A brief history of Gregorian chant
A Gregorian chant rehearsal at the school’s St. Vincent Chapel was conducted on October 10 by Timothy S. McDonnell, director of music ministries at The Catholic University of America’s Institute of Sacred Music, Benjamin T. Rome School of Music in Washington. Gregorian chant is the chanting of the liturgy, and the texts are nearly completely drawn from the Bible. (CNS photo courtesy of Chaz Muth) (CNS) – Washington, D.C. – Whenever Erin Bullock walks in front of the altar at Washington’s Cathedral of St.
During an October Mass at the church, her function as cantor is as obvious as the priest’s, and much of the music she intones with her powerful soprano – together with the choir and those in the seats – is the unadorned resonances of Gregorian chant.
In their performance by a choir, the chants are normally chanted in unison and unaccompanied by any kind of rhythmic or melodic accompaniment, with the tones rising and falling in an ad libitum way.
McDonnell, director of the Institute of Sacred Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington, the history of sung prayer extends back to the first millennium, with Gregorian chant being the suitable music of the mature Roman rite.
Despite its resurgence in popularity in recent decades, the chant is not the primary musical accompaniment in most Catholic parishes in the United States, according to McDonnell of Catholic News Service.
According to Elizabeth Black, assistant music director at St.
As an example, when the priest sings, “the Lord be with you,” and the congregation responds in song, “and with your spirit,” they are participating in Gregorian chant because those holy texts are an essential part of the Mass, according to Black, who spoke to Catholic News Service in a recent interview about the practice.
- When you sing a component of the liturgy that is fundamental to the Mass, you’re singing Gregorian chant, according to Lang, who is an expert on the subject.
- Despite the fact that hymns, which are typically layered in rich harmonies, are liturgical in character, such melodies are intended to beautify the Mass with meditative spirituality rather than serving as a key component of the liturgy, according to Black.
- However, there are several exceptions to this unofficial chant rule, and certain choirs embellish their chants with harmonies and musical accompaniment on occasion.
- But, according to theologian John Paul II, it is only recently that Gregorian chant, which began to take shape in the ninth century, has been written down and kept for historical preservation.
The development of Gregorian chant is unlikely to have been a direct result of Pope Gregory I’s efforts, according to McDonnell, who described him as a “building pope” who helped reorder the liturgy in a more practical way, creating the artistic environment necessary for the establishment of some form of plainchant.
- Gregory the Great’s death that the music we know today as Gregorian chant began to develop, according to Dr.
- “In fact, most historians believe it was Pope Gregory II (715-731), who reigned about 100 years later, who was the Pope Gregory who actually had more of a hand in formulating this body of chants that we know today as Gregorian chant,” he said.
- Matthew the Apostle.
- John the Beloved, has made the chant a natural component of the liturgy.
McDonnell stated that “Gregorian chant has the potential to be extremely sophisticated, intricate, and convoluted, as well as possessing a high level of artistic merit.” However, much of its beauty may be found in the simplicity of the design and the fact that most of it is accessible to members of the congregation and children.” According to him, “everyone can learn to sing some amount of Gregorian chant,” and the church has organized the chants into categories based on their accessibility over the years.
- There are numerous chants that are intended to be sung by the faithful as part of their participation in the liturgy, and those chants are every bit as much Gregorian chant as the more florid and complex ones,” says the author.
- The chant is more effective because of this technique, in some ways,” says the author.
- According to him, the causes of these waves are unpredictable.
- “When the popes returned from Avignon (a period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven popes resided in Avignon, France, rather than in Rome), the city was in utter disarray, and the culture of Rome had to be reconstructed,” he explained.
As a result, we witnessed the resurgence of Gregorian chant.” The Renaissance polyphony of the 16th century, with its intricate texturized harmonies, became the dominant music in the church and for a time superseded Gregorian chant, according to McDonnell, who believes that the Renaissance was a period of cultural restoration.
Then, in 1947, Pope Pius XII released his encyclical “Mediator Dei” (“On the Sacred Liturgy”), which encouraged active involvement by the laity in the liturgy while also strengthening the use of Gregorian chant, according to historian Black.
The use of Gregorian chant was advocated for in papers produced during Vatican II in the 1960s; but, as the Latin Mass was replaced by the vernacular, most parishes opted for music that was more in tune with popular culture, such as praise and worship and folk genres, according to McDonnell.
When “Chant,” an incredibly successful CD produced by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain, was published in the 1990s, interest in the practice was once again piqued, according to him.
