Gregorian Chant is often regarded as a relic of times which have faded into obscurity, a sound which modernity has long since displaced with hymnody and popular religious song. Many are surprised to learn that as recently as 1963, the bishops of the Second Vatican Council made the following statement in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: "The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116)
If the Church holds Gregorian Chant in such high esteem, why then is the average parish so unfamiliar with it? Where can a parish musician learn more about the repertoire and how to sing it? The Sacred Art Institute at Enders Island provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the discipline of singing Gregorian Chant in a parish setting. By providing week-long workshops and instructional evening series, we seek to equip church musicians with both the technical expertise and the theological and spiritual insights necessary to enliven the chant with a true spirit of prayer.
The most memorable sound on Enders Island is silence. It is a remarkable and unusual experience in today's world. Entering into silence not only helps retreatants listen for the still, small voice of God - it allows them to hear the things of this world in a completely new way. The undulation of crashing waves, the ecstasy of chirping birds, the gleeful cries of children at play - all these permeate the silence and call forth a response.
Gregorian Chant is a form of music with a unique relationship to silence. Chant emerges from and returns to silence without displacing it. In its sacred simplicity, chant is especially suited to the recollected soul who prayerfully engages with it.
Below, you can listen to Gregorian Chants recorded in the resonant Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption on Enders Island.