A translation of Saulnier’s Introduction to the New Antiphonale Monasticum

This new translation was sent to me by Sr Bernadette of Ryde Abbey in the UK. It was translated by Mike Whitton with the assistance of Sr Bernadette.

A NEW MONASTIC ANTIPHONER

A few words of explanation are well worthwhile for a new book of Gregorian chant just published after decades of anticipation.

THE PROJECT’S BEGINNINGS

The project got under way in November 1998, when Father Abbot of Solesmes entrusted the Palaeographic Workshop with the work of producing a monastic antiphoner in keeping both with the Benedictine tradition and with the requirements of the liturgical reform of Vatican II.

However, the project was not born ex nihilo. Some of the research carried out between 1975 and 1996 for the Antiphonale romanum[1] (which, sadly, is still awaiting approval today) proved to be of use in the preparations for this new book.

A team was formed, a method of working agreed upon, and some invaluable assistance obtained; they will be acknowledged at the end of this article.

The project’s terms of reference were fixed by a commission under the presidency of Father Abbot of Solesmes, together with three abbots of the Congregation and three monks from Solesmes[2]. The work consisted on the one hand of preparing an Ordo cantus Officii in keeping with the Benedictine tradition and with the Liturgia horarum; and on the other of restoring the corresponding melodies. The Benedictine Ordo cantus Officii received the Abbot Primate’s approval in 2001 for the daytime offices and in 2002 for vigils.

Since confirmation of this approval by the Congregation for Divine Worship on 6 February 2004, preparation of the book has passed into its final editing phase.

PRESENTATION OF THE BOOK

Presented under the title Antiphonale monasticum, the work is really entitled Liturgia horarum in cantu gregoriano ad usum Ordinis sancti Benedicti. {Liturgy of the hours in gregorian chant for the use of the Order of Saint Benedict}

It has been edited in two parts :

* Pro diurnis Horis (the day hours)
* Pro vigiliis (vigils)

The day offices are published in three volumes :

Volume I : Proprium de Tempore, Ordinarium, Toni communes. (Proper of Seasons, Ordinary, Common tones)

Volume II : Psalterium, Officium defunctorum. (Psalter, Office of the departed)

Volume III : Proprium de Sanctis, Communia. (Proper of Saints, Commons)

The book therefore contains antiphons, short responsories, versicles, psalms and rubrics. It refers to Liturgia Horarum for the short readings and prayers, and to Liturgia Horarum or other approved lectionaries for long readings. The long responsories for Vigils will not be available until a responsorial is published, but it is already possible to give the long responsories for first Vespers of solemnities. Hymns are available in the Liber hymnarius, published in 1983.

The Antiphonale monasticum is an official book, in the sense that it is approved and confirmed at the highest level. It is therefore a reference source for all Benedictine communities who make full or partial use of Gregorian chant in the celebration of the Opus Dei.

Its content has been studied in such a manner as to allow adaptation to the wide variety of ways of celebrating the Office, which is characteristic of the Benedictine Confederation.

This is the reason why its publication in traditional book form is accompanied by the posting of a digital edition, from which the antiphons and short responsories for each liturgical season will be downloadable from the Internet[3]

PRINCIPLES AND LITURGICAL CHOICES

Principles

The book, which represents a setting of the Liturgy of the Hours within the culture of the Benedictine and Gregorian chant traditions of the Office, has been constructed within three guiding liturgical principles.

Liturgia Horarum

Liturgia Horarum provides the general framework, and is the usual source of reference for everything that is not specifically Benedictine: together with the whole Church, the Benedictine tradition accepts the liturgical reform promulgated by Vatican II and officially expressed in the Liturgy of the Hours.

On the other hand, the elements of Liturgia Horarum which relate to the new division of the Psalter over four weeks have not been observed: these concern the breviary used by clerics and people engaged in apostolic activity. The monastic tradition, by contrast, has always given more time to psalmody.

In accordance with liturgical provisions[4] the psalms and canticles use the text of the New Vulgate (Nova Vulgata).

The Benedictine tradition.

The Thesaurus Liturgiæ Horarum monasticæ published in 1976 brings the Benedictine contribution. This document was worked out by the Benedictine Confederation to provide a framework for liturgical reform of the Office in the Benedictine environment. It was edited a little hastily in the early ‘70s, and did not benefit from the second edition of Liturgia Horarum, nor recent research into the Benedictine tradition.After 40 years of liturgical experimentation, the cycle of psalms given in the Rule for monks emerges as one of the most remarkable features of the Benedictine heritage.

Promoting Gregorian chant.

The sung tradition of the Office in medieval manuscripts is now well known thanks to the publication of Corpus Antiphonalium Officii by Dom René-Jean Hesbert and to numerous facsimiles, which have been published during recent decades.

Special attention has been given to the melodies, and the traditional Gregorian repertoire of the Office has been systematically researched and promoted.

To be more precise, this work has been conceived as a book of chant, not as a breviary, and so it is not suitable for private recitation of the Office.

Choices

The Hours

These follow the instructions of Liturgia Horarum.

The two principal Hours are the offices of the morning and evening, respectively Lauds and Vespers, which henceforth should always be celebrated with the same degree of solemnity. So, on solemnities, the short responsory is given a festive tone, whereas until the Council this was reserved for Vespers.

The book provides for three little Hours: Terce, Sext and None, as well as for Compline. The hour of Prime, on the other hand, no longer appears in the cycle[5].

Vigils retain the monastic character of a long watch of psalmody and praise as foreseen by the Rule.

Their structure

The little Hours and Vigils are unchanged in structure.

Lauds and Vespers are presented according to the structure given them in the Liturgy of the Hours, that is to say that they open with the hymn.[6] It is permissible to insert a litany between the Gospel Canticle and the Pater, as provided by Liturgia Horarum according to a tradition recognized by the Rule[7], a tradition which fell into disuse over the centuries.

The versicle of Lauds and Vespers, which has been left aside by Liturgia Horarum, remains present in the Benedictine office. As practically the oldest part of the Office, it is restored to its original function of being a response to the reading, as an alternative to the short responsory.[8]

The Our Father is sung at Lauds and Vespers, preferably by the Abbot, as laid down by the Rule[9] Its absence at the little Hours recalls the ancient custom of solemnising the Lord’s Prayer three times a day.[10] When the Our Father is not sung, the concluding prayer is preceded by the traditional invitation Oremus (Let us pray).

The conclusion of the offices follows the pattern laid down by Liturgia Horarum, with the exception of the Benedicamus Domino which acts as a sung dismissal at Lauds, Vespers and Vigils. In this way the rich collection of melodies composed for this concluding chant in the Middle Ages gains recognition.

The new antiphoner suggests the optional singing of the short responsory In manus tuas and the canticle Nunc dimittis at Compline, in response to the number of communities who have adopted the practise of singing them.

Distribution of psalms

Ferial office

The schemes approved by the Benedictine Order for distributing the psalter are 4 in number (A, B, C and D), but allow for numerous variations, notably for distributing the Prime psalms. So the distribution of psalms proposed in this book posed a delicate choice.

Moreover, the received musical tradition is indissolubly linked with the Benedictine cycle, and the promotion of Gregorian chant presupposes that one respects this fact whenever possible.

The psalter suggested in the new antiphoner is offered on the basis of that consideration.

Lauds, Vespers and Compline follow the Benedictine cycle of psalms. Vigils also with the significant variant that the psalms are reallocated over two weeks.

The former Prime psalms, psalm 118 and psalms 119 to 127 are gathered in a separate booklet, together with antiphons from the psalms. In this way, different communities will be able to make use of this collection of psalms as convenient to them. The commission charged with preparing the guidelines of the antiphoner has studied a number of schemes for reallocation and these schemes can be made available to those who wish.

Festive office

The distribution of psalms for feasts has been revised in accordance with the directives of the Thesaurus and the directions of Liturgia Horarum.

The liturgical year

Temporal

The series of antiphons provided for Lauds of Sundays and solemnities by the 1934 antiphoner are in their great majority traditional since the 9th century. These series have of course been maintained in the new antiphoner, especially as they have been widely adopted by Liturgia Horarum.

As in Liturgia Horarum, each special season (Advent[11], the days between the octave of the Nativity and Epiphany, the days between the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord, Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide) is characterised by a set of antiphons repeated each day at the little Hours, and sometimes also on Sunday[12].

On solemnities special antiphons are provided for the little Hours.

During Advent there is a set of proper antiphons for each Sunday, repeated at I Vespers, Lauds and II Vespers, as well as a set for each day from 17-24 December.