Gregorian chant is no longer the dominant force in parish life as it once was, but according to McDonnell, if history repeats itself, it is in the process of regaining its former prominence and might once again become a mainstay of church music.
What is Gregorian Chant – GIA Publications
|Before reviewing the main Gregorian chant books and resources, perhaps it is good to state what Gregorian chant is.Gregorian chant is the church’s own music, born in the church’s liturgy. Its texts are almost entirely scriptural, coming for the most part from the Psalter. For centuries it was sung as pure melody, in unison, and without accompaniment, and this is still the best way to sing chant if possible. It was composed entirely in Latin; and because its melodies are so closely tied to Latin accents and word meanings, it is best to sing it in Latin. (Among possible exceptions are chant hymns, since the melodies are formulaic and are not intrinsically tied to the Latin text.) Gregorian chant is in free rhythm, without meter or time signature.Because the liturgy was sung almost entirely in Gregorian chant in the Middle Ages (with polyphony saved for special occasions), every type of liturgical text has been set in chant: readings, prayers, dialogs, Mass propers, Mass ordinaries, office hymns, office psalms and antiphons, responsories, and versicles. Although Pope St. Gregory the Great (590–604) certainly did not play a role in the creation or compilation of our chant melodies, popular legend led the church to name Gregorian chant after this great leader.Many other types and styles of music are similar to Gregorian chant or inspired by it, but one should distinguish them from Gregorian chant. Taizé chants, for example, are generally in Latin, similar to Gregorian chant antiphons. But the musical style is quite different: metered and with choral harmonies and/or instrumental accompaniments.Many psalm tones have been written since the Second Vatican Council. They are much like Gregorian chant psalm tones with their free rhythm and their repeatable melodic formulas. By Gregorian psalm tones, however, we mean a set of particular melodies, one for each of the Gregorian modes, always in the form of two measures. The Gregorian psalm tones are well suited to the Latin language, but do not work very well with English accents, unless one takes freedom in adapting them. For English psalm verses, it is probably wiser to use psalm tones written for the English language. Back to Gregorian Chant Resources|
A brief history of Gregorian chant from King David to the present
A Gregorian chant rehearsal at the school’s St. Vincent Chapel was conducted on October 10 by Timothy S. McDonnell, director of music ministry at The Catholic University of America’s Institute of Sacred Music, Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, in Washington, DC. Gregorian chant is the chanting of the liturgy, and its texts are nearly exclusively derived from the Bible. Photo courtesy of Chaz Muth for the Central News Service. (CNS) – Washington, D.C. When Erin Bullock takes her place in front of the altar at the Cathedral of St.
- During an October Mass, her function as cantor at the church is as evident as the priest’s, and most of the music she intones with her remarkable soprano – together with the choir and those in the seats – is the plaintive resonances of Gregorian chant.
- In their performance by a choir, the chants are normally sung in unison and unaccompanied by any kind of rhythmic or melodic accompaniment, with the tones rising and falling in an ad libitum style.
- McDonnell, director of the Institute of Sacred Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington, the history of sung prayer extends back to the first millennium, with Gregorian chant emerging as the fitting music of the mature Roman rite.
- As McDonnell explained to Catholic News Service, despite its resurgence in popularity in recent decades, the chant is not the primary musical accompaniment to most Catholic services in the United States.
- According to Elizabeth Black, associate music director at St.
As an example, when the priest sings, “the Lord be with you,” and the audience answers in song, “and with your spirit,” they are participating in Gregorian chant since those holy scriptures are an integral component of the Mass, according to Black, who spoke with Catholic News Service recently.
- As Lang explained, “if you are singing a component of the liturgy that is an integral part of the Mass, then you are singing Gregorian chant.” A basic response song, even if it’s only a chant, is considered chant.
- One of the reasons for traditional a cappella singing in plain, monophonic tones, according to McDonnell, is so that the text may be heard as a focal point of the song.
- In the Catholic Church, singing has been a feature of the liturgy since its founding in the fourth century.
- Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from 590 to 604, is credited with the invention of Gregorian chant.
- Gregorian chant, as we know it today, began to develop several generations after St.
- In music, “you might call it poetry,” said Thomas Stehle, director of music ministries at the Cathedral of St.
- “It’s really simple in certain respects, but it’s very sophisticated at others,” he said.
- John the Beloved in New Orleans.
