A brief excerpt from Richard Crocker’s Introduction to Gregorian Chant (Yale University Press, 2000)

Pp. 62-63

“In terms of broad genres, the Mass Propers can be described not as epic or dramatic, but rather as lyric.  The melody presents short involuted turns of phrase that cluster around a central theme sometimes so vague as to be merely implied.  The order of presentation is not significant, being arranged so as to furnish variety and avoid obvious repetition.  This kind of arrangement is meditative in that it invites contemplation of various aspects of a subject without the pressure of following a closely argued discourse or of arriving at a conclusion or at a lofty vantage point – such as we experience in a Beethoven symphony.

“In Gregorian chant I hear a succession of short melodic phrases (each about the length of a word or syllable); the succession itself I can only describe as lyric fantasy.  Each phrase moves a little differently, or in a different direction; even though by itself each phrase makes a simple, easily understood melodic move, the succession from one to the next is unexpected, giving a sense of fantasy to the whole.


“I find this non-narrative, non-dramatic quality throughout the repertory of Gregorian Mass Propers, exceptions being so infrequent as to be famous among chant singers. There is one instance of a long sustained ascent exceeding an octave, arriving at a climax that is foreseeable in the approach and satisfying in its completion (this is the Offertory Iubilate Deo universa terra).  There is a descent, even longer, through an octave and a half in the Gradual Ecce quam bonum, although in that case the descent is so leisurely, backtracking with so many involute turns, that the overall trend may be perceptible only when the piece is complete.  And in Ecce quam bonum the long descent accompanies words that describe the cup of fine oil that overflows and runs down the beard of Aaron – an instance of word-painting unusual in Gregorian chant.


“In most melismatic pieces, however, there is no such sustained preparation for ascents or descents; usual procedures include, instead, circling around a central pitch in a complex way, or making relatively unprepared moves to the top or the bottom of the pitch set in such a way as to suggest that movement anywhere in the set is possible at any time.  Melismatic chants do not conform to a simple model such as an arch; there are plenty of melodic high points, but they are not consistently located in the centre of a phrase, that is, preceded by an ascent and followed by a descent.”




“There is so much to hear – melismatic chant is so complex in its movements! The avoidance of repetition at the lowest level, from one pitch to the next, is absolutely persistent; the sense of difference is continual.  After forty years I am still learning to recognize the subtle ways in which the seemingly endless twists and turns of Gregorian chant deftly define a musical shape, a musical meaning.”


The registration deadline for the Musica Sacra Florida Chant Conference has been extended to Wednesday, March 4th. 

To register, please visit: www.musicasacra.com/florida.

Light of the East-in South Florida

Miami’s Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Dormition

Part I in a Series

By Eric Giunta

The quintessential Catholic sense of the sacred is uniquely concretized in the worship the Church offers to the Supreme Deity. The Church’s splendid liturgical patrimony, alongside the Lives of her saints, is perhaps her principal non-rational apologetic: the invisible splendor of her truths finds visible expression in her solemn administration of her sacraments, her performance of which have inspired those great artistic monuments which are so treasured by all humanity, even the non-believer.

As readers of this blog aware, there is change abrewing in Floridian Catholicism. What was, until very recently, a liturgical desert has seen remarkable fruit blossom and ripen in the years following the accession of Pope Benedict XVI to the Chair of Peter.

But we should not forget those parishes which have been ever-faithful to their solemn liturgical patrimony, outstanding among which have been those of Florida’s Eastern Catholics.

These parishes have often provided a liturgical safe-houses for Latin-rite Catholics who, having been alienated by some implementations of the post-Conciliar liturgical reforms, found spiritual refuge among their Eastern brothers and sisters.

While the medieval mythos of a pristine “original Apostolic liturgical rite” does not exactly correspond to known history, it is a fact that all of the Church’s approved liturgical rites are rooted in Orthodox Judaism. In every one of the church’s liturgies, one may find elements of the Temple, the synagogue service, and the Passover Seder, along with the essential form and matter of the Sacraments, as they were instituted by Christ. And so there is naturally a ritual consistency which pervades all of the Church’s rites, Eastern and Western, when they are celebrated reverently and in accordance with the approved rubrics. And so no Catholic need feel estranged when he participates in a rite that is not his own, for in every one of the Church’s approved rites is, in a certain sense, the patrimony of each and every believer.