The solemnity of the Nativity has four sets of proper antiphons: one for I Vespers, one for Lauds, one for the lesser Hours, and one for II Vespers. All (except I Vespers) are repeated throughout the octave. The 1st January has its own proper antiphons repeated at Lauds and Vespers, with a set of optional antiphons for the little Hours.

At Epiphany, the same set of antiphons serves for Lauds and Vespers, and there is another set for the little Hours.

The Baptism of the Lord has proper antiphons, which musically are somewhat unusual, as a result of their origin.[13]

Besides the proper antiphons drawn from the psalms for Lauds, Sundays in Lent are provided with optional antiphons for the little Hours, connected with the Gospel of the day.

During the Easter Triduum, the ancient peculiarities of these days have been preserved: omission of the initial rites and dismissal, the singing of the Christus factus est in place of the short responsory. Far from being an artificial and later piece of dramatization, these ancient practices constitute a traditional element which recalls in a very concrete way the unique character of the Pasch, rather in the same way that the special rites of the Jewish paschal meal draws forth the question of the participants and the appropriate catechesis.[14] The little Hours have their proper antiphons, thus re-establishing the tradition of singing the psalms with antiphons on those days.

The “Angelus” set has been kept for Lauds on Easter Day, but this day has a second series of antiphons for Vespers and proper antiphons for the little Hours. The whole is repeated throughout the octave.

The collection of alleluia antiphons of Eastertide has been enriched compared with the 1934 antiphoner: three sets are available for the little Hours: one for Sundays and two for weekdays (odd/even weeks). Sets of proper Eastertide antiphons are offered ad libitum for the psalmody at Lauds and Vespers each Sunday: they can be used in place of the traditional alleluia antiphons.

Sundays of the year have Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons which relate to the Gospel of the day, with a cycle for each of the three years. At 1st Vespers, the normal ptactice is to use the Benedictus antiphon, or, according to a medieval monastic tradition, a biblical antiphon connected with the Vigils reading (of the Sunday or for the week). These antiphons are presented according to the cycle found in Liturgia Horarum (for one or two years).

Sanctoral

Similar principles govern the Proper of Saints, for which the number of proper antiphons has been significantly increased, such that there are very few repetitions during the liturgical year, and the particular character of each saint is recognised in a more specific fashion.

Numerous solemnities of saints are given a special set of antiphons for 1st Vespers.

The commons have been revised according to the directions given in Liturgia Horarum, with the addition of a common for holy monks and nuns. Each common includes at the end a list of optional antiphons for the Gospel canticle.

Psalter and office for the Dead

The ferial office is enriched by a four-week cycle of Lauds Old Testament canticles, conforming to Liturgia Horarum and in accordance with Saint Benedict’s wish to follow in this matter the custom of the Roman liturgy.[15]

The office for the Dead is henceforth structured as an ordinary office, but with proper psalms. Its paschal character has been reinforced by the introduction of a special set of antiphons for Eastertide.

The texts of psalms and canticles has been drawn from the Nova Vulgata. In some cases the division into lines has been adjusted (place of flex and mediant pause) to correspond more closely with the traditional rhythm of the Hebrew verses.[16]

Degrees of celebration

General guidelines

In accordance with the Benedictine Confederation’s calendar, and with Liturgia Horarum, there are four degrees of celebration: ferial day of the season, memorial, feast and solemnity. Certain memorials are optional.

The distinct vocation of contemplative communities, by which their members are led to spend long hours in choral celebration, as well as the riches of the medieval repertoire have often given the opportunity to suggest wider, less rigid choices than those of the Roman liturgy.

For this reason, feasts are given optional proper antiphons for the little Hours, or else one is referred back to the commons.[17]

In the same way those memorials, which have a specifically Benedictine character or a particularly rich musical tradition in the church, are accorded proper antiphons at Lauds and Vespers, and even in certain cases at the little Hours. They are always provided ad libitum and generally sung with the ferial psalms, unless there is a wish to raise the degree of the celebration, in which case it is permissible to use them with festive psalms. This is the case, for instance, with the memorials of St Agnes, the holy abbots of Cluny, St Mary Magdalene, St Gertrude, St Cecilia, etc.

On memorials, if there are no proper antiphons, it is possible to adopt the antiphons from the common at the little Hours.

For celebrations of the saints included in the General Calendar since the approval of the Confederation’s Calendar (22 June 1972) the antiphoner indicates choices and specific pieces, in order to allow communities so wishing to take account of these celebrations in the spirit of the Roman liturgy.

The celebration of feasts

In Liturgia Horarum, the celebration of feasts (festum) has been significantly modified as far as the Office of Readings (corresponding to the former night office) is concerned. In fact, this office is celebrated in the same way as a memorial with proper antiphons, and with the additional singing of the Te Deum.

In the Benedictine tradition, feasts (festum) and solemnities are celebrated according to the same ritual, with three nocturns[18], thus imposing a somewhat heavy burden at certain times such as the octave of the Nativity, or on certain weeks well endowed with feasts of saints, taking account of proper calendars[19] This arrangement practically prevents a sung celebration of the whole office, which conforms neither to the wishes of Saint Benedict nor to the provisions of the liturgical reform intended by Vatican II.

In the days when Saint Benedict was drafting the liturgical code of his Rule, circumstances were very different: there were considerably fewer festive celebrations than today. Besides, Mass was not celebrated daily, and had not acquired all the rich settings of the repertoire of the schola. The pensum servitutis {duty of service} was considerably less.

This is why the new antiphoner suggests new arrangements for the celebration of feasts (festum):

* “For the 1st and 2nd Nocturns, the office is celebrated as on Sundays and solemnities. After the last responsory of the 2nd Nocturn, the hymn Te Deum laudamus is added, followed by the concluding prayer and the acclamation Benedicamus Domino.
* “For feasts of the Lord included in the General Calendar, and for certain other feasts, according to the Abbot’s discretion, Vigils are extended, as on Sundays and solemnities, by the addition of a 3rd Nocturn”.[20]

From now on feasts are celebrated according to a two-nocturn ritual with the Te Deum added in conclusion. Extending the vigil, by adding a third nocturn and chanting the Gospel, amounts to putting feasts on a par with Sundays or solemnities.

MUSICAL FORMS

Antiphons

By assembling all the antiphons available in the different books in use before the Council (AM 1934, AR 1912 and various Propers) a total of about 1000 antiphons is made available.

The provisions of Liturgia Horarum required most of the available antiphons which were in use to be retained, as well as the “production” of around 1000 additional antiphons as yet unpublished.

So the work presupposed researching medieval manuscripts for melodies to antiphons whose text corresponded with those of Liturgia Horarum.

Three cases arose.

1. The text in Liturgia Horarum was sung in the medieval tradition.

And it exists in the manuscripts with a melody that conforms to the norms of Gregorian chant composition.

In this case, the antiphon has been accepted purely and simply. This case arose numerous times, since the compilers of Liturgia Horarum were well familiar with medieval tradition, principally through the recent publication of Corpus Antiphonalium Officii by Dom R.-J. Hesbert.[21]

2. An equivalent text was sung in medieval tradition

The text set by Liturgia Horarum was not sung in medieval tradition, or the melody attributed to it does not meet critical standards. In this case, the medieval manuscripts were searched for an antiphon whose text, although different from that in Liturgia Horarum, was similar to it or could be substituted for it.

Sometimes it was necessary to make small changes to the text of the antiphon, to arrive at an antiphon suited to the liturgical circumstances and conforming to the composition rules of Gregorian chant.

3. Some “neo-gregorian” compositions.

When the two preceding searches proved fruitless, it seemed necessary to “compose” an antiphon, drawn from the text of Liturgia Horarum and making use of traditional formulae found in the chant repertoire.

This case arose about fifty times (among a total of about 2000 anitphons), particularly for the Gospel readings on Sundays in Ordinary time Year B: as it happens, the Gospel according to Saint Mark was practically never sung in the liturgy before Vatican II.

The orientation of Gregorian chant studies during the second half of the XX century meant that the composition of “neo-gregorian” pieces were viewed in a rather negative light and as contrary to the principles of historic authenticity. We should however remember that this type of composition has been practiced in all areas and ages since the VIII century.

Depending upon the centre (Germanic, French, Aquitaine or Italian), these adaptations were integrated with varying degrees of success: a study of the office and Mass for the Holy Trinity is sufficient to demonstrate that at a very early stage the most elementary rules on how to fit melody to liturgical text were forgotten.

The rules governing chant composition are well known today, and so it is possible to “compose” a melody in such a way that will allow the text in use to sound like a traditional antiphon, and fit into the rest of the repertoire.

