12 February 2016

A Lenten Tract Setting in Organum (UPDATED with Tract for Lent I)

The Lenten Tracts are some of the most challenging items in the Gregorian repertoire, both for length and difficulty. Some editions of the Liber Usualis include an appendix, setting the text of the Tract to a Psalm tone - the minimalist approach.

Alastair J. Tocher, director of the Schola Gregoriana Malverniensis,* proposes a more interesting way of making the Tract manageable for small choirs, giving the opening verse in its original Gregorian setting, and setting the subsequent verses to a plainsong Psalm tone, alternating with parallel organum. He writes:
It is not original but rather merely follows the arrangements used by a founder of the Association for Latin Liturgy, Dr Dick Richens, and used at Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge over many years. We never had it written down, just vaguely annotated in our graduals.
Click here for an example. This is the Tract for the third Sunday in Lent; if there is enough interest, Alastair may be able to produce settings for some of the other Sundays of Lent.


UPDATE: Here is the Tract for the First Sunday in Lent - just in time for anyone who is panicking about tomorrow's Mass!

Do let us know if you use any of these settings.


* "The main blessing for the [Latin Mass] community here at Worcester - St John the Baptist, Spetchley - has been the arrival of the Schola Gregoriana Malverniensis who sing at a monthly Mass in the Traditional Rite in the chapel." Margaret Parffrey, 'Diocesan Digest', Mass of Ages: the quarterly magazine of the Latin Mass Society (Spring 2016).

23 January 2016


The earliest forms of chant notation show various signs called neumes "in campo aperto", that is, without any ruled staff-lines to indicate pitch; "in campo aperto" means "in an open field".

Click here to learn more.


26 November 2015

Chant workshop arranged by the Latin Mass Society for Juventutem London

The Latin Mass Society has long been the sponsor of the monthly Sung Masses organised by Juventutem London; this Saturday, thanks to the LMS, the Juventutem Schola will be receiving training from the young professional musician, Graham Neal, a day arranged by the Latin Mass Society's London Director of Music, Matthew Schellhorn.

for members of the Juventutem London Schola Cantorum

Saturday 28 November 2015 at 10:00
St Mary, Moorfields

with Mr Graham Neal (tenor)

10:00 Meet and greet
10:10 Group singing led by Mr John Simmonds; observations made by Mr Graham Neal (repertoire: hymn Rector potens and psalm 73 vv. 1–9)
10:30 Paired lessons begin in 20-minute slots (everyone else observing), i.e.:
10:30 singers 1 and 2 (Nick Hurle and Brynn Binnell)
10:50 singer 3 and 4 (Alex Smith and Richard Hawker)
11:10 singer 5 and 6 (Kitty Malkin and Katrina Madely)
11:30 break
11:40 singer 7 and 8 (David Madeley and John Simmonds)
12:00 Angelus
12:05 Group session with Graham
12:30 Sext (tutti)
13:00 ends

Graham Neal read music at the University of Surrey where he was awarded the Robert Naylor prize for the most meritorious degree recital. During this time he held a choral scholarship at Guildford Cathedral. Graham subsequently studied on the Knack opera course at the English National Opera and as a postgraduate at Trinity College of Music. He now studies with Jenevora Williams and Nicholas Powell. Graham has a wide repertoire as an oratorio soloist.  This year he has sung Mahler Symphony No. 8, VerdiRequiem, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle and Bach Mass in B minor.

On the operatic stage, Graham has performed the roles of Don Ramiro, La Cenerentolafor Brent Opera and Opera Loki, Ferrando, Cosi Fan Tutte at Greenwich Theatre, Belmonte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Camden, Sextus Julius Caesar at Blackheath Halls, Don José Carmen at Greenwich Theatre, and Worldly Glory Pilgrim's Progress for the Philarmonia at Sadler's Wells, as well as being a chorus member for English National Opera, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Opéra Comique, l'Orchestre des Champs-Elysées and Stanley Hall Opera.

Graham is adept at choral singing, appearing frequently in concert and on recordings. He sings with the Monteverdi Choir, Polyphony, Philharmonia Voices, English Voices, the NDR Chor and Cappella Nova. Recent television appearances have included John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Marathon and Bach: A Passionate Life for the BBC with the Monteverdi Choir.

