Gregorian chant is a type of liturgical music performed in unison or in monophony by the Roman Catholic Church to accompany the readings of the mass and the canonical hours, sometimes known as the divine office. The Gregorian chant is named after St. Gregory I, who was Pope from 590 to 604 and during whose reign it was collected and codified. King Charlemagne of the Franks (768–814) brought Gregorian Chant into his country, which had previously been dominated by another liturgical style, the Gallican chant, which was in general usage.
The passages that are repeated from one mass to the next are included in theOrdinary of the Mass.
The first appearance of the Gloria was in the 7th century.
The Gloria chants that follow are neumatic.
- TheSanctus andBenedictus are most likely from the period of the apostles.
- Since its introduction into the Latin mass from the Eastern Church in the 7th century, theAgnus Dei has been written primarily in neumatic style.
- The Proper of the Mass is a collection of texts that are different for each mass in order to highlight the significance of each feast or season celebrated that day.
- During the 9th century, it had taken on its current form: a neumatic refrain followed by a psalm verse in psalm-tone style, followed by the refrain repeated.
- As time progressed, it evolved into the following structure: opening melody (chorus)—psalm verse or verses in a virtuously embellished psalmodic structure (soloist)—opening melody (chorus), which was repeated in whole or in part.
- Its structure is similar to that of the Gradual in some ways.
- Synagogue music has a strong connection to this chant.
- Sacred poems, in their modern form, the texts are written in double-line stanzas, with the same accentuation and number of syllables on both lines for each two lines.
- By the 12th century, only the refrain had survived from the original psalm and refrain.
- The Offertory is distinguished by the repetition of text.
- The music has a neumatic feel to it.
Responses are short texts that precede or follow each psalm and are mostly set in syllabic chant; psalms, with each set to a psalm tone; hymns, which are usually metrical and in strophes or stanzas and set in a neumatic style; and antiphons or refrains, which are short texts that precede or follow each psalm and are mostly set in syllabic The Gradual’s form and style are influenced by the sponsor’s contribution.
Amy Tikkanen has made the most recent revisions and updates to this article.
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.
Medieval Church Music: Gregorian Chant & Plainchant – Video & Lesson Transcript
The arts were associated with the liturgy during the Middle Ages (500-1450), according to the church. They were powerful and wealthy, and they were in charge of the majority of choices, including dictating the job and paying musicians.
The church established a set of standards that everyone must adhere to. This music, which was termed plainchant, had a hollow tone to it. It was only slightly different from one location to the next when it came to unaccompanied church music (sang in unison). Despite this, holy music was the most popular, and it is said that the music regulations were delivered from above.
According to legend, the standardizing components It came from a dove who spoke in hushed tones to Pope Gregory. This may seem absurd, but it is the only record available, and as a result, the probable myth has endured for years. We’ll never know where it originates from in its true form. As a result, the tale continues to exist as status quo, with the belief that he is the one who established the cans and can’ts, which is why we refer to it as Gregorian Chant. Plainchant is a style of song that is sung in unison.
There was no harmony or instrumental accompaniment; they all sang the same song.
It was derived from other ancient religions, and perhaps simply a few inflections were borrowed from them.
Long, free-flowing rhythms were created from such a little quotation.
Organum and Interval Definitions
As time went on, the music became monotonous. One melody has missing notes, but they wanted it to be complete. Their hopes and ambitions came fulfilled in the year 900. Rather than simply one note, they might have two notes instead. The organum was composed of two melodic lines. Songs are sung at parallel intervals that have been properly defined The distance between two pitches on a football team’s field. You just read the notes as if they were a graph on a computer screen. It is possible to calculate the interval by counting the number of lines and spaces, which includes both notes and empty spaces.
- The clergy conferred at three different intervals: the fourth, fifth, and octave were all deserving of the title.
- It makes no difference whether you begin with a space or a line.
- Thefifthis is another one that’s regularly encountered.
- Both of the pitches lie on lines or spaces, which makes it easier to distinguish the fifth from the other pitches.
Finally, the octave is the longest span that has been seen. In between, there is a pitch range of eight different pitches. It’s a great choice for men’s and boys’ choruses. This wonderful sound is produced by an octave.
