The sections that follow describe the music used in our Masses, providing background information and sometimes recordings to help you prepare to worship with both heart and voice.
Saint Augustine of Hippo is often said to have written “he who sings prays twice;” that might better be thought of as the sense of what he actually did write (in Enarratio in Psalmum 72:1): Qui enim cantat laudem, non solum laudat, sed etiam hilariter laudat; qui cantat laudem, non solum cantat, sed et amat eum quem cantat. “For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyously; he who sings praise, is not only singing, but also loving Him to whom he is singing.”
Missa De Sancta Maria Magdalena
The mass setting used most Sundays of the year is Healey Willan’s Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena — one of the true treasures of the Anglican Patrimony. A reverent, beautiful, concise and memorable setting of the Mass, it was conceived for congregational singing and dates from one of the greatest periods of English music. Although (James) Healey Willan (1880–1968) was born, educated, and began his career as an organist and composer in England he left that country in 1913 and is remembered — and proudly claimed — as a Canadian. His family background and disposition was Anglo-catholic. Although his first job in Toronto was at a prosperous but low-church parish (St. Paul’s, Bloor Street) he became more and more involved with a much smaller Anglo-catholic parish in the City, Saint Mary Magdalen. In 1921 he became its Director of Music, remaining in that post until his death. He wrote the Mass setting which bears his parish’s name in 1928; it was included in the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal, appearing as the Second Communion Service. His musical executors are Chicago’s Roman Catholic Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. In describing their charism, the Canons Regular state they wish to “Restore the Sacred” in the Church; and “…in the context of parish ministry…help Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies, devotions, sacred art, sacred music, as well as instruction in Church heritage, catechetics, and Catholic culture.…we are aware of the treasures that we have in both liturgical forms of the Roman Rite—the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms. We are conscious also of the musical, ceremonial, and artistic traditions which have enhanced these liturgies. We seek to preserve this Patrimony as a way of aiding the spread of the Gospel.” We of the Ordinariate sense a profound unity of purpose between the charism Pope Benedict outlined for us in our founding document; how strange — and how fitting — that Healey Willan’s work should, in a sense, join us! (Nota Bene: if any Roman Rite Catholics should care to bring Healey Willan’s beautiful Mass setting to their Novus Ordo worship, The Canons Regular have adapted it to the words of the Roman Missal — you will find it here).
An American Episcopal priest, poet, and musicologist, Canon Charles Winfred Douglas (1867–1944) was almost single-handedly responsible for the successful introduction of Gregorian chant — the traditional music of the Roman Catholic Church — into the worship of his denomination. Many of his labors were inspired by a long association with an order of Episcopalian nuns in Peekskill New York, the Community of Saint Mary. Among these — as the name he gave it reveals — was the Missa Marialis. Douglas selected 9th- through 15th- century chants, fitted them with English translations, and published the work in 1915. In the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal (for which Douglas served as Music Editor) it appears as the Fourth Communion Service. These are not easy chants! — but they are very beautiful. This was the first setting of the ordinary of the Mass used by our community, as we had no organist in our earliest days. We still sing elements of it, some every week. Making use of these recordings to hear and sing them more often than once a week will not only make it easier to be comfortable singing them at Mass but, more importantly, make it easier to enjoy their great beauty and virtue as hallowed tools of worship, thereby freeing the soul to truly “pray twice.”