisius j. Wycislo “Vatican II Revisited, but you may already have read it. Let me know.

      • Glad to hear that, Kenneth.

    • Since professed Catholics make up a good part of abortion clients, not to mention staff at some of these mills, having the witness of Religious in habit praying in front of these places of death makes a most profound statement of what God’s opinion of abortion really is. Their absence also makes a profound statement.

      • Abeca Christian says:

        God bless them, I am happy to know more about them and their work. Especially when they pray in front of abortion clinics. Good to know. I will keep them in my prayers. I have heard that they also have a summer camp for boys too.

  4. I was fortunate to take a couple of middle school classes there for a day a few years ago. Students participated in Sext while there and understood most of it because we had studied the canonical hours beforehand and had been learning “Church Latin” for over a year. Most of the students had never been exposed to chant before and the Norbertines were kind enough to have an instructional period in this.
    Of course the next year, a new principal forbade our return visit.

  5. The Norbertine Abbey in Orange County is an invaluable resource for the Church in California. They are always willing to travel to surrounding parishes to help out with reverent masses. God bless our Holy Norbertines.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      Yes I heard about them traveling to help out. At a pro-life fundraiser dinner event in Orange County, in which we were invited to, my husband and I had the blessings to meet a few of these wonderful priests.

  6. OneoftheSheep says:

    Living in Northern CA in the Sacramento area, I long to join a choir locally that uses Gregorian Chant. It has been many years since a ‘virtuous’ young pastor disbanded the Latin Choir that had been performing at a certain Jesuit parish and resorted to guitar hero music that persists to this day. I truly grew close to my fellow choir members who had been singing together since 1954. My parish is a good parish but they are still into rock guitar music. Yes, I hope to live to see the reintroduction of chant into local parishes. St. Cecilia, pray for the music ministry in the Sacramento area.

    • Visit the FSSP parish in Sacramento – the choir won’t disappoint you!

    • OneoftheSheep,

      If you’re looking for Gregorian Chant, visit the FSSP parish in Sacramento, St Stephen the First Martyr. You won’t be disappointed!

    • Our “one-man schola” at the TLM in Vallejo has just been ordained to the priesthood and now has his own Mass in Napa (?) to celebrate. So we need a replacement cantor ASAP to chant the Propers. If you’re up to it, we’d very much want to have you down here and do the honors. We’re at St. Louis Bertrand Mission on Sonoma Blvd, a chapel belonging to Saint Vincent Parish. Our Mass time is 8:00 AM on Sundays and holy days.

      Right now, I’m (female), subbing as cantor, but traditionally, the Propers should be done by a male voice or a schola cantorum of male voices. Female voices are not exactly against the TLM rubrics, since they’re allowed in Masses at convents and girls’ schools where male presence at Mass are limited to the priest and the sacristans. But our priest (Fr. Peter Talcott from Santa Rosa) feels that a parish Mass should have Propers properly chanted by male voices – and I agree with him. So I’d very gladly leave the business of the Propers to the men (so far, no volunteers from our 10-or-so male congregants.) I lead the singing of the Ordinary and the hymns. I also make the leaflet program with the English and Spanish translations of the Latin text. And that’s enough for me.

      No one here will be able to train you, but there are great resources in the web, such as the Corpus Christi Watershed site – Saint Rene Goupil section – that has music sheets, videos, and MP3s of the Propers of the EF. I can lend you my Liber Usualis or secure a Liber Brevior for your use, but you may have to do your own training. We won’t be able to pay you, but maybe an occasional brunch at Gracie’s (great barbecue and salads!), what do you say?

      At any rate, you’re welcome to our TLM. It’s a small congregation but we’re great at chanting the Ordinaries according to the seasons: Lux et Origo for Easter, the untitled Mass for Advent and Lent, De Angelis for Solemnities of the Lord, Cum Jubilo for Christmastide and feasts of Our Lady, Orbis Factor for the long period After Pentecost.

      Since we can’t do “motets,” the congregation sings a selection of hymns as inserts for Offertory and Communion (after the Propers, of course.) Hymns like “Veni Creator Spiritus” for the New Year, “Rorate Caeli Desuper” for Advent, “Hodie Christus Natus Est” for Christmas,” “Da Pacem Domini,” “Jesu Dulcis Memoria,” and antiphonal hymns to Our Lady (“Alma Redemptoris Mater,” “Regina Caeli,” “Salve Regina”) and “Totus Tuus” as closing hymns. And yes, also do “Holy God We Praise Thy Name,” “Come Holy Ghost,” “O Lord I’m Not Worthy,” “Let All Mortal Flesh,” etc.

      We’d love to have you here in Vallejo.

      • Oh, one other thing. To those of you who’ve heard or read of our celebrant-priest having joined an independent order – that was a long time ago. He’s now super-kosher, armed with the proper celebret from Bishop Soto for the TLM here in Vallejo and in Vacaville.

        So no worry, our TLM is diocesan and faithful to Holy Mother Church.

  7. Steve Callon says:

    This is awesome! Just another reason to join the Norbertines!

  8. Celebrating the Old Mass and the New Forum is not being bi-ritual. Both are forms of the Latin Rite.

  9. Kenneth M. Fisher says:

    Most of the Norberine Seminarians are also learning the Tridentine Mass of St. Pius V, maybe all!

    God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
    Kenneth M. Fisher

    • Abeca Christian says:

      I think they were the priests that use to travel to San Diego to do the Tridentine Mass when their parishioners didn’t have a parish, the Latin Mass was done in a cemetery at that time and I think that sometimes the Norbertine priests would help out. That was a while ago now.

  10. Father Chrysostom has the most incredible voice, in fact all of the Norbertines do. I’m spoiled to have their abbey so near to me, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful mass. The Easter Vigil sounds so beautiful I always tear up. If you should ever have an opportunity to visit the abbey, do not pass it up.

  11. These priests do pray out in front of abortion mills, along with the students attending St Michael’s Prep which always ranks in the top 50 High Schools in the US.

  12. Send the monks to Washington DC to chant to get our dysfunctional government to actually do something constructive. Can’t hurt, they need all the prayers they can get.

    • Bishops need to excommunicate all Catholic politicians, and only lift it on an individual basis for those who crawl on their knees on gravel for ten miles while relentlessly reciting the Holy Rosary … beginning of course with the bishops.

  13. Brian Kelly says:

    I know a few of the priests at St. Michael’s. I was a novice there in 1972-3. Frater Michael back then. Astounding how they have grown. I knew Father Celano, too.

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