Sunday, August 10, 2014

St Eugene-Ste Cecile on the "Chant Cafe" Blog

I "like" the Schola Ste Cecile and the St Eugene-Ste Cecile pages on facebook, and often wish I could attend Sunday Mass when they post the program for the next Sunday. I even have a dream to spend Holy Week in Paris to attend at least Holy Thursday and Good Friday of the Triduum at St Eugene-Ste Cecile (with a visit to Notre Dame on Good Friday for veneration of the Crown of Thorns). I was thrilled therefore to see this post on the Chant Café blog about the Schola Ste Cecile, pictured above in the loft during our March visit this year:

If you ask most people what names come to mind when you associate the words church, music and Paris, there are lots of beautiful places that rise up in the imagination: Notre Dame, Ste Clothilde, St Germain des Pres, St Eustache, the Madeleine: the list goes on and on.  It is no secret that the City of Lights has been an inspiration to many a church musician through the ages.  And it is still unparalleled when it comes to organ music.  It's hard to go far on a Sunday afternoon and not stumble into a first rate organ concert.
Many moons ago when I lived in Paris, I used to go to a small little church off of Grands Boulevards which may not be a household name, but it certainly will be someday.  Not far from the Conservatoire, already home to so many promising musicians of the future, this neo-Gothic wonder not too far off the beaten path is home to what in my opinion is one of the brightest spots in the sacred music scene in the world.

The Church of Saint Eugène is twinned with the parish of Sainte Cécile and in this space you will find a home where the liturgical thought of Pope Benedict XVI and Tradition flourishes.  On any given Sunday, you can attend Mass in the French Novus Ordo as well as the Extraordinary Form.  In my day, Philippe Guy was the mastermind behind the whole musical affair, and the Abbé François Poté attracted numerous families and young people to a parish which otherwise might have suffered, as the neighborhood around it changed. 

The musical programme is quite impressive, if for no other reason than here you can listen to some of the best of the classical repertoire of French sacred choral music.  It's one thing to hear Charpentier's famed Messe pour minuit de Noël in a fashionable French church.  It's another to experience it alongside sequences from the Parisian Missal, Eucharistic motets from the ancien régime and chant at its finest, Sunday after Sunday in a parish that celebrates both forms of the Roman Rite well.

Read the rest here. It is such a beautiful church too, with all the Gothic elements inside and no flying buttresses outside, since the architect used cast iron in the columns. One feature we noticed this year is that the Stations of the Cross are represented in stained glass windows! Bon dimanche!

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