About the Saint Benedict Schola

The Saint Benedict Schola Cantorum is a Gregorian Chant choir based in State College, Pennsylvania. We sing at liturgical services at Catholic parishes in central Pennsylvania, including Masses of both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite.

What is a Schola Cantorum?

The Latin term "schola cantorum" literally means "school of singers." In modern-day parlance, "schola cantorum," or "schola" for short, is often used to describe any choir that has an affinity for Gregorian Chant, or that takes a more "liturgical" approach to church music. Throughout history, the schola cantorum was the small group of skilled singers at a particular church, whose job was to perform the more difficult pieces of music.

However, we also take seriously the literal meaning of "schola" as "school." The sacred music of the Church is sung prayer, and our goal is to learn from the riches of spirituality expressed in the Church's ancient liturgy, to form our own spiritual lives on this model, and to share this gift with others.

History

The schola was founded in August of 2007 upon the instigation of Mr. Ryan Carey, who convinced half a dozen of his friends to form a chant schola, for the purpose of filling a void that seemed to exist in the liturgical music of nearby parishes. When we started, the schola members had a wide variety of different levels of experience with the chant, and with music in general. After practicing informally for several months, we first sang at Mass on the eve of Epiphany, January 5, 2008 at Our Lady of Victory Church in State College. Our first full chanted Mass (including full Gregorian propers and ordinary) was on Laetare Sunday, March 2, 2008, at Queen of Peace Parish in Patton, PA.

We chose St. Benedict as our patron for three reasons:
  • There is a fundamental connection between Gregorian Chant and the monastic life, since the chant is the basic liturgical music of the Divine Office and the Holy Mass; and it is due in large part to the monks of the Benedictine order that the chant has been preserved and fostered through the centuries.
  • In a sense, the schola owes its existence to the inspiration of Pope Benedict XVI, who, through his many actions in support of sacred music and solemn liturgical forms, has brought encouragement to those of us who are attached to these traditional expressions of the Catholic Faith.
  • Finally, we sing at a Benedictine parish.

How to contact the schola

You may contact Devren Yener, the director of the schola, by email or phone. Or, you may drop by one of our weekly rehearsals, on Tuesday nights in the Upper Room of Our Lady of Victory Church (located up the staircase in the vestibule of the church building). (See the calendar.)

New members are always welcome to join the schola; previous chant experience is not required.

If you are a parishioner or priest at another parish, and you are interested in having the schola come to sing at your parish, please contact us to see what can be arranged.

Support the schola

Please contact the schola if you are interested in making a donation!