These adaptations – which the new antiphoner has been at pains to keep to a strict minimum – bear a paradoxical witness to the vitality of the Gregorian melody, and its capacity to be a nourishment for liturgical prayer in any age.

Psalm tones

A revision of the body of psalm tones had begun with the publication of Psalterium monasticum in 1981. This revision has been completed.

Amongst the eight traditional tones, the 3rd should be noted, as having only one tenor from now on, ti.

Add to this the 5th, which in certain cases ends with a flattened ti, depending on the antiphon’s composition, and in accordance with the practice of numerous medieval manuscripts, especially in the Germanic tradition. This has made it possible to avoid some particularly awkward transitions, such as that of the Magnificat after the antiphon O sacrum convivium for Corpus Christi.

Certain communities may experience some difficulty in putting these 5th tone cadences into effect, as the difference in the intervals may seem too subtle. If this is the case, it is possible to continue singing in a systematic way the end formula which has been in current usage (with ti natural).

The 5th tone has also been given a solemn mediant that is better adapted, and is distinct from the 2nd and 8th tones: ti is no longer heard in it.

Tone II* put forward in Psalterium monasticum of 1981, now inccorporates the IVA antiphons of AM 1934.

Use of the archaic tones C, D and E, as well as tone IV*, have been limited to the ferial office, in keeping with medieval sources.

The ending of tone E (tonus irregularis of AM 1934) has been revised and adjusted to a two accent formula. In medieval tradition, this tone was actually adapted to the last syllables of a verse in a fashion too subtle for choral psalmody. The undifferentiated and unaccentuated setting of the last four syllables, provided by AM 1934, besides being unfounded, caused frequent confusion with the 3rd tone and made this melody depart from the laws of accentuation.

Tonus peregrinus is used a little more frequently, particularly in the Sanctoral: the solemnity of All Saints and most of the Commons make use of an antiphon belonging to the Sancti Domini model which is sung at Lauds with the Benedicite canticle. It is suggested ad libitum for two antiphons on Sundays in Ordinary time; since these antiphons are built entirely within the lower fifth of an 8th tone, it will enable them to be sung with more ease.

The tone called “Paschal” in AR 1912 is suggested ad libitum for the psalmody “in directum” (i.e. sung without antiphon )of Compline, at least for the octaves of Christmas and Easter.[22]
Short responsories

The great majority of texts are taken from Liturgia Horarum, except in cases where it was difficult to adapt the melodies to the response, on account of its extreme brevity or length.

Advent

There is only one tone, that of AM 1934. Its melody has been revised. The tenor has been restored from fa to mi, and the ornamentation on the mediant has been slightly changed. However, since the adaptations found in the ancient manuscripts were particularly subtle, it seemed preferable, for practical reasons, to give the four responsories the same ornamentation.

Christmas

The season of Christmas has no proper tone for the short responsories. According to circumstances, use is made of the alleluia tones (Christmas and its octave), the Sunday tone (Holy Family, Baptism of Christ) or the simple tone of the sanctoral (ferial with versicles on a higher pitch).

Lent

There is one principal tone, that of AM 1934. The melody has been slightly revised: the ti is flattened, in keeping with the practice retained throughout the antiphoner for the 4th mode.

A special tone is suggested for II Vespers of Sundays, as found in AM 1934 for the Sacred Heart: its text matches the occasion perfectly. In this way the melody finds its true place again, since it appears in the manuscripts for Septuagesima, that is to say the beginning of a time of preparation for Easter.

Holy Week

Recent studies[23] have shown that the tone put forward by AM 1934 was an erroneous reconstruction. Once re-transcribed exactly as found in the Benevento manuscripts, the melody seems much less “interesting”. It is nonetheless suggested ad libitum for Sundays, but the Lenten tone is still proposed as a first choice.

In line with the practice of the ancient Roman liturgy, which Benedictine tradition has always followed for these days, the short responsory is replaced by Christus factus est at Lauds and Vespers of Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Holy Week.

Eastertide

For this season, the psalmody with alleluia refrain has been restored, thus respecting the ancient manner of singing the responsorial psalm and the original form of the short responsory.

There are two tones, one festive, for the octave and solemnities, and the other ferial for other days. Both were already in AM 1934.

Although it is the traditional practice to sing the Haec dies during the octave, as at Mass, a short responsory with alleluia is offered ad libitum to the same text.

Ordinary time.

Three tones are provided.

One for Sundays and one for solemnities, already to be found in AM1934.

The short responsory for ferias is different from that provided in AM 1934 in that it retains an archaic modality, even for the Gloria Patri.

Sanctoral

Memorials and feasts retain the ordinary tone from AM 1934, that is to say with the response on fa and versicle on la, with simple ornamentation.

For solemnities, the solemn tone already familiar from AM 1934, and common with the sanctoral, is provided.[24]

Office for the Dead

Since the Office for the Dead is henceforth celebrated as an ordinary office, it includes short responsories at Lauds and at Vespers. The special melody set for them is an adaptation of formulæ belonging to the archaic mode of re.

Long responsories

In medieval tradition, a long responsory was sung in place of the short responsory at I Vespers of solemnities. This custom has been extended to feasts falling on a Sunday.

Most of the long responsories published in AM 1934 are kept in the new antiphoner, but their melodies have been revised to meet the demands of contemporary critical standards.

Neo-Gregorian responsories and later pieces or those of a questionable musical standard (Trinity, Corpus Christi, Sacred Heart, St Joseph, St Benedict, Immaculate Conception) have been replaced by medieval compositions of high qhality, whose text is aptly fits the mystery being celebrated.

Versicles

The antiphoner was at pains to retain the use of the versicle at the main Hours, recognising both its musical value and its great antiquity: it represents the most ancient witness in current liturgy to the responsorial type of chant following on a reading. The versicle is therefore suggested ad libitum as an alternative to the short responsory after the short reading of Lauds and Vespers.

There are three melodies for the versicles.

Two were present in AM 1934, the simple melody of the little Hours and the melismatic melody common to Lauds, Vespers and Vigils.

A new melody, only to be found in a small number of manuscripts, has been introduced. In keeping with its archaic character, it is kept for the octave of Easter and for solemnities in Eastertide. It is permissible also to make use of it for Corpus Christi, where the use of psalms with alleluia refrains is traditional.

The melody which books of the XX century suggest for Holy Week and the Office of the Dead, as well as the solemn tone in AM 1934, are late adaptations quite foreign to Gregorian tradition. They have not been retained.

PRINCIPLES OF MUSICAL RESTORATION

Difficulties

Publishing a book of liturgical chant based on the Gregorian chant repertoire leads one to ask numerous questions, which could not but confront, more or less consciously, all the editors since the middle ages.[25] But the knowledge we have today of that repertoire, its history and laws governing its composition, tend to make these questions more acute.

The first difficulty to arise came from the juxtaposition of the restorations provided by AM 1934 with nearly 1000 new antiphons drawn directly from medieval sources: those from 1934 had been restored according to the principles in use at the time, while the new ones could not be unaffected by contemporary critical studies.

It was therefore necessary to take all the antiphons, old and new, and submit them to the same process of restoration.

The second difficulty arose out of the wide variation in the composition dates of these antiphons.

Some are found in the earliest medieval manuscripts, including manuscripts without musical notation dating from the IX century. Others were composed during the centuries immediately following (X and XI). These were local or regional antiphons which occasionally spread further afield. Still others were composed in the XII century, in particular centres. Then, a small number of antiphons were composed later: these are purely local compositions, generally belonging to the heritage of a particular centre. Finally diocesan and religious Propers, drawn up within the context of the renewed appreciation for Gregorian chant which marked the first half of the XX century, and therefore very influenced by “neo-Gregorian” composition, have provided a significant number of antiphons for our project. This is an important benefit, which also guarantees that the new book remains in touch with living tradition.

It should be added that practicioners of Gregorian chant divide themselves naturally according to two main tendencies: those who wish for a material continuity with what was sung before the Council, and those who want a restoration and edition of texts and melodies more in keeping with the requirements of modern criticism. Both tendencies are legitimate: the first because it addresses a pastoral need linked to the memorizing of the repertoire by communities and choirs, and the other because it addresses the explicit requirement of Vatican II to provide a more critical edition of the books of Gregorian chant published since the restoration by St Pius X[26]

Choices in restoration

Faced with these difficulties, the Paleographic music workshop made the following choices.

Antiphons found in the oldest manuscripts

Here, the chosen reference was the manuscript known as “Hartker’s”, that is to say the office antiphoner contained in manuscript 390-391 of the Stiftsbibliothek in St Gallen. Copied around the year 1000, it is for practical purposes the oldest neumatic record of the repertoire of the office.

