Thursday, 31 December 2009

Practice time - Wednesday evenings

Due to ongoing refurbishments and other commitments within Cathedral House, rehearsals will now take place on Wednesdays until further notice.

The first rehearsal of the New Year will be on Wednesday 13 January 2010, 6.00-8.00pm. Rehearsals will take place within the Choir room, Cathedral House.

Please note members normally meet within Café Camino (map), attached to the Cathedral, from around 5pm onwards. If you cannot attend the first rehearsal or do not hear about it in time, please get in touch with us nevertheless.

Our first Vespers of 2010 will be that of St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, on Thursday 21 January, 6.45pm wihin the Cathedral.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Another Successful Gregorian Chant Course

The historic church of St Magnus, Birsay (Orkney), provided a fitting venue for Gregorian chant on Monday 14 December. The ancient evening service of Compline was sung by students on a beginners’ Gregorian Chant course. The course, led by Harray resident Ben Whitworth, ran at Appies Tea Rooms, Sandwick, during November and December. It followed a successful beginners’ course, also at Appies, last winter.

Ben said: ‘The students on the course were really enthusiastic and the quality of the singing at Birsay Kirk indicates just how much work they put in. Gregorian Chant is rightly famous for its serenity, but it requires a lot from the singers: accuracy, stamina, good pronunciation of Latin – and all this unaccompanied. I’m proud of how much this class has achieved.’

After the first beginners’ course, a number of students wished to continue meeting to learn new music. The group – known as the Orkney Schola – now rehearses regularly, and has sung at the Catholic parish church of Our Lady and St Joseph in Kirkwall. An intermediate course will run at Appies in the New Year, beginning on Thursday 21 January 2010. To book, please call Pam Farmer on 841562. The course will suit anyone who has completed one of the beginners’ courses at Appies, or who has some experience of choral singing.
Further details:

For additional information, contact: Ben Whitworth, Cribbaquoy, Harray, Orkney KW17 2LQ, tel. (01856) 771677, email: ben at, blog:

(image: Singers at the Gregorian Chant service of Compline in St Magnus’ church, Birsay; Angie Whitworth)

Friday, 11 December 2009

News from the Edinburgh Schola

The St Margaret Schola goes from strength to strength. Founded with the specific aims of rendering praise unto God, preserving the music of the Church, and promoting the use of Chant throughout the St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese, the Schola has now sung Latin Vespers (Extraordinary Form) in St Mary's Cathedral on ten occasions. This has now become a monthly event - the most recent being for the Feast of St Margaret, Queen of Scotland, where Vespers was celebrated by Fr John Emerson FSSP, and St Andrew, Patron of Scotland. Vespers is now always accompanied by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament - an unexpected blessing from Our Lord.

Members of the Schola have also sang at recent Una Voce Scotland Masses at Seton Collegiate Church, the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey, and also at various Requiem Masses this month. November also saw the first Mass at Torphichen Preceptory, the ancient seat of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (Knights of Malta), since the Reformation - again organised by Una Voce Scotland.

Upcoming "Dates for your Diary" include:
  • Sunday 13 December, Vespers for the Third Sunday in Advent (St John Cantius, Broxburn);
  • Thursday 17 December, the first of the Great Antiphons: "O Sapientia" (Vespers, 5.00pm);
  • Sunday 20 December, Vespers for the Fourth Sunday in Advent (Immaculate Heart of Mary, Balornock);
  • Thursday 21 January 2010, Vespers for St Agnes, Virgin & Martyr;
  • Thursday 11 February 2010, Vespers for the Apparition of the B.V.M.;
  • Thursday 25 March 2010, Vespers for the Annunciation of the B.V.M.
All liturgies will start at 6:45pm in St Mary's Cathedral, Broughton Street, Edinburgh, unless indicated otherwise. We also hope to arrange for the ancient Triduum practice of Tenebrae (sung Matins and Lauds) this coming year. Another commitment of the Schola is to regular Deanery Masses in the Ordinary Form (with the Ordinary sung in Latin Chant), which we hope to progress in the New Year.

As ever, we hope you will be able to join us for our events. We hope also to continue to swell our numbers, and all interested are invited to email edinburghschola at .

Friday, 4 December 2009

Upcoming events

Members of the Edinburgh Schola will be singing at a number of events during December:

Saturday 12 December
Una Voce Scotland
Advent Day of Recollection

10.00am, Nazareth House,
1647 Paisley Road West, Glasgow


Sunday 13 December
Third Sunday of Advent

Solemn Sung Latin Vespers and Benediction
6.45pm, SS John Cantius and Nicholas Church,
West Main Street, Broxburn


Thursday 17 December
Greater Feria ('O Sapientia')

Solemn Sung Latin Vespers and Benediction
5.00pm, St Mary's RC Cathedral, Edinburgh


Sunday 20 December
Fourth Sunday in Advent ('O Clavis David')

Solemn Sung Latin Vespers and Benediction
6.30pm, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Balornock (Glasgow)


Dates for the New Year are being finalised and will be published as soon as possible.

