Macon is hosting musicians from across the country this week for the Winter Chant Intensive, a training session for aspiring Gregorian Chant singers offered by the Church Music Association of America.
Since Monday, rehearsals have been reverberating through the ornate sanctuary of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, a historic neo-Gothic building in downtown Macon completed in 1892.
Chant has been a dying art since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, said organizer Arlene Oost-Zinner.
"Since the vernacular was allowed into the Mass, the music that was part of the Mass was thrown out, because people were doing in things in English, rather than Latin," Oost-Zinner said. "Gregorian Chant is the music that grew out of the language [Latin] itself."
These chant workshops are intended to help reeducate Catholics in the millennium-old music of the Roman Rite, Oost-Zinner said.
Gregorian Chant, which consists of unaccompanied single-line melodies, is undergoing some resurgence within the church, said attendee Diane Scarbrough, music director of St. James the Apostle in McDonough.
"A lot popular music crept in during the ‘hootenanny Mass’ period, when we were using cymbals and drums and making everybody feel really good to keep them in church," McDonough said. "That’s on the way out, thank goodness for that."
This week of rehearsals culminates in a public celebration of the Mass at St. Joseph’s, Friday at 11:00 AM.
Contributors: Burgess Brown