Except for a few rare cases which remain uncertain, comparison with several other manuscripts allowed the melody indicated by the neumes of this manuscript to be established. The manuscript is recognized by critical opinion for the richness of its compositions, its coherence in Gregorian chant vocabulary, its regularity and its editorial precision.

Other choices would have been possible. This one follows in the line of choices which have been made for the past forty years by amateurs and specialists alike for chants of the Proper of the Mass.

In some very rare cases (less than 1%), the probable version of this manuscript has been modified because of the tonal difficulty which it might have posed to a contemporary ear.[27]

Antiphons from later tradition

These antiphons divide easily into two categories.

Those, which naturally respect the traditional aesthetic of Gregorian chant composition, have been included without modification.

The others, in which compositional irregularities could be overcome, have been corrected according to the laws applied by “Hartker” to the formulæ of the office.

More recent or “neo-Gregorian” antiphons

Those antiphons, which suffer from profound irregularities in their composition (essentially incoherencies between text and melody or in modal vocabulary), or which include passages that are awkward or difficult to sing, have been corrected, or even partially recomposed, so as to enter, if not into the exact style of the “Hartker” compositions, at least into the vocabulary of the antiphons of AM 1934, which is familiar to singers of the living tradition.

New musical elements in the project

The nature of ti.

In comparing AR 1912 and AM 1934, the number of ti flats which have been changed to ti naturals is striking. A study of the tables produced under the direction of Dom Gajard revals that it was he who, at the last moment, that is to say on the proofs of AM 1934, struck out with his own hand numerous ti flats, to “change” them into ti naturals.

Why did he do that?

There are several reasons.

The first consists of an erroneous interpretation of Italian manuscripts, particularly from Benevento. These manuscripts make no distinction between ti flat and ti natural. Since they have no sign for the flat, the ti is written without any other indication, and they leave it up to the singers’ memory. Since these manuscripts are otherwise very reliable in the case of tenors on ti and mi of the 3rd and 4th modes[28], Dom Gajard thought that the absence of a flat sign was their way of indicating a ti natural.

The second seems to correspond to a taste of the period: in order to affirm the distinctive character of medieval chant, some people tried to give it an exotic, unfamiliar quality.

But comparing the medieval manuscripts shows that the Vatican edition by Dom Pothier (1912) is often right on this point, in agreement with monastic tradition (Saint-Denis, Saint-Maur des Fossés, Metz) and part of the Germanic tradition (Saint-Georges de Willingen, Aix-la-Chapelle, Utrecht) and the Solesmes antiphoners, from Dom Guéranger until 1934.

So, the traditional ti flat will return to numerous antiphons in the new antiphoner, particularly in the 1st and 4th modes, but also, sometimes in a somewhat unexpected fashion, in the 8th mode and, exceptionally, even in some 3rd mode antiphons, where it contrasts with the ti natural of the architecture.

The two endings of the 5th mode

In most Germanic manuscripts, the 5th tone is given a ti flat at the ending. Antiphons in this mode can place the emphasis either on the ti natural or on the ti flat. In keeping with this, the ending is indicated either with ti natural (ending a) or with ti flat (ending a2).

A paschal melody for versicles

The received melody for the versicle at Vespers or at Lauds has its reciting note on fa and ends on re. Studies show that historically a more archaic melody existed for this versicle, with its reciting note also on re. This archaic melody has been reinstated and chosen for the versicles of the Easter Octave and solemnities in Eastertide.

Singing the short responsory

The short responsory is deeply rooted in responsorial psalmody, but this is almost totally obscured by the manner in which it is performed today. When the short responsory originated, the soloist used not to sing the response, but called it forth from the congregation, who thus “responded” to his singing. It seemed opportune to return to this traditional execution. But, in view of the great number of short responsories now sung in the office, was it reasonable to ask communities to memorise all the responses in such a way as to be able to respond immediately and spontaneously upon the cantor’s invitation? Besides, certain unforeseen sequences between the Gloria Patri and the response could offend the faithful, for example:

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto R/ Quia peccavi tibi.

{Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. R/ For I have sinned against you}

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto R/ Iniquitas terræ

{Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. R/ The iniquity of the earth}

So a compromise was chosen: the primitive manner of singing the short responsory has been reinstated for the psalmody with alleluia refrain of Eastertide, and the more recent manner kept for the rest of the year.

A new musical form: the Troparion

On the evening of Easter day, at Vespers, and throughout the octave, the new antiphoner suggests a new musical form for the paschal psalm 113A. After the antiphon Ite nuntiate {Go forth and tell} in the 4th mode, the psalm is sung to psalm tone that has 4 tenors, with Alleluia response to each verse, and a repeat of the antiphon at the end. The melody of this chant has come down to us in the books of the Rouen Church. The musical form of the troparion, traditional in the East, has been chosen by Liturgia Horarum for the New Testament canticle at Vespers.

Regularizing the “Tonus Irregularis” (the “irregular tone”)

This innovation has been presented above, in connection with psalm tones.

Some unpublished accentuations

It sometimes happens that a Gregorian melody seems to contradict the accentuation of the Latin word. This is brought about when the “official” accentuation of a word has changed in the course of history.

This is the case, for example, with the word mulieres and its derivatives, which the grammarians accentuate on the second syllable li. When Gregorian chant composers set this word to music, they have accentuated it clearly on the 3rd syllable, as in the antiphons Mulieres sedentes ad monumentum {The women were waiting at the tomb} (Holy Saturday), or Inter natos mulierum {among those born of woman} (Saint John Baptist).

Folowing a principle already partly implemented in the Vatican edition of the Passion chant (1989), we have not specified in such cases the grammatical accent of the word. This practice makes it possible to avoid any conflict between text and melody, which has always been foreign to the spirit of Gregorian chant composition.[29]

These are the principal cases where the antiphoner omits in this way to specify the grammatical accent of a word: De sub pede Agni… emanat, Dum steteritis, Eloi Eloi lama sabachtani, Exortum… tenebris, Inter natos mulierum, Intravi… cathedras, Ioseph ab Arimathaea, Mulieres sedentes, Nemini dixeritis, Nolite iudicare… iudicaveritis, Nuptiae quidem… inveneritis, Occidit autem Iacobum, Oculis ac manibus… intentus, Sacerdos Dei Martine[30], Si manseritis in me, Vidi supra montem… emanat.

EDITION AND PRINCIPLES OF MUSICAL READING

Context

The XX century marks a blossoming of the renewal movement in Gregorian chant, which was prepared by the research of the XIX century. In actual fact, it has been dominated by the editorial principles of Solesmes: square notation on four lines, inherited from French notation of XIV century manuscripts, designed by Dom Pothier and subsequently embellished by “rhythmical signs” bound up with the theory expounded by Dom Mocquereau in The Gregorian musical number. Those signs were progressively revised under the influence of Dom Cardine’s research.

The last decades of the XX century have seen the appearance and success of simplified editions: the square notation, devoid of the “rhythmical signs”, is overlaid with a reproduction of the neumes from the oldest medieval manuscripts.[31]

How should the new antiphoner be positioned against this duality?

We chose a path that requires some explanation.

Editorial choices in the antiphoner

The editors chose to retain a format similar to that of the Vatican Edition of 1912 (square notes on four lines, with quilisma, quarter, half and full bar lines), but enriched with those neumatic signs that were progressively introduced by Dom Gajard and Dom Claire in the editions of AM 1934 and LH 1983, namely:

* The oriscus and its derivatives,
* The stropha,
* The bivirga and trivirga,
* The trigon,
* Augmentative and diminutive liquescents
* Initio debilis signs

Use of the phrasing comma (of less inport than a quarter bar) has been significantly extended. The editorial principle concerning neumatic breaks has been preserved.

Long responsories, the graduals Christus factus est and Haec dies are given with a facsimile reproduction of the neumes found in the earliest manuscripts of Saint Gallen (Stiftsbibliothek 390-391 and 359) printed above them.

Neumes and “rhythmic signs”[32]

It has become customary to use this term for three signs added by the Solesmes editions to XX century books of chant: the dot, the vertical episema and the horizontal episema.

These three signs have been abandoned in our edition for the following reasons.

The dot and the vertical episema do not correspond to any traditional information about Gregorian chant. They do not appear in any medieval manuscript and have only been introduced into Solesmes editions in order to promote a rhythmic theory of Gregorian chant (based on the views propounded in Le Nombre Musical Grégorien), which has long since been demonstrated to be obsolete. Moreover, they have shown themselves to be in contradiction with the elementary principles of reading medieval neumes. More precisely, this rhythmic theory, to the extent that it inflicts a rhythmic distortion on the words and phrases that are chanted, appears in contradiction to the elementary principles of liturgical music composition, which must be set fundamentally at the service of the sacred text.