McDonnell stated that “Gregorian chant has the potential to be quite complex, intricate, and time-consuming, while also possessing a high level of artistic merit.” However, much of its beauty may be found in the simplicity of the design and the fact that most of it is accessible to members of the congregation as well as young children.
- There are numerous chants that are intended to be sung by the faithful as part of their participation in the liturgy, and those chants are every bit as much Gregorian chant as the more florid and complex ones,” says the priest.
- Using music to pray is nearly like praying twice, according to St.
- The chant is more effective because of this technique, in some ways, because of it.
- According to him, the causes of these waves are always shifting and fluctuating.
- In the 15th century, when the popes returned from Avignon (a period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven popes resided in Avignon, France rather than in Rome), the city was in utter ruin, and the culture of Rome had to be restored, according to the historian.
- However, in the 16th century, when culture had been reassembled, Renaissance polyphony – with its intricate texturized harmonies – rose to prominence in the church and temporarily overtook Gregorian chant, according to McDonnell.
- “Mediator Dei,” or “On the Sacred Liturgy,” was released by Pope Pius XII in 1947, and it encouraged active involvement by the laity in the liturgy, further supporting Gregorian chant, according to Black.
The use of Gregorian chant was advocated for in documents issued during Vatican II in the 1960s; however, as the Latin Mass was replaced by the vernacular, most parishes opted for musical forms that were more in tune with popular culture, such as praise and worship and folk music, according to McDonnell.
Then, in the 1990s, an incredibly successful CD produced by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain, named “Chant,” was published, rekindling interest in the practice, according to him.
If history repeats itself, Gregorian chant, though no longer the dominant force in parish life as it once was, is still in the recovery stage and has the potential to reclaim its place as a mainstay of church music in the future, according to McDonnell.
“A short history of Gregorian chant from the time of King David to the present,” by Peter Kwasniewski. LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym that stands for “LifeSite is an acronym (November 5, 2018).
With permission from LifeSite and Peter Kwasniewski, this article has been reprinted.
Peter Kwasniewski has a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College, as well as an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association. In addition to teaching at the International Theological Institute in Austria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austrian Program, he was a member of the founding team of Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming. He was in charge of the choir and schola, and he also served as the college’s dean of academics.
His books include Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church, A Missal for Young Catholics, and Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of the Ages.
His webpage may be found here.
Why is chant called Gregorian?
The fact that the “Gregorian” chant is called after and attributed to Pope Gregory I (r. 590-604) is the result of political expediency and spin doctoring. Conflict between the Pope (the Bishop of Rome) and other Bishops over the Pope’s power as “first among equals” was mirrored by conflict between the Pope, as spiritual ruler of Rome, and the secular leaders of the city of Rome, which lasted for decades. This conflict persisted intermittently until the 15th century, when the “Conciliar Conflict” (c.
In addition to writing, collecting, and organizing the body of plainchant in use during his time period, Gregory I is credited with founding the first singing school (Schola Cantorum) in Rome to train singers for the church, organizing the church’s annual cycle of liturgical readings, and establishing the church’s authority over the Roman secular rulers, among other accomplishments.
- The artist painted scenes in which a bird sang mantras into his ear while he was writing them down.
- Any of these claims are up to debate as to whether or not he actually accomplished them.
- Those who ascribed Gregory’s extraordinary achievements were performing the same function as spin doctors today, who work for politicians and entertainment both.
- The Emperor Charlemagne addressed a request to Rome for legitimate liturgical books and chants in around the year 800, some two centuries after Gregory’s death.
- The cry of the Franks is the form that gradually gained popularity….
As a result, what we often refer to as Gregorian chant should probably be referred to as Carolingian chant, but the simple way out is to simply refer to it as plainchant and leave it as that. John HowellToEarly Music Frequently Asked Questions
Gregorian Chant: An Integral Part to Music History
Middle-eastern music dates from around 500 to 1400 and is considered to be the first period in the history of music. During this period, liturgical vocal music for the Catholic Church, as well as secular vocal and instrumental compositions, were popular forms of entertainment. It was Gregorian chant, which was one of the most important elements of liturgical music during the medieval period. Many forms of music, not simply liturgical music, have benefited from the usage of Gregorian chant as the foundation for their development.
- It takes its name from Pope St.
- Many chants take their text from the Mass Ordinary, the elements of the Catholic Mass that are always the same and that are, or were, often chanted throughout the celebration of the Mass.
- The Mass Proper, which is a collection of prayers for mass that vary according to the season or feast being observed, provides the other texts for Gregorian chanting as well.
