Monastic Chant Forum at Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight, July 2017.

Fr Benedict Hardy of Pluscarden Abbey, has sent me detials about the next meeting of the Monastic Chant Forum which will take place at Quarr Abbey, on the Isle of Wight in England this coming July.

The meeting will take place from Monday 17th (arrivals before supper at 7pm) to Friday 21st July (departures in the morning: the Quarr daily Mass is at 0900).

The speakers are

Dr. Giedrius Gapsys of the Ecole de Chant Grégorien de Paris;

Dom Xavier Perrin, Abbot of Quarr, and

Sr. Bernadette Byrne, Choir Mistress at Ryde.

The theme is “Gregorian phrase analysis and practice”

Dr Gapsys writes:

“This is one of the most crucial points in Gregorian studies, and still a very practical one! Text, melody, neums and mode are the ‘four points of the compass’ that enable us to find our way to the Gregorian phrase safely, and in this way to ‘bring our chant to life’.”

The hope is to attract as many from the monastic world as possible. The presence of monks and nuns from a variety of different communities will be deeply appreciated. But also: others will be warmly welcome, and offered accommodation as space allows.

Fr Benedict said to me:

In my opinion, anyone at all attending this meeting will come away with a much enhanced understanding of Gregorian Chant, and an ever deeper appreciation of its value as great music, as sung liturgical worship, as prayer. They will also have experienced a thoroughly enjoyable few days, in a most fraternal and congenial setting.

There will be a modest residential fee of £150, or £30 for single days, payable to Quarr Abbey, c/o the Procurator, Fr. Brian Kelly. They hope to secure a grant to cover the course costs, as usual, but cannot yet promise success in this, so there may be an additional course fee.

For accommodation at Quarr, please contact Fr. Brian at: procurator@quarr.org Information about St. Cecilia’s Abbey Ryde from Sr. Bernadette Byrne at abbey@stceciliasabbey.org.uk

We are used to the idea of monasteries being considered power houses of prayer who prayer the liturgy on behalf the Church and the world. There is an additional very concrete reason why it is important that religious communities continue to offer ever better chanted liturgies and so events such as this are to be supported. It is through retreats and visits to the monasteries and convents around the world that many people are first exposed to the beauty of chant and encounter the power of the liturgy of the hours. Such visits, whether as part of group, guided retreats or as personal visits are popular with many people who would not normally think of themselves as interested in liturgy or even Catholicism.

This can draw people to the Church and help make more people aware of what the liturgy can be. Through such contacts people can come away with a desire to see something better. It might mean recognition that they have a religious vocation, but it is as likely to create a desire for chant in the liturgy in their parishes. It is through my visits to Benedictine monasteries including Pluscarden and Quarr that my eyes were opened to the beauty of chant and the power of the liturgy of the hours.

For any who might be wondering where they’ve heard of Quarr before, perhaps its through the popular book, Fr Joe: the Man Who Saved My Soul by Tony Hendra. I met Fr Joe the first time I visited Quarr.

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