Alex E. Hill, Director of Music and Liturgy
Want to read more about music and liturgy from recent popes and bishops? Click the links for online reading!
- On the Restoration of Sacred Music (Tra Le Sollecitudini, Pius X) – November 22, 1903
- Encyclical On Sacred Music (Musicae Sacrae Disciplina, Pius XII) – December 25, 1955
- Instruction On Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy (De Musica Sacra) – September 3, 1958
- Vatican II “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” (Sacrosanctum Concilium) – December 4, 1963
- Instruction on Sacred Music in the Liturgy (Musicam Sacram) – March 5, 1967
- Chirograph on the Centenary of Tra Le Sollecitudini (Pope St. John Paul II) – November 22, 2003
- Apostolic Letter issued “Motu Proprio” (Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI) – July 7, 2007
- Sing to the Lord – Music in Divine Worship (USCCB) – November 14, 2007
The Music Ministry is one of the most important areas of service to the liturgical life of a parish. St. Paul advised the Colossians to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” That is the calling of every member of the worshiping assembly. But it is the special calling of music ministers to teach, encourage, inspire, and lead them by example. Here are many ways the musically-inclined at St. Mark can do this:
- Cantors and Psalmists. Individual cantors (men and women) are important leaders of the singing assembly. They may direct the congregation’s participation in the various processional chants and songs (Entrance, Offertory, Communion), and lead the singing of Ordinary of the Mass like the “Glory to God” or the “Holy, Holy,” especially at Masses when no choir is present. The Psalmist (who may or may not be the same person as the Cantor) serves in the Liturgy of the Word, proclaiming the Responsorial Psalm from the ambo and leading the Acclamation and Verse before the Gospel. Cantors and Psalmists should be strong singers with excellent projection, pitch, and diction, and a confident sense of leadership and ministry. They sing WITH the assembly, not TO the assembly. Praying, not performing.
- Organists. Supporting the singing congregation through organ accompaniment is equally important to vocal leadership, and provides the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic foundation for nearly the entire music liturgy. Occasionally, the organist must play quietly or improvise under the liturgical action, or have the discernment to allow for silent worship or unaccompanied singing by the congregation. Accompanists are also needed for the various music groups (below), and for each weekend or Holy Day Mass. Organists are most often professional musicians and are eligible for modest compensation according to national and local standards.
- Chancel Choir. Our primary adult choir sings periodically for the 9:30 or 11:30 am Sunday Mass. The choir consists of about 30 men and women, grouped in sections by voice type (sopranos, altos, tenors, basses). The Chancel Choir sings at three Masses each month as well as on special Holy Days and liturgies like Midnight Mass of Christmas, the Paschal Triduum, and Pentecost, with repertoire ranging from 16th-century polyphony to modern choral works. Rehearsals are held on Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:45 pm.
- Carolina Liturgical Chorale. This advanced choir (membership by audition) is a blended ensemble of 10 – 15 men’s and women’s voices. Accompanied by piano or organ (and other instruments on occasion), the group sings music of liturgical significance including recent works by Catholic composers, beloved favorites from the past 30 years, and even contemporary settings of Gregorian chant. The Laudate Choir rehearses each Wednesday evening from 7:00 to 8:45 pm, and sings about three Sundays per month as well as Holy Day liturgies.
- St. Cecilia Chorale. This growing ensemble is a treble-voice choir especially for young women in grades 6 through early college / young adult. The timbre of women’s voices adds a special kind of purity and beauty to sacred liturgy, and composers have written a lot of gorgeous music for them. Rehearsals times and Mass schedule to be determined. A simple audition is required for membership. The St. Cecilia Chorale is directed by Mrs. Elaine Clyatt.
- Chorus Angelorum. For young singers in grades 1 through 5 (boys and girls), or older boys with unchanged voices, this is a fun group for kids who love to sing and want to learn more about the role they play in the sacred liturgy. Rehearsals take place on Monday from 6 to 7 pm, and the choir sings at one Mass each quarter or so. It’s a great way to learn about liturgy, develop music reading and listening skills, and get to know other kids who love to sing. Chorus Angelorum is directed by Mrs. Elaine Clyatt.
- Gabrieli Schola Cantorum. A schola cantorum (literally “school of singing”) is a choir devoted to learning and singing music from the sublime “treasury” of Gregorian chant. Latin pronunciation and learning how to read chant notation is emphasized, as well as the heritage and function of this highly-valued repertoire. Most singing is in unison, or in simple polyphony of two parts. The Gabrieli Schola Cantorum rehearses on Thursdays from 6 to 7 pm, and chants at 1-2 Masses per month and for special Holy Days. It is named for Andrea Gabrieli, the great 16th century composer, organist, and maestro di cappella at the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice.
- Monteverdi Chorale (This choir is currently forming). Named for the great Venetian composer Claudio Monteverdi who served as maestro di cappella at St. Mark in Venice, and who was ordained a priest in 1632. The Monteverdi Chorale is a small auditioned SATB choir which will specialize in singing advanced liturgical music from the 15th century to the present. For audition information, please contact Alex Hill, St. Mark Director of Music and Liturgy.
- Coro Hispano de San Marco is St. Mark parish’s own Spanish-language music ensemble, with vocalists and instrumentalists dedicated to providing music for the Spanish-language Masses each Sunday at 1:30 pm. Like all the other choirs at St. Mark, music-reading ability is not required, but a dedication to ministry and service is! Women, men, and teens are welcome, as well as pianists, guitarists, and other instrumentalists. Rehearsals are held on Sundays at 1:00 pm in the main Church.
- Resurrection Choir. This choir is devoted to providing uplifting music and vocal support for funeral liturgies. Primarily unison or 2-part singing makes this an easy group to join. The choir rehearses during the hour before a funeral at which it serves. Perfect for seniors who like to sing, or other adults who prefer daytime weekday service to the evening rehearsals and Sunday services of the above choirs.
- Handbell Ensemble. St. Mark parish is blessed with a wonderful 3-octave set of Malmark Handbells. Handbell Ensemble is open to all parishioners, even those with minimal music training or experience. We are currently seeking parishioners interested in learning to play these beautiful and fun instruments!
If you are able to serve in any of the above musical capacities, or if you desire more information, please contact Alex Hill, St. Mark Director of Music and Liturgy, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (910) 398-6514.