Today the choristers of the National Catholic Youth Choir arrive at St. John’s Abbey and University for the choir’s 15th season, with Dr. Axel Theimer as conductor. The choristers are from CA, FL, GA, IL, MI, MN, ND, OH, OK, SD, TX, and WI. They’re singing at Mass and at Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the abbey this Sunday, then they go on tour throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
The theme this year, inspired by Pope Francis, is “Called to Serve.” As Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium, “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”
Lots of great music this year – the Latin chant antiphon Dominus Iesus, postquam cenavit of Holy Thursday foot washing, “The Lord Jesus, after he dined with his disciples, washed their feet and said to them, “Do you realize what I, your Lord and master, have done for you? I have given you an example, so that you do likewise”; Henrik Botor’s “Deus Caritas Est”; Ronald Nelson’s “You Hear the Hungry Crying”; Steve Sandberg’s “This Is My Commandment,” Richard Proulx’s “God Is Love” based on Ubi Caritas, and Proulx’s arrangement of “Make Strong for Service” by Luigi Cherubini. And two pieces by St. John’s alums – “An Instrument of Peace” by former NCYC chorister Caleb Wenzel (SJU ’11) and “Antiphon for St. Martin of Tours” by NCYC camp leader Timothy Dusenbury (SJU SOT ’14).
WSFI Catholic Radio in Illinois ran an interview about the choir last Saturday with the director, Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB. Listen to it here.