By Fr. Sean McDermott
One of the benefits of being homebound has been the ability to do Morning Prayer with my whole family. My young boys have learned by heart the Jubilate Deo canticle, which they belt out in their high-pitched voices. No matter what, when we get to that canticle, they stop reading other books or looking out the window and pay attention because they love to chant. And, in turn, the chanting has made memorizing this canticle so much easier.
I will not go into a long digression on the benefits and beauty of chanting, but I will highly encourage that now might be the best time for you to learn how to chant, especially how to chant the Psalter. There are many, many resources to help over at Cantica Sacra, and I will be cross-posting many of those here on the blog.
First, we have found St. Dunstan's Psalter to be an incredible resource. Lancelot Andrewes Press has printed a beautiful volume, and it has everything you need (and more) to chant the entire Psaltar, all the canticles from the Daily Office, and an index of all the tones. Please get your copy!
Second, there is a wonderful lecture introducing plainchant to our church last week. Listen to the lecture below to learn about the difference between Anglican chant and plainchant, the reasons why we chant, and the main components to chanting the Psalter.
Finally, Ken Myers is posting the slides from that lecture and many other helpful resources over at Cantica Sacra. Go see those resources here. He also has posted many other resources on chanting. This is what Ken wrote: "The workshop on Sunday inspired me to assemble some resources at Cantica Sacra which provide some historical context for the ecclesiastical and social world in which the earliest forms of the Church’s music began to take shape."
• Interview with Christopher Page about his book, The Christian West and Its Singers: The First Thousand Years • “The Christian Singer from the Gospels to the Gothic Cathedrals” — a series of six lectures by Christopher Page (given at Gresham College) • “Music, Imagination, and Experience in the Medieval World” — another series of six lectures by Christopher Page (given at Gresham College) • Interview with Thomas Forrest Kelly about his book, Capturing Music: The Story of Notation
This should keep you all busy for a while.
I hope all of this inspires you to also start learning how to chant by yourself or with your family. Let us know how it goes and what you have found to be helpful!
Fr. Sean McDermott is Curate at All Saints Anglican in Charlottesville, VA and Editor in Chief at Earth & Altar.