10 November 2015

Seminar on the rhymed Office of St Magnus

Any readers who happen to be in Orkney next week would be most welcome to come and hear me talk about my reconstruction of the music for the rhymed Office in honour of St Magnus of Orkney.

From the Centre for Nordic Studies website:
Dr Ben Whitworth: 'Rhymes in honour of St Magnus: an echo of medieval Orkney?'
When Nov 17, 2015
from 07:30 PM to 09:00 PM
This seminar will be held at Orkney College. Free entry. All welcome.

Please come!

10 October 2015

Chant Workshop Days presented by Opus Anglicanum

Opus Anglicanum's Chant Experience Days are led by John Rowlands-Pritchard, who studied medieval song with Professor John Stevens and early Gregorian chant with Dr Mary Berry, and who has sung throughout Europe with the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge. These events are open to anyone and all are welcome. Mr Rowlands-Pritchard has sent us details of the forthcoming events:

Sat 31st October
Worcester Lodge, Badminton, GL9 1AH 10 am - 5 pm
The day will be in the wonderful and unusual Worcester Lodge, an 18th century Banqueting Lodge on the Badminton estate. The day concludes with an informal performance of a sequence of chant for All Hallows.
£25 (u-18 £5) Morning and afternoon refreshments and a bread & cheese lunch included. 
Please book in advance at www.opus-a.co.uk (preferred) or cheque ‘Opus Anglicanum’ by post: 36 Berrington Road, Chipping Campden GL55 6JA

Sat 27th February 2016 (to be confirmed) 

Charlcombe Church, Bath

Sat 5th March

St Woolos Cathedral, Newport NP20 4EA
Run by RSCM South East Wales. 
Further details to follow on website.

Sat 12th March

St George’s Church Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1LB 10 am - 4 pm 
Chant associated with Venantius Fortunatus - Vexilla regis, Salve festa dies, Pange lingua gloriosi. Participants perform Compline with Opus Anglicanum in the evening concert.
Details and tickets from Dorchester Arts www.dorchesterarts.org.uk

Mon 25th April - Thurs 28th April 

Benslow Music Trust, Hitchin SG4 9RB
GREGORIAN CHANT: A RESIDENTIAL COURSE. I encourage readers to consider booking for Benslow Music Trust’s residential course on Gregorian chant.   It is warmly recommended as a rewarding opportunity to dedicate time to experience Gregorian Chant. Benslow is a very special place, and  offers a tradition of hospitality and friendship for music makers of every sort. The Chant course will be one of a number happening in this beautiful house with enjoyable meals and accommodation.  
All information & booking http://benslowmusic.org  01462 45944

Opus Anglicanum latest news: http://blog.opus-a.co.uk

08 September 2015

Chant evening classes with the Schola Gregoriana in London

The Schola Gregoriana is running chant evenings at the Farm Street Church, 114 Mount Street, London W1 at 6.30 pm each Tuesday from 22nd September to 8th December 2015

Directed by Dr. Peter Wilton, B.Ed. (Hons.) M.Mus., Editor of chant for the Office of Vespers for Westminster Cathedral Choir.

Practical instruction includes:   Chant performance, Music for the Mass and Daily Offices, English and Latin texts.

Anyone able to sing in tune is welcome, with or without chant experience.    

£5 per evening, or £50 for the whole term.

Enquiries to Mr. G. Macartney, Schola Gregoriana , 26 The Grove,  Ealing,  London  W5 5LH   

Tel:  020 8840 5832 (answerphone when out)  

E-mails:  grey.macartney@gmail.com

04 September 2015

Chant news from France

Rather short notice, this, but if you can get to Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val (Tarn & Garonne) this weekend, Una Voce France are organising a conference on chant and a number of liturgical ceremonies, as part of the town's medieval festival. Details here, including times of Mass, Benediction, Vespers - and chant rehearsals for any willing volunteers!

The Una Voce France online shop may also be of interest for its selection of chant books, CDs, &c.

22 August 2015

Dominican music in Oxford: Friday 11th September


Free concert for PMMS members!

On Friday 11th September, at 6pm in Lincoln College Chapel (Turl Street, Oxford), there will be a PMMS-sponsored concert, showcasing music that can be associated with the Dominican Order--both friars and nuns.  Sung by a small group of Oxford choral scholars, the programme will include Dominican chant, Dominican-composed sequences, Notre-Dame polyphony (used as binding fragments in Dominican books), and trouvere songs compiled by a Dominican. 

