SINGAPORE – Would Singaporean Catholics give up four weeknights in December – time for holidaying, shopping or relaxing – to devote themselves to learn to sing in an ancient and foreign tongue?

Some did.

For two hours and 15 minutes per session, 16 participants corrected their mispronunciations and off-key notes. They even had to pay $30 for doing this at a course on "Introduction to Gregorian Chant" organized by the Liturgical Music Committee (LMC) of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission.

The participants, who ranged from young adults to senior citizens, made strides in learning Gregorian chant, which Vatican II said should be given "pride of place in liturgical services" (Sacrosanctum Concilium para. 116).

Participants responded positively to the course for various reasons. Lilian-Ann Ong from Church of the Holy Family said, "I truly love Gregorian chant. It helps me to pray with my soul. My soul is lifted up and immersed in the depths of worship" while Joseph Chan from Church of the Risen Christ (where the course was conducted), said his newfound knowledge would help him to follow the Mass wherever he travelled overseas.

The response surprised even the trainer, Francis Nyan, who has nurtured his passion for chant since Secondary School – "I didn’t expect so many people would be interested in chant, of different ages and coming from different parishes."

This was the LMC’s second run of the course and Francis felt it received better response because there was greater emphasis on "the spirituality of the chant and what makes it the pre-eminent form of liturgical music".

Realizing that Gregorian chant is a unique treasure of the Catholic Church, participants expressed a desire for it to be used locally. Richard Wee from Church of the Risen Christ said that he wanted "more Latin in church liturgy". Miss Soh, also a Risen Christ parishioner, said the church in Singapore "should try to incorporate some Gregorian chants in our Mass… More should be done to train people from choirs to appreciate and know the importance of chant in our liturgy."

For more inforamtion ,visit the Liturgical Music Committee’s website at www.catholic.org.sg/lmc/index.htm. -By Anthony Tan

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