Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican’s head of divine worship, has blessed the debut album of a renowned London boys choir of one of England’s oldest state-funded Catholic schools, saying “music is the greatest purveyor of liturgical culture.”

The cardinal is patron of The London Oratory Schola Cantorum, whose work has been featured in a number of movies including The Lord of the Rings.

The new album is from the English Tudor era on Sacred Treasures of England, and will be supported by a worldwide tour throughout the year with a U.S. leg in October.

Comprised of 14 tracks and produced by AimHigher Recordings and Sony Classical, the new album includes motets by composers such as William Byrd and Thomas Tallis, as well as the Missa Euge bone by Christopher Tye.

The Schola’s director, Charles Cole, has called the collaboration between the music label and the choir a “wonderful partnership” and a “unique opportunity for the Schola to bring sacred music from the Renaissance to a much wider audience.”

“The stunning beauty of this music, which we specialize in, deserves to reach many more people who we hope will be moved by the sound of the boys’ voices,” Cole said.

The London Oratory Schola Cantorum Boys Choir, founded in 1996, comprises boys from the school’s junior house aged seven upwards. The school says the choristers are given “outstanding choral and instrumental training within a stimulating musical environment.”

The tracks can be purchased for download here from iTunes. The Schola also has a Facebook page.

AimHigher Recordings’ CEO Kevin Fitzgibbons said they were “impressed” by the Schola’s “captivating musical talent and direction,” adding that the repertoire from this debut recording is “gorgeous and timeless.”

The recording company is the sister label of De Montfort Music which in 2015 produced the highly acclaimed chart-topper, Marian Chant album, by the Benedictine Monks of Norcia.

To coincide with its debut album, the Schola also released the above promotional video featuring Byrd's Haec dies, one of the tracks from the recording. The footage of the choir was filmed with a drone inside the Oratory Church.

 

Cardinal Sarah’s endorsement

Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, released the following message to coincide with the new recording:

“I am delighted to be able to accept the gracious invitation of the Schola Cantorum of The London Oratory School to become their Cardinal Patron. I retain very fond memories of hearing the excellent singing of the Schola during my visit to London last summer.

All efforts to maintain and develop a love for the precious patrimony of our Catholic liturgical music are to be encouraged, especially when such initiatives involve our young people.

Music is the greatest purveyor of liturgical culture. St Philip Neri understood this well when he founded the Oratory whose first members made an important contribution to the repertoire of sacred polyphony, fostering the gifts of such composers as Victoria and Palestrina.

The motets in this recording date from the same period but are the song of the Catholic Church in England, a church whose martyr tradition of fidelity to the Church greatly influenced the composition of these masterpieces of vocal music.

I pray that this same tradition may continue to flourish and most especially at The London Oratory School. To the members of the Schola, their director Charles Cole, and all who have been involved in the production of this recording, together with all who will listen to it, I gladly extend my blessing.

 

Robert Cardinal Sarah

Prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Vatican City”