The concert is part of a wider conference on the Influences of the Dominican Order in the Middle Ages; thanks to PMMS sponsorship, the concert is open to all PMMS members to attend for free.  To do so, just 

emaileleanor.giraud@lincoln.ox.ac.uk to reserve a place.  

For further information on the conference, visit: http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/influences-dominican-order-middle-ages

17 July 2015

Gregorian Chant Workshop at Ealing Abbey

A Gregorian Chant Workshop will be held at Ealing Abbey, West London, on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th August, led by Christopher Hodkinson, director of the Schola Gregoriana Cambridge.


Saturday 15 August 2015:
11:00-17:15 (registration from 10:30) 

Sunday 16 August 2015:
10:30-11:30 Rehearsal for Mass 
12:00 Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

This Workshop is being promoted by the Ealing Abbey Lay Plain Chant Choir under the direction of Fr Peter Burns. All with basic experience of singing plain chant or choral music welcome.


  • Instruction on vocal technique 
  • Reading chant notation 
  • Learning to sing the chants for the Mass for the Assumption 
  • Presentation on the liturgy and music for the Assumption
  • Singing one of the minor Offices for the Vigil of the Assumption 
  • Attending First Vespers for the Assumption in the Abbey Church 

COST £30 (including light refreshments only) ADVANCE BOOKING REQUIRED

ENQUIRIES & BOOKING: Patrick and Annie Martin 020 8991 1081 / parotema@gmail.com

28 May 2015

Call out for a choir - Wren Choral Marathon

The City of London Festival is presenting a Wren ChoralMarathon on Saturday 27 June. Seventeen choirs will perform in seventeen of Christopher Wren’s City churches, including St Paul’s Cathedral, between 8 a.m. and 1 a.m. The a cappella concerts will feature a wide array of ensembles performing a broad range of musical styles. The concerts are free to attend, and with the churches spread around the Square Mile, it should be possible to attend them all!

Your schola could be part of this. The organisers hope to include a plainsong matins/lauds, or similar event, starting at 8 a.m. at St Michael Cornhill. The timings would be:

7 a.m. Access to the church
7:45 Doors open
8:00 Concert starts
8:40 Concert ends
9:30 Venue clear

If you would be interested in taking part, please contact Eleanor Mottram, the Festival Administrator (Eleanor.Mottram@colf.org, tel. 020 7583 3585).

21 May 2015

Solemn Requiem for Richard III

A Solemn Requiem for King Richard III will be celebrated, according to the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite, at Fotheringhay Church on 13 June.

Celebrant: Fr Guy Nicholls, Cong. Orat.
With music by the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge and Divers Voyces, with La Dolce Gamba (viol consort)
Where: Fotheringhay Church, Northants
When: Saturday 13 June, at 4 p.m.

The music will include plainsong, English fifteenth-century polyphony and a new motet in honour of the king.

Retiring collection. Supported by the Richard III Society and the Friends of Fotheringhay Church.

(Richard III was born at Fotheringhay Castle.)

19 May 2015

PIMMS AGM and conference in Bristol

The Annual General Meeting of the Plainsong & Medieval Music Society is taking place in Bristol in conjunction with a conference on medieval liturgy. See here for more details.

On the conference itself, here is the description.

Senses of Liturgy, University of Bristol, 21-22 May, 2015

14 May 2015

New publication: a revised edition of "Plainchant for Everyone" by Mary Berry

The Royal School of Church Music has just announced the publication of The RSCM Guide to Plainchant: An introduction to plainsong.

From their website:
A revision of the seminal and best selling ‘Plainchant for everyone’ by Dr Mary Berry, the leading plainchant expert who died in 2008. This new edition, revised by one of Dr Berry’s pupils, John Rowlands-Pritchard, is re-set with improved and clearer layout. It also includes a new anthology of plainchant that singers and choir directors will find invaluable. Cantors, in particular, will find this book essential reading. Mary Berry, CBE (Sister Thomas More) (29 June 1917 – 1 May 2008) was an Augustinian canoness and noted choral conductor and musicologist. She was an authority on the performance of Gregorian chant. John Rowlands-Pritchard was a pupil of John Stevens at Cambridge, and gave lecture demonstrations of Professor Stevens’ isosyllabic interpretation of mediaeval monody. He studied the performance of early chant with Dr. Mary Berry, illustrating her lectures and broadcast talks, and sang and recorded regularly with her specialist group Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge as Cantor, and continues to give masterclasses in Plainchant across the country for the RSCM.

