Yesterday I participated at Vespers at the Brompton Oratory in choro. My, they are precise around the place, I can tell you.
The psalms are sung, as pretty much everything Gregorian as I can tell, with organ accompaniment. That has the advantage of keeping the pitch from sliding, but it does detract, I think from the sound of it. The style of singing psalms at the Oratory is both a bit brisk and on the light side. I wonder if the sound of the clerics in the sanctuary can actually be heard in the nave.
Their precision of movement reveals confidence and practice. It is second nature in many respects.
It reminded me that people (parish priests, mainly) who are aiming at introducing chant or the older form of Mass, shouldn’t get trapped in the thought that they have to be perfect from the very beginning. Things take time. They become more comfortable over time.
We mustn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, especially when starting out with something new.
Here is what things looked like at the Oratory from my perspective as they prepared to expose the Blessed Sacrament.
The music for Vespers:
3.30 pm Solemn Vespers & Benediction
Vexilla regis prodeunt Gregorian chant.
Magnificat Tone 1 Lassus.
Adoramus te Christe Nanino.
Toccata I Froberger.
Seeing Nanino there make me think of the late Msgr. Richard Schuler, who over his 33 years as pastor of St. Agnes in St. Paul, another place which had wonderful and precise Masses with great music, slowly built up a great liturgical program. It was brick by brick.
Such a project presupposes that the priest has time to work on it, build it slowly. There must be consistency in leadership and vision, which doesn’t happen if priests are being moved all the time.
At the end, there was Veneration of a Relic of the Cross at one of the side altars in the transept. Yours truly is at the far end of the balustrade, in the center. That photo and many more are to be found here.