The following comes from a September 5 press release issued by St. Ann Choir.
In observance of its fiftieth anniversary, the St. Ann Choir will sing William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 751 Waverly Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301 on Sunday October 6, at the 12:00 noon Mass. A reception follows the Mass.
All are invited to join the celebration of the St. Ann Choir’s unique achievement: Fifty years of continual performance of Gregorian chant and polyphony in weekly liturgies.
The St. Ann Choir began singing the music for the traditional cycle of the Church year at Sunday Masses in 1963, before radical changes to Roman Catholic liturgy and music occurred after the Second Vatican Council.
By its perseverance in continuing to sing this music to this very day, the choir has made a unique contribution to the preservation of what the Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy called “a treasure of inestimable value.” The weekly inclusion of this music as part of the liturgy, where it belongs, has allowed people to experience it as a living form instead of as a mere academic discipline.
“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 a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.” — Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium §112
The choir is directed by Stanford Professor William Peter Mahrt, who is also president of the Church Music Association of America and editor of the journal Sacred Music. Mahrt joined the choir as a Stanford graduate student shortly after it began under the leadership of the late William Pohl, and Mahrt became its director when Pohl took an academic job in another state.
Mahrt: “Our choir started one year before the language changed [from Latin to the vernacular]—if we had tried to start one year later, we might not have been able to do it.”
I was at their Mass once, and it was truly beautiful! Of course, this was back in the days of St. Anne’s Chapel, with land donated by good people because in the bad old days Catholics were not ALLOWED to celebrate Mass on campus.
On Campus? Is this near Stanford University? This may be worth a long drive! I’m currently in a chorale choir at our parish; and the Latin songs and ancient works are ALWAYS the most challenging, have the most beautiful harmonies, and are the best received. Our choir director is knowledgeable and very talented in sacred music. I yearn for more.
No, it’s not on campus.
Curious that you would say that. USD (University of San Diego) has a magnificent chapel, Founders Chapel, where Mass is still offered for those faithful Catholics on campus, and where the choir for the old and beautiful Tridentine Latin Mass community in San Diego sang for a wedding several years past. We sang the Mass of the Angels for the couple, as they requested,. The acoustics were most forgiving of any errors we made. The priest was FSSP. Not allowed? Curious.
I used to sing Sunday Vespers with them. Still miss it! Dr. Mahrt is a terrific teacher and a true inspiration.
Beautiful music and beautiful Sacramentals (art work) makes one feel closer to God and Heaven.
History will remember Professor William Mahrt and the St. Ann’s traditon of excellence in sacred music as a singularity among those in the post-conciliar era who stood firm in the face of chaotic machinations of the ars celebrandi manipulating the Mass here and there to some pale imitation of its glory. And when you first encounter him, you realize you’re in the presence of a soft spoken, humble and totally dedicated evangelist for Christ and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
I cannot think of but two or three laity beyond Dr. Mahrt who have solely dedicated his life to the preservation of the Inestimabile Donum, or the gift of inestimable worth that is sacred music to worship. And rehearsing and singing under his direction is pure joy for chorister and congregant.
God bless all in Palo Alto who have kept the faith.
This is a great good-news story, but look at how few comments it received. We should all be applauding the good work these people do for the church. It is much more uplifting to see this kind of article rather than always complaining about what is, I guess, so bad about the chruch