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You’ve probably never heard this rare sequence to honor St. Francis

J-P Mauro - published on 09/27/20

The Schola Cantorum Gloriae Dei choir will perfrom this gorgeous Latin chant on St. Francis' feast day.

Among the many monastic orders within the Catholic Church, it is not uncommon to employ slight variations to the liturgical text of the Extraordinary Form to honor their patron saints during feast days. For Franciscans, the Feast of St. Francis (October 4) is an important celebration, for which they perform a very specific sequence, one that has been only rarely heard by the laity, until now. 

Andrea Leal, choir director of The Schola Cantorum Gloriae Dei, a Las Vegas-based Catholic chorus that sings at the parish’s Latin Masses, has gone out of her way to record this rare musical sequence. She explained to Corpus Christi Watershed that she recorded the piece to help her choir learn by listening, but she felt the sequence was so beautiful that it was meant to be shared.

A sequence, in Catholic terms, is traditionally a chant or hymn that is performed during the celebration of the Eucharist, usually coming just before the Gospel. There are a variety of sequences for all manner of Catholic celebrations, however, today sequences are generally used in Masses celebrated in Latin, which has left many practicing Catholics unaware of the rich beauty of this form.

Leal’s treatment of the sequence is exceptional in its precision, which is no mean feat for an a cappella chant that is nearly seven minutes long. Keeping a tender tone, Leal’s colorful alto effortlessly glides over the melismatic phrases of this plainchant. Performed with the utmost confidence, Leal maintains the tempo and the timbre to present this little-heard sequence in its entirety, allowing many of us to enjoy its glorious melody for the first time.

In the article Leal wrote for Corpus Christi Watershed she offers a plethora of information about the history and beauty of this sequence, as well as PDF downloads of the sheet music so that interested parties can learn this rare sequence for themselves. Leal also noted that The Schola Cantorum Gloriae Dei may have the chance to record the performance, which they are preparing to put on for St. Francis’ upcoming October 4 feast day.

We would like to thank Jeff Ostrowski, of Corpus Christi Watershed for bringing this beautiful recording to our attention, and we look forward to hearing this sequence for St. Francis performed by the fine voices of The Schola Cantorum Gloriae Dei. An example of their exceptional vocal work can be heard below.

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