Gregorian Chants

Gregorian chants originated among Egyptian monks. This forced Gregoray and others to expand music and this led to division. When we understand the practices of the Egyptian sectarian Jews we are not tempted to imitate them.

"From the very beginning, even during its Jewish phase, monasticism cultivated choral singing as an integral part of its observance. A later historographer of the church,

Eusebius, was aware of the musical predilections of the old ascetic sects in Judaism. In fact, he excerpted Philo's description of the ritual of the Alexandrian Therapeutes, which he likened to the Christian practices of his own time (4 centuries later):

The men and women rise, each group forming a choir, and sing thanksgiving hymns to God the Redeemer' (Hist. II.17). (Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 460, Abingdon).

"The majority of Christian monks in Egypt and Palestine championed organized choral chant, often in the face of a sternly opposed authority. When all historical circumstances are taken into account, there can be no doubt that the tremendious expansion and refinement of Christian chant before Pope Gregory

was due to the intensive and continuous musical activities of the monks...

Soon after his (Augustine's) death, the regional- ethnic forces of Gentile Christianity caused the split in the liturgico-musical development of the Eastern and Western churches." (Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 460, Abingdon).

It was clear that the musical practices in Egypt, like the play at Mount Sinai, was derived from pagan sources. These practices have strong roots in the beginning and ending system of musical worship practices which began in Babylon and will end in spiritual "Babylon" not necessarily in Rome:

"Herodotus mentions that when in Egypt, he was astonished to hear the very same mournful but ravishing 'Song of Linus, sung by the Egyptians (although under another name)... Linus was the same god as the Bacchus of Greece, or Osiris of Egypt; for

Homer introduces a boy singing the song of Linus (this was soprano), while the vintage (new wine festival) is going on, and the Scholiast says that this song was sung in memory of Linus, who was torn in pieces by dogs... In some places in Egypt, for the song of Linus or Osiris, a peculiar melody seems to have been used. Savary says that, in the temple of Abydos, 'the priest repeated the seven vowels in the form of hymns, and that musicians were forbid to enter it.' Hislop

Gregorian Chants and Egyptian Mysteries

We will see later that Josephus (and Ezekiel) note that the Levites had no authority to dress in priestly (or choral) garb and enter where God met the priests. Similar to the Ishtar-Tammuz worship at the Jerusalem Temple, condemned by Ezekiel, the worship came from Babylon:

"Now the name of Linus or Osiris, as the 'husband of his mother,' in Egypt, was Kamut. "When Gregory the great introduced into the church of Rome what are not called the Gregorian Chants, he got them from the Chaldean mysteries, which had long been established in Rome; for the Roman Catholic priest, Eustace, admits that these chants were largely composed of 'Lydian and Phrygian tunes.' Lydia and Phrygia being among the chief seats in later times of those mysteries of which the Egyptian mysteries were only a branch. Thes tunes were sacred--the music of the great god,

and in introducing them Gregory introduced the music of Kamut. And thus, to all appearance, has it come to pass, that the name of Osiris or Kamut, 'the husband of the mother,' is in every day use among ourselves as the name of the musical scale; for

what is the melody of Osiris, consisting of the 'seven vowels' formed into a hymn, but--the Gamut?" (Hislop, Alexander, The Two Babylons, p. 22, Loizeaux Brothers.)

Like the Ephesian Letters:

A hidden, invisible mystery came forth:

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE oooooooooooooooooooooo uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

IE ieus EO ou EO Oua! Really, truly, O Yesseus Mazareus Yessedekeus, O living water, O child of the child, O glorious name! Really truly, aiOn o On (or: O existing aeon), iiii EEEE eeee oooo uuuu OOOO aaaa{a}. Really, truly, Ei aaaa OOOO, O existing one who sees the aeons! Really, truly, aee EEE iiii uuuuuu OOOOOOOO, who is eternally eternal! Really, truly, iEa aiO, in the heart, who exists, u aei eis aei, ei o ei, ei os ei (or: (Son) forever, You are what you are, You are who you are)!

The fourth is Yobel.

The fifth is Adonaios, who is called 'Sabaoth'.

The sixth is Cain, whom the great generations of

men call the sun.

The seventh is Abel; the eighth Akiressina; the ninth Yubel.

The tenth is Harmupiael. The eleventh is Archir-Adonin. The twelfth is Belias. These are the ones who preside over Hades and the chaos.