The Book of Gregorian Chant
Liturgical music and Latin texts make up the bulk of the book’s content. It is the chants from the Ordinary of the Mass that comprise the majority of the manuscript, including arrangements of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Ite Missa Est, Deo gratias, and Benedicamus Domino texts. In this collection, you’ll find a variety of chants from various Proper settings, such as those from the Asperges Mass, the Requiem Mass, the Mass for a Church’s Dedication, the Mass for the Purification of Mary (Candlemas), and others.
- Francisci, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lady Day), Maundy Thursday, and Palm Sunday, among other occasions.
- The UMKC Library Catalog contains a comprehensive listing of the manuscript’s contents, which can be found here.
- Six scribes appear to have contributed to the book, according to an examination of the notation features..
- In addition to the initial notation, other scribes “fixed” the work of prior scribes, which was done in a variety of ways.
- The process of comparing the original with the new version of various chants, and then comparing those two versions with other medieval sources, was critical in determining the publication date of the book.
- This, together with the fact that the number of staff lines varied from four to six lines per staff in the manuscript, indicates that at least a portion of the book was written before the standard staff for chant notation were established.
- Alumnus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music James Adair purchased the manuscript in 1968 while visiting Seville, Spain.
Adair has determined that a stamp in purple ink that occurs on three folios (folios 26r, 93r, and 98r) is an official identifying mark from the Spanish government.
Adair presented the book to the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Library in 1973, which later became a component of the Miller Nichols Library.
Every chant in the UMKC text has been recorded in contemporary notation, which is the most significant outcome of her endeavor.
A lecture-recital based on chosen chants from the UMKC text was delivered on April 16, 2000, at the RLDS Temple in Independence, Mo.
Kraybill was the guest speaker for the event.
After the chants, Dr.
Kraybill, who graciously provided a recording of it.
They are the Kyrie and Alleluia from the Mass for the Dedication of a Church, as well as the Antiphon from the Palm Sunday celebration.
Kraybill’s transcriptions of them, are also available on this website for viewing and listening.
Kraybill has contributed digitized photographs from the book for use in this web exhibit, in addition to the written text.
The experience and research of Ms.
Moses Ong, Special Collections volunteer and former student assistant, who gave extremely beneficial technical support. We would like to express our gratitude to Rob Ray, our previous Special Collections Librarian, for his leadership and assistance during this endeavor.
An acclamation that is sung immediately after the Introit in the Latin Mass is known as the Kyrie. Lord, have mercy on us,’ says the fundamental text, which is in Greek, which is composed of the phrases ‘Kyrie, eleison’ (three times), ‘Christe, eleison’ (three times), and ‘Kyrie, eleison’ (three times): ‘Lord, have mercy on us,’ says the text. Please, Christ, have mercy on me. ‘Lord, take compassion on me.’ After becoming popularized as part of pagan civic and religious events throughout the Roman Empire, the phrase ‘kyrie eleison’ continued to be employed in Christian rites, eventually becoming a staple of many Christian liturgies beginning in the 6th century and continuing today.
(This information comes from the New Grove II Dictionary of Music and Musicians Online.) The audio element cannot be played because your browser does not support it.
Kraybill’s performance of the Kyrie eleison is available on CD.
This Proper chant is performed after the Gradual during the Fore-Mass on liturgical days connected with penitence and fasting (most notably during Lent), and on liturgical occasions associated with sadness (such as the Requiem Mass), when it may be substituted by the Tract. During Paschal Time, which begins with Low Sunday and ends with High Sunday, the Gradual is skipped and two Alleluias are sung instead. After singing the word “alleluia” and closing with a prolonged melismatic flourish (the Jubilus), the Alleluia will be followed by a somewhat ornate verse, followed by another repetition of the phrase “alleluia.” The Alleluia will be done in a responsorial way.
Although there is no evidence of such participation by the chorus in the early sources, it is possible that the chorus sang at least the final iteration of the Alleluia at some point.
This form of liturgical chant was common to the Gregorian and other Western chant repertoires and was connected mostly with antiphonal psalmody, although it was also used in other contexts. When a Psalm or canticle is being sang, it is customary for the refrain to be composed in basic syllabic manner, and it is usually only a few measures in length. There were, on the other hand, several sorts of Antiphons that were not related with psalmody at all. In the processional Antiphons, which were first preserved in graduals and later in separate books and sung at processions on such occassions as the Feast of the Purification (Candlemas), the Greater Litanies, and Palm Sunday, there were verses after the fasion of responsories that were sometimes included in a processional.
It is still used in processionals at modern services, which is a testament to its longevity.
