IF ONLY we had more scribes like Br Giles OSB, of Pluscarden Abbey, in Elgin, Morey, Scotland, we would be so much better informed of the monastic life around us.
Br Giles' first item shows a stained glass window of the Holy Family, about to be installed in St Joseph's Church, Manchester (PP Fr Patrick Tansey). The window was made in the Abbey's stained glass workshop by Martin Farrelly, after a design by Paul Cooper, who is a parishioner in St Joseph's.
Br Drostan Nunan, OSB, is hard at work with a power hammer_ demolishing part of the wall of an old temporary cloister, now being replaced by a permanent structure. You might say Br Drostan is "enjoying a smashing Jubilee", as he celebrated recently the Silver Jubilee of his monastic profession.
He hails from Sheffield, Mother of God parish, and besides being the Abbey's Annalist. is engaged in many essential tasks around the Abbey.
The third photograph shows Dom David Nicholson, OSB, a monk of Mount Angel Abbey, Oregon. He is collaborating with the nuns of Stanbrook, with their long and distinguished tradition of excellence both in liturgical music and fine printing. in the publication of his latest book, Liturgical Music in Benedictine Monasticism: A post-Vatican II Survey.
The nuns are producing the book, which is a cross-sectional, in-depth survey of liturgical and musical practices prior to the Council and in the post-Vatican H era, based on replies to a questionnaire from monasteries all over the world and on Dom David's extensive personal experience.
Forty years a monk, an expert organist, until recently the Choirmaster of his Abbey, Dom David's post-graduate work at Harvard, Edinburgh and Oxford Universities unusually covers both secular music and Gregorian chant. Well known for his authoritative Dictionary of Plainsong, Dom David is preparing a second volume of his Survey, covering the liturgies of Benedictine nuns.
His family comes from Yorkshire, and as he was born, "by accident", he says, in Canada, his family delayed registering his birth until they were back in Britain.
He believes the value of Gregorian chant is underestimated, illustrating this by reciting the time he asked Stravinsky to write a Mass for him. Stravinsky refused, saying, "How could anything I might write compete with the beauty of Gregorian chant?"
Asked about his impression of the way the Liturgy was moving he said, "Everywhere where there are young monks, they are moving back to Gregorian chant, and the Communities where this traditional prayerful music of the Church is most evident, seem also to be the most flourishing. I think there is an unexpected lesson there for those who thought that had gone forever."
Heartening news from Br Giles.