What Is Functional Chant In Gregorian Chant

Clefs in Gregorian chant: complete guide [with examples]

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C clef or Do clef

Look at the following musical notation that represents asyllabic melody: TheC clefis the symbol at the top left of the score, which is highlighted in red. If you look closely at the shape of this clef, you will see that it closely resembles the letter C. According to what you can see, it has been placed on the fourth line of the four-line staff, known as the tetragram, which was historically used by Medieval monks to notateGregorian chant. It’s vital to note that the C clef can be placed in any of the four lines of the staff, depending on the situation.

In this example, you can see how the first two bars of the Gregorian melody stated above were transposed from a four-line staff to a five-line staff: Keep in mind that the frequency assigned to the note C was chosen at random since the clefs in Gregorian chant were used to help the performer identify the intervals of a certain tune rather than the precise frequencies.

F clef or Fa clef

Let me now focus my attention to the F clef and how it was represented in the Gregorian chanting system. Pay close attention to the following musical notation: Located at the top left of the four-line staff, the F clef is represented by a red circle around the sign. A square note and the C clef are combined to make this key in terms of graphical representation. When you look at the sample I’ve picked, the F clef is positioned on the third line of the staff and marks the position of the note F, as you would anticipate.

However, the great majority of Gregorian musical compositions choose to use the F clef on the third line rather than the first.

G is placed on the third line, and A is placed on the fourth line, as we progress higher.

As previously stated, theclefs in Gregorian chant are used to indicate the relationships between half and whole notes, not to indicate an absolute frequency, so you are free to begin the piece at any pitch you want.

Rather than starting with the note C, as written on the staff, the performer who performs this rendition ofUt queant laxis begins with a note D. Take a listen to this:

Four Traits of Gregorian Chant

We covered the fundamentals of what makes some genres of music improper for use in the liturgy in the previous introduction post to this series, which can be found here. During our conversation, we discussed the role of art in communication as well as the purpose of musical genres, and we also emphasized that Gregorian chant is the native liturgical music of the western world. In this article, we will provide a definition of Gregorian Chant and analyze the characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of music.

  • In the liturgy, chant is not only music performed in the background, but rather an aesthetic adornment laid on the liturgical activity.
  • Instead of being spoken, Gregorian chant is the liturgical prayer performed in a singing style.
  • There are various different forms of chant in this collection.
  • Among the basic things in this corpus are things like singing the Mass responses on a single note, as well as challenging and intricate antiphons that are sung by professional choirs.
  • The dispute over what sort of music should be played during Mass is about much more than just whether types and forms are proper or inappropriate for the occasion.
  • Because this specific topic is quite objective, the debate cannot be reduced to a simple question of personal preference.
  • Monophonic, free-flowing, a cappella, and prayer, it is a beautiful piece of music.

This signifies that there is just one point of view.

The vocalists’ voices all sing the same lyrics at the same time, to the same tune, in the same order.

It has an unstructured beat.

In other words, there is a consistent, recurring rhythm present.

The great majority of the Gregorian repertoire, on the other hand, is not in this category (the exceptions being office hymns and sequences).

The reason for this is that the music is inextricably linked to the liturgical text, which is often in the form of a written discourse.

Is there a recurring pattern?

Despite the fact that chant has rhythm, it is the rhythm of prose speaking that distinguishes it from the rhythms that we are accustomed to hearing in most other types of music.

Music with a powerful beat is more appealing to the carnal side of man, and it has an effect on his desires.

In contrast, Gregorian chant is more intellectual in nature and appeals to one’s higher spiritual sensibilities.

This indicates that it is sung entirely on its own, without the accompaniment of an instrument, or at least it was at one time.

This is a topic of discussion among individuals who chant, and it appears that using an organ in conjunction with chant is now considered negative by many.

However, it seems unassailable that chant was initially performed a cappella in both its form and composition in its original form.

It is critical to ensure that the usage of chantisprayer is not mistaken for a performance.

The vocalists should be conscious of what they are singing and make an effort to sing with genuine emotion.

Maintaining the chant’s spiritual significance is the highest goal. In the following section, we’ll look at how chant relates to the liturgical framework and the responsibilities that people play in the church. Ben P. contributed to this article.