This, along with much more, informs us of the worship of Apis at Mount Sinai where the Israelites, who "broke down the walls" and permitted a "mixed multitude" to contaminate the "congregation," rose up to play. This is defined as singing, dancing and playing musical instruments with often--remember David--caused people to strip off their clothes (or mind) and worse.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia

Gregorian Chant

The name is often taken as synonymous with plain chant (q.v.), comprising not only the Church music of the early Middle Ages, but also later compositions (elaborate melodies for the Ordinary of the Mass, sequences, etc.) written in a similar style down to the sixteenth century and even in modern times. In a stricter sense Gregorian chant means that Roman form of early plain chant as distinguished from the Ambrosian, Galliean, and Mozarabic chants, which were akin to it, but were gradually supplanted by it from the eighth to the eleventh century. Of the Gallican and Mozarabic chants only a few remains are extant, but they were probably closely related to the Ambrosian chant. Of the latter, which has maintained itself in Milan up to the present day, there are two complete manuscripts belonging to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries respectively, and a considerable number belonging to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. An incomplete manuscript belongs to the twelfth century. It is at present in the British Museum and has been published in the fifth volume of the "Paléographie musicale". All these manuscripts contain the chants both for the Office and for the Mass. The Office chants are antiphons and responses, as in the Roman books. The Mass chants are Ingressa (corresponding to the Introit, but without psalm), Psalmellus (Gradual), Cantus (Tract), Offertory, Transitorium (Communion), and, in addition, two antiphons having no counterpart in the Gregorian Mass, one post Evangelium, the other the Confractorium. There are, further, a few Alleluia verses and antiphons ante Evangelium. Musically it can easily be observed that the syllabic pieces are often simpler, the ornate pieces more extended in their melismata than in the Gregorian chant. The Gregorian melodies, however, have more individuality and characteristic expression.

Though it is very doubtful whether these Ambrosian melodies date back to the time of St. Ambrose, it is not improbable that they represent fairly the character of the chant sung in Italy and Gaul at the time when the cantilena romana superseded the earlier forms. The frequent occurrence of cadences founded on the cursus at all events points to a time before the latter went out of use in literary composition, that is before the middle of the seventh century. (See Gatard in "Dict. d'arch. chrét.", s.v. "Ambrosien (chant)" and Mocquereau, "Notes sur l'Influence de l'Accent et du Cursus toniques Latins dans le Chant Ambrosien" in "Ambrosiana", Milan, 1897.)

The name Gregorian chant points to Gregory the Great (590-604), to whom a pretty constant tradition ascribes a certain final arrangement of the Roman chant. It is first met in the writings of William of Hirschau, though Leo IV (847-855) already speaks of the cantus St. Gregorii. The tradition mentioned was questioned first by Pierre Gussanville, in 1675, and again, in 1729, by George, Baron d'Eckhart, neither of whom attracted much attention. In modern times Gevaert, president of the Brussels music school, has tried to show, with a great amount of learning, that the compilation of the Mass music belongs to the end of the seventh or the beginning of the eighth century. His arguments led to a close investigation of the question, and at present practically all authorities, including, besides the Benedictines, such men as Wagner, Gastoué, and Frere, hold that the large majority of plain- chant melodies were composed before the year 600.

The principal proofs for a Gregorian tradition may be summarized thus:

The testimony of John the Deacon, Gregory's biographer (c. 872), is quite trustworthy. Amongst other considerations the very modest claim he makes for the saint, "antiphonarium centonem. . . compilavit" (he compiled a patchwork antiphonary), shows that he was not carried away by a desire to eulogize his hero. There are several other testimonies in the ninth century. In the eighth century we have Egbert and Bede (see Gastoué, "Les Origines", etc., 87 sqq.). The latter, in particular, speaks of one Putta, who died as bishop in 688, "maxime modulandi in ecclesia more Romanorum peritus, quem a discipulis beati papae Gregorii didicerat". In the seventh century we have the epitaph of Honorius, who died in 638 (Gastoué, op. cit., 93):

. . . . divino in carmine pollens
Ad vitam pastor ducere novit ovis
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Namque Gregorii tanti vestigia iusti
Dum sequeris culpiens meritumque geris

-- that is: "Gifted with divine harmony the shepherd leads his sheep to life . . . for while following the footsteps of holy Gregory you have won your reward." According to this it was thought in Rome, less than forty years after the death of St. Gregory, that the greatest praise for a music-loving pope was to compare him to his predecessor Gregory.

The feasts known to have been introduced after St. Gregory use in the main melodies borrowed from older feasts. See the detailed proof for this in Frere's "Introduction". See Hislop.

The texts of the chants are taken from the "Itala" version, while as early as the first half of the seventh century St. Jerome's correction had been generally adopted.

The frequent occurrence in the plain-chant melodies of cadences moulded on the literary cursus shows that they were composed before the middle of the seventh century, when the cursus went out of use.

GEVAERT, Les Origines du Chant Liturgigue de l'Eglise Latins (Ghent, 1890); IDEM, La Melopee Antique dans le Chant de l'eglise Latine (Ghent, 1895); MORIN, Les Veritables Origines du Chant Gregorien (Maredsous, 1890); CAGIN, Un Mot sur l'Antiphonale Missarum (Solesmes, 1890); BRAMBACH, Gregorianisch (Leipzig, 1895, 2nd ed., 1901); FRERE, Introduction to the Graduale Sarisburiense (London, 1894); Paleographie musicale, IV; WAGNER, Introduction to the Gregorian Melodies, Pt. I (1901, English ed. by the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society, London, chapter xi); GASTOUE, Les origines du Chant Romain (Pris, 1907), pt. II, i; WYATT, St. Gregory and the Gregorian Music (London, 1904).

Transcribed by Thomas M. Barrett
Dedicated to Mother Angelica

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI
Copyright © 1909 by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat, September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York

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