On 28th October 2017, the Rosary Shrine welcomed the Polish composer Mr Pawel Bebenek who works closely with the Dominican Liturgical Centre in Krakow, Poland. Together with Br Marcin Dyjak OP, they led some thirty singers, including our six Dominican novices and a Dominican Sister, in a day of liturgical music. Pawel brought together a group which had never sung together before, and within minutes they began to sing, and to make music. Pawel pointed out that making music means that one listens to the others, works with them, and enjoys producing melodious sounds. It was exhilarating to hear the group become a choir that made beautiful music for the Lord. One of the first pieces they sang during the workshop was Pawel’s setting of the famous words said to the Divine Mercy: “Jesus, I trust in you”. The video below is of this piece but sung in its original Polish.
Br Marcin also gave a couple of talks on the history of liturgical music, and about the development of the Dominican Liturgical Centre (DLC) and its distinctive style which combines Gregorian chant, Byzantine chant tones, harmonised chant, and new compositions written in the classical genre. The DLC style was much-acclaimed at WYD 2016 in Krakow, and again by the US Bishops at their meeting of tens of thousands of lay ministers in 2017 called ‘Convocation’. We were grateful to be able to bring the DLC’s music to the Rosary Shrine.
The singers who had attended the Workshop sang in the evening at a Rosary Vigil. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed on the Throne of the Rosary Shrine, and during the Holy Hour, confessions were heard and Scripture readings were read, interspersed with songs from the DLC repertoire. The second part of the Vigil consisted of a Eucharistic Procession around the church, and the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary were prayed. Between each Mystery the singers sang parts of the ‘Akathist hymn to the Theotokos’ which is a 7th-century Byzantine hymn in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Incarnation of the Lord at the Annunciation. The hymn was sung in English, and the first English translation of the hymn was made by Fr Vincent McNabb OP who had lived and worked in St Dominic’s. The final part of the Vigil consisted of Benediction, and afterwards the Dominican friars sang Dominican Compline in Latin.
On the following day, Pawel Bebenek conducted a smaller group of singers who contributed to the music at our 10am Sunday Mass. It was a beautiful, prayerful and “very moving” experience, as one person put it.
Below are some photos from the workshops and Rosary Vigil, a fitting culmination to the Month of the Holy Rosary. We expect to hear more from Pawel Bebenek and the DLC in coming years!