- Our modern approach, on the other hand, was derived from this old technique of representation.
- They began in the Middle Ages, when the only music that was being recorded was for the Church, and progressed through the centuries.
- It had been some years since chanting had been learnt orally rather than being written down.
- At some point, a staff or some variation of a staff was incorporated into the procedure to show how far higher or lower to go.
- This featured the introduction of a staff with four lines and the beginnings of our solfège system, both of which helped us to indicate pitch more precisely.
- A book called the Liber Usualis, which contains all of the chants of the Mass, was published in the late nineteenth century by monks from Solesmes, France, and is still in use today.
In churches and monasteries today, chants from the Liber Usualis, which were initially chanted in the Middle Ages, are still being sung in certain variations. Sources:;;;
The Roman liturgy was accepted by the Frankish kingdom of Pepin the Short in the middle of the eighth century. Roman cantors traveled over the Alps, spreading the chant by oral transmission. It may be seen in the manuscript liturgical books, which include chant texts but no tunes, as evidence of this practice. In northern Gaul, a new repertory of chants evolved, which represented a successful blending of Roman and Gallican chants. With the reign of Charlemagne and the essential role played by monasteries in the dissemination of chant across Western Christendom, the development of what is now known as Gregorian chant took off.
- Lined staves, which were progressively adopted in the 11thcentury, assisted in the transmission of melodies with greater accuracy than previously possible.
- From the early seventeenth century onward, several attempts were made to reconstruct Gregorian chant in accordance with the standards of contemporary music, after it had been rejected by the Renaissance and Protestantism, among other things.
- Dom Guéranger (1805–1875, see bust opposite) was the one who took the effort to restore Gregorian chant to its original form, as documented in the manuscripts.
- As a result of their efforts, the musical palaeography workshop at Solesmes was able to complete this monumental task, which has been desired by the Catholic Church since Pope Leo XIII.
How Gregorian chant was born
This is a type of monophonic solo religious music performed in Latin (although it may also include Greek) and related to the Western, Roman Christian heritage. It is sung in Latin (although it may also include Greek). Early medieval and early Renaissance periods saw significant development in western and central Europe, with minor alterations occurring in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance periods. Despite the fact that tradition attributes the invention of Gregorian chant (hence the name “Gregorian”) to Pope Gregory I, most scholars today believe that this type of monophonic psalmody is rather a musical development derived from Carolingian, Roman, and Gallican liturgical chants rather than a new invention.
Gregory was elected, his first instinct was to flee the country.
Even the Gospel of Matthew indicates that hymns were sung during the Last Supper, according to the text (Cf.
However, despite claims that the origins of Christian liturgical chant can be traced back to ancient Jewish psalmodies (possibly as a result of this passage), contemporary biblical scholars explain that, on the one hand, most early Christian hymns did not use the Psalms as texts and, on the other, psalms were not sung in synagogues for centuries after the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70, the Psalm However, historical Christian sources (such as Pope Clement I, Tertullian, St.
- Athanasius, and Egeria) reveal that Christians sang during liturgy throughout those early days of the church.
- Anthony into the desert began singing the entire cycle of 150 psalms every week, a practice that is being practiced today.
- Ambrose first introduced antiphonal psalmody in the late 4th century, it was already popular both in the Christian East and in the West, where it remained popular for centuries.
- By the 5th century, a singing school (the Schola Cantorum) had already been established in the capital city of Italy.
- Gregory intended to systematize and unite the numerous distinct chanting traditions of the Catholic church (from Mozarabic and Visigothic to Ambrosian chant), according to some researchers, so that they might be recognized across the world as one unified chanting tradition.
- However, there is still disagreement as to how the chanting style that we now refer to as “Gregorian” arose between the 5th and 9th centuries.
That the repertoire consolidated by Pope Gregory I was subsequently systematized and employed in the Roman Rite is a fact that we know for a fact, since it is still alive and well today as an intrinsic part of the Western monastic heritage.
Why was the Gregorian chant sung in Latin?
Asked in the following category: General The most recent update was made on June 9th, 2020. The song has been sung as pure melody, in unison, and without accompaniment for hundreds of years, and it is still the ideal way to singchantif it is feasible. Due to the fact that it was written entirely inLatin, and since its melodies are so tightly related to Latinaccents and word meanings, it is recommended that you sing it in Latin. Gregorian chant is a type of liturgical music used in the Roman Catholic Church to accompany the text of the mass and the canonical hours, often known as the divine office.