The horizontal episema only appears in two or three medieval manuscripts of the office out of several hundred documents which have come down to us. It is not a rhythmic sign, but an expressive one. It does not inform the singer about basic rhythm, it only indicates – and that in a way very ambiguous for a XX century singer[33] – a minute nuance of rhythm (called agogic by musicians for the last century).

Most amateur choirs are incapable of producing such subtle nuances, which are the preserve of experienced soloists, and the exaggerated interpretation they give to them leads them in the end to distort the underlying rhythm of such simple Gregorian pieces as antiphons, a rhythm based on the declamation of the text and the flow of the melody.

It is for this reason that we have chosen not to use these signs, following the principle set out at the end of the preface of Liber hymnarius:

“The principles set out here stem from the perfect matching of the sacred text with the Gregorian melody. This is why those who in singing strive to respect Latin diction, possess by this very fact most of what is required to execute Gregorian chant well.”[34]

Before fixing on these choices, many pieces were tried out in various communities and choirs, and in sessions which brought together monastic choirmasters and choirmistresses. This procedure made it possible to keep a constant balance between practical requirements,and the demands of musicological criticism on the one hand, and of litugical pastoral needs on the other.

It is immediately clear to all who try them out that the essential thing with these little antiphons is, as Dom Gajard knew by intuition, “the line”.

“A very pure line of syllabic sounds, just what is needed for the text to be pronounced… A little rise, followed by its fall, a tiny protasis followed by its apodosis, and that’s all; a few notes are enough. No ornamentation, no seeking after effect. Just the line.”[35]

The line of the word first, the musical line afterwards. There is no more need for rhythmic signs than for palaeographic neumes to give the right interpretation to these antiphons.

Such reasoning could not be applied to ornate pieces, like the long responsories and graduals of the Office.[36] There, melismatic style and complex melodic developments necessitate a few reference points. Almost everywhere in the world today, those who perform this ornate repertoire refer to the Graduale Triplex, in which the Vatican edition’s melodic writing is clarified by neumes from the oldest manuscripts. This is why the most ornate pieces in our edition of the antiphoner (long responsories, Christus factus est and Haec dies of Easter) are enhanced with medieval neumes.

These neumes are not intended for all singers, since many in the monasteries sing by memory and imitation. On the other hand, they will be useful for choir directors and for informed amateurs in providing objective indications on which to base their interpretation.

ADAPTATIONS AND TEACHING PROGRAMMES

A book of this importance, intended for many and different adaptations, would have deserved extensive prænotanda. We did not wish to overburden the work, least of all to delay its publication: these melodies have been awaited for thirty years. It was important to make them available to communities.

For this reason, the “praenotanda” are limited to those legislative texts that were promulgated by the Benedictine Confederation in the framework of the Thesaurus of 1976. These texts recommend themselves by a teaching which draws freely on the two sources of the Holy Rule and Liturgia Horarum, even if their Latin style has suffered from the somewhat hurried circumstances in which they were published.

The AM which will be published for the first time in 2005 represents a considerable innovation from many points of view:

* Liturgically, by the meeting of Liturgia Horarum with Benedictine Gregorian tradition,
* Musically, by the introduction of nearly 1000 new antiphons and by a renewed stance in favour of restoration of the melodies,
* Aesthetically, by the melodic changes and the more spontaneous rhythmic movement.

Adopting it will require some adaptations to suit each community, and a progressive plan of teaching.

Adaptations.

These are essentially a matter of choice. In many circumstances, the antiphoner leaves the communities with a wide initiative:

* Distribution of the Prime psalms,
* Choice between short responsory and versicle
* The place of the hymn,
* Proper antiphons for the little Hours on feast days (and even memorials),
* Gospel antiphons for Sundays in Lent,
* Proper antiphons for Sundays in Eastertide,
* Biblical antiphons for I Vespers of Sundays throughout the year.

Enough choices to require and stimulate the communities’ reflection, and to be a source of true renewal in the sung celebration of the Opus Dei.

Teaching

Adopting the new antiphoner will be best done progressively. Its staggered publication in three volumes over two and a half years will assist in this regard.

It is not so much the new antiphons which will cause difficulty, but the slight melodic variations in those which have been known for 70 years. Some time will be needed to memorise and adopt them.

Often, it will be wise to adopt the suggested choices only in stages.

For example, one might delay adopting proper antiphons for the little Hours on solemnities or Sundays in Lent, until the antiphons for the principal Hours are well known.

If necessary, the adoption of two endings for the 5th mode might be deferred: as the different sonorities become familiar, the need to do so make itself more and more felt.[37]

Above all, it will be necessary to implement a deeper catechism, starting from the new texts that are introduced, showing their connection with the liturgical season and the mystery being celebrated. Many of the tasks fall to the choirmasters and choirmistresses, but many also to those who in teaching or proclamation have received the charge of passing on the values of the liturgy.

This will be an opportunity to promote renewed catechism in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the liturgical year.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

There will be many people to thank at the time when this new book of chant is released, and… criticised.

In first place, of course, is Father Abbot of St Peter of Solesmes, whose personal involvement at strategic times has been a guarantee of the final outcome of the project. The community agreed for this work an investment which cannot be measured solely in terms of budget. Several monks of Solesmes have brought a direct contribution to one or other of the stages of the work.[38]

But even the most basic recognition requires special mention of:

T.R.P. Dom Notker Wolf, Abbot Primate, who brought enthusiastic and decisive backing to the enterprise.

R.P. Jean Evenou, for his advice and careful and effective proofreading.

Dom Claude Gay, whose abilities guaranteed a high quality revision of certain recent antiphons.

Brother André Payelle, for his grasp of Information Technology and the calibrating of over 2000 pieces.

Dom Jacques de Préville, for his contribution to the edition of the Psalter.

M. Sarunas Visockis[39], for his able daily collaboration since 1998.

The late Dom Rupert Fischer († 2001), Professor Heinrich Rumphorst, and M. Dominique Crochu for their concrete help and musicological advice.

T.R.P Jean Pierre Longeat (Ligugé), Sister Mikael Ramonet (Kergonan), Sister Isabelle de la Source (Dourgne), M. Giedrius Gapsys and Mme Asta Timukaite-Lemiesle for their attentive proofreading.

The persons and communities who agreed to “test” the new versions of the melodies and especially the Community of St Martin and Abbot Thomas Diradourian.

Finally, it is thanks to the ingenuity of M. Giles Couderc, of Normandie-Roto, that this long work has managed to get as far as the printing press.

May all be thanked for their generous contribution when we come to the day of a “New song to the Lord”!

Fr Daniel Saulnier

[1] Directed by Dom Jean Claire with important contributions from Dom Raymond Leroux and Bro. Kees Pouderoijen (Vaals).

[2] D. Robert Le Gall, D. Jean-Pierre Longeat, D. Cuthbert Johnson, D. Daniel de Reynal, D. Michel Cagin and D. Patrick Hala.

[3] This service will be made available in stages during the spring of 2005. Necessary information can be found at Solesmes Abbey’s website (www.solesmes.com) and on the Paleographic Workshop’s web page (http://palmus.free.fr/)

[4] Apostolic constitution Scipturarum thesaurus, 25 April 1979

[5] In accordanced with the Thesaurus, a Benedictine community wishing to maintain the celebration of Prime may legitimately do so. For this, the integrity of the Hours must be respected, that is to say that Prime must not be joined to any other Hour, and the distribution of psalms set by the Rule must be kept. The very simple content of Prime means that the elements necessary for its celebration can be found – albeit dispersed – in the various official liturgical books. On feast days and solemnities, the first antiphon of Lauds is used. In this manner, it is possible to reconcile the traditional monastic observance of Prime with a true renewal of the Office.

[6] Communities wishing to keep the place of the hymn after the short responsory may continue to do so, as provided by the norms of the Thesaurus.

[7] Regula monachorum 12,4 ; 13,11 ; 17,8

[8] Communities which keep the hymn after the short responsory will sing the versicle before the Gospel canticle, according to the indications of the Rule.

[9] Regula monachorum 13, 12

[10] Cf. IGLH 194-195. It is known that the custom of reciting the Pater silently at the little Hours comes precisely from this “impossibility” of singing it more than three times in the daily liturgy

[11] From 17-24 December, however, the new antiphoner retains the custom of using the Lauds antiphons at the little Hours.

[12] On Subndays proper antiphons are often made available, at least ad libitum as in Lent.