Understanding one’s liturgical brothers will enrich one’s own understanding and appreciation for his own liturgical tradition. This has certainly been my experience in my acquaintance with the various Eastern Catholic parishes within the confines of the Miami Archdiocese, outstanding among which is Miami ‘s Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Dormition.

We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you: only this we know, that God dwells there among men, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty.

Thus spake the emissaries of Saint Vladimir of Kiev , when they witnessed the Divine Liturgy at Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia in the 10th century. The experience is said to have been the deciding factor in the conversion of the people of Kieven Rus from paganism to Byzantine Catholic Christianity.


And Miami ‘s Church of the Dormition is very much emblematic of Byzantine-Slavic liturgy at its very best. The 10:15 Sunday service is celebrated in Old Church Slavonic, and its choir is of the highest musical caliber, exhibiting the entire range of Slavic melody and tonality, from bass to soprano. The musical repertoire is just the perfect balance between Byzantine chant and Slavic polyphony, of a kind most Catholics will go their entire lives never having heard, save perhaps on compact disc or the movies of Eisenstein or Tarkovsky.

The entire liturgy is in Slavonic, and the priest’s sermon in Ukrainian. However, there are translations of the “Ordinary” in the pew books, and the propers are translated in the weekly church bulletin. The new priest, Father Matthew D. Schroeder, even types out his sermons in English, placing them next to the local bulletins in the back of the church, so visitors can follow along. And Father Schroeder’s preaching is just as beautiful and orthodox as his church’s liturgy.

Rest assured if you visit: this church is Catholic. Although one would not know it, so authentically Ukrainian, so authentically Orthodox is this entire parish, from the art and architecture, to the liturgy itself, which frequently beseeches God’s blessing for “all orthodox Christians”. Church of the Dormition serves, I believe, a potentially important ecumenical function, demonstrating as it does that full communion with the Church of Rome takes nothing away from all that is good, true, and beautiful in the Eastern Orthodox Church.


There is a 9:00 Liturgy in English, but in this writer’s experience from past years (before the pastorship of Father Shroeder), this was often rather Latinized, no incense was burned, and much of it was said, rather than sung. The church’s principal liturgy is at 10:15, and Catholics genuinely interested in experiencing the Slavic liturgy on its own terms, and patronizing liturgical renewal, are encouraged to attend that service.

For more information:

Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Dormition

39 NW 57th Court

Miami, FL , 33126

(305) 262-4192


Eric Giunta is a Juris Doctor Candidate at Florida State University College of Law, and a volunteer intern at the Florida capitol. He graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University in 2008 with a BA in Humanities (having concentrated in the Greco-Roman Classics) and the Certificate in Law, Ethics, and Society. His interests include liturgy, history, philosophy, politics, and theology. He has written for LifeSiteNews.com

From a schola member at the chapel comes this report:

For a little over a year the usus antiquor Mass has been celebrated monthly at the All Faith Center chapel of the Florida Institute of Technology, in Melbourne, FL. This effort started shortly after the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, at the initiative of the FIT campus Catholic chaplain, Fr. Douglas Bailey,SDS, with the knowledge and approval of the Bishop of Orlando. The first Mass was celebrated on the feast of the Holy Family in January 2008.   

The schola includes 8-10 singers who are FIT faculty and students, as well as singers from neighboring parishes. Some of us have about ten years’ experience in Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony obtained as members of a different group that used to sing at a local parish. Each month at FIT we sing the entire Ordinary and Proper chants, as well as two polyphonic pieces, one each after the Offertory and Communion antiphons. This is an all-volunteer effort, including the priest and our music director, Dr. Jamie Younkin from the FIT faculty. Dr. Younkin is a specialist in Ambrosian and Gregorian chants.   

The usus antiquor Mass takes place at 4pm on the 1st Sunday of the month during the academic year. The next one is on March 1st, the First Sunday of Lent. The program includes Buchholz’ Asperges, Mass XVII, Credo I, all the chants of the proper, including the Tract, as well as Mozart’s Ave Verum and Lassus’ Miserere.   

Attendance has ranged from 20 to 150. The larger number fills our little chapel.

