WFU professor writes chants for Pope's U.S. visit
March 13, 2008
Samuel Weber, associate professor of early Christianity and spiritual formation at the Wake Forest University Divinity School, was invited to compose original chant settings that will be performed during the Pope’s visit to Washington, D.C., April 15 – 20. The chants will be sung during Evening Prayer at 5:30 p.m. April 16 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with Pope Benedict XVI presiding, and during a private mass with the Holy Father at the Apostolic Nunciature (Papal Embassy) the following morning.
"I am deeply honored to have a small part to play in the preparation of this vesper service,” says Weber. He composed original chant melodies for the antiphons, which are scriptural verses sung before and after the Psalms and Canticles of Vespers. Peter Latona, Basilica director of music, invited Weber to compose the chants and has created polyphonic settings based on Weber’s chants. During the service, the antiphons will be sung by the 24-member Choir of the Basilica in plain chant before the Psalms and Canticles of Vespers, and then repeated afterward in full harmony.
Weber, a Roman Catholic priest and Benedictine monk, says the decision to use chant melodies reflects the aesthetic and tradition at the heart of prayer life in the Roman Catholic Church. “Historically, sacred compositions were based on the chant melodies which formed the core of liturgical music.”
The Evening Prayer service is expected to be televised worldwide.