[13] It appears that the set of antiphons Veterem hominem was set out at the express request of Charlemagne. Having heard a Byzantine delegation sing the office during the octave of the Epiphany, he asked for these pieces to be translated and incorporated into the Roman liturgy. They have appeared in all manuscripts of the office since the 10th century. “The Veterem hominem anthiphons of the octave day of the Epiphany and the Epiphany antiphons with Greek origins”, Ephemerides liturgicæ 72 (1958), 3-38. J. Handschin, «On some greek troparia translated into latin». Annales musicologiques 2 (1954), 27-60. J. Pothier, «Seven antiphons for the octave of the Epiphany», Revue du Chant Grégorien 10 (1902), 81-85.

[14] Cf. Ex 12, 25-26

[15] Regula monachorum, 13, 10.

[16] This measure has the added advantage of giving better correspondence with translations of the Psalter into the vernacular.

[17] In Liturgia Horarum, feasts usually have ferial antiphons for the little Hours.

[18] Regula Monachorum, 14

[19] Thus, in Europe, a week like that of 15 August involves at least 4 celebrations with three nocturns: Sunday, the feast of St Teresa-Benedicta of the Cross (9 August), the feast of St Lawrence (10 August) and the solemnity of the Assumption (15 August).

[20] Pro I et II Nocturnis, officium peragitur ut in dominicis et sollemnitatibus. Post ultimum responsorium II Nocturni, additur hymnum Te Deum laudamus, oratio conclusiva et acclamatio Benedicamus Domino.

In festis Domini in Calendario Generali inscriptis et in aliquibus festis, secundum iudicium abbatis, protrahendæ sunt Vigiliæ, quod fit ut supra, in dominicis et sollemnitatibus, cum III Nocturnis (Ordinary for the night office).

[21] R.-J. Hesbert, Corpus Antiphonalium Officii III, Invitatoriæ, antiphonæ, Rome, 1968

[22] Although absent from AM 1934, this is not an innovation. Numerous Benedictine communities have already adopted it for Compline on Sundays.

[23] D. Saulnier, « La melodie du répons-bref De ore leonis », Etudes grégoriennes 28 (2000), 167-170.

[24] The records of the Paleographic workshop show that during the middle ages this melody, artistically modified by dom Gajard, was reserved for psalmody in Eastertide.

[25] Examples that could be cited include the compilers of the Carthusian office, Guillame de Volpiano’s revision, and the preparation of the Paris Antiphoner by Abbé Lebeuf.

[26] Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 117.

[27] These few exceptions have not been based on the preference of the editors, but on the advice and experience of singers and choirmasters in Benedictine monasteries. See, for example A/ Quid mihi et tibi, A/ Ultimo festivitatis die, A/ Vobis datum {A/ What have you to do with me, A/ On the last day of the feast, A/ To you it has been given)

[28] J. Gajard, « Les récitations modales des 3e et 4e modes dans les manuscrits bénéventains et aquitains »{Recitation of the 3rd and 4th modes in manuscripts of Benevento and Aquitaine}, Etudes grégoriennes{Gregorian studies} 1 (1954), p. 9-46

[29] “On the subject of printing the accent on Hebrew words, it is not always possible to do this without risk of setting the accent of the text against that of the melody. Far from introducing an awkward discrepancy, our policy shows how both accentuations relate, and have to be respected, in faithfulness to the genius of a language and the choice of the composers, as transmitted to us by the manuscripts. Both must be respected, in so far as the spirit of a language and the choices of typesetters allow. There are three cases to consider.

If the Hebrew word is sung on one note, we follow the current practice of not printing an accent on two-syllable words. An informed cantor will nevertheless know that he must sing the accent Iesús (and even Iesúm), as he does for Ioséph and Kedrón. For words of three syllables and more, the original and authentic accent is printed on the last syllable.

If the Hebrew word occurs on a melodic cadence, and if the cadence can accommodate an accent on the last syllable, the accent is placed on the last syllable.

If the melodic formula does not admit of this accentuation, it is not forced out of shape. The melody accentuates in the latin manner, and no accent is written on the Hebrew word, whatever it may be.

In this way, there is never any contradiction between the written accentuation and the accentuation imposed by melodic formulae.” B.ANDRY, “Liturgical singing of the Passion”, Gregorian studies 29 (2001) p.123

[30] The antiphons of the Office of Saint Martin contain numerous “errors” of accentuation, a rare phenomenon in ancient offices.

[31] The 1979 edition of the Graduale triplex, widely available, furnishes an emblematic example.

[32] This expression, when attributed to episemas and the dot, contains serious ambiguities: it seems to mean that these signs indicate the rhythm. In fact, the signs do not do this. The fundamental rhythm of Gregorian chant is dictated by the declamation of the text and the flow of the melody. The signs added to medieval neumes do not indicate rhythm but minute agogic nuances of lengthening notes, or even vocal ornamentation, which can be achieved only by experienced specialists.

[33] The logic of medieval scribes differs deeply from that of modern score editors. The sign (episema) added by a medieval copyist was not intended to be read by the singer, and far less to be interpreted by him. To attribute a prescriptive value to such a sign today is to set oneself directly at odds with the intentions of the composers and scribes. Sadly, everything in classical musical training pushes us in this direction…

[34] Huius proœmii dispositiones ex perfecta adæquatione textus sacri cum melodia gregoriana defluunt. Propterera qui cantando dictioni latinæ sedulam dat operam, ipso facto iam potitur requisitis plurimis ad cantilenam gregorianam recte exsequendam. Liber hymnarius, Solesmes, 1983, p xvi. It is pleasing to think that it was Dom Cardine, the founder of Gregorian semiology, who expressly asked for this text to be inserted in the preface!

[35] Les plus belles mélodies Grégoriennes by Dom Gajard, Solesmes, 1985, p.25

[36] Hymns are yet another matter. Certain signs are required there in order to convey the essential role played by quantity.

[37] The nuance between the two endings is the exact opposite of a “luxury”, since it is founded in the composition of the antiphon. There may be more risk in ignoring it than in resolutely confronting the challenge of learning it.

[38] Notably Brothers Dominique Croizé and Xavier Battlo, for preparing comparative tables, Brother Olivier Guillou for the manuscript copy of antiphons and responds and controlling the timbre of the “IVA” and the 8th mode, Dom Marcel Nurlat, Dom Jean Mallet, Dom Paul Debout and Brother Jean Meunier, for various proof readings.

[39] It is to M Sarunas Visockis that the exceptional quality of reproduction of the St Gallen neumes is notably due, in the full responsories, as well as most of the page-setting, and the basic setup of the electronic version.

BBC interview

Readers may be interested in an interview I gave yesterday for the BBC to promote a forthcoming workshop in Lancaster Cathedral. Forgive the inaccurate introduction – much as I would like to be Dr Gale, I am afraid I am plain old Mr!


Lancaster Cathedral

Chant course at Solesmes

I have been asked by Francis Nyan to remind readers of this blog that Dom Saulnier will be running the 7th Annual Advanced Gregorian Chant Week at Solesmes from 19-23 July this year. I’m not sure how many places, if any, are still available, but further details can be found here:


A Chant Renaissance in Essex

Andrew Wright, Director of Music for the Cathedral and Diocese of Brentwood in the UK, leads the way in restoring Gregorian Chant to its rightful place in the Liturgy.

Until more recent times, Chant featured rarely in the liturgies of Brentwood Cathedral. Typical examples of its use would be the better-known Chant settings of the Ordinary, and the occasions for performance would principally have been the Sunday Choral Mass for the Cathedral/Parish. However, some Chant would be used for diocesan liturgies like the Mass of Chrism. Other examples of the occasional use of Chant would be Credo III, Pater Noster, Victimae Paschali, Veni Sancte and hymns such as the Veni Creator. Some Chant was also used for monthly Sunday Vespers, e.g Psalm 109 – either on its own or in conjunction with polyphony – and the occasional vespers hymn. In terms of the overall scheme of music at the Cathedral, the chant maintained some kind of balance with other forms of music but its role was fairly minimal.

Over the past four years, however, Andrew Wright, Brentwood Cathedral and Diocese’s illustrious Director of Music, has instigated a dramatic increase in the amount and frequency of Chant used at Cathedral liturgies. At the Sunday 11.30 Choral Mass he has extended the Chant to include an Introit, the Communion Antiphon is used every Sunday (at the start of Communion, followed by a motet), and the number of Chant Masses in regular use has been extended (for the Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei). Current plans include the introduction of Gloria XV and the proper Alleluia. The role of the Chant at Vespers has also been dramatically increased and the Psalms and Antiphons are now regularly chanted in Latin to the proper tones.

