With permission of Carolyn Schuk, Santa Clara Weekly:
Michael Hey was four years old when the Roman Catholic Church convened the Second Vatican Council. So you can hardly describe his love for western Christianity’s traditional Latin liturgy and music as a die-hard’s nostalgia for the past.
And you can’t say it about the choir he directs every Sunday at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Oratory in Santa Clara, either. The famous 1962-1965 gathering of leaders of the Roman Catholic Church – the world’s largest single Christian body – was long over by the time most of Hey’s singers were born. Arguably, these days the reactionaries are their tambourine-toting, Birkenstock-shod, stuck-in-the-70s baby boomer parents.
The recently retired Cisco engineer began singing Gregorian chant with Palo Alto’s St. Ann Choir (www.stannchoir.org) and its director, Stanford professor and early music titan Dr. William Mahrt, at Our Lady of Peace. The Santa Clara parish celebrated a traditional Latin mass on Saturday evening for many years.
When the traditionalist Oratory of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (www.institute-christ-king.org/santaclara) acquired the historic Elim church on Homestead Road, Santa Clara’s Latin mass made its home there and the choir brought its talents to the chapel’s 9:30 a.m. liturgy. The Oratory now celebrates four Latin masses every Sunday.
With support over the years from St. Ann choir member David Webb, the Oratory’s choir is now a capable group of about a dozen with a solid repertory of Gregorian chant and medieval and Renaissance polyphony.
“These young people love good music and they see the importance of worshipping in a reverent way,” explains Hey. “There are now there are so many resources available online that there’s no excuse for not doing this music.”
*”Mass” is the principal worship service of the Roman Catholic Church. The name derives from the final words of the liturgy: Ite missa est, deo gratias.
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