Practice sessions continue weekly in Edinburgh, on Wednesday or Thursday nights; for more details please email edinburghschola at .

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Upcoming events

Thursday 15 October
Feast of St Teresa of Ávila

Solemn Sung Latin Vespers
and Benediction


Monday 16 November
Feast of St Margaret of Scotland

Solemn Sung Latin Vespers
and Benediction


Monday 30 November
Feast of St Andrew of Scotland

Solemn Sung Latin Vespers
and Benediction

All liturgies begin at 6:45 pm at St Mary’s Cathedral, Broughton St, unless otherwise stated.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Scottish Catholic Observer

Ben Whitworth of the Orkney Schola reliably informs us that we are in the Scottish Catholic Observer this week.

Thank you, SCO!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Assumption Solemn Vespers

The following was issued as a press release on Thursday 8th July:


The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption will be celebrating its patronal feast day with a celebration of Vêpres de la Vierge (Op.18) by Marcel Dupré. This is an exciting work for organ and Gregorian chant which will be performed by the internationally acclaimed cathedral organist, Simon Nieminski, and the Schola Sanctae Margaritae, a group which performs and promotes Gregorian chant within the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh. The event will not only be significant as the patronal feast of St Mary’s Cathedral but also as a significant 90th anniversary performance in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on the new Matthew Copley organ.

The officiant at Vespers will be the cathedral administrator, Mgr Michael Regan, who will be assisted by six coped clerics according to the ceremonies of the usus antiquior. Unfortunately His Eminence, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, will be out of the country in mid-August but he has kindly given his blessing to the celebration.

The work is a significant one from both a musical and liturgical perspective. It came into being when Claude Johnson, one of the original directors of Rolls Royce, chanced to be in Paris in August 1919. On the Feast of the Assumption he went to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame for Vespers. On that day the Organiste Titulaire, Louis Vierne, was replaced by Marcel Dupré, the former ceding the console to the latter for the purpose of testing his skill at improvisation. Dupré’s performance, by all accounts, did not disappoint his mentor.

So impressed was Johnson by what he had heard, that, upon his return to England, he contacted Dupré to ask how he might obtain a copy of the music. When the composer replied that the entire thing had been improvised, Johnson immediately offered a commission for their committal to paper.

Whereas during most of their history after publication they tended to be heard as a series of pieces for organ, their original place was in liturgical context. It was in 1994 that the late Dr Mary Berry CBE, Director of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, embarked upon a project to reintroduce the Versets into their proper liturgical context, recording them later that year in Notre-Dame de Paris, with Philippe Lefèbvre, Titulaire of the Cathedral at the Grandes Orgues, and David Hill on the chamber organ. (Herald: HAVPCD170). The organ is treated as a liturgical voice, taking up the reprise of the antiphon after each of the five psalms, and basing its improvisation on the melody of the original chant of the antiphon: canon, chorale etc,. The Schola and organ alternate throughout the hymn, Ave Maris Stella, the organ offering the most varied of treatments of the melody. This alternation continues throughout the Magnificat, with the organ, rather than improvising on the chant, engaging in interpreting parts of the text.

Rounded off by the concluding Preces and the Salve Regina, the whole Office comes together to provide an uplifting – even at times breathtaking – celebration of one of the major feasts in the Church’s calendar. Nothing is left out, nothing is left to chance, and every element – every voice – integrates perfectly. It will be fitting to hear a work of such quality and which musically expresses the renaissance within the Church of organic development in Edinburgh for her cathedral’s patronal feast and during the world’s largest cultural festival.

Vespers will begin at 4pm and will be followed by a free organ and guitar recital at 5pm.

Forthcoming Events

Thursday 6th August
Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord
Solemn Sung Latin Vespers
and Benediction


Saturday 15th August at 4pm
Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady
Solemn Sung Latin Vespers

The Schola will be collaborating with Simon Nieminski, the Cathedral Organist, for the second of his Saturday Vespers on the last four Saturdays in August. Together we will perform Marcel Dupré's Vespres de la Sainte Vierge for Chant and Organ. The event will be of particular significance not only because it will be the ninetieth anniversary of the work's premiere at Notre Dame de Paris but also because it will be the patronal feast of the Cathedral and thus an important day for the whole Archdiocese. We hope that as many people as possible will be able to join us from the various deaneries. Vespers will be followed by a recital on the new organ.


Thursday 3rd September
Feast of Pope St Pius X
Solemn Sung Latin Vespers
and Benediction


Thursday 15th October
Feast of St Teresa of Ávila
Solemn Sung Latin Vespers
and Benediction


All liturgies begin at 6:45 pm at St Mary’s Cathedral unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Sacred Heart Vespers

The Sacred Ministers, Schola (seated) and Servers after Vespers

On 18th June the Schola sang Vespers and Benediction for the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mgr Michael Regan, the Chaplain of the Schola (centre of photo), officiated and was assisted by Fr Paul Francis Spencer CP, Fr John Emerson FSSP, Fr Neil Ferguson OP and Fr Gerard Byrne (pictured in copes from left to right respectively). We are most grateful to them all for their contributions.

