[CUA Office of Public Affairs]   

                                                                                    July 14, 2005


CUA Class Performs Gregorian Chant at National Shrine Mass


Students in CUA’s Gregorian chant course sing at a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Holding Latin hymnals, students from a Catholic University class on Gregorian chant lifted their voices inside a chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. With that, the strains of kyrie eléison filled the tiny Chapel of Our Lady of Brezje during a Mass on Thursday, July 14.


The culmination of a three-week course called Gregorian Chant Practicum, the Mass was a celebration both of the students’ work and of a style of singing that dates back to the turn of the 6th century.


The course is an offering of CUA’s Center for Ward Method Studies and this summer drew five students who worked with Scott Turkington, organist and choirmaster at St. John the Evangelist in Stamford, Conn. Turkington, who earned his 1990 bachelor’s degree in music with a concentration in organ at Catholic University, returns to CUA in the summer to teach the course.


Secondary school music teacher David Molloy traveled from Sydney, Australia, to take the class. The experience, he says, “has been fantastic. To actually come here and study at Catholic University, which has such a wonderful history in music studies and the Ward method, has been wonderful.”  


Rev. Robert Skeris, director of the Center for Ward Method Studies who celebrated the Mass in Latin, says that Gregorian chant “gives another dimension to the Mass. This is sung prayer — sacred words clothed in sonic vesture — and there is not better way to properly celebrate the liturgy.”


The students sang the votive, or remembrance, Mass of St. Benedict, who established monasteries that fostered the composition and performance of Gregorian chant in the Liturgy of the Hours as well as the Community Mass. Gregorian chant is distinguished by its unique sound, which has no meter but a slight rhythm of groups of two or three notes.


The Ward center is part of CUA’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music. The center operates year round and offers courses in Gregorian chant and the Ward Method of musical formation. Established in 1996, the center is named for Justine Bayard Ward, a pianist, expert Gregorianist and founder of the Ward Method who taught at CUA from about 1912 to 1921.


For more information about the Gregorian chant course or the Center for Ward Method Studies, contact Katie Lee in CUA’s Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.






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Revised: 7/18/2005

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The Catholic University of America,
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