- A collection of Gregorian chants named after St.
- Furthermore, what does the term “Gregorian chant” signify in terms of music?
- In the worship of the Roman Catholic Church, traditional music is used to accompany Latin readings.
- Thechantsoften are songs in which a single phrase is sung throughout a range of pitches.
- The Best Gregorian Chants Ever Composed
- Hymns at 8:25
- Requiem mass at 9:15 4:41 p.m. is the time of the day’s Mass. 2:59
- Psalm 90: “He who stays in the house” 5:00 pm
- Midnight mass. 5:00 pm Celebrations of the holy virgin’s immaculate conception are held on 4:23. 3:03
- sResponsories. 12:32
- 5:28 p.m., requiem mass
What was the significance of the Gregorian chant in the medieval period, and why? The significance of Gregorian chant throughout the Medieval period lies in the fact that it served as the accompaniment to the text employed in the Roman Catholic Church during that time period. It is a holy, Latin song that is monophonic (contains only a single melody) and unaccompanied (by instruments), but has a flexible rhythm.
Gregorian Chant Resources and History
- Aiming to promote the study and performance of Gregorian chant in accordance with the “Gregorian Semiology” approach pioneered by Dom Eugène Cardine, the International Gregorian Chant Studies Association (AISCGre) now has German, Italian, and Spanish language sections. There is a bilingual site containing news about upcoming events, a bibliography, typefaces for chant notation, and much more information that is of interest. Associazione Viri Galilaei choir and supporting organization in Florence, Italy, performing chant at the Duomo
- Canticum Novum choir in Florence, Italy, singing chant at the Duomo Instruction in the gregorian chant
- It is possible to find chants in selected manuscripts and early printed materials of the liturgical Office by searching the database CANTUS: A Database for Latin Ecclesiastical Chant. CANTUSGREGORIANUS.COM is a website maintained by the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. In this publication, the “Saint Michael the Archangel” Association of Stroncone describes the research, teaching, and musical initiatives undertaken by the association in the study of sacred music from the Middle Ages, with particular attention paid to its sources, execution methods, and the liturgy, all of which were integral to the music’s existence. Presented in both English and Italian
- Data pool for Gregorian chant study
- David Hiley, Regensburg, Germany
- Chant Christ in the Desert Monastery, New Mexico, USA
- ChantCD.com (Gregorian chant CD). Gregorian Chant CDs that are one-of-a-kind, lyrics to many renowned Chant songs, and free samples to download
- Sheets of Chants for Use by Celebrants For priests who are singing the Orations and Readings of the Mass, The Chant Kit is a sacred music resource site dedicated to restoring Gregorian chant to its proper place in Catholic liturgical music. The Windsor Tridentine Mass Community has developed a resource to assist priests in singing the Orations and Readings of the Mass. With the Chant Kit, you get two professionally recorded CDs with corresponding sheet music, as well as a brief tutorial on how to chant. Ensemble Trecanum is a classical music ensemble that performs music from the Renaissance to the present day. The group was founded in December 1996 by Etienne Stoffel, a prizewinner of the National High Conservatoire of Paris and a student of two monks from the Solesmes Abbey, Dom Eugene Cardine (d. 1988), who was Father at the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music in Rome, and Dom Jean Claire, a former choral conductor of the Solesmes Abbey. France. Gloria Dei Cantores is a group of singers that perform for the glory of God (Singers to the Glory of God) It is dedicated to honoring the great history of sacred choral music that spans the centuries from Gregorian chant to the twenty-first century Grégoire is a piece of software. Gregorian Chant is written using a computer software
- Association of the Gregorian Calendar The Plainsong Society was established in England in 1870 to encourage the study and practice of plainsong. University of Toronto’s Gregorian Institute Research and instruction are carried out in order to promote the study and performance of Gregorian and other western chant repertoires in the country of Canada. Presented in both English and French
- The Notation of the Gregorian Chant – LPH Resource Center This website provides an explanation of the classic Gregorian Chant notation, so that anybody may read it and sing it
- Gregoriano.org.br is an example of this. Site dedicated to the Gregorian Chant in Brazil, in Portuguese
- The Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey in California have produced a series of Gregorian Chant albums. Notation for Gregorian Chant Description of the traditional Gregorian Chant notation, so that anybody may learn to read and sing the notation
- Gregorian Chant E-mail List
