Catholic Vancouver Sept. 20, 2018

Feast of Archangels brings Vancouver, Fraser Valley choirs together

By Michael Molnar

The Belle Voci a capella group (pictured) is teaming up with the MOTET chamber choir this fall to offer a series of concerts honouring God and the angels. (Photo courtesy of Michael Molnar)

Special to The B.C. Catholic

“Accompany me, then, to the throne of God to sing with you, Archangel Saint Michael and all the Angels. Praise, honour, and glory to the one who reigns for all eternity. Amen.”

This vision of singing with the heavenly hosts concludes an old prayer of consecration to St. Michael, the great defender of the Church. Now, during the upcoming weekend of Michaelmas (Feast of the Archangels), two choirs have joined forces to present a program of sacred music honouring God and his heavenly hosts.

The Belle Voci a capella ensemble and the MOTET chamber choir made a providential encounter at the inaugural B.C. Sacred Music Symposium this summer, and will now perform side-by-side Sept. 28-30.

Inspired at the prospect of putting together cherished favourites in the theme of St. Michael and the Archangels, ensemble directors David Poon and Paula DeWit spent weeks sifting through hidden musical treasures, uncovering pieces that sing of Seraphim, Cherubim, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. They challenged their members to sing in English, Latin, German, and Russian.

There are many beautiful songs that lie dormant, due to explicitly requiring two separate choirs or having hauntingly thick textures with lush harmonies that are done best with more than eight stalwart and confident singers.

The MOTET chamber choir. (Photo courtesy of Michael Molnar)

More than merely a performance, these musicians view this as a ministry. Many great feasts of the Church pass unnoticed by the modern Catholic – even more so in Canada which has the second-fewest holy days of obligation in the world. Helping listeners rediscover the treasure of sacred music tied so intimately to the liturgical year reminds people of the true music of the church and the guiding power of its liturgy.

Making every Sunday Matter is an excellent goal to aim for, but for Belle Voci and MOTET, the Sacred Music Symposium in August was by no means the place to stop.

Singing in parishes from West Vancouver to Abbotsford, and spanning over 500 years of music, these two choirs are now finding an opportunity to strengthen ties between Vancouver and the Fraser Valley and to plunge into the depths of otherwise inaccessible choral repertoire.

Since the beginning, the Church has been assaulted by violence and betrayal, from those who through the centuries followed in the footsteps of Herod and Judas, instead of the footsteps of Christ. To this day, beloved Mother Church is beset externally by persecution, and internally by scandal and lukewarm laxity.

This concert offers an antidote as small as a mustard seed, drawing attention to our great spiritual defenders, and bringing to life the beauty of faith. May it serve to counteract the venom of the ravenous realm of popular media and offer a little foretaste of singing with the Angels.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

The four concerts take place:

8 p.m. Friday 28 September (after the 7 p.m. Mass) – St. Patrick's (2881 Main St, Vancouver)

7 p.m. Saturday 29 September – Christ the Redeemer (599 Keith Rd, West Vancouver)

2 p.m. Sunday 30 September – St. James (2777 Townline Rd, Abbotsford)

7 p.m. Sunday 30 September – Sts. Joachim & Ann (2827 - 273rd St, Aldergrove)

Tickets are $20 at the door, or from /

Michael Molnar is a musician and founding member of MOTET.