The Aquinas Schola Cantorum is a mixed choir that sings for the 4:30pm Sunday Masses at the Princeton University Chapel throughout the academic year. St. Pius X tells us that the purpose of sacred music is “the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful”(Tra le Sollecitudini 1). The Schola fulfills this purpose by singing music from the musical tradition of the Church which Vatican II called “a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 112). Vatican II describes the repertory of Gregorian chant as “specially suited to the Roman liturgy” and “should be given pride of place in liturgical services” though “other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action” (ibid 116) While Vatican II permits the use of the vernacular in the Mass it also encourages the faithful “to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” (ibid 54), namely, the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei (while the Kyrie is traditionally sung in Greek). 

Gregorian chant forms a large part of the Schola’s repertoire, which also includes English chant (adapted from Gregorian chant), English hymnody, and Latin and English polyphony from composers of the Renaissance all the way to living composers. The propers of the Mass are liturgical texts that include the entrance, offertory, and communion antiphons. The Schola sings these antiphons in both English chant and Gregorian chant. During the offertory, hymns are sung after the offertory antiphon, drawing from both Latin and English hymnody. During the distribution of communion, the Schola sings the communion antiphon followed by a polyphonic motet from composers such as Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, Byrd, Mozart, Bruckner, Duruflé, and MacMillan. At the conclusion of Masses, the Marian antiphon of the season is commonly sung.

The Aquinas Institute seeks to fully realize the Church’s teaching  that “the treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted… Great importance is to be attached to the teaching and practice of music in… Catholic institutions and schools” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 114-115). At the core of the Aquinas Schola Cantorum are four choral scholars who are trained musicians selected by the Director of Sacred Music and who are committed to sing for all Sunday Masses throughout the academic year. The Schola is also composed of volunteer students and members of the local community who commit to sing for one week at a time which allows for flexibility with academic demands. Students interested in participating in the Aquinas Schola Cantorum should be able to match pitch and possess a basic understanding of music theory. All students interested in singing with the Schola, as well as students who would like to volunteer by playing the organ or other instruments, should contact the Director of Sacred Music, Mr. Peter Carter, at tuespetruscarter@gmail.com.