(Brendan’s first post!!)
Greetings from Hibernia!
Our time here at Clonard Parish continues to be filled with activity and excitement! Since our last blog entry we have had our first rehearsal with the Vigil Choir, which was an enormous success under the worthy baton of Maestra Laura Taylor. The choir has exceeded expectations in their ability to learn new music, and their incredible talent suggests exciting prospects for the year ahead of us. Our first milestone with them was singing the Ave Maria chant after communion at the Saturday Vigil Mass providing simple beauty that was appreciated by both the choir and congregation.
And this was not the only moment of musical bliss we have had here! While providing daily mass music, I began the Regina Caeli chant (with flagrant disregard to liturgical season) just after communion. I figured this would be a pleasant, short meditation piece for the congregation to reflect upon while the priest was purifying the vessels. Much to my surprise, more than a few members of the congregation started to sing along with me. In that moment, the chant I had intended as a meditation became a prayer shared between myself and the other singers.
Regina caeli laetare, alleluia: Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia: Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia: Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
Mary, heaven’s Queen, sing for joy, alleluia: The one you merited to bring to birth, alleluia: Rose from the dead, as he had said, alleluia: Intercede for us with God, alleluia.
This interaction has greatly encouraged me to seek out other hidden gems in the congregation’s memory, that we may better serve them with music both new and old as we lift our voices to the Lord.
Aside from our happy beginnings in church music ministry here, we have also been very busy with activities such as day-trip to Dublin, during which we toured the Jameson Distillery and Trinity College Library to see the legendary Book of Kells. That evening we had the privilege of providing music for the monthly ACE Mass in the O’Connell House. We then had a short visit from a prospective Teach Bhríde member that was equally enjoyable and unexpected!
Despite all these engaging and irregular activities, we have also been working diligently on our more routine service to the primary schools in the parish and are in great anticipation of successful Opening Masses for both Kennedy Park and Scoil Mhuire.
And if you cannot believe there is more still to tell, brace yourself, because most recently we were taken on an astoundingly beautiful day-trip to Tintern Abbey and Hook Lighthouse by two of our extraordinarily generous hosts, Fr. Barry and Sr. Mary. The weather was beautiful as we toured the centuries-old campus of the now deserted abbey which had at times been inhabited by monks, then noble families, then a solitary woman(!). Now maintained by Ireland’s Office of Public Works, we were given a tour of the facility and then meandered through the surrounding landscape.
In summary, if asked to describe my experience this far in a single statement, I would say that I have been astonished with the beauty of Clonard’s parish community life and musical potential which can only be compared to the natural beauty in which it is located.