The next evening of recollection offered by the FSSP apostolate in the diocese of Venice will be on Tuesday, March 10 2009 at 6:30 PM in Sarasota. 

For more information, visit their website at: http://www.venicelatinmass.org.

The registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 27th. 

To register, or for more information, see this site: www.musicasacra.com/florida

To download the flyer or information packet, click on the “Detailed Schedule and Brochure.”

Registrations have been coming in!  We look forward to seeing you there!

Though the deadline for registration has already passed, I wanted to pass along the following information: 

Singing the Propers of the Mass: Why and How

DATE OF WORKSHOP: Saturday, February 21, 2008

 PLACE: St. Raphael Catholic Church

2514 Lee Boulevard, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971

 TIME: 9:30 am-2:00 pm

 COST: $15.00 per person

If you have any questions, please call Louise-941-486-4725

Presented by:

George Bagan, B.M., Lynn Kraehling, M.M., Timothy McDonnell, D.M.A., Susan Treacy, Ph.D., and the Diocesan Music Committee

Schedule for the Day: 

The Propers of the Mass are the sung parts of the Mass that change from week to week: the entrance song, the responsorial psalm, the Gospel acclamation, the offertory, and the communion. While these parts of the Mass all have texts that the Church has given to go along with the other readings of Scripture for a particular Mass, often only the texts for the responsorial psalm and Gospel acclamation are used. Both the Instruction on Music shortly after the Second Vatican Council and the instruction book for the present form of the Mass, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), encourage the singing of the proper texts, and so the purpose of this workshop is both to provide an understanding of these parts of the Mass and to provide access to resources, many of which are not widely known, that are practical for use at the parish level. The registration fee includes a substantial packet of information about the resources and how to acquire them. 

9:30-10:00 Registration / Prayer

10:00-12:30 Presentations and Panel Discussion

  • History of the Propers
  • Practice from the Second Vatican Council through the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI
  • Resources: Where to find them and how to use them (will include singing)
  • Present Liturgical Practice at Ave Maria Oratory, St. Raphael’s, and at other diocesan parishes

12:30-1:15 Lunch

1:15-2:00 Music meeting and the NPM chapter

Dr. Michael O’Connor and the Schola Cantorum of the Palm Beaches will be singing for two upcoming Masses in the extraordinary form in the Palm Beach Diocese. 

– March 1st, 2:00 p.m. – 1st Sunday in Lent at St Patrick Catholic Church in Palm Beach Gardens.  
View Map

– March 15, 2:00 p.m. – 3rd Sunday in Lent at St Christopher Catholic Church in Hobe Sound 
View Map

Both will be celebrated as a Missa Cantata.

Liturgical Roundup

February 18, 2009

Courtesy of writer Matthew Alderman at the New Liturgical Movement

No doubt our readers have already heard of the upcoming Gregorian chant workshop being put on by Musica Sacra Florida at the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences at NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, the local chapter of the Church Music Association of America, but just in case you haven’t, here is a bit of info on this upcoming conference and also some of the other exciting liturgical events that have been occurring in the Sunshine State in recent months.

First, the chant conference is being held from March 6 to March 7, 2009, and will include sessions on the history of Gregorian chant, the liturgy and the Gregorian repertoire, Gregorian chant since Vatican II a choice of chant classes for beginning and advanced chanters. Vespers will be sung Friday, and the conference will close the following evening with a missa cantata at St. Michael’s Church in neighboring Miami. For more information, visit this site or contact Dr. Jennifer Donelson at jd1120 (at) nsu (dot) nova (dot) edu. Other presenters include Dr. Susan Treacy (Ave Maria), Dr. Michael O’Connor (Palm Beach Atlantic) and Mary Jane Ballou (St. Augustine Schola Cantorae). Registration is $35.00 and includes materials and insruction. The deadline is Friday, February 27, 2009.

This conference comes as the culmination of a long series of Tridentine masses, chant workshops, and more in Florida, enlivening a region that has in my experience been largely moribund in liturgical matters. This is extremely promising, and let us hope we can expect more in the future. A sampling:

In the Miami/Ft. Lauterdale area, September saw a Gregorian chant workshop at St. Michael’s in Miami, and December the first known Tridentine mass at the same parish since 1970. St. Michael’s, incidentally, is now the home of the priest who instigated a simple but handsome renovation at Visitation Catholic Church while he was pastor there, and which we chronicled here some time back. I am glad to see he is still doing exemplary work for the church’s liturgy.

