St. Mary's Church is proud of its long tradition of sacred music, alive and active well into its second century. Twenty-five singers of all ages, from middle school to retirement, sing each Sunday in St. Mary's Choir. The Schola Gregoriana of St. Mary's Church sing the Gregorian chants, integral to the Catholic liturgy for millenia, on a regular basis. The newly-restored pipe organs ring out at every weekend Mass. Visiting choirs, orchestras, organists, and singers perform concerts of sacred and classical music throughout the year.

At the Saturday 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. Mass, the congregation sing the Ordinary of the Mass (the Glory to God, Holy, Holy, and Lamb of God) and two hymns, with the accompaniment of the organ. The psalm and the alleluia are sung by a cantor, without accompaniment, as in the early Church. At the 7 a.m. Sunday Mass, there is no singing, but organ improvisations are played before the Gospel, during the Preparation of Gifts, and during the Communion, along with a prelude and postlude.

The Sunday 9:45 a.m. Sung Mass with St. Mary's Choir is at the center of the parish's musical life; each week the choir sings two choral works by a range of composers from Palestrina to Paulus, sings the Psalm and Gospel Acclamation, and leads the singing of the congregation in the Ordinary of the Mass and two hymns. The choir thus lives out the words of the Second Vatican Council: “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.” Sacrosanctum Concilium, ¶112 Visitors should note that the texts and translations of the music sung by the choir, as well as the names of composers and sources of text, are always printed on the front page of the bulletin, in line with the Order of Mass.

On Solemnities and Feasts which occur on Sundays, at Christmas, and in Holy Week, the Choir is joined by the Schola Gregoriana. This smaller ensemble studies and performs the Gregorian chants proper to each liturgical day: the Introit, Gradual (psalm), Alleluia, Offertory, and Communion antiphons. This music is a gift from our mothers and fathers in the faith, allowing us to worship God with the same words – and melodies –known to saints in the earliest days of the Church, and remains a vital component of the modern 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.” -Sacrosanctum Concilium, para. 116.

On Holy Days of Obligation that fall on weekdays, a Sung Mass will be celebrated, most often at 7 p.m., at which the Schola will sing the proper chants, and a Gregorian setting of the Ordinary of the Mass will be sung in alternation by the Schola and Congregation. And, on certain Solemnities, for example, the Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi), or Christ the King, Vespers is chanted at 4 p.m.

In the seasons of Advent and Lent, Compline is chanted in candlelight every Sunday night at 8 p.m. by the Schola Gregoriana, joined by members of St. Mary's Choir, and singers from neighboring parishes. Compline is preceded by an organ recital on the 3rd Sunday of Advent and on the 4th Sunday of Lent.

The Choir and Schola are always glad to welcome new members; those interested in singing should contact director Philip J. Fillion via email (link to email) or by phone: 315-252-9545. Prospective singers should bear in mind that participation in musical ensembles, like any other team, requires punctuality, discipline, and a commitment to continued learning. Previous experience is not necessary – but a willingness to study and practice outside of rehearsal is required for success. For those interested in joining the Schola, instruction in the notation used for chant can be provided, as needed.

The Choir rehearses from 7:00-8:30 p.m. Wednesday evenings in the church, and from 9:00-9:30 prior to the Sunday 9:45 Mass. The Schola rehearses from 8:45-9:45 a.m. on Saturday mornings in the church, and prior to liturgies as needed.

For information on upcoming choral music, concerts, or special liturgies, see our Facebook page, or consult the parish bulletin.

The history and specifications of the 1890 Barckhoff organ in the gallery and the 1872 House organ in the chancel can be found in this document.

A summary of the history of music and musicians at St. Mary's can be found in this document.

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Music News:

The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
At the 9:45 Mass with St. Mary’s Choir and Schola Gregoriana

Organ: Adagio from the Fourth Symphony, Widor
Introit: Si iniquitates, Gregorian
Hymn: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Lobet den Herren)
Offertory: Recordare mei, Gregorian
Anthem: Bless the Lord, O my Soul, Ippolitov-Ivanov
Communion: Aufer a me and Psalm 32
Anthem: Lead, kindly light, Sullivan; text by John Henry Card. Newman, canonized on this day; the text in his hand is attached to this post.
Hymn after Communion: Let all things now living (Ash Grove)
Organ: Karg-Elert, Chorale-Improvisation on Lobet den Herren, from op. 65

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The 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Choir will sing “O Lord, increase my faith,” by Orlando Gibbons (or Henry Loosemore; we have not sufficient faith to claim with certainty who composed this touching anthem), and “Confitebor tibi Domine” (“I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart”) by the 18th-century Italian composer Giovanni Casali.

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St. Mary's Schola Gregoriana's first rehearsal of the season is this Saturday at 8:45am. If you are interested in learning to sing Gregorian chant, this is the ideal time to visit us! Message this page, or email, and we'll save a seat for you! ...

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Thursday, August 15th, at the 7pm Mass, celebrated by Bishop Salvatore Matano

Both Choirs and the Congregation will sing:
-Mass IX “cum jubilo”, with Credo III
-The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
-Hymns: Behold in heaven, clothed with the Sun; Hail, Holy Queen

The Schola will sing the following chants:
-Introit: Signum magnum apparuit
-Alleluia: Assumpta est Maria in cælum
-Offertory: Assumpta est Maria...gaudent angeli
-Communion: Beatam me dicent & Magnificat

The Choir will sing the following motets:
-Prenner: Assumpta est Maria à 5
-Stadlmayr: Ave Maris Stella
-Josquin: Ave Maria, virgo serena

Organ: Prelude and Fugue in G, BWV 541; Fletcher: Festival Toccata

St. Mary's singers express their gratitude to singers from neighboring parishes and choirs, who will again join in this celebration, on the 151st anniversary of this parish's foundation.

Additional Masses on this Holy Day of Obligation are at the following times:
Vigil Mass, Wednesday, 14 August, at 5:30 p.m. at St. Hyacinth Church
Thursday, August 15, at 7 a.m., St. Mary's Church, and 9 a.m., St. Francis Church.

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