This coming Friday marks the feast day of Pope St. Pius X (1835-1914). A man of great simplicity and piety, Pius X reigned as Bishop of Rome for eleven years during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Vehemently opposed to Catholic Modernism--that is, the numerous attempts to reconcile Roman Catholic teachings with the philosophies of the modern world--Pius X defined the movement as heretical in a series of encyclicals. In 1910, he instituted a requirement for all clergy and teachers of theology to swear an oath against modernist thought. The requirement was rescinded by Pope Paul VI in 1967 during the Second Vatican Council.
In addition to his 'hard-line' approach to Catholic Modernism, Pius X had a particularly uncompromising attitude towards countries that had begun to embrace secular government (i.e. the separation of religion and state) owing to his refusal to accept the annexation of the Papal States by the Kingdom of Italy. One of Pius X's greatest contributions to the Church must surely be his work with the so-called 'Liturgical Movement'. Indeed, it was he introduced the concept of 'active participation' in the liturgies of the Roman Church--he was adamant that the faithful should have an active (rather than a passive) role during the celebration of the Mass. This is the liturgical philosophy that underpinned the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council over fifty years later.
One might very well ask why the Choir School's founders chose this particular Pope as one of the four co-patron saints (along with Paul the Apostle, Cecilia, and Pope Gregory the Great)? In 1903, Pius X published a moto proprio entitled 'Tra le sollecitudini'. The document detailed the Pope's new regulations concerning the nature of Sacred Music that was performed during the course of the Liturgy. Among the most noteworthy points in TLS is the suppresion of all musical instruments aside from the organ and the ban of all music that was inspired by the opera house--at the time this accounted for most of the sacred music repertory! Pope Pius X emphasized the primacy and pride-of-place that ought to be given to Gregorian Chant, the ancient musical accompaniment to the Roman Rite. He also emphasized the 'perfection' of renaissance polyphony and, especially, the music of G.P. da Palestrina as being particularly suited for the Roman Liturgy.
To this day, our Choir specializes in the performance of the repertory earmarked by Pope Pius X as the finest and most suitable for the Roman Liturgy.
Music: G.P. da Palestrina
Artists: The Choir of St Paul's Church, Harvard Square/John Robinson