In the West Palm Beach area, solemn vespers were sung at St. Patrick Catholic Church for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception last year, as we reported previously here. This March, a missa cantata is planned for the same parish, on the first Sunday of Lent, sung by the Schola Cantorum of the Palm Beaches at 2:00 pm. Another will be on the Third Sunday of Lent at St. Christopher Catholic Church in Hobe Sound, also at 2:00. I am told one may become a solemn high mass, but this will depend on the availability of clergy to assist. For more information, see here.

Keep Reading

From the Parish Bulletin of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jacksonville:The Adult Education Ministry will meet on Monday, February 23rd, at 7 p.m. in the Cody Center. The topic is “The Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo – The Two Forms of the Roman Rite.” The alternative form of the Mass is now more widely available as a result of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio (2007) to those who prefer the ancient usage.


 The two forms of the Roman rite are: the Ordinary Form (the Mass of Paul VI, 1969) in English or Latin, and the Extraordinary Form (known as the Mass of John XXIII, the Traditional (Tridentine) Mass, in Latin only. The basic differences and principal features will be contrasted in terms of prayers, music, vestments, mood, and rubrics. Both forms are equal, mutually enriching, and fulfill the Sunday obligation. “There is certainly a difference of emphasis, but a single fundamental identity that excludes any contradiction or antagonism between a renewed liturgy and the preceding liturgy,” Pope Benedict XVI. Come and enjoy a lively discussion.

Stay Up-to-date!

February 15, 2009

Interested in learning more or keeping up-to-date on sacred music and liturgical events in Florida via e-mail?

Send your e-mail address to: musicasacraflorida (at) gmail (dot) com. 

You’ll receive monthly to bi-weekly e-mails (depending on the number of upcoming events) to keep you up-to-date.  Your e-mail address will not be shared, and the number of e-mails will be strictly limited.


February 15, 2009

Welcome to the blog of the Florida Chapter of the Church Music Association of America. 

Here, you’ll find information about upcoming events, reports and pictures from previous events, resources for Gregorian chant and contact information. 

We’ll also be posting advertisements and information about other liturgical events in the state which are significant for the renewal of the Roman Catholic liturgy.  We look forward to this site becoming a point of contact for all interested in and working for the renewal of the liturgy in Florida. 

If you’d like to advertise your liturgical or sacred music event please contact us at musicasacraflorida (at) gmail (dot) com .

The Florida Chapter of the Church Music Association of America is happy to announce:

Musica Sacra Florida – www.musicasacra.com/florida

Gregorian Chant Workshop
Sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Church Music Association of America
in conjunction with the
Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale
Friday, March 6th – Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Detailed scheduled and brochure

This two-day workshop will present both beginning and advanced musicians with rehearsals and lectures that will enrich their knowledge of Gregorian chant and its use in the Roman Catholic liturgy.

Led by a faculty of chant specialists from around the state, attendees will learn more about the history of Gregorian chant and its role in the liturgy as well as experience the chant in the context of both the Divine Office and the Mass. Beginning chanters will be introduced to the basics of notation and rhythm according to the Solesmes method. Experienced chanters will learn new repertoire and advance their understanding of rhythmic and interpretive nuance. Resources and practical methods for the cultivation of Gregorian chant in the life of the parish will also be discussed.

This workshop is ideal for choir members, parish music directors, music students, teachers, parents, seminarians and anyone who is interested in learning about the heritage of sacred music within the Roman Catholic Church.

Registration fees are $35 and include the price of instructional materials and instruction. Participants are responsible for all their meals and housing during the conference. Payment is due upon arrival at the conference.

Pre-registration is required.
Deadline: Friday, February 27th, 2009




Contact Information :
Jennifer Donelson
(954) 262-7610 or jd1120 -at- nsu.nova.edu

Susan Treacy – Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, FL
Michael O’Connor – Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, FL
Mary Jane Ballou – St. Augustine Schola Cantorae, St. Augustine, FL
Jennifer Donelson – Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL