Monday, October 19, 2015

Introduction to Gregorian Chant

Here is a helpful resource. To quote:
The chant we now call Gregorian is the descendent of the basic cantilation that evolved in the Roman rite from its beginning. Although some of it dates from the earliest days of Christianity, using music from the Second Temple, it took its current form between the 8th and 10th centuries, when Roman chant was melded with Frankish (French/German) chant. There were other forms of chant in the West, e.g., Milanese (Ambrosian) and Beneventan, but this chant was recognised as a more universal form. It eventually received the label ‘Gregorian’ because, even though Pope St. Gregory the Great was long dead, naming it for the great pope was intended to enhance its prestige and special place in the Roman rite. That special place has endured.

 Following the lead of earlier popes, most notably Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII, Vatican Council II declared in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy that, ‘The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given the principal place (principem locum) in liturgical services.’ (Sacrosanctum Concilium, Chapter VI, no. 116) And after stating that the vernacular languages should take their proper place, that same document, adds: ‘Nevertheless, steps should be taken enabling the faithful to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass belonging to them.’ (Chapter II, no. 54) (Read more.)

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