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2480Latin chant mass, San Francisco, Sept 2

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  • David Alban
    Sep 1, 2006
      A Latin Mass according to the Anglican Rite will be celebrated at
      Church of the Advent of Christ the King on Saturday, September 2nd at
      5.00pm. The Gregorian propers for the Eve of Pentecost XIII will be
      sung by the Schola Cantorum, directed by Paul M. Ellison. The
      congregation will sing the much-loved Missa de Angelis.

      A reception follows in Lathrop Hall. Advent is located at 261 Fell
      Street, between Franklin and Gough in San Francisco.

      (415) 431-5439

      Please join us, and step out of the modern world and back in time,
      into the timeless world that chant inhabits.

      A Short Introduction to Gregorian chant

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://wikipedia.org/

      Gregorian chant is also known as plainchant or plainsong and is a
      form of monophonic, unaccompanied singing, which was developed in the
      Roman Catholic Church, mainly during the period 800-1000. It takes
      its name from Pope Gregory the Great, who is believed to have brought
      it to the West based on Eastern models of Byzantine chant. Gregorian
      chant was traditionally sung by monks and was used during religious
      services. It is the music of the Roman Rite of the Mass, also known
      as the Tridentine rite.


      Unaccompanied singing has been part of the liturgy of the Christian
      church since its beginnings. Three separate roots for singing of
      chant have been proposed: the musical practice in the synagogue
      during the apostolic period; early Christian tradition; and pagan
      traditions, music for which is now lost. For the first few
      centuries, up until about 400, information is very scant indeed.
      Scholars are still hotly debating the period between roughly 400 and
      800. According to the Advent Project theory of James McKinnon, it
      appears that in the latter part of the 7th century, a large part of
      the Roman Mass had been put together rather consciously in a short
      period of time. Other scholars, including Andreas Pfisterer, have
      argued for an earlier origin. The music to accompany the Mass was
      apparently also collected in this period. Since Gregorian chant is
      remarkably uniform in geographically very distant regions, and this
      unification happened in a rather short time, most likely around 800,
      the bulk of evidence suggests that a major effort at making the
      repertory consistent happened at this time. Scholars still debate
      whether the essentials of the melodies originated in Rome, before the
      eighth century, or in Francia, in the eighth and early ninth
      centuries. In all likelihood, chant is at least as old as the
      breakup of the western Roman Empire in the 5th century, but mutated
      into different forms in different regions until brought together into
      one unified repertory under Charlemagne.

      In the ninth and tenth century, the first sources with decipherable
      (but not pitch-readable) musical notation are found. These are known
      as staffless neumes. Before notation, chant melodies were passed down
      orally. Notation helped to standardize the melodies and reduced the
      need for memorization. Most scholars of Gregorian chant agree that
      the development of music notation assisted the dissemination of chant
      across a thousand miles of Europe; indeed, it may have been
      impossible any other way, since there is no evidence of mutation
      across distance. Survivals of notated manuscripts, however, are few,
      and restricted to a few locations in Germany (Regensburg),
      Switzerland (St. Gall) and France (Laon, St Martial). Most of the
      Gregorian chant familiar today, at least that in the Mass, has
      changed little since this time.

      The music and its performers

      In most Western music since the Renaissance there are two modes: the
      major and minor scales. The Major scale is built upon the Do and the
      minor scale the La. The various keys that are used affect only the
      range of the notes, or the pitch. Essentially the scale is the same,
      only transposed, or moved, to a different range.

      Many hear Gregorian chant and think of it as a very simplified
      version of modern music. While it is simple in its lack of harmony,
      the modal system involved is quite complex, and uses the theoretical
      system of 8 modes. While some pieces fall outside these modes, most
      obey the theory. The actual theory behind modality is quite
      complicated, but essentially each mode is a unique scale system, in
      addition to our major and minor scales. In this manner plainsong is
      much richer than the simplified bimodal modern system, but this makes
      some of the sounds of Gregorian chant unusual to ears attuned to
      modern scalar modes.

      Unlike modern music there is no beat or regular accent to Gregorian
      Chant. In fact the time is free, allowing the accenting of the text,
      which often includes sections of unequal length and importance.

      The actual pitch of the Gregorian chant is not fixed, so the piece
      can be sung at any range, so long as the intervals are respected.

      Chant is commonly written on a staff similar to the modern
      5-line-4-space staff, but the Gregorian staff has 4 lines and 3
      spaces. The notes, called neumes, are somewhat similar to modern
      notes, but often do not include stems and can be stacked, not to
      create harmonic chords, but to indicate the sequence.

      Example of chant notation:

      Traditionally chant would be sung only by men, as it was originally
      simply the music sung by all the clergy (all male) during the Mass
      and Office (prayer sessions scheduled seven times throughout the
      day). As the Church expanded away from the larger cities, the number
      of clergy at each Church dropped, and lay men started singing these
      parts. In Convents women were permitted to sing the Mass and Office
      as a function of their consecrated life, but the choir was still
      considered an official liturgical duty reserved to clergy, so lay
      women were not allowed to sing in the Gregorian Schola or chant

      As harmony began to develop in the middle ages and into the
      Renaissance younger boys and castrati would sing the high parts. As
      these numbers dwindled and the music became popular away from the
      major cities, women gradually were permitted to sing the polyphonic

      Eventually popes, especially Pope St. Pius X, encouraged the faithful
      to sing the Ordinary of the Mass. In his motu proprio Tra le
      sollicitudine, Pius X reserved the singing of the propers for males.
      While this custom is maintained in some communities, the Catholic
      Church no longer exercises this ban.

      Gregorian chant in the liturgy

      Gregorian chant, like the chants of the other rites, was later used
      to sing only certain parts of the liturgy. The rest of the parts are
      sung by the bishops, priests, and deacons with a certain default
      assigning of notes to words depending on their place in a sentence.
      The parts sung in the Gregorian chant style in the Roman Mass include:

      * The Introit
      * The Kyrie
      * The Gloria
      * The Gradual
      * The Alleluia
      * The Credo
      * The Offertory
      * The Sanctus and Benedictus
      * The Agnus Dei
      * The Communion

      The Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory and Communion texts are
      called the Propers because they are "proper" to day and season. The
      Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei remain
      unchanged, being "ordinary" parts of the Mass and thus called the
      Ordinary of the Mass. The most complete collection of these chants
      into modern times was in the publication known as the Liber Usualis
      (Usual Book), which contains all of the chants for the Tridentine
      Mass. However, the Liber Usualis is rarely used outside monasteries;
      the most commonly-used reference for Propers and Ordinary in the Mass
      is the Graduale Romanum.

      It should be noted that the Catholic church allowed later music
      written by individual composers, such as Giovanni Pierluigi da
      Palestrina (c. 1525-1594), to replace the Gregorian chant of the
      Ordinary of the Mass. This is why for example a Mozart Mass would
      feature the Kyrie but not the Introit.

      The Propers may be replaced by choral settings, as well, on certain
      solemn occasions. Among the most frequent to compose such polyphonic
      replacements for the Gregorian chant Propers were English composer
      William Byrd (c. 1540-1623) and Spanish composer Tomas Luis de
      Victoria (1548-1612).

      Even with the advent of polyphony and accompanied melody, Gregorian
      Chant remained the official liturgical music of the Catholic Church.
      Popes have enjoined the faithful to give chant the pre-eminence it