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The Lyceum

A School with a Noble Goal

by Gary Penkala

Fiat Lux The Lyceum, in South Euclid, Ohio (near Cleveland), is a Catholic middle/high school, a college preparatory school for grades 5-12. This school sets for itself a lofty goal:

The Lyceum aims to produce graduates who, having been formed by Catholic western civilization, then become bearers and guardians of that civilization. In more specific terms, the Lyceum aims to prepare its students not only for successful performance in excellent colleges, but to prepare students who will be a "leaven" in the world. Most importantly The Lyceum seeks to form students who will become lifelong learners in a joyful pursuit of the Truth who is Christ.

The college prep curriculum is infused with the Seven Liberal Arts (Trivium and Quadrivium):

  1. Grammar
  2. Logic
  3. Rhetoric
  4. Arithmetic
  5. Geometry
  6. Astronomy
  7. Music

The Socratic Method (Seminar Method) is used in teaching at this Great Books institution, where "the writings of the greatest thinkers of the last 25 centuries" are used whenever possible as primary source material.

The school's philosophy on religion is most refreshing in its "antiquity," stemming from the thoughts and practices of very early theologians and hierarchs:

Aside from regular instruction in Theology from The Catechism of The Catholic Church (as well as from Fathers and Doctors of the Church and excellent Catholic Authors), Lyceum students receive an education that proceeds from an integration of faith and reason. There is no academic subject that is able to be taught divorced from the teachings of the faith or split off from the mind of the church. The school holds fast to the principle that all the sciences, philosophical disciplines, and arts are ultimately handmaidens to Theology. Ultimately to form students who are able to live, defend, and grow in the faith, demands that they study all subjects grounded in the habit of scientific and philosophical thinking that is most properly the mind of the Catholic.

This is very impressive. But what most intrigued me about this school was their music program, based as it is around the Schola Cantorum, in which the whole student body participates.

Benedict XVI has highlighted the fact that sacred music, as Vatican Council II had made clear, "is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy."

From the time of Saint Gregory the Great in the ninth century the words schola cantorum, (literally "school of singers") has referred to a group of singers who devote themselves to enhancing liturgical worship though sacred music. Youth is an excellent time to learn how to sing. It is an excellent time to gain an appreciation for the most beautiful music this side of heaven.

Every member of the student body sings in the Schola Cantorum. The Schola Cantorum's purpose is to foster a love for the treasury of sacred liturgical music and to gain the skills needed for excellence in choral-singing. These purposes enable and encourage students to go out into the world and effectively contribute to church music programs and become supporters of the Church's treasury of sacred music. Giving students an acquaintance with beautiful liturgical music is a reward in itself and certainly in keeping with the wishes of our Holy Father.

The singing of the Schola both is and isn't what you'd expect from high school musicians. The youthful voices produce a clean, unencumbered sound, as one might expect. The musicianship and the quality of their singing is well beyond high school level. Here's a video clip of "Hallelujah," from Handel's Messiah:

Hallelujah Chorus

I listened to a CD they recently produced, Ave verum corpus, and was delighted from beginning to end. Here's the astounding music I heard:

  1. Ave verum corpus Gregorian chant
  2. Sicut cervus Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
  3. Lord, for thy tender mercies' sake Christopher Tye (1505-1572)
  4. Sanctus Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
  5. Ave verum corpus Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
  6. Alma Redemptoris Mater Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
  7. Ave Maria Jacques Arcadelt (1507-1568)
  8. Laudate nomen Domini Christopher Tye (1505-1572)
  9. The Beatitudes Greek chant
  10. The Trisagion Kiev chant
  11. Ave verum corpus William Byrd (1540-1623)
  12. Surrexit Christus Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)
  13. Hallelujah Chorus George Frederich Handel (1685-1759)

Young Catholics learning this music speaks for itself.

Schola Cantorum  

You can request a copy of this CD by emailing the Headmaster, Luke Macik, using a link on the Lyceum Schola page.

CanticaNOVA Publications / PO Box 1388 / Charles Town, WV 25414-7388
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