Andrew claims that the ability of the Cathedral Choir to perform the chant better has been a factor for its increase. He is also aware of a desire to help restore this most fundamental liturgical music of the Roman Catholic Church. “The congregation here is used to a great variety of music and I believe their listening experience has help lead to a greater appreciation of chant. We have also successfully demonstrated that repeating the chant, for example the Sanctus or Gloria VIII regularly on Sundays, gradually builds up the congregational singing and appreciation. The music of course stands much repetition and it’s very sound and construction is a product of its regular prayerful purpose. It is also music which is dispassionate and unifying and therefore good for the liturgy.”

He continues “people are increasingly conscious of the need for greater beauty and the numinous in much of our liturgical music, not least in terms of prayerfulness and deeper spirituality etc. People are more aware today of Chant in terms of art, its history and role and that it must not be lost from the liturgy. Having experienced any other forms of music people can evaluate this today better and more sensibly. However, it is important that any efforts to re-introduce chant are done sensitively and pastorally as not to do so can be counter-productive and have the opposite effect.”

“It is important to help people understand that the continued use of the traditional music of the church can find a home within the present day liturgy very successfully. Perhaps this would be true of most venues although in other venues the need and capacity to use much larger amount of chant can and does work depending on the liturgy and ritual employed. In more general venues it helps to introduce Chant with/through young choristers singing.”

Andrew has met with a very favourable response to the reintroduction of Chant in the Cathedral and a good number of the faithful have commented in particular about its beauty and prayerfulness. I have been privileged to conduct two workshops for Andrew at Brentwood Cathedral, the first for the Cathedral Choir, the second for the Diocese, and on both occasions I was struck by the wonderful welcome I received, and by the receptiveness of the people who, without exception, have open minds and hearts, and a hunger for prayerful music, the beauty of the Chant and the Sacred Liturgy. I am looking forward to my third visit to the Diocese in the Autumn for a Chant Workshop in conjunction with the local Anglican diocese, with which Brentwood enjoys particularly close ecumenical ties. I feel very honoured to have been asked again by Andrew to participate in some small way in the wonderful work he does in the Cathedral and throughout his diocese, of which he is also the Director of Music.

Andrew speaks of an awareness of what has been lost, musically, from the tradition of the Church, but also an awareness that the Holy Father has been encouraging us to look again and value our intrinsic musical heritage, and there is a real and increasing willingness to support this concern and contribute to its well-being. I know from my visits to this beautiful Cathedral Church, and from my many conversations with Andrew, that the Chant has once more found a home in the liturgy at Brentwood Cathedral, and that its use will continue to grow and flourish there under the inspired leadership of their wonderfully talented, forward-looking and inspirational Director of Music, for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration.

Please pray for Andrew Wright, for his hugely-supportive new Cathedral Dean, Fr Martin Boland, and his equally supportive and visionary Ordinary, Bishop Thomas, who has done so much to promote and encourage music in Brentwood. Please pray too for the Choir and people of the Cathedral and for the Diocese as they continue, under Andrew’s leadership and direction, in their wonderful work of restoring the Chant and lifting the hearts and minds of the faithful to God through music.

Qui bene cantat bis orat!

UK Cathedrals – Southwark

I thought readers may be interested in a series on the Roman Catholic Cathedrals of the UK and their musical provision. I wrote an article recently on the Choral Outreach Programme at Leeds Cathedral which seemed to interest readers on NLM, so I will follow this up with a profile of each UK Catholic Cathedral, beginning with my own, St George’s Cathedral, Southwark.


St George’s Cathedral was the first Roman Catholic Cathedral to be built in the UK after the Reformation. The original building (1848) was the work of the great Victorian Architect Pugin. Although much of the Cathedral was badly bombed in 1941 during the Second World War, a great deal of his design remains, and is incorporated into the rebuilt Cathedral, which was re-opened in 1958.

The Cathedral seen from the Imperial War Museum

St George’s is the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Southwark, which covers the actual Diocese of Southwark (South London, North Surrey, and Kent), and also the Dioceses of Arundel and Brighton, Portsmouth, and Plymouth.

The Cathedral occupies an historic site close to the Imperial War Museum, a few minutes walk from London‘s South Bank and the Thames, Westminster Bridge, the London Eye, and landmarks such as St Thomas‘ Hospital and Waterloo Station. It serves a lively and cosmopolitan community from all over London, and has a strong parish identity in addition to its role as a Cathedral. For example, the vibrant Latin American community is served with a Spanish Mass every Sunday at 1pm, delivered completely in the Spanish language. On top of this, every Mass is attended by people of different ethnicities and ages, ranging from African to Asian to European. The Cathedral is proud to be a religious home to all these people.



The Cathedral nave

The Cathedral’s Music Department was founded in 1848 with a choir of boys and men, thus making it the oldest RC Cathedral Choir in the UK. This Choir still sings the weekly Solemn Mass on Sunday morning, as well as occasional extra services such as Christmas and Holy Week. In addition there is a new Cathedral Girls’ Choir which sings the weekly Family Mass on Sunday mornings. The Cathedral has a Director of Music (Nick Gale), who is also responsible for training the Boys’ Choir, an Organist (Nicholas O’Neill) and an Assistant Organist (Norman Harper), who is responsible for training the Girls’ Choir.

The Cathedral Boys’ Choir is made up of 18 boy choristers, 6 choral scholars and 9 lay-clerks and sings a repertoire ranging from polyphonic settings by composers like Tallis, Byrd and Palestrina through to works by modern composers such as James MacMillan, Arvo Pärt and Judith Bingham, to name but a few. We are also fortunate to have an in-house composer – Nicholas O’Neill – who has composed 3 Masses and numerous motets for us. Gregorian Chant plays a major role in the Solemn Mass – all propers are sung in full, and the people also sing a Chant Gloria, Credo and Marian Antiphon.

When I took over as Cathedral DoM ten years ago things had reached a point of stagnation. There were four choristers left, no lay-clerks or choral scholars, and the diet of music on Sunday mornings was largely hymns and simple congregational Mass settings. Thanks to supremely supportive clergy and a newly-assembled team of dedicated, enthusiastic, professional musicians, we have managed to restore our great musical heritage and return the Chant to its rightful place in the Liturgy.



The Cathedral Choristers receiving Holy Communion

Now, thanks to the wonderful team of musicians and clergy, a typical Sunday Solemn Mass involves the Introit, a congregational hymn to accompany the long procession down the vast nave, a choral setting of the Kyrie followed by a Chant Gloria. The Psalm is sung in the vernacular in directum (no response) by choir and congregation alternatum, followed by the proper Alleluia with verse. A Chant Credo follows the homily and, after a congregational hymn, the Chant Offertory precedes a choral Sanctus and Agnus Dei. The Communio is sung with psalm verses in Latin (from the CMAA’s wonderful Communio books) followed by a motet. After the blessing the seasonal Antiphon to Our Lady is sung, usually to Chant or, occasionally, to a polyphonic setting, such as Robert White’s wonderful 6-part Regina Caeli. The organ then leads us out of the Cathedral.

At the Family Mass the Girls’ Choir leads a more congregational-style liturgy, with an English Language Mass Setting (John Bertalot, David Thorne and one composed especially for the Girls by our in-house composer Nicholas O’Neill) and vernacular hymnody, with a sparing use of Taizé-style chants. However, they lead the Mass extremely effectively and regularly sing parts of the Mass to the Chant. They have been a blessing and a real asset to the Cathedral community.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, the Cathedral has been blessed with a wonderfully supportive Dean (Canon James Cronin), who has been so helpful and kind over the past 10 years, and a series of Archbishops (most recently ++Michael Bowen and ++ Kevin McDonald) all of whom have encouraged the choirs both spiritually, morally and financially, and it is due to this support that we are able to continue doing the work that we do.



Canon James Cronin (left) and Nick Gale (right)

The Cathedral Boys’ Choir tours every other year – recent destinations include Cologne and Rome – and has broadcast live twice on BBC Radio 4 and once on BBC 1 Television in recent years. The Cathedral also played host to Pope John Paul II on his visit to the UK in 1982. Particularly noteworthy is the recently-dedicated shrine to St Francesca ‘Mother’ Cabrini, a former worshipper in the Cathedral Parish before her emigration to the USA. The Cathedral Choir recently sang for the blessing of this beautiful new shrine.

Archbishop Peter Smith



The original Cathedral Organ (Willis) was destroyed by the bombing during the War. It was replaced by an extension organ by John Compton, an inadequate solution and one that is now in need of serious attention, ideally replacement. However, the Cathedral has recently had to spend an enormous amount repairing its roof, replacing the obsolete and dangerous electrics and rebuilding the condemned Archbishop Amigo Hall, which now looks resplendent outside the West End of the Cathedral. The Cathedral is a poor parish, and the people have already dug deeply and given generously and, at present, funds do not allow us to do anything about the organ situation, which detracts from the otherwise wonderful music-making that takes place in this noble, historic and prayerful building in South London.