- Gregorian Chant Website A mailing list dedicated to the discussion of the use of Gregorian chant in its natural context: as the music of the Christian church for the worship of the Almighty. What kind of chanting is done in your church? What is the best way to get started learning to read chant notation? Can you tell me about the courses and books that are available? The Gregorian Schola information and connections
- Information on congregational singing as well as scholas of chant GregorianikLiturgik links and more from St. Joseph’s Parish in Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States. Internationalen Gesellschaft für Studien des Gregorianischen Chorals AISCGre
- International Association for Studies of Gregorian Chant
- International Association for Studies of Gregorian Chant Downloads of the Latin Mass Society Chant There is a large range of Ordinaries, the Asperges, and a number of additional useful chants to choose from
- Page dedicated to Luis’ Gregorian Chants The Benedictine monks of the Mosteiro de So Bento in So Paulo, Brazil, perform live mp3 recordings on a Brazilian Web site maintained by Luis Henrique Camargo Quiroz. The Medieval Music Database at La Trobe University contains Gregorian chants from the Dominican (Ordo Praedicatorum) tradition, as well as information on Scribe notation software
- It is maintained by the University of Melbourne. Nota Quadrata is an abbreviation for Nota Quadrata. Dedicated to musical notation from the late Middle Ages, the Nota Quadrata project provides an introduction to square notation as well as monthly updates on continuing research. Resources for Orthodox Music
- The Sarum Rita and Its Application Essay by Reverend Canon Professor J. Robert Wright on the Sarum Rita and Its Application. PDF files necessitating the use of Adobe Reader or a similar
- Books and CDs about Gregorian Chant are available from Paraclete Press. This organization represents the most authentic study and devotion in the subject of Gregorian chant today
- The St. Laurentius Digital Manuscript Library at the Lund University Library in Sweden is a treasure trove of manuscripts. Ordinaries of the Gregorian Chant of Sainte Antoine Daniel (Kyriale)
- The Church Music Association of America provides free sheet music, chant books, and hymns for download. Resources for chanting in both English and Latin languages
- Topics covered by the OSB include: Bibliography and websites related to Gregorian Chant Richard Oliver, of the Order of St. Benedict in Collegeville, Minnesota, United States
- RADIO SETTINGS Gregorian broadcasting Gregorian chants 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Windows Media Player in FM Stereo quality
- St. Joseph’s College Chant Institute, Rensselaer, IN
- Women in Chant: The Choir of Benedictine Nuns at the Abbey of Regina Laudis
Gregorian Chant, A Beginner’s Guide
The music of the Middle Ages is often classified into two primary categories: secular music and religious music. Anyone who has delved into the complicated world of medieval music has almost certainly come across religious chants, which are also known as Gregorian Chants in some circles. While it may appear that all chants are essentially the same (particularly to those who are unfamiliar with medieval liturgical music), there is a broad range of genres, subjects, and purposes to be found within the genre.
Medieval Church Music
It is nearly hard to comprehend what Gregorian chants are without at least a passing familiarity with the Catholic Church. rather than attempt to describe theology and millennia of religious ceremonies and traditions, I will just clarify some basic terms that will be useful in the future…. Remember that the definitions and descriptions in this section are specific to Western Christianity (Roman Catholicism) and may not have the same meaning in the Eastern Orthodox Church (or vice versa). The Cantate Domino is an illustration for Psalm 97, composed in 1380.
- The Mass/Holy Eucharist and the Divine Office are the two most important services offered by the Roman Catholic Church.
- The overall structure of these services remains rather consistent, although the precise content varies based on the time of year and the season.
- Observances of religious festivals, which are religious celebrations or commemorations of events and/or persons, include Festivities are a time for feasting.
- The first is referred to as Proper of the Time, Temporale, or Feasts of the Lord in some circles.
- The second feast cycle is known as theProper of the Saintssorthe Sanctorale, and it is devoted to the lives of specific saints and their sanctified properties.
- A number of feasts are held on the same day each year.
- Mass is the most important liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church, and it is held every Sunday.
During the Mass, there are musical and nonmusical portions, some of which are taken from the Proper and others which are taken from the Ordinary.
These eight sets of prayers and services (referred to as “canonical hours”) are performed on a daily basis and are distinct and separate from the celebration of the Mass.
Hymns, psalms, canticles, responsories, and antiphons are some of the musical genres that are employed in the Office/Liturgy of the Hours.
Even though the melodies may alter according on the preferences of the local clergy, the text remain consistent.
