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A Book Review . . . Sacred, Reverent, Holy, And Beautiful

March 28, 2016 Featured Today No Comments

By REY FLORES

To Sing With the Angels: A History of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale by Virginia A. Schubert, Ph.D.; 260 pages including 16 color plates; $24.95; available at amazon
.com or saintceciliapublica
tions.com; or call Leaflet Missal at 651-487-2818 or 1-800-328-8582.

“It is through art that man comes to God. Music, architecture, painting, sculpture . . . all can be means of grace and prayer provided that they are worthy of the Creator of all art and holy as He is” — Msgr. Richard J. Schuler.

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I concur with Msgr. Schuler’s above statement one hundred percent. It was the sacred music and art that brought me back head-first to the Church 15 years ago when I attended Mass at St. John Cantius in Chicago.
It was the first Traditional Latin Mass I had ever attended in my entire life. I was awestruck and hypnotized. There I was, surrounded by holy imagery: murals, paintings, statues, the high altar; angels, saints, Heaven itself, and there in the middle of it all was our Lord Jesus hanging on the crucifix, blood dripping on His brow.
Jesus was also in a beautiful tabernacle which I had forgotten all about for 20 years! It all came back to me there in a fog of fragrant incense and beauty.
Beyond the bewilderment I experienced — after immediately afterward learning how the Mass had often been stripped down in the Vatican II aftermath — today I am grateful for Msgr. Schuler and the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale. They were among the entities that refused to cheapen our ceremonial and liturgical tributes — glorious tributes and homage to God, steadfast and true traditions of the Church.
To Sing With the Angels is a delight to read for those of us who enjoy recent Church history.
We’ve all heard that when we sing, we pray twice as hard to God. I believe that this is true in some instances, especially when the music is sacred, reverent, holy, and beautiful. Msgr. Schuler never forgot this timeless message and did everything he could to preserve it for future generations.
A true gem from this book concerns one of the ways The Twin Cities Catholic Chorale promoted itself within the area’s classical music community. The group placed ads in the program books of the area’s major classical music organizations with this heading: “Mozart Escapes: Discovered Hiding in Local Church.”
What a clever way to not only promote their performances, but to literally bring music aficionados to the Church!
The Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul, Minn., is the home of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale which so wonderfully sustained the beauty of Latin, Gregorian Chant, and sacred polyphony back in the post-Vatican II decades of the 1970s and 1980s, and up to today as well.
At a time when many American Catholic parishes were regrettably embracing modernism, the faithful at St. Agnes, led by the Holy Ghost who guided Msgr. Schuler, were the keepers of the faith, holding on dearly to the sacred musical traditions of our Holy Church.
The church itself is a gem and a grand example of the old world craftsmanship of those German immigrants who helped to build this gorgeous edifice over 100 years ago.
For over 40 years now, the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale has brought absolutely magnificent orchestral Masses to the faithful of the Twin Cities area.
As I received a copy of this book for review, I couldn’t help but notice that the cover art was similar to one of my other favorite books about the Catholic Church in America. The book is titled Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy by Denis R. McNamara.
It is no surprise because one book deals with the importance of having appropriate and adequate edifices to give greater glory to God while To Sing With the Angels deals with the importance and necessity of filling those edifices with the most beautiful music which give even greater glory to God, as they bring an angelic, otherworldly voice to the faithful.
To Sing With the Angels is a signature volume chronicling the history of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, founded in 1955 by the then Fr. Richard J. Schuler. The chorale is now in its 42nd season of singing with a professional orchestra the great Classical and Romantic Masses of composers like Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Bee-
thoven, and Schubert, all as a part of the liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin at the Church of St. Agnes.
This book also recounts the important role that Msgr. Schuler played in the area of sacred music in the post-Vatican II Church. It was his heroic commitment, through word and deed, to the authentic implementation of Sacro-
sanctum 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 forty years ahead of the times. And he is being proven correct.
This book is a great read. If it had been up to me, I would have included a CD of the chorale in action. In the meantime, until you can visit St. Agnes, listen to a glorious snippet of the chorale performing the Midnight Mass Procession Transeamus usque Bethlehem at St. Agnes Church on YouTube.

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(Rey Flores is a Catholic writer and speaker and writes book and movie reviews for TheWandererPress.com. Contact Rey at reyfloresusa@gmail.com.)

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