Gregorian chant

As we covered in the previous article in this series, certain forms of music are prohibited for use in the liturgy because of specific rules that must be followed. During our conversation, we discussed the role of art in communication as well as the purpose of musical genres, and we also emphasized that Gregorian chant is the native liturgical music of the Western world. Gregorian Chant is defined in this article, and we will analyze the ways in which it differs from other types of chanting in the following paragraphs.

  • Gregorian chant may be heard in many other languages, including English, Spanish, and French.
  • It is liturgy, rather than a religion.
  • Gregorian chant is not a musical style, it is vital to understand this.
  • As a collection of musical works, Gregorian chant is more than just a song.
  • In knowing this description, it should be quite easy to discern the difference between Gregorian chant and the chanting that occurs during an ordinary Mass.
  • Another consideration is whether we are singing at Mass or whether we are singing the Mass ourselves.
  • The chant differs from other genres of music in a number of ways, and these characteristics serve to make a distinction between them.

Monophonic is the term used.

Despite appearances, there is no coherence.

There is a unification of the numerous voices.

Metrical rhythm may be found in nearly all other types of music.

Dance music, for example, must have a steady, repeated rhythm to keep the listener’s attention.

Free rhythm is what is used to describe Gregorian chant instead.

Make a mental note of what you’re going to say.

To be sure, yet it differs from the regular recurrent rhythm of a clock ticking, for example, which is more consistent.

For spiritual reasons, this is significant.

In any room full of preschoolers, just playing music with a loud rhythm will illustrate this; they will move in time to the music.

There are no instruments in this piece.

Recently, chant has been performed with organ accompaniment, either to compensate for poor singing or because it is perceived to be too simple in its original condition.

In the absence of any statistical evidence to support or refute this, it will continue to be a topic of debate.

However, the most crucial thing is that the Gregorian chant is chanted during the prayers.

In the process of learning to sing chant, it is easy to become distracted by the mechanics of the chant.

The highest aim is to ensure that the chant is a prayer. In the following section, we’ll look at how chant relates to the liturgical framework and the roles that people play during the service. Ben P. wrote this article.

What key is Gregorian chant in?

In what key does Gregorian chant take place? The Gregorian notation system was created largely for the purpose of committing holy chants from the beginning of the second millennium on paper. The scale that was employed is as follows in current notes: C, D, E, F, G, and A. There are no differences in the intervals between these notes and those in current notation. Notes are written on a four-line staff to keep them organized. Gregorian chant has a particular tune, which you may hear below. The melody of a Gregorian chant is highly free-flowing, as is the rhythm of the music.

  1. Melodies are frequently melismatic in nature, in that syllables are stretched across numerous notes.
  2. What is the pace of the Gregorian chant?
  3. Notes may be maintained for a “short” or “long” period of time, but no complicated rhythms are utilized in this piece.
  4. Gregorian chant is the music of the church, which was born out of the church’s liturgy.
  5. Gregorian chant is performed in a free rhythm, with no regard to meter or time.

What key is Gregorian chant in? – Related Questions

Is Gregorian chant performed in a certain key? The primary purpose of Gregorian notation was to record liturgical chants from the beginning of the second millennium on paper. The scale employed is, in contemporary notes, C, D, E, F, G, and A. The notes of the scale are: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. There are no differences in the intervals between these notes and those found in current musical notation. It is customary to write notes on a four-line staff. Gregorian chant has a distinctive tune. Its melody is highly free-flowing, and it is characteristic of Gregorian chant.

  • In many melodies, syllables are stretched out across numerous notes, which is known as melismatic structure.
  • The Gregorian Chant is sung at what tempo?
  • It is possible to hold notes for a “short” or “long” period of time, but no complicated rhythms are employed.
  • In the church’s liturgy, Gregorian chant is the music that is unique to the church.
  • With no meter or time signature, the Gregorian chant is in free rhythm.
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Is Gregorian chant still used today?

What key does Gregorian chant take place in? Gregorian notation was created largely for the purpose of committing religious chants from the beginning of the second millennium on paper. The scale employed is, in contemporary notes, C, D, E, F, G, and A. The notes in the scale are C, D, E, F, G, and A. The intervals between these notes are the same as they are in current notation, which is convenient. Notes are written on a four-line staff to facilitate reading. Is there a melody to the Gregorian chant?