There are no changes to these songs and chants because they are permanent aspects of the Mass and do not vary with the seasons.
In the Mass and the Office services, the Proper are the texts, chants, and music that vary from one feast to the next, and they are made up of the Proper.
There are several forms of music in the Proper that are used during Mass, including the introit, the Gradual, the Alleluia, the Offertory, and the Communion Song. Tropes, sequences, and processionals are some of the other types of chants that are utilized for special events.
Are you confused? Keep reading!
As a result, the usual Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Bendictus, and Agnus Dei would be included in the ordinary Mass. (Ordinary). It would also be necessary to conduct a feast-specific Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offering, and Communion depending on whatever day of the liturgical calendar it was and which feast cycle it was during (Proper). As part of the Divine Office, specific prayers, canticles, psalms, and hymns would be performed throughout the day, distinct from Mass, as part of the daily routine.
- Psalmodic and non-psalmodic religious/liturgical music may be distinguished in the Middle Ages (with traditions extending into the Modern era) and can be divided into two categories: psalmodic and non-psalmodic.
- They are as follows: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion, Alleluia, Canticle, Antiphon, Responsory, Psalm, or Hymn, Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion, Alleluia, Canticle, Antiphon, Responsory, Psalm, or Hymn.
- Some forms of chants have been in use from the beginning of Christian chant, while others were introduced into the liturgy over time.
- For example, the Kyrie (a prayer from the Ordinary of the Mass) can be performed in a variety of styles.
- “Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison,” the choir sings.
- Every piece of religious Medieval music that fits under the umbrella term “Gregorian chant” is often referred to as such by the general public.
- Remember that the texts themselves have significant religious importance as you learn more about Gregorian chants and how they came to be canonized as you progress through your studies.
Not to mention the fact that there is an enormous range of chants, and that many liturgical melodies of the Middle Ages are not genuinely chants in the traditional sense. As you go more into the realm of Gregorian chant, you’ll come to appreciate how distinctive and lovely they truly are.
Gregorian Chant, a Brief History
In religious rituals, early Christians were already practicing unaccompanied singing and chanting even before Christianity was officially authorized in the 4th century AD. Plainchant and Plainsong are two terms used to describe these chants. As Christianity expanded across the Roman Empire, a number of musical traditions and plainchant repertories arose on their own, independently of one another. Mozarabic (Roman Spain), the Gallicanchants of Gaul (France), Ambrosianchant (Milan, Italy), Beneventan (Italy), Anglo-Saxon and subsequently theSarum (England), Old Roman, and Gregoryian were among the Western traditions that were known to scholars (Rome).
- Other liturgical variants, such as the Celtic rite in Ireland and the Slavonic rite in Scandinavia, existed in other parts of the world.
- There is a great deal of controversy about Pope Gregory’s role in the establishment and development of the Gregorian tradition in Rome.
- Regardless of who originated this liturgical practice, it gained widespread acceptance throughout the empire in a very short period of time.
- Charlemagne, in particular, was a staunch proponent of the abolition of all non-Roman customs and the replacement of such practices with Roman ceremonies.
- A papal edict had effectively outlawed the use of Gallican and Slavonic languages by the 9th century.
- Local customs were eventually displaced by Gregorian calendars, or they had evolved to the point where they could co-exist with Roman rituals, at least to some extent.
- Ambrosian chant, along with Gregorian chant, is the only kind of chant that has been officially sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church.
What makes a Gregorian chant a Gregorian chant?
Gregorian chants are free-form, which means that they are not metered and do not have a time signature like other types of music. They are modal, which means that composers have the choice of writing a tune in one of eight different scales. Most will use a method known as melisma, which is the singing of a number of notes for each syllable of text in a sentence. The vast majority of them are written and performed entirely in Latin. For centuries, Gregorian chants were performed a cappella, with only the tune as the accompaniment.
- The majority of chants were monophonic (one voice), which means that just one tune was chanted in unison by all participants.
- At most, a portative organ might play a single note as a type of drone, but practically all of the time, there was nothing but voices playing on the instrument.
- Only instruments of the spirit, sometimes known as “alive strings,” were worthy of being used to honor the Almighty.
- The organum, which is a group of several “voices” singing the same tune in unison but at different intervals, was first developed in the 9th century.
- The goal here was not to create harmony in the sense that most current music does (chords, blending of tones that are distinct from the song’s melody and rhythm), but rather to “enliven” the melody by adding depth to it.
