SCHOLA SANCTI HENRICI
Schola Sancti Henrici was founded in 1999, at the Sibelius Academy, the music university in Helsinki, Finland. Since the debut, the ensemble has performed the Mass and vespers of St Henrik on several occasions around Finland. Schola Sancti Henrici has broadened its repertoire mainly in Gregorian chants used in medieval Finland, and general material from the Graduale Romanum.
On the feast of Saint Henrik in 2001, Schola Sancti Henrici was performing in Rome, singing also in the presence of Pope St. John Paul II during an audience at the Vatican. The ensemble has also given concerts in Poland, Sweden, Estonia, Spain, Greece and Portugal. They have published two CDs, Patronus Finlandie in 2006 and Pyhän Henrikin legenda (‘the Legend of St. Henrik’) in 2014.
There are five singers in the ensemble; Jussi Hirvonen, Samuli Korkalainen, Samppa Laakso, Vesa Mäkeläinen and Hannu Vapaavuori. They all hold a Master’s degree in Church Music from the Sibelius Academy.
The Legend of Saint Henrik
Story of the life, death and miracles of Saint Henrik. An audience-friendly concert that includes medieval songs about Saint Henrik, psalms and hymns (in Latin) as well as chapters from the legend of Saint Henrik (either in English, Finnish or Latin).
Programme handout in English.
Duration, about an hour.
The Mass (and Vespers) of Saint Henrik
Either a concert or the Mass, which can be organised in co-operation with a local parish (catholic or Lutheran).
Programme handout in English.
Duration (as a concert), with Vespers about one hour and 20 minutes, only the Mass about 50 minutes.
Saint Henrik – Finland’s Patron Saint
According to the late-thirteenth century document The Legend of St. Henrik, Christianity was introduced in Finland in the second half of the twelfth century following a successful crusade led by King St. Eric of Sweden, who brought Bishop Henrik with him as a representative of ecclesiastical power. The real picture, however, is somewhat different and more complex. There is the fact that Erik’s ‘crusade’ is described as a brief and bloodless event, not even slightly comparable to those to the Holy Land. Most likely, Christianity had already arrived in southern Finland a couple of centuries earlier, and the expedition led by King Eric and Bishop Henrik was intended to further consolidate and expand the Christian presence there.
For the evangelisation process to proceed smoothly, it was also necessary to institutionalise ecclesiastical life, and thus Henrik became the head of the new diocese of Turku and the first bishop of Finland. Thanks to his efforts, Finland entered the family of medieval Christian nations, laying the foundations for the development of the future character and identity of the Finns as a Christian people.
Henrik was the English-born bishop of Uppsala, the most important diocese of Sweden at that time. He had come to Scandinavia in 1153, apparently with the papal legate Nicolaus Albanensis, who would later become pope Adrian IV. After baptizing the people and building many churches in Finland, King Eric returned to Sweden. Bishop Henrik remained in Finland, where he was subsequently murdered by a supposedly pagan Finn whose name was Lalli. Soon after his martyrdom, St. Henrik was venerated not only in Finland, but throughout Scandinavia and northern Germany; his feast was already being celebrated on January 20 (it became January 19 after the Reformation) starting from the thirteenth century.
The Gregorian repertoire about St. Henrik, performed also by Schola Sancti Henrici, is most likely written and composed in Turku in the fourteenth century.