02 May 2015

ALL Chant Course at Buckfast in August

Active Involvement in the Chant!  Sing from the Graduale Parvum at the Association for Latin Liturgy’s two-day summer school at Buckfast Abbey this summer:
Monday 17 – Tuesday 18 August 2015

The Association’s meeting for 2015 marks a completely new departure: a short summer school over two days, at the School of the Annunciation, Buckfast Abbey, Buckfastleigh, Devon, TQ11 0EE. Website: schooloftheannunciation.com. The summer school will run from lunchtime on Monday 17 August to lunchtime on Tuesday 18, and the cost, including one night’s accommodation at the School’s residential centre, breakfast, and the use of the School’s facilities will be £80 per person. For non-residents, the charge is £20. The cost of two lunches and one supper in the Abbey restaurant will be additional to this, costing in the region of £10-£15 for lunch and from £15-£25 for supper, depending on which options guests choose.

The accommodation in the Abbey is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and we cannot promise to be able to secure accommodation at the Abbey for late applicants, but there is accommodation available at a variety of places in the Buckfast area. Speedy booking is advised! [Please note that if a booking is later cancelled, we will only be able to give a refund if the place can be filled by someone else.]
If you would like to extend your stay at the Abbey, or to take in the summer school as part of a holiday in the West Country, contact the School of the Annunciation direct to book a further stay. Alternatively, there are several bed and breakfast establishments in the immediate vicinity. 

Directions to Buckfast Abbey can be found by following the link on the School’s website. If driving, the postcode for satnavs is TQ11 0EE. There is a regular bus service to the Abbey from Totnes: see www.cartogold.co.uk/devon_transport/devon. It is also possible to reach Buckfastleigh by steam train, changing from the main line at Totnes. See: www.southdevonrailway.co.uk/timetable

The summer school will focus on active involvement in chant, using chants from the work in progress on the Graduale Parvum, less-florid chants based closely on the Graduale Romanum, currently the ALL’s flagship project, and on an investigation of the ‘untranslatable’ elements of the Latin Missal. The chant workshops will be led by Fr Guy Nicholls, and will culminate in participation in the sung Mass on the Tuesday, while the theme for the translation workshop will be: “Hidden Treasures: what no translation can ever tell us.” In these sessions, led by Mgr Bruce Harbert, we will investigate elements in the original Latin which cannot be carried over into the vernacular. Participants should bring with them a copy of the Ordo Missae (Ordinary Form) in Latin and English. If these are not readily to hand, copies are usually available for purchase in the Abbey’s excellent bookshop. The music for the chant workshops will be provided, and is included in the fee.

Please send, by 1st July at the latest, a cheque for £80 (residential) or £20 (non-residential) payable to Association for Latin Liturgy, to The Treasurer, ALL, 47 Western Park Road, Leicester, LE3 6HQ. Please give a postal and an email address. Please check first to see if accommodation is still available, by email to Christopher.Francis@latin-liturgy.org

29 April 2015

The Mighty Spirit: A chant study day and Vigil Mass of Pentecost

Please note the following forthcoming event:

"The Mighty Spirit: The Vigil Mass of Pentecost - A New Approach to Singing the Mass"
When: Saturday 23 May, 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Where: St Mary's and St John's Catholic Church, Snowhill, Wolverhampton WV2 4AD
Celebrant: Fr Guy Nicholls, Cong. Orat.
Speakers: Fr Guy Nicholls, Cong. Orat. and Wilfrid Jones

Talks, chant class, and question time. Bring-and-share lunch; soup and hot drinks provided.

Please email the John Henry Newman Institute of Liturgical Music to reserve a place.

Mass will be celebrated at 4 p.m. This will be a fully sung Mass of the Vigil of Pentecost, with the full complement of readings and Tracts. Music will be partly in Latin and partly in English, and participants will be introduced to the Graduale Parvum. This is a collection of the Proper liturgical texts set to simple but authentic Gregorian melodies, begun by the late Professor László Dobszay, and currently being brought to completion by the Association for Latin Liturgy.