on 4 December 2014
Thank goodness this outstanding text is available again. For some time it appeared to be unobtainable. Those of us who took part in Dr Mary Barry's classes on how to sing the Chant will be delighted to hear her voice in this small book. With the skill of an experienced teacher she leads the reader into the history, the purpose and the practice of singing Gregorian Chant. Once again we find her insistence that the Chant is not to be murdered by being sung in a measured, leaden way, but with a light, flowing touch determined by the rhythm of the words, whether in English or in Latin. Likewise, she is firm that the Chant was meant to be sung unaccompanied. Alas, all too frequently one still hears the melodies being turned into something they are not because of an organ playing along. Above all, she invites us to SING the Chant, whether in cathedrals, churches, small groups, or in the privacy of our homes. The music is not forbiddingly difficult once simple principles are learned, and it makes a wonderful change from the banal ditties which are allowed to disfigure many Church services. Mary Barry never forgot that this music was a vital part of the Western Church's heritage for well over a thousand years, and its power to assist us in worshipping God and observing the seasons of the liturgical year is undiminished.
Mary Berry also wrote another book to help beginners with singing the Chant. It was called Cantors, and it was most attractively produced. Some time ago I tried in vain to find a copy. If it is not in print it should be made available again as soon as possible.