  1. The chant progresses up and down in little increments and jumps within a limited range.
  2. Harmony – Because Gregorian chants have a monophonic texture, they lack harmony.
  3. For Gregorian chants, there is no specific beat that can be identified.
  4. Is Gregorian chant measured in beats per minute?

Gregorian chant is the music of the church, originating in the church’s liturgy. Its texts are nearly exclusively biblical, with the majority of them originating in the Psalter. It is not necessary to use a meter or a time signature when singing Gregorian chant.

What is an example of a Gregorian chant?

Every service of the Mass uses the same text for the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, which are all sung in the same order. These chants are referred to be “Ordinary” because they are performed in accordance with the regular and invariable “order” of the Mass.

Why is Gregorian chant seldom heard today?

Every celebration of the Mass uses the same text for the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei. This type of chant is referred to as “Ordinary” because it follows the regular, invariable “order” of the Mass.

What is the function of Gregorian chant?

Gregorian chant is a type of liturgical music that is either monophonic or unison in nature, and it is used to accompany the text of the mass and the canonical hours, also known as the holy office.

Why does Gregorian chant sound so different?

Roman Catholic liturgical music consisting of monophonic or unison chants that is used to accompany the readings of the mass and the canonical hours, or divine office, is known as Gregorian chant or Gregorian chanting.

What is the prime characteristic of Gregorian chant?

It is a type of modal music composed in scales of highly specific sounds that may elicit a wide range of emotions such as withdrawal, happiness, melancholy, and peace in listeners (See the section of Modes). Its melody is syllabic if every word of the text relates to a single sound, and it is melismatic if a single syllable corresponds to a number of different sounds.

Who wrote Gregorian chants quizlet?

Plainchant, often known as Gregorian Chant, was regulated by Pope Gregory I between 800 and 1400 C.E. (9th-15th centuries).

What instruments are used in Gregorian chant?

Many plucked string instruments, such as the lute, mandore, gittern, and psaltery, are employed in medieval music. The dulcimers, which are structurally similar to the psaltery and the zither, were initially plucked instruments, but they were struck in the fourteenth century as a result of the development of new technology that made metal strings conceivable.

What is chant music?

A chant is a form of song that has a repeated, monotonous pattern. It is popular in India. It is also something that sports fans like doing. The term “to chant” has come to denote “to repeat things in a monotonous or repetitive manner” as a result of this sort of music. Chants are devoid of harmony or instrumental accompaniment, instead relying on a basic rhythm and a great deal of repetition.

Is Gregorian Chant 2 part song?

It is a form of musical composition in which the melody is repeated over and over again in a monotonous fashion. Sporting events are also something that many sports enthusiasts enjoy participating in. The term “to chant” has come to denote “to repeat things in a monotonous or repetitive manner” as a result of this kind of music. Songs without harmony or instruments are known as chants. Chants are distinguished by their repetitive nature, basic rhythm, and lack of instrumental accompaniment.

Do monks chant?

The Buddhist monks, who have been exiled from Tibet since the 1950s, were focusing on the sound of harmonic chanting, which they believe to represent the emptiness of the universe. They generate numerous notes simultaneously over three octaves when they are chanting in the Tibetan tradition.

What is the religion of Gregorian?

Classical Western plainchant, or Gregorian chant, is an unaccompanied monophonic holy music that originated in the western Roman Catholic Church and is still practiced today.

The Gregorian rite. The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory is a religious order of friars that exists within the Anglican Communion. The community’s members, referred to as “Gregorians,” are made up of clergy and laypeople.

What is the difference between Gregorian chant from Madrigal?

Classical Western plainchant, or Gregorian chant, is an unaccompanied monophonic holy singing that originated in the western Roman Catholic Church and continues to this day. The Gregorian mass is celebrated every year on the first Sunday of January. In the Anglican Communion, there is a group of friars known as the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory. There are clergy and laypeople among the community’s members, who are referred to as “Gregorians.”

Are Gregorian chants healing?

Gregorian Chant is used for healing meditation, deep relaxation, spa treatments, sleep, massage, spiritual meditation, and music therapy, among other things. Being in the presence of the Gregorian Chants is an uplifting and soothing experience.

