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San Francisco, Calif., July 27, 2018 / 3:01 a.m. (CNA/EWTN News).- An Archdiocese of San Francisco initiative to shape the Catholic imagination through beauty will host a workshop next month on how to teach the “singing”. camps”, where children and teenagers are taught Gregorian chant.
The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, founded by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in 2014, holds a singing workshop for children in Menlo Park, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, from 9 to August 12.
The institute intends to promote the vision of the Second Vatican Council, including the constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Conciliumstated that Gregorian chant is “particularly suited to the Roman liturgy” and that “consequently, all other things being equal, it should occupy a prominent place in liturgical offices”.
Maggie Gallagher, executive director of the Benedict XVI Institute, told CNA that children are especially receptive to Gregorian chant.
“Children, teens and tweens sing like a duck to water. For two reasons: first, music is a language and like all languages, it’s best learned young,” she said. .
“Secondly, children are fascinated by ‘adult’ music. People keep offering 8- and 9-year-old anthems just when they’re looking to put the baby aside and embrace older identities.
Gallagher’s words echoed those of Pius XI, who wrote in his 1928 bull divine worship that in “their early years” young people “are more easily able to learn to sing and to modify, if not entirely overcome, the defects in their voice”.
This is the first summer that the Benedict XVI Institute has organized singing camps for children. Camps director Mary Ann Carr-Wilson, however, “has taught children’s singing camps for the past ten years, helping to kick-start the form,” Gallagher said.
Carr-Wilson conducts choirs at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in San Diego, has been a soloist with the San Diego Chamber Orchestra and other groups, and holds an MM from State University. from San Diego.
“To learn from Mary Ann is to learn from the best. We are very grateful to him for deciding to join Benedict XVI’s team,” said Gallagher.
Rather than just teaching performance, the camps impart an idea of the meaning of Mass and what participation in the liturgy is all about.
She said that during week-long singing camps, children learn to sing Mass, in a way that immediately engages them. Older, more experienced singers mentor the younger and weaker ones, and children who thought they couldn’t sing find they can.
Most important, Gallagher said, is that participating children deepen their understanding of the Mass.
Gallagher told CNA of the words of Fr. Corwin, the chaplain of a recent song camp, that “these children receive more catechism at song camp than they do all year. They learn what the Mass is. They learn that singing is not a performance, it is a prayer.
Prof. Corwin added: “They are intrigued to discover that they sing the same prayers that their favorite saints have prayed through the ages. They are responsible for mastering the Tradition and then responsible for transmitting it. They like responsibility. They love the Mystery. And they love the beauty they offer to glorify God and sanctify the Faithful.
The promotion of Gregorian chant by the Benedict XVI Institute is in line with the Second Vatican Council and the popes from Saint Pius X to Pope Francis.
In its 1903 motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini promoting active participation in the liturgy, Saint Pius X emphasized the importance of chant, writing that “Gregorian chant has always been considered the supreme model of sacred music”.
He ordered that “special efforts should be made to reestablish the use of Gregorian chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in ecclesiastical offices”.
Pius XI said: “in order that the faithful may participate more actively in divine worship, that Gregorian chant may be returned to popular use”.
Fri. Pius XII wrote in his 1947 encyclical Dei Ombudsman that Gregorian chant “makes the celebration of the sacred mysteries not only more dignified and solemn, but helps much to increase the faith and devotion of the congregation”.
In his 2007 apostolic exhortation Sacramentum caritatisBenedict XVI wrote that “while respecting the various styles and the different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request put forward by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be properly esteemed and used as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy “, adding that “we should also not forget that the faithful can learn to recite the most common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy in Gregorian chant”.
The 1967 instruction on music in the liturgy, sacred musicwhich was an implementation of Vatican II, declared that “the study and practice of Gregorian chant should be promoted, because, with its particular characteristics, it is a basis of great importance for the development of sacred music “.
And in a speech marking the 50th anniversary of sacred musicPope Francis praised the instruction and its emphasis on active, mindful, and full participation in the liturgy.
In his March 4, 2017 address to participants in a conference on sacred music, Francis lamented that “sometimes a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality have prevailed, to the detriment of the beauty and intensity of liturgical celebrations” .
He urged musicians and others “to make a valuable contribution to the renewal, especially in qualitative terms, of sacred music and liturgical song.”
Among the participants in the Benedict XVI Institute’s Aug. 9-12 workshop are the Missionaries of Charity, who, according to Gallagher, “told us they wanted our help to learn both how to improve their own prayer life and to teach children how to participate in Mass in this special way.
Gallagher told CNA that “if you would like to organize a song camp or a song camp workshop in your parish, school or youth choir, contact us Rose Marie Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
She added that one or two slots with scholarships for the August 9-12 How to Teach Children Singing workshop are available.