The more solemn form of Vespers was a most fitting celebration of this much loved feast. We are looking forward to celebrating the Feast of the Assumption with even greater solemnity on 15th August for the patronal feast of the Cathedral. We are also looking forward to our next event, which will be Solemn Vespers for the Transfiguration of Our Lord on 6th August at 6:45pm.

Photo: Claire Hamid


Welcome to the blog for the Edinburgh Schola!

Our hope is to render praise unto God through the singing of Gregorian chant, to preserve the ancient music of the Church in this way, and to facilitate and promote the Chant throughout the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh

Mgr Regan has kindly allowed us to use St Mary’s Cathedral in the east end of Edinburgh as the base for our weekly practices and monthly Vespers.

The Schola meets most weeks on Thursday evenings for rehearsal or to chant Vespers.

In order to promote chant, we will also have around half a dozen Masses with Gregorian chant each year. These will be spread among the deaneries and will begin in Autumn 2009.

This website aims to provide information for both current and prospective members and all who are interested in our work.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Recent Vespers

We are happy to report that our recent Vespers for the Feasts of St Joseph and the Ascension have been most successful.

Our thanks must go to our officiants Fr Neil Ferguson OP (St Joseph and Ascension) and Fr John Emerson FSSP (St Joseph the Worker) and to everyone who has served and assisted at Vespers.

We are most grateful to Eoghain Murphy for sending us photographs of Vespers and Benediction for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

The Schola singing the psalms

The incense is placed in the thurible

Fr Emerson approaches the altar to give Benediction.

The Schola is looking forward to its next liturgy which will be First Vespers for the Feast of the Sacred Heart on 18th June at 6:45pm. We plan to have a full compliment of six coped assistants to compliment the chant, as is fitting for such a great feast.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Joining the Schola

Anyone can join the schola as long as they are keen to sing! There is no need to be able to read Gregorian chant notation. We will teach you how to read the the notation, how to develop fluency in Latin pronunciation, etc. Plainsong is very easy to sing and given patience and experience anyone can sing even the more complex pieces.

Members will need to commit to a rehearsal each Thursday evening lasting for two hours and around six Saturdays a year for the deanery Masses.

Membership of the schola is also restricted to men. Gregorian chant has always been sung by single sex choirs since it was developed by monks and nuns. We don’t have the resources to run a ladies' schola, but we are committed to encouraging both men and women to sing chant in our work to promote it throughout the Archdiocese. We hope that women will be able to support us by joining us for our liturgies throughout the year.

If you are interested in joining please contact us using the details to the right - and if you have any questions about joining please do not hesitate to drop us a line.

Supporting the Schola

Even if you are not able to sing in the schola for we would very much appreciate your support. Please get in touch with us if you feel you can offer us anything useful – perhaps you have some old chant books which we could put to better use, for example?

If you would like to join our mailing list please send us an email at the address on the right with “Mailing List” as the subject. We will send you updates about our latest events and other information from time to time.

Thursday Evening

Owing to various other commitments in the Cathedral diary, Thursday has been chosen as the evening for our weekly rehearsal and Vespers.

Therefore, the first rehearsal will take place on Thursday 5th February. Please drop us an email or leave a voicemessage if you intend to join us.

We will gathering each week in the Cathedral porch between 18:00 and 18:15 before walking over to the house and will be finished by 20:15. If you cannot attend the first rehearsal or do not hear about it in time, please also get in touch with us. We hope you will be able to join us for our second rehearsal on the 12th.

Our first Vespers will probably take place on 19th or 26th February, depending on our progress - we will confirm this by 13th February.

NEW DATE for First Vespers

Due to diary commitments, our first public Vespers will now take place on 19th March 2009 at 6.45pm, which will be Solemn Vespers for the Feast of St Joseph.

We look forward to seeing you at the Cathedral.

Forthcoming Events

Our recent Vespers for the Feast of St Joseph was a great success and special thanks are due to Fr Neil Ferguson OP for officiating on that occasion.

The Schola has decided to sing Vespers monthly for the time being and our next liturgy will be on 30th April and will be First Vespers for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

Looking further ahead there will be Vespers on 21st May for Ascension and on 18th June there will be First Vespers for the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

All liturgies will begin at 6:45 pm at St Mary's Cathedral.

Spring Events

Thursday 30th April
Feast of St Joseph the Worker
Solemn Sung Latin Vespers
and Benediction


Thursday 21st May
Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord
Solemn Sung Latin Vespers


Thursday 18th June
Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Solemn Sung Latin Vespers
and Benediction


All liturgies begin at 6:45 pm at St Mary’s Cathedral