What is the intellectual movement called humanism?

Humanism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes the value of human life and its accomplishments. The term “humanism” refers to the intellectual movement that dominated the Renaissance.

How do Gregorian chants tend to move?

Gregorian chant is composed of a melody set to a holy Latin text and is performed without the accompaniment of an orchestra. The chant is sung in a single voice. The melodies have a tendency to progress step by step inside a limited range of frequencies. Chants can range from being quite basic to being extremely sophisticated and ornate.

Which do you think is easier to sing a chant or a pop song Why?

A step-by-step explanation: Chanting is easier than singing because it eliminates the need for the singer to make their voice curve.

Is plainchant and Gregorian chant the same?

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. Even though the phrases are sometimes used improperly as synonyms, Gregorian Chant is a type of plainchant that is derived from the Latin language.

What is a chant music appreciation?

Gregorian chant is a musical composition adapted to holy Latin texts that is performed without instrumental accompaniment. For more than 1,000 years, this was the official music of the Roman Catholic Church, which is still in use today. Pope Gregory 1 the Great was the inspiration for the composition, which has a monophonic feel.

What is the texture of Gregorian chant?

Gregorian Chant’s Texture and Melody are both beautiful. A monophonic texture characterizes Gregorian chant (as well as many other forms of chants from throughout the world), and the singers sing in unison throughout (all singers sing the exact same melody together).

Gregorian Chant

Melodies that are exquisitely pure, dating back to the very beginnings of Western music. Available onApple Music, iTunes, CD, or Spotify, and taken from the albumGregorian Chant (1000 Years of Classical Music). Leaving the YouTube Playlist is not an option. Users of the Firefox NVDA extension – To see the following content, hit the letter ‘M’ to bring up the iFrame.

When was Gregorian Chant first performed?

The first performance of Gregorian Chant took place in the seventh century, when…

  • The United Kingdom is split between Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the south and east and Celtic kingdoms in the north and west
  • Pagan tribes occupy central, eastern, and northern Europe
  • And the continent of Europe is separated between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The majority of the Spanish peninsula is under Muslim authority, with Christian kingdoms remaining mainly in the extreme north of the country. Additionally, Arab armies have conquered northern Africa, nearly all of the Middle East (including wiping away the Persian Empire), and have advanced as far as western India. And in 754, following a visit by the Pope, King Pepin ordered that the Roman form of plainchant, or “Gregorian chant,” as it would later be known, be adopted as the norm across the Frankish realm, replacing the local chants.

Performing Gregorian Chant

The understanding of non-diastimatic (staffless) neumes in key medieval manuscripts, particularly when interpreting and performing Gregorian chant repertory, is vital, especially when striving for a historically accurate performance practice. They include a lot of material that can help a performer comprehend the rhythmic and interpretive needs of Gregorian chant, and they are available online.

The following four manuscripts, which are particularly rich in this way, either via their employment of significative letters or by the visual forms of the neumes themselves, are particularly noteworthy:

  1. Cantatorium St. Gall 359 (Switzerland), early 11th century
  2. Laon Codex 239 (France), 10th century
  3. Einsiedeln Codex 121 (Switzerland), early 11th century
  4. Bamberg Lit. 6 (Germany), c.10th century
  5. Laon Codex 239 (France

In Gregorian chant, the verbal text is essential in influencing and molding the melodic contours, and it plays an important role in this process. The primary role of the extra signs and letters that have been added to the visual design of the neumes itself is to assist in the right representation of the text through agogic (duration) and dynamic emphasis. For example, the following illustration from Psalm 21 depicts a letter such as a “T” over certain neumes. This “T” is an abbreviation for tenete, which literally translates as “to hold and emphasize.” O Deus meus, clamabo per diem: O my God, I will weep throughout the day.

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This is a very dramatic period in the singing of this chant, with repeated allusions to the word’me’ (‘look at me,’ ‘why hast thou deserted me’).

O Deus meus, clamabo per diem: O my God, I will weep throughout the day.

They are used in response to the textual moods; they are attached to or placed near the neume, and their purpose is to guide the singer toward an effective, even dramatic interpretation in the’sounding out loud’ of the text, not only assimilating the meaning of each word, but also expressing each nuance in the voice, as described above.

