Above is a video of a duo singing Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and singing it properly and well. A friend of mine who attends St Mary Magdalen's came over to mine yesterday after the pub where we regularly go for lunch. The last time he came over we bought a load of beer and got smashed. We both like beer, we both like fags and we both like secular music. So usually we end up smoking loads of fags, drinking loads of beer and listening to loads of music on YouTube.
We both have a copy of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary now and are familiar with saying the prayers in Latin. We decided that we would try singing Vespers as well as a couple of the Offices of the day which we had missed. Not being terribly familiar with Gregorian Chant, however, we decided that we would sing the chant of the Little Office on a monotone. A remarkable thing occurred. We didn't get smashed. We both commented that we felt 'different' after having sang the Office and ended up singing Compline and Matins as well. His sudden enthusiasm for singing Chant, after we had sang the first time was quite infectious. Now he and I want to learn the Chant properly and meet to sing together. Perhaps someone will teach us to sing the Office well.
We both felt that we had been 'lifted up' and felt quite joyful after having sang the praises of God and the Blessed Virgin, however imperfectly or even badly we had sung them. We ended up singing the Te Deum for Matins along with some monks on YouTube. Like I say, I fully expect that if we had not sang some of the Office together we'd have both gone to the off-licence to get a load of beer and got smashed again. The Chant is extraordinary. It is something other. It takes you away from the ordinary. It is prayer. It is common prayer, it is liturgical prayer and focused on the Lord. It is the praise (however imperfectly sung) and worship of God, for Whom our hearts were made. If the Chant takes me away from my vices and towards God, and the Chant can take him away from his vices and towards God, then who else could the Chant take away from their vice and towards God, who gives joy to our youth?
Chant looks boring. It sounds sonorous, boring yet beautiful and even a little hypnotic and meditative. The World offers so much to stimulate our senses in ways which delight us, but leave us empty-handed and empty hearted. The praise of God leads us to contemplation and to seek His Face. The praise of His name may leave us wanting more, but it leaves us wanting more of God who alone can satisfy our hearts.