by Patrick Lovett ’17
Crowds applaud for a variety of reasons: to commend a performance, show agreement, give thanks—after the 10:30 p.m. mass at St. Dominic Chapel, the congregation applauded for all of the above. The clapping is directed towards the St. Dominic Ensemble, Providence College’s own praise and worship band, which uses a soulful and contemporary style to bring students in and keep them coming.
Ever since its founding over a decade ago, the St. Dominic Ensemble has offered a more modern music selection for mass goers. Comprised of numerous vocalists, guitarists, a pianist, and percussionist, the band is able to play both old hymns and new songs alike, with a captivating tune and an upbeat tempo.
Calling it a “contemporary worship band” with a “earthy, folksy vibe,” the group’s current leader, Andrew Goyer ’18, believes the Ensemble serves to appeal to its audience. “Students are drawn to this type of music,” says Goyer, “…our purpose is to create an environment for them to worship in, plain and simple.”
In light of these aims, it is simple to measure the band’s success by looking at the size and support of its audience. According to Fr. Dominic Verner, O.P., the band succeeds in both metrics. “The popularity of the 10:30 p.m. mass speaks for itself,” he says, “…it is the most popular mass every Sunday.”
In reference to the Ensemble’s spiritual value, Verner says the band’s style is conducive to prayer. Expanding on that point, he says, “the Ensemble has the down to earth nature of folk, with some powerful lyrics that speak to the more transcendent desire of the heart.”
Matthew Sanborn ’17, a member of the intended audience, finds the band’s style refreshing. In contrast to the more traditional hymns one would commonly find at a mass, Sanborn calls the Ensemble’s music “up-to-date and upbeat,” which he believes “keeps the congregation focused and excited to be in the chapel.”
Furthermore, Sanborn says that the
band is able to affect the quality and ambience of the ceremony. “The band helps the verticality of mass,” he says, “Its one thing to sit through mass, and it is another to actually experience mass. “
The Ensemble does not limit itself to only playing masses, however. The group has already opened for the local Providence worship band, Revive, twice this year. Looking forward, The Ensemble is preparing for another performance, during Campus Ministry’s “Encounter with Christ” retreat from March 31 to April 2.
However, for the many, the Ensemble can be found playing in St. Dominic any given Sunday night. Those looking to listen to the band for the first time need only follow the music and applause.