- ‘Parallel Organum’ is an abbreviation for Parallel Organum.
- 5 “Deum Verum” is an Invitatory to the Holy Trinity (7th century).
This chant begins with a monophonic tune, which is subsequently followed by an organum section.
Pay attention to the second line, which is sung at a 4th interval higher.
The text is not from scripture, but rather is prose authored by Hildegard herself.
It is a monophonic chant with a lot of melisma in the melody.
With the hope that everyday musicians such as me may have the opportunity to perform at home, I’ve provided the following ink to a piano version of the Gregorian chant “O Ignee Spiritus” as an extra gift for my musically-inclined readers.
Thanks for your consideration!
However, my passion for Medieval music has prompted me to transcribe this chant into a manner that remains loyal to the original melody while altering it with additional harmony to make it playable and delightful on the piano, which you can hear below.
In order to capture the otherworldly character of this hymn while also making it enjoyable to listen to and play, I set out to create a new arrangement. Here’s an audio sample (in MIDI format) to get you started:
Sources and Further Reading
Because I am not a Catholic, I relied on information obtained from the following sources to guarantee that the material was accurate:
- Breviary Hymns, Fides Quaerens Intellectum, Chantblog, and GIA Publications, Inc. are some of the resources available. Music for the Church
- National Association of Pastoral Musicians
- Schola Cantorum Bogotensis
- Gregorian Chant Resources and History: Music Outfitters
- Gregorian Chant Resources and History: Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Mark Everist is a writer who lives in the United Kingdom. The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Music is a reference work on medieval music. Randel, Don Michael, et al., eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2011. The Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians is a concise reference work on music and musicians. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 1999. Print
The main image for this piece is an illuminated manuscript from a 14th-century choir book, which is worth mentioning in its own right. The picture is a carving of St. Lawrence in the letter “C,” which is seen in the letter “C.” The Introit to the Mass for the Feast of St. Lawrence begins with this opening syllable.
How Plainchant Started and Where It Is Now
Plainchant is a type of medieval church music that is characterized by the use of chanting or the singing of lyrics without the use of any musical accompaniment. Plainsong is another name for this type of music. You may be more familiar with the name Gregorian Chant, which you may have come across when reading about early music forms or heard about it during a church service or concert. Even though the phrases are sometimes used improperly as synonyms, Gregorian Chant is a type of plainchant that is derived from the Latin language.
Plainchant, a primitive style of music, first appeared about the year 100 C.E. Early on, it was the only sort of music that was permitted in Christian churches. A common belief among Christians is that music should make the listener more open to spiritual ideas and reflections. This belief is supported by research. As a result, the melody was maintained clean and unaccompanied throughout. This was especially true because the same tune would be replayed throughout the plainsong. There are no harmonies or chords to enhance the melody in this song.
Why Is it Also Called Gregorian Chant?
There were numerous various types of plainchant in use during the early centuries, and there was no standardization. A collection of chants was envisioned by Pope Gregory the Great (also known as Pope Gregory the First) about the year 600, and it was completed by Pope Gregory the First in the year 600. This collection of music was known as Gregorian Chant since it was named after him. Later, the word Gregorian Chant was adopted to denote this type of music in general. Prayer, reading, psalm, canticle, hymn, prose, antiphon, responsory, introit, alleluia, and many more varieties of Gregorian Chant are among the many types of Gregorian Chant.
Musical Notation of Plainchant
Ordinarily, modern music notation is written on five lines, whereas plainchant is written on four lines. It was also common to employ a sign known as “neumes” to express pitch and syllable phrasing. When it comes to the earliest types of plainchant, there is no trace of any notation.
Gregorian chants are still chanted in Roman Catholic churches all throughout the world today, despite the passage of time. In this version, it is adapted to Latin text and performed either by a soloist or by a chorus. Listen to the Gregorian Chants from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to get a sense of what plainchant sounds like. Plainchant has had a cultural renaissance outside of the church and has even made its way into mainstream culture in recent decades. An unexpected international hit was achieved by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos in Spain when they published their CD named, Chant, in 1994.
During their interviews on The Tonight Show and Good Morning America, the monks expressed their gratitude.
The Cistercian Monks of Austria’s Heiligenkreuz Abbey made another popular Gregorian Chant CD in 2008, titled Chant – Music for Paradise, which became a bestseller in the United States.
It peaked at number 7 on the UK charts, number 4 on the Billboard classical music charts in the United States, and was the best-selling album on the Austrian pop music charts.