Please pray for Archbishop Peter, Canon James and the Choirs of St George’s Cathedral for their continued work.

London on Sunday updated

I have updated the article on Masses in London, UK for this Sunday to include comments from bloggers and some nice pictures for those who may be interested. The article can be found in the archive section of chantcafé or here.
Cardinal Hoyos at Westminster Cathedral, London

Gregorian Chant notation and the Semiological work of Dom Cardine – part 1

By the 11th Century the basic corpus of Gregorian Chants as we now have them, with the exception of chants for more recent feasts, was complete. At that time there was no system of musical notation and the chants were committed to memory – an enormous task, given the entire body of Chant exceeds in length the entire works of Wagner!

However, in certain manuscripts we find quasi-musical markings above the Latin (and Greek) texts which indicate the rise and fall of the melody – these symbols resemble, at their most basic level, the grave and acute accents in French. They also give us considerable information regarding the rhythm of the chants. The study of these signs and symbols is known as Semiology. It is from these symbols that the modern system of Western musical notation grew, thanks to the Benedictine Monk Guido d’ Arezzo (c990 – 1050). It is he who invented staff notation, initially by grouping neumes around a single line, which he then increased to four. He also assigned each ‘pitch’ a name – Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La – having noticed that the first note of each phrase of the hymn to St John the Baptist (Ut queant laxis) begins on a note one step higher in pitch than the last.


He used the first syllable of each phrase to name the pitches. It is from this system that we get the Tonic Sol Fa system – the Ut was replaced by Do, and Si or Ti was added later (Ut, a deer, a female deer doesn’t sound quite right!)
However, whilst there were considerable advantages to Guido’s system of notation – that of precisely indicating relative, if not absolute, pitch for the first time – the simplification of the neumatic symbols that accompanied the new system meant that the rhythmic nuances contained within the original unheighted neumes was lost and the new system became an indicator of pitch alone. A glance at the following scan from the Graduale Triplex will suffice to confirm this – observe the careful detail of the unheighted neumes as opposed to the rather lumpy, square notation with which we are more familiar, and which lacks the ability to express rhythmic subtlety in any way.


Various theories have been proposed regarding the rhythm of the Chant over the past 100 or so years, the old Solesmes Method having dominated almost all performances of the Chant for the past 80 years and is still reigning supreme. However, the ground-breaking work of Dom Eugene Cardine, a monk of Solesmes, in trying to unlock the rhythmic significance of the original neumes, has raised new questions about the way in which we perform the Chant, and has taken us back to Dom Guéranger’s original assertion, that the text must come first.
In his monumental study Gregorian Semiology, Cardine explains the function of unheighted neumes in terms of the information they impart regarding approximate pitch. However, through extensive study of different manuscripts and the different neumatic symbols of various notational traditions, he attempts to unlock the rhythmic significance of the neumes, and his theories, whilst still theories and not facts, are nonetheless extremely convincing, and are supported by evidence contained within the various notations used in France at the time.


The result, perhaps most clearly seen in Dom Saulnier’s new Antiphonale Monasticum, is the removal of editorial rhythmic symbols associated with the old Solesmes Method, including the lengthening dots and most episemas, and the creation of ‘new’ neumes based on old unheighted neumes, intended to convey some subtle rhythmic nuance which the current quadratic notation cannot convey. The theories regarding the episema, the quilisma and the salicus etc have the effect of liberating the Chant from a dogged, overly-metrical style of performance and allowing the words, once more, to take precedence. As Cardinal Garonne reminds us, in the Chant “the words almost give forth the music they already possess”, a point understood only too well by Guéranger, Cardine and his successor, Saulnier.

Over the coming weeks I will present a series of short articles on the main notational symbols used in the Chant, and attempt to outline in simple fashion Dom Cardine’s theories of rhythmic performance based on his study of the earliest manuscripts of unheighted neumatic notation. However, for those of you who wish to undertake a more detailed study, I recommend Cardine’s Book Gregorian Semiology and, of course, the Graduale Triplex, an indispensable volume for the true Gregorian enthusiast! I should point out, as I close this introductory piece, that the theories outlined above are just that – theories. It is easy to be dogmatic about such things and, whilst I am a disciple of Cardine and his theories, others are not. I merely offer these thoughts as one of many possible interpretations of the Chant we know and love.
Nick Gale, June 2010

A Choral Revolution in the North of England

Ben Saunders, the Director of Music at Leeds Cathedral in the North of England said, after he was appointed a number of years ago, that if if inner-city children were not going to come to him, then he was going to send a choral director to them. He was fortunate enough to have a supportive Cathedral Dean and Bishop behind him, so he did just that! Initial funding was arranged and a number of singers were sent into the local schools to encourage singing and form new choirs.

Now the Cathedral has a full-time music department, one of only three in Catholic cathedrals in England, and a whole host of professional choral directors who travel about the Diocese teaching children to sing and forming new choirs in the schools around Leeds and Huddersfield. There is now no longer just one cathedral choir but a whole legion of singers forming a vast number of choirs who sing the daily services in the Cathedral and who frequently broadcast on the BBC and the independent UK broadcasters.

Ben and his assistant, the supremely gifted and talented Chris McElroy, have launched this new venture and created a 21st Century, inner-city choral foundation. It has transformed music and liturgy at the Cathedral, and in the City of Leeds, beyond all recognition. Children living in working-class areas, deprived for so many years of music and, in particular, singing in schools, are once more raising their voices to God. With over 26 native languages spoken in the Cathedral parish alone, the common language is now Latin! Even the local state primary schools are amalgamating to create the UK‘s first non-fee-paying Cathedral Choir School, an initiative blessed by the former Secretary of State for Education. The children are taught Gregorian Chant, polyphony, classical masses and new, quality works composed by 20th Century and contemporary composers, proving beyond a shadow of doubt that children appreciate and rise to a challenge.

The final jewel in the crown of this musical renaissance is perhaps the newly rebuilt organ – Orgelbau Klais of Bonn has recently reinstalled the completely rebuilt Cathedral Organ, which has been silent for over 30 years. The blessing and formal inauguration of the new organ took place on the 16 May 2010. Further details of the Leeds project can be found at www.dioceseofleedsmusic.org.uk.

The work undertaken by Ben, Chris and their dedicated, talented team of singers and choral directors is a lesson to us all and other cathedral musical directors would do well to follow their example!

Nuns, an island, a new organ and spectacular chanting

It has been my great privilege to pay a number of recent visits to the Abbey of St Cecilia in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, just off the south coast of England. My first visit was to give a talk to the community as part of my then role as Director of Music to the UK based Panel of Monastic Musicians. The second visit, prompted by the first, was a Chant Day I organised through the Academy of St Cecilia, when Professor John Caldwell of Oxford University gave an excellent history of Chant and we enjoyed several master classes from the Monastic Choirmistress, as well as taking part in the Divine Office.

The Abbey has an interesting history in that the nuns were originally members of the community of the Abbaye Sainte- Cécile de Solesmes. The French anti religious laws of the early 20th century forced the whole community into exile in England, to the forerunner of the present St Cecilia’s Abbey. After several years of exile the French community was at last able to return to Solesmes in 1921, but a number of the sisters remained and formed the community we now know today.
The sisters sing the entire Office and Mass to Gregorian Chant every day of the year. A visiting monk from Quarr Abbey, a few miles away on the same island, makes a daily trip to celebrate the Mass (Novus Ordo in Latin) and the Monastic Choir, under the direction of Sr Bernadette, a true disciple of Dom Cardine, trains the sisters on a regular basis in the Chants of the Office and the Mass, using Cardine’s Semiological approach. This, coupled with the use of Dom Saulnier’s new Antiphonale Monasticum, now fully in use in the Abbey, makes for the most vibrant, fluid and prayerful performance of the Chant I have heard in the UK.

The Abbey also boats a new Kenneth Tickell organ in the West End of the Monastic Choir – details of which, for all organ enthusiasts, can be seen at www.tickell­organs.co.uk/specInfo/opus54.htm. The Community can be visited at any time and has an excellent website – www.stceciliasabbey.org.uk – and I urge those of you who live in or are visiting the south of England to make a short trip across the Solent by hovercraft, ferry or catamaran, to hear the mesmeric singing of this wonderful, young, thriving, growing community of nuns.
Nick Gale, June 2010