The UMKC text has just a few chants from the Office. This one, from the Office of “Terce,” would have been at the church at 9 a.m. for worship. This information is derived from the New Harvard Dictionary of Music.
According to an examination of the peculiarities of the notation, it appears that six scribes worked on the UMKC’s Book of Gregorian Chant. ‘Scribe 1’ is responsible for the majority of the manuscript’s work, which includes the biggest illumination in the text, a capital “P,” which occurs on folio 82r and takes up more than half of the page (left). In addition to the initial notation, other scribes “fixed” the work of prior scribes, which was done in a variety of ways. On the right is a page from the manuscript (folio 8r), which was written by another scribe and features an illumination of the letter “P,” but this illumination is much different from the previous one.
Kraybill, “the illuminations distinguish and enhance the beauty of this book, as is true of many medieval instances.” Many various colors of pen were used to produce these text decorations, including black, red, teal blue, dark blue, green and orange.
As a result, a wide variety of techniques were employed, yielding results that ranged from extremely ornate and colorful decorations that filled the margins from top to bottom with beautiful filigree to very crude, “colored-in” letters that appeared to be a clumsy attempt by an unskilled hand to imitate the beauty of the former.
Folio 8r has the final section of the Asperges Antiphon with Psalm, as well as the first section of an unnamed Credo, among other things (which also begins with an illuminated “P”).
Although we have three Latin Creeds (the ‘Apostles’, the ‘Nicene, and the ‘Athanasian’), the history of the texts is complicated; nonetheless, the one used at Mass is the one often referred to as the ‘Nicene.’ Early in the 6th century, the Credo was introduced into the eucharistic liturgy in the eastern church in the form known as the ‘Nicene’ (or ‘Nicea-Constantinople’) version (so named because it summarizes the doctrines agreed upon at the Councils of Nicea, 325, and Constantinople, 381), and soon after that, it was introduced into the Visigothic rite by the Council of Toledo (589).
In both cases, it was instituted in the wake of theological disputes, with the goal of defining the conviction that all those who participate in the Eucharist should hold in common.
Baptismal usage of the Credo (or Symbolum, as it was known in this capacity) persisted throughout the Middle Ages, and it is thought to have been responsible for the maintenance of a Greek text in Latin manuscripts depicting customs in northern France and Germany during this period.
(Image courtesy of the New Grove II Dictionary of Music and Musicians on the Internet.)
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|
The Middle Ages
A study of the peculiarities of the notation indicates that six scribes worked on the UMKC’s Book of Gregorian Chant, according to the findings. Scribe 1’s work constitutes the majority of the manuscript, and he is also responsible for the greatest illumination in the text, a capital “P” that occurs on folio 82r and takes up more than half of the page (left). In addition to the initial notation, other scribes “fixed” the work of prior scribes, which was a common practice at the time. Right: A page from the manuscript (folio 8r), written by another scribe, which likewise has an illumination of the letter “P,” but which is quite different in character from the previous one.
Kraybill says, “the illuminations distinguish this text and enhance its attractiveness.
Various techniques were employed, resulting in a variety of effects, ranging from extremely ornate and colorful decorations that fill the margins from top to bottom with beautiful filigree to very crude, “colored-in” letters that appear to be an amateurish attempt to imitate the beauty of the former.
A portion of the Asperges Antiphon with Psalm, as well as the first section of an unnamed Credo, may be found on Folio 8r (which also begins with an illuminated “P”).
Although we have three Latin Creeds (the ‘Apostles’, the ‘Nicene, and the ‘Athanasian’), the history of the texts is complicated; nonetheless, the one used at Mass is the one often referred to as the “Nicene.” It was introduced into the eastern eucharistic liturgy in the early 6th century in the form known as the ‘Nicene’ (or ‘Nicea-Constantinople’) version (so named because it summarises the doctrines agreed upon at the Councils of Nicea in 325 and Constantinople in 381), and it was adopted into the Visigothic rite not long afterward by the Council of Toledo (589).
This practice’s adoption followed theological disputes in both situations, with the goal of clarifying the conviction that everyone who participate in the Eucharist should hold as a result of their participation.
Baptismal usage of the Credo (or Symbolum, as it was known in this capacity) persisted throughout the Middle Ages, and it is thought to have been responsible for the maintenance of a Greek version in Latin manuscripts portraying customs in northern France and Germany at the time.
Musicians and composers are included in the New Grove II Dictionary of Music and Musicians Online.