Chant camps popping up in San Francisco archdiocese

Instruction in Gregorian Chant will be extended to children and teens, courtesy of Benedict XVI Institute

Teens participate in a chant camp in Benicia, Calif. (Photo courtesy of the Benedict XVI Institute)

An initiative in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to form the Catholic imagination through beauty will next month host a workshop on how to teach “chant camps,” in which children and teens are educated in Gregorian chant.

The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, founded by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in 2014, is holding a Teaching Children’s Chant Camp Workshop in Menlo Park, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, Aug. 9-12.

The institute means to promote the vision of the Second Vatican Council, whose constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, said that Gregorian chant is “specially suited to the Roman liturgy” and that “therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”

Maggie Gallagher, executive director of the Benedict XVI Institute, told CNA that children are particularly receptive to Gregorian chant.

“Kids, teens, and tweens take to chant like a duck to water. For two reasons: First, music is a language and like all languages it is best learned young,” she said.

“Secondly, kids are fascinated by doing ‘grown-up’ music. People keep offering 8 and 9 year olds ‘children’s’ hymns at the exact moment tween are looking to put aside the babyish and assume older identities.”

Gallagher’s words echoed those of Pius XI, who wrote in his 1928 bull Divini cultus that in “their earliest years” young people “are able more easily to learn to sing, and to modify, if not entirely to overcome, any defects in their voices.”

This is the first summer the Benedict XVI Institute has held chant camps for children. The camps’ director, Mary Ann Carr-Wilson, however, “has taught children’s chant camps for the past ten years, helping to pioneer the form,” Gallagher said.

Rather than teaching solely performance, the camps impart a sense of the meaning of the Mass, and what is participation in the liturgy.

An important detail, Gallagher noted, is that the children participants deepen their understanding of the Mass.

Gallagher reported to CNA the words of Fr. Corwin, the chaplain at a recent chant camp, that “These kids get more catechesis at chant camp than some kids receive all year. They learn what the Mass is. They learn than chant is not performance, it’s prayer.”

Gallagher told CNA that “if you’d like to bring a chant camp or a chant camp workshop to your parish or school or youth choir, contact us Rose Marie Wong at wongr@sfarch.org.”

She added that one or two slots with scholarships for the Aug. 9-12 How to Teach Children Chant workshop are available.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.

Comments

  1. Finally something “for the children” really is! Well done San Francisco archdiocese! 🙂

  2. Linda Maria says

    This is excellent! Gregorian Chant, with basic Church Latin– is easy to learn, too!

  3. Does Gregorian Chant work with American English or other modern languages? Or only ‘classical Church’ Latin?

    • Mike M. half of the beauty and accuracy of the Traditional Latin Mass is the Liturgical English. To me it means that we are giving our best and finest to God. It is also a more accurate interpretation of the Latin and Biblical text as the “thees,”thous” and so forth on more accurate. You might try googling something such as “modern English vs Liturgical English” and see why it is so.

    • I was referring to an article on the Catholics in the Ozarks website that had a good article on why the pronouns in Liturgical (Sacred) English were more accurate, but I cannot find it. Now I am not going to post any more on this as.

  4. This is great…Should be a required course at EVERY PARISH for all parishioners !!

  5. Piers Lahey, singing Gregorian Chant helps one learn Latin pronunciation easier as the words are sung slowly. If one gets a 1962 Latin Missal, the Latin is on one side with the Liturgical English interpretation on the other. Some children learn other languages fairly well just by osmosis, but they can learn the grammar now or later in a classroom or by private teachers. Both the Regina Caeli Academy and the Mater Ecclesiae Academy teach Latin to students, including kindergartners, here in California. You can find their websites on line.

  6. Linda Maria says

    Before the Second Vatican Council, many Catholic altar boys– and choir boys– for the beautiful, old Latin Tridentine Mass– were inspired to enter the priesthood!

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