Local author’s new book sings praises of sacred music

| December 16, 2015 | 0 Comments

Virginia Schubert, a parishioner of St. Agnes Church and Nativity of Our Lord, both in St. Paul, recently published “To Sing with the Angels: A History of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale.” In it, the longtime soprano member of the Chorale — in its 42nd year — highlights the musical contributions and reach of Chorale founder Msgr. Richard Schuler, and its significance as part of the sacred liturgy at St. Agnes Church. Schubert, a professor emerita of Macalester College in St. Paul and Lady Commander in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, answers questions about her new book.  

Q. What does the book highlight and why?

ChoraleBookA. The book is a history of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, founded in 1955 by the then-Father Richard Schuler. The Chorale is now in its 42nd season of singing the great Classical and Romantic Masses of composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert with professional orchestra as a part of the liturgy of the holy sacrifice of the Mass in Latin at the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul.

The book also recounts the important role that Msgr. Schuler played in the post-Vatican II Church. It was his heroic commitment, through word and deed, to the authentic implementation of “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” the document on music and liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, that helped keep the patrimony of Catholic sacred music alive in the United States for a new renaissance. When Msgr. Schuler was accused of living in the past, he often said that he was rather 40 years ahead of the times. And he is being proven correct.

Q. What prompted you to write this now?

A. I was inspired to write the book two years ago when the Chorale celebrated its 40th anniversary of singing for the Latin High Mass at St. Agnes. At our request, the Church Music Association of America (CMAA) (publisher of Sacred Music magazine), gave a three-day conference at St. Agnes and the Cathedral of St. Paul in honor of our 40th anniversary and Msgr. Schuler’s significant contributions. All three keynote addresses dealt with Msgr. Schuler’s significant body of work.

Q. What is the Chorale’s significance and reach beyond St. Agnes?

A. Msgr. Schuler had a national and international reputation in the area of Catholic Church music. He was president of the CMAA and editor of Sacred Music magazine for over 20 years, from 1975 until 1998. He was also vice president of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae (CIMS), the papal church music association. The Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, along with the Dallas Catholic Choir, represented the United States at two international Church music congresses, in Chicago and Milwaukee in 1966 and in Salzburg, Austria, in 1974. Those who attended the CMAA conference in St. Paul in October 2013 came in part because they wanted to attend the beautiful solemn liturgies at St. Agnes sung by the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, and thus come to know Msgr. Schuler’s work firsthand, even after his death.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the Chorale?

A. The Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, a choir composed of about 65 singers of all ages and from the greater Twin Cities area, is not a concert choir. It sees as its purpose to lift its voices in the glorification of God in order to inspire the faithful in its worship of God. A prayerful participation in the holy sacrifice of the Mass for both the choir and the congregation is always at the center of the Chorale’s activity.

The Chorale participates in the sacred liturgy at the Church of St. Agnes and has a very close relationship with the pastor and the parish. However, it is independently incorporated as a nonprofit in the state of Minnesota and has always been self-financed.

For more information about “To Sing with the Angels: A History of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale,” visit SaintCeciliaPublications.com. The 260-page book is available at Amazon and Leaflet Missal. For more information about the Chorale, visit CatholicChorale.org.

Category: Faith and Culture