Tony Vaughan, director of the Schola Cantorum of Brisbane, has been teaching people from all age groups and backgrounds Gregorian Chant (named after Pope St Gregory who lived in the seventh Century).
The continued use of the Chant was clearly requested by the Second Vatican Council, which declared: "The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy ... the Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy; therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services."
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy goes on to say it is important to "take steps so that the faithful may also be able to say or sing in Latin those parts of the Mass which pertain to them." As recently as two years ago, the Pope made a special request that the use of chant be promoted throughout the Universal Church.
Brisbane's Schola Cantorum has been promoting the use of Gregorian Chant (many chants are from the ninth and tenth centuries AD) in a number of parishes around Brisbane, as well as in concerts and workshops. The Schola (consisting of about 20 singers, both men and women) has sung at various churches, cathedrals, art centres, the Abbey Medieval Fair, the Woodford Folk Festival and Brisbane's Cathedral Week
During the last four years, Tony Vaughan has conducted over 20 chant workshops in the Brisbane and South East Region.
Tony Vaughan comments: "The interest in Chant over the last four or five years has been amazing. Young people want to know more about this incredibly beautiful and spiritual music, and where they can experience and learn it. This interest is not just in Brisbane, but happening around the world. Gregorian Chant is one of our most precious links with the early Church.
"Many are surprised to learn that Gregorian Chant is the official and authentic music of the Catholic Church. They have never heard it in church!
"A number of young couples have requested to have the Chant at their weddings. In spite of the neglect of chant over the last 30 years, people are 'voting with their feet' and seeking to hear the chant via CDs, the Internet and at the very few parishes that occasionally use chant.
"What has also been a surprise is that the Schola has attracted singers from a range of religious backgrounds (Catholic, Anglican, Greek Orthodox, Protestant and others, who simply love singing chant). Singing chant has been an interfaith experience, resulting in friendship and rapport developing between churches and people."
Brisbane's Schola Cantorum is available to assist individuals and parishes in the appreciation and restoration of chant. For inquiries, contact Tony Vaughan, tel (07) 3395 6060, PO Box 452, Fortitude Valley, Qld 4006.