In November 2018, the composer Paul Jernberg invited the Collegiate Choir to sing as part of the filming of his setting of a “Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit” on February 1. Mr. Jernberg is a nationally-recognized, contemporary composer of sacred music who composes settings of the Mass deeply inspired by traditional Gregorian and Byzantine chant.
Last spring, the choir learned and sang Jernberg’s setting of the Mass of St. Philip Neri–with guidance from the composer. His setting of the “St. Michael Prayer” is sung at the college following each Sunday Mass.
The “Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit” is part of a larger, far-reaching project that seeks to bring about a renewal of the sacred liturgy, infusing it with a recovered sense of the sacred and the beautiful but in a way that is accessible to contemporary parishes and parish musicians. Jernberg’s sacred music seeks to draw those who hear and sing his Mass settings into a deeper communion through music that accents is at once contemporary and timeless.
The collegiate choir rehearsed throughout January, with Mr. Jernberg visiting campus to guide the choir through the composition. On February 1, the choir traveled to St. John the Evangelist Church in Clinton, Massachusetts for the recording. The excitement of the members of the choir only increased when they arrived and began assembling, mingling with members from other local choirs and scholas, and rehearsing sections of the Mass until the time came for the liturgy to begin.
“In singing this Mass”, recounted Michael Mittiga ’20, “the voices coming together in beautiful harmony created a deeper harmony within the Mass itself.” The singing was sublime and achieved its purpose, leading singers and listeners alike deeper into worship. It was an experience that the choir will not soon forget.
– Contributed by Joseph McGrath ’20