Gregorian Schola
Parce Domine ...
Overview of the Gregorian Schola What Gregorian Chant is
Leadership and Membership in the Gregorian Schola The Place of Chant
Current Membership Singing of Gregorian Chant
Performances of the Gregorian Schola Local Chant Links
Forthcoming Performances Page of Chant Links
Past PerformancesSearch for which chants have been performed by the Gregorian Schola
Joining the Gregorian Schola

: Overview of the Group

The Gregorian Schola of St. Joseph Parish was founded by Br. Christian Guertin, FFSC in 1993 as both a performing group and a study group dedicated to the cultivation, study, and promotion of Gregorian chant as a musical art. Performances are frequently, but not exclusively, in the context of a Catholic mass.

The Schola studies the notation and history of Gregorian chant. It chants in Latin from the "square note" neum notation in the Gregorian Missal and other sources.

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: Performances

The Gregorian Schola is based at St. Joseph Catholic Church of Fayetteville, Arkansas. It sings primarily at the Saturday 5 p.m. anticipatory mass, where it is the regular choir, and on feast days. The Schola sings a selection of the "propers" of the day and leads the congregation in the singing of some of the "ordinary" (e.g., "Sanctus," and "Agnus Dei"). When it sings at mass it provides a sheet of the Latin texts of the chants with translations for prayer and meditation by the congregation. The Schola (or a subset of its membership) has also performed at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the University of Arkansas, some other area churches, and the Fayetteville Square. In March of 2007 it performed at the Rogers Public Library. In December of 2007 it performed at First Night in Fayetteville.

These links indicate times, dates, liturgical days, and which chants were sung.

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: Leadership and Membership

The Schola was founded by Brother Christian Guertin, FFSC in 1993. The current director (since 1996) is Richard Lee, who has also been cantor since the inception of the group. Prof. Lee previously sang chant under Prof. William Mahrt at St. Ann Chapel in Palo Alto, California.

The current membership of the Gregorian Schola includes men and women, mostly, but not exclusively, Roman Catholic. The group has included atheists, protestants, Jews, and Franciscan Brothers, but consists primarily of Catholic lay people. Most members are American, but it has members from Europe and Africa.

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: What Chant Is

"Gregorian Chant" refers to the vast corpus of religious music amounting to some three thousand compositions traditionally named after Pope Gregory I (reigned 590-604). He has been credited with the development and codification of the Roman Catholic plainsong.

For more information see the list of chant resources.

The Schola takes its name from the inspiration of Pope Gregory I, who founded choir schools and scholas to foster the art of chant throughout Europe. Weekly sessions usually conducted at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas, seek to discover the unique artistic, spiritual and theological qualities of Gregorian music.

More on Why chant is called "Gregorian"

What chant Sounds like

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: The Place of Chant in the Catholic Church

Gregorian chant was for centuries the music of the Roman Catholic Church. While Christian chanting developed from Hebrew chants, Gregorian chant, as we know it today, is the most notable contribution of the Catholic church to the musical tradition of the west. There was significant development over the centuries, but the chants we sing today were probably also sung a thousand years ago. During the 1960s chant fell out of favor, but there has since been a resurgence: Witness the best-selling CD "Chant." Chant is an important part of the history and tradition of the Catholic Church.

Gregorian chant belongs in the Catholic liturgy today. The Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium states that "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." (sec. 116).

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: Singing Chant

The Gregorian Schola chants in Latin from the "square note" neum notation in the Gregorian Missal and other sources. It sings a capella (that is, without accompaniment by organ or other instruments) in unison. While Latin and the notation take some getting used to, singers manage to pick these up quickly. We review the Latin words to help with pronunciation and most chants we sing are supplied with translations. Modern musical notation grew out of the Gregorian neum notation and the similarities ease the learning. The fact that we all sing the same notes at the same time (unlike part singing (soprano, alto, tenor, bass)) helps each of us sing the right notes. On most chants the cantors (two or three singers) intone the chant, that is they sing the first several notes alone, so that by the time the rest of the choir joins in they have a sense of how the piece goes.

Samples of square note neum notation available on the net

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: Invitation to Join

Anyone interested in joining the Schola may learn more by contacting Richard Lee at New members are always welcome.

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: Local Links

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See also the Chant Links page, which includes dozens of links concerning Gregorian chant.

"These materials are not endorsed, approved, sponsored, or provided or on behalf of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville."
Richard Lee,, last modified: 29 April 2014