Gregorian Chant facts

  • Music from the Western musical history that has been passed down to us is Gregorian chant, which is the oldest form of music known to man. Legend has it that Pope Gregory I — known as “Gregory the Great” — composed the first of these chants, although he died in 604, more than a century before the practice came to be accepted as official church music. Gregory II, the Pope, was the most likely Gregory in question, given his name occurs on several early chant books dating back to the fifth century. We don’t know who composed the melodies
  • The music consists of a melody that is sung in unison without the use of any accompanying instrumental accompaniment. This music has a smooth and steady pace that follows the regular flow of syllables in the Latin words. Gregorian chant was formerly the primary mode of worship for medieval monks and nuns, who sang all of their church services in it. It wasn’t until the 11th century that a consistent technique for writing music down was established, so they had to learn all of the chants by heart. Small dots and squiggles, referred to as “neumes,” were put above the words to indicate when the song went up and when it went down, which was the first form of notation. It was an Italian monk named Guido of Arezzo who came up with the notion of employing a “stave,” which is a group of parallel lines that are ruled across the page, to divide a page into sections.

Dom Eugene Cardine, a monk from Solesmes Abbey who later became Professor of Gregorian Studies at the Gregorian Pontifical Institute in Rome, conducted semiological study in the mid-20th century that revealed new meanings connected with unheightened neumes (early neumes without any pitch as aided by staff lines). The outcomes of this study were published in 1970. Given the wealth of knowledge gained through this extensive research, which was carried out by scholars, students, and others who were influenced by Cardine’s work and who benefited from his many years of performance experience, it was critical that these rhythmically complex neumes be correctly interpreted through comparison of manuscripts from various traditions.

An Introduction to Gregorian Chant by Richard Crocker states: ‘While it is true that the indicators of subtlety are a consequence of 10th-century musical sensibility, it appears equally true that their influence on performance must rely upon the sensitivity of the singer who is interpreting them’.

In reality, the singing members of the resident chant schola would have known the Psalter and the Mass Propers off by memory if they had been present.

The psalms depict a wide range of circumstances and conditions affecting the human spirit.

Any detailed inspection of the early manuscripts reveals melodic subtleties that are so inextricably intertwined with the psalm words that they are indistinguishable from one another.

Rimini Antiphonal (1328)

Originally obtained by Nelson Moore Richardson from a London book dealer in 1924, the Rimini Antiphonal was presented to the State Library of New South Wales by Nelson Moore Richardson in 1928. Neri da Rimini, a prominent 14th-century Italian miniaturist, is represented through his work in this exhibition. As one of the first and most notable miniaturists of northern Italy, Rimini made an essential contribution to the development of Italian art during his lifetime. It is now possible to find examples of his work all over the world, and the State Library of New South Wales is the only Australian cultural institution that is home to such a significant specimen of his work.

It was necessary to make deliberate decisions about where and how to incorporate the interpretative signs and letters that are so important to 10th-century chant notation into the Rimini chants because the manuscript itself is almost completely devoid of these nuances, which were essential to the 10th-century tradition of chant notation.

When the Rimini Antiphonal was aired globally on the History Channel’s Lost and Found show in November 2011, the chant was performed in its entirety.

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.

  1. Francisci, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lady Day), Maundy Thursday, and Palm Sunday, among other occasions.
  2. The UMKC Library Catalog contains a comprehensive listing of the manuscript’s contents, which can be found here.
  3. Six scribes appear to have contributed to the book, according to an examination of the notation features..
  4. In addition to the initial notation, other scribes “fixed” the work of prior scribes, which was done in a variety of ways.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Janet K.


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.



The Alleluia of the Mass is a Proper chant that is sung during the Fore-Mass following the Gradual on liturgical occasions associated with penitence and fasting (most notably during Lent), as well as on occasions associated with sorrow (such as the Requiem Mass), when it may be replaced by the Tract. It is customary to skip the Gradual during Paschal Time, which begins with Low Sunday and ends with High Sunday. After singing the word “alleluia” and culminating 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 fashion.

Musicians and composers are included in the New Grove II Dictionary of Music and Musicians Online. Audio elements cannot be played because your browser lacks support for them. The Alleluia is performed by Dr. Kraybill in recital.


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.

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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.)

