Friday, August 28, 2015

Catholics and the Return of Plain Chant

From Regina:
Unbeknownst to us, Plain Chant – also known as ‘Gregorian’ Chant – was and is nothing less than the 1400-year old ancient voice of the Church.  Dating from the 6th century, it takes its name from Pope St. Gregory the Great, who instituted it into the liturgy. 

Over the centuries, Chant – like everything in the Church — has seen corruption and reform,  but through the millennia it  remained Catholics’ principal way of praying in music in the Church. This,  until the Second Vatican Council, when other music began to replace chant within the liturgy — despite the Council’s express statement that ‘The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman … All other things being equal, Gregorian chant holds pride of place because it is proper to the Roman Liturgy. 1

Imbued with an enthusiasm known as the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II, in the decades following the Council, liturgists and prelates all but banished chant, until in 1994 something shocking happened. The monks of Silos, a monastery near Burgos, Spain, became internationally famous with their album Chant. Astonishingly, Chant peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200, and was certified as triple platinum, becoming the best-selling album of Gregorian chant ever released.

Suddenly, the monks’ chant reached a huge global audience, and by the mid-1990s a few in the Church had begun to question the status quo. Even more interest was aroused in 2000, when the documents of the Second Vatican Council became globally available on the Vatican website. To the question, ‘Why had this ethereal treasure of the Church been banished?’ there came no official answer. Only the Council Fathers’ own statement resonated through the years, clear as a bell. (Read more.)

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