Monastery Choir Practice Goes Online

In a monastery the entire community at worship is called the “choir,” and we’re seated in the “choir” stalls. When the monks have a rehearsal immediately before Evening Prayer to learn unfamiliar music, or tighten up our recitation, it is called “choir practice.” A small group singing chant or part music is called a “schola.”

We have done music rehearsals with the entire congregation (including guests) before Sunday Mass over the years. But not for a long time – it’s not a very nice or prayerful way to begin Sunday Mass, and I don’t think we’ve had one in over 10 or 15 years.

As the pandemic moved more things online, it encouraged us to look at moving choir practice online. (Live worship continued uninterrupted in the monastery, at first behind locked doors and then with guests in the nave behind a yellow line of tape.) It’s practical and user-friendly. A monk can view the video as many times as he finds helpful. It’s all done outside the meeting times for liturgy.

Here’s an example of a video that was just emailed this morning to the monks : a brush-up on the Spanish Agnus Dei in the Misal Romano which  we’re continuing to use into the summer. Thanks to Br. Aelred Senna OSB for his help in creating this.

What are you doing in your parish or community? Could your congregational music rehearsals go online? Share your ideas with the PrayTell family.



    1. There’s no such rule or principle as such that I know of. Of course, thoughts on vocal technique vary widely and opinions differ.

  1. If you haven’t done music rehearsals with entire congregation before Mass in over a decade then when do you have the opportunity to rehearse with them? Like most parishes you probably only have them together once a week. And I can imagine that they don’t stay after Mass.
    I grew up in a parish where we reviewed psalm verses or introduced new music five minutes before Mass (late 60s early 70s) and that instilled a love of music in me. We sang chant, Gelineaux, Holy, Holy, Holy and Hear O Lord, so it was quite a mix. And then I entered the seminary, which is another post.

    1. We have enough note-readers among the monks and the guests that new music more or less works. Sometimes cantors sing the first stanza of a hymn and the congregation sings the rest – a handy way to make it responsorial, make it work, and avoid a rehearsal.

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