A brief history of Gregorian chant from King David to the present

One might imagine that something as simple as “plainchant” or “plainsong” would not provide much to write about; after all, the mere name implies that it is plain and that it is chant. However, this is not the case. In actuality, Gregorian chant is anything from plain, save in the sense that its lovely melodies are intended to be sung unaccompanied and unharmonized, as befits the old monastic culture from which they came, as befits the ancient monastic culture from which they sprang. In Western music, what we term “Gregorian chant” is one of the richest and most delicate art forms available — in fact, it is one of the richest and most subtle art forms available in any civilization.

  • Different books of the Old Testament, particularly the Psalms and the Chronicles, provide witness to the significant role that music played in temple worship.
  • Considering that the Psalter of David was prepared specifically for the sake of divine worship and was widely regarded as the Messianic literature par excellence, we find that Peter, Paul, and the Apostolic Fathers make frequent use of it in their preaching and teaching.
  • In this way, the Christian ritual as a whole emerged from the union of the Psalter and the Sacrifice.
  • Our absolute submission to God is represented by the gory sacrifice of an animal, which results in the death and destruction of the animal.
  • During the first millennium of the Christian era, the art of chant flourished.
  • Gregory the Great, who reigned from 590 to 604, a body of chant for the Mass and the daily circle of prayer had already been established (Divine Office).
  • Gregory ordered the musical repertory, as a consequence of which the chant has been known as “Gregorian” ever since, a tribute to his memory.

Before the year 800, the core of the Gregorian chant repertory had been assembled, and the vast majority of it had been finished by the year 1200.

No one could have imagined divorcing the texts of the liturgy from their accompanying music; they were like a body-soul composite or a happily married pair to each other.

Once the chasuble, stole, alb, amice, and maniple became established, no one in their right mind would consider doing away with them.

In the same way, the chants are the clothing that the liturgical texts are dressed in.

No one could have imagined divorcing the texts of the liturgy from their accompanying music; they were like a body-soul composite or a happily married pair to each other.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, chant had fallen into a condition of significant ruin and neglect due to a lack of maintenance.

— would have to take place sooner or later.

Dom Prosper Guéranger (1805–1875) founded Solesmes Abbey in 1833 and developed it into a center of monastic practice, including the complete chanting of the Divine Office and the celebration of the Mass.

After his election as Pope in 1903, St.

As a result, the monks completed their work, and Pius X gave his blessing to it.

A clear and logical connection may be traced from Solesmes and Pius X to the Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, known as Sacrosanctum Concilium.

The holy music heritage must be carefully safeguarded and nurtured in order to be passed on to future generations.


However, other types of holy music, particularly polyphony, are by no means barred from liturgical celebrations, as long as they are in keeping with the spirit of the liturgical act.

Unfortunately, an explosive mix of fake antiquarianism and novelty-seeking modernism put a huge wrench into the works, resulting in a battle zone of clashing views in which we are currently stuck — and in which chant has almost completely disappeared.

However, there are signs that the tide is beginning to turn in a few locations. Chant will never perish since it is the most ideal form of liturgical music there is.


“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.

The Author

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.

7.2 – Gregorian Chant – Music Back in the Day

This course introduces the novice listener to the glories of classical music, from Bach fugues to Mozart symphonies to Puccini operas, all taught in a straightforward and engaging manner by an experienced instructor. Take a look at the syllabus

Skills You’ll Learn

Art History, Music, Chord, and History are all topics covered in this course.


  • Art History, Music, Chord, and History are some of the topics covered in this section.

24th of March, 2021AB 13th of January, 2021 As a result of the lesson Back in the day, there was music. During the course of this semester, we will study a thousand years of musical growth! We’ll begin with the Middle Ages and examine its utilitarian chants and dancing music, then go on to the Renaissance period, and then end by listening to the extravagant melodies of opera that were heard throughout the early Baroque era. You’ll begin to understand how advancements in musical notation have allowed compositions to grow both more particular and more complicated as a result of these developments.

Some of these musical inventors and pioneers, such as Hildegard of Bingen and Johann Pachelbel, will be discussed in detail along the road, so stay tuned!

This will be a tremendous treat, made possible thanks to the assistance of Yale educator Grant Herreid and his students. We owe him a great deal of gratitude!

Taught By

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