I am pleased to report that our first attempt at a sung (mostly chanted) Sunday Vespers was quite successful. First, we did a walk-through of the Order of the Hour of Vespers. Then we went through the relevant sections of the book. Thereafter, we began to practice singing the psalm tones (with the aid of the recordings provided by the webpage). Finally, we prayed the hour of Vespers, singing the psalms and cancticles with their antiphons, hymn, opening verse, Lord's Prayer, Collect, and conclusion.
The psalmody was sung according to the settings provided in the Mundelein Psalter. We did not learn the setting provided for the hymn this week (we hope to do this when the hymn repeats in Week III). Rather, we sang it to the tune of "Old Hundreth," which everyone knew. The responsory was also sung according to the setting provided.
In total, the whole event took about an hour. That was all! I would like to reiterate how easy it can be to get a group together using this book to sing the prayers of the Hours. After someone with even moderate musical ability has mastered this book at home, s/he can easily gather a group at the parish to form a schola or choir.
In the coming weeks, we will be refining our sound. Certainly, there were mistakes. Nevertheless, our group took it in stride much better than I had anticipated. Perhaps it was the movement of the Holy Spirit. Or maybe they all just learn more quickly than I do. Maybe it was that inherent Catholic quality, where none of us know how to sing, but all of us know how to harmonize. Whatever it was, the sound at times was, in my opinion, glorious.
These are the first baby steps. A few weeks from now, we hope to invite our clergy to take part with us. Thereafter, we hope that we may prepare for leading the parish (and perhaps the wider Tallahassee community) in this prayer. I certainly think that it would be great if we could lead our community in Vespers during a larger period of Eucharistic Adoration (perhaps on the Solemnity of Christ the King?). However, we must remember: one thing at a time. I am certain that we will be successful in the end, and God will be glorified by our little choir, then our parish, and even our Tallahassee community, joining in this evening sacrifice of praise.