Dominican Student Brothers on EWTN

November 13, 2014

A group of Dominican student brothers took the show on the road to appear on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” program, airing at the following times (EST): Friday, Nov. 14 at 8:00 PM, Saturday, Nov. 15 at 1:30 AM, Sunday, Nov. 16 at 11:00 PM, and Tuesday, November 18 at 9:00 AM. The hour-long program features the six brothers, Br. Thomas Davenport OP, Br. Athanasius Murphy OP, Br. Vincent Ferrer Bagan OP, Br. Charles Shonk OP, Br. Humbert Kilanowski OP, and Br. Peter Gautsch OP. They discuss their vocations to the Order of Preachers and some of the studentate’s evangelical outreach to the world. They also perform three hymns, two of which are featured on last year’s album debut and the third on the album that will be released next week. Br. Vincent Ferrer offered a few reflections on the program and Dominican chant: What was this EWTN appearance all about? We initially had the idea of approaching EWTN because the schola cantorum (choir) of our house was releasing our first album, In Medio Ecclesiae. Especially with the increased size of our house, our schola has become larger and more able to do more elaborate pieces, and the album features polyphonic pieces and chants that we were already singing for our liturgical worship here at the Dominican House of Studies. We wanted to see if this work was something they were interested in covering. When we approached EWTN, however, they wanted to broaden the scope to do an episode of Life on the Rock that featured all of the activities of the student brothers. They were particularly interested in our outreach to atheist and secularist groups on college campuses that began as part of our observance of the Year of Faith (2012–2013). In the episode, the brothers speak about what attracted them to Dominican life, the life of prayer and study that we live in the order and the particular way we live as student brothers, and the various apostolic activities of the studentate, especially the ways in which our formation enables us to engage issues of faith and science as well as the relativism and secularism of the modern world. The brothers also sing a few pieces of music for the episode, both from our first album and our new album, Ave Maria: Dominican Chant for the Immaculate Conception, which will be released on Tuesday, November 18. Speaking specifically about chant, why is it important for the Church today? Contrary to what many people might think, the Second Vatican Council did not advocate getting rid of chant. In fact, they held it up as a model, saying that it should have principal place in liturgical services (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116). This is because chant is the music that was born in the liturgy and developed with it; chant isn’t brought in from the outside but is really the music of the liturgy itself. And this makes sense when we listen to it. Its ethereal and transcendent beauty, its ability to take us out of ourselves and out of the world we live in, make it eminently fitting for the worship of God. It is music that, by its very structure, lifts our souls to contemplate God and to long to join the choirs of angels singing his praises in heaven. Sacred music is often very different from the music people listen to on the radio and in their day-to-day lives, and it should be that way. There should be something special about the music with which we worship God. Amidst the busyness and technological bombardment of our world today, the transcendent beauty of sacred music and sacred architecture is precisely what we need to remind us of God, our need for him, and his love for us. Is there anything distinctive about Dominican chant? Because of the plurality of liturgical traditions that existed in the medieval period when the order was founded, our chants are often slightly different from that of other traditions. Those who are familiar with the Roman versions of some of these chants, as found in the Vatican or Solesmes books, will certainly enjoy hearing the slight variations of the Dominican version on Ave Maria: Dominican Chant for the Immaculate Conception. For some of the chants, the Dominican version is an entirely different chant, as is the case for the Mass of the Immaculate Conception. The second or “modern” version we have on the album were settings done by a Dominican friar shortly after the dogma was proclaimed, so the musical settings are entirely different from the Roman versions. Please visit Dominicana Records for